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Old 7th February 2023, 03:31   #1
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Advice for young bikers

1. Be curious

Motorcycles are nothing special, they’re just a means to an end. Their purpose can be getting to work, getting some adventure, or getting attention. There’s a whole subculture glorifying motorcycles, and cars for that matter, but don’t take it too seriously. The only people who really want you to believe in the whole “Ride or Die” nonsense are trying to sell you something.

Drive cars, yes they are fat and boring, but there’s something special about being in a cozy warm box on a cold rainy night up in the mountains. Cycle, it is 50% of a motorcycle, but a whole other universe. Jump on a chance to experience any other means of transport, I once drove a tractor and realized that these death machines don’t have any suspension, but do have cruise control.

Letting go of the controls can also be an interesting experience. The Delhi Airport Metro is a thing of beauty, the French TGV is actually quite boring for something at 320 kph. An Airbus A380 is much bigger than you imagined, catamarans are terrifyingly quick.

The primary purpose of life is to spend it experiencing different things, and when you find the experiences you really like, to experience them more. Don’t trap yourself with only motorcycles.

2. Be nice

This may come as a shock to a large part of the automotive community, but nobody likes our loud machines. As someone with an aftermarket exhaust, I can tell you with complete confidence that when we go by someone doing our vroom thing, they find it annoying. The only group of people who enjoy our audio presentation are boys aged 8-12.

When riding through a sleepy village somewhere, or the lanes of your colony, go slow and try to be as quiet as possible. When overtaking someone on the highway, upshift to keep the revs down. Be nice, be invisible, do your thing but let others live their life.

Motorcycles are great at taking you places where even walking is difficult, but the reason you want to go there is because it’s serene and silent. It’s a bit silly to hunt for remote villages, and then ruin them with the noise pollution of your 2nd copy Akrapovic.

Because of how vulnerable you are on a motorcycle, there is a tendency to feel angry at everyone who makes even a tiny mistake, because even their tiny mistake can mean a serious injury for you. Try to control your emotions, you are not the main character on the road, people have their own problems to deal with, you are nobody. Your bike gives you the power to disappear even before someone notices you exist, use it.

You are free to do whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t affect the ability for someone else to do their thing. Don't be an entitled rider.

3. Be consistent

Start with smaller bikes, and upgrade slowly, even if you have the money. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of riding 150 - 200 cc bikes, they are simple, light weight, and so damn easy to live with. Moving to bigger bikes slowly is an immensely satisfying experience. It’s the difference between progressing honestly through a video game from start to finish, and playing the same game with only God Mode.

Develop good habits, slowly. I always use both the front and rear brake all the time, to make it into an instinct. When the emergency braking situation comes, I won’t have to remember to use the rear too. Perfect your downshift technique, slipping the clutch is nice sometimes, but rev-matching is an awesome feeling to get right. Riding in India demands immense focus, it’s almost like extreme meditation. Build your concentration, hone your instincts, learn to predict the future.

Ride often, not only will that slowly build your skills, but you’ll also get into the habit of maintaining your bike. Learn the basic stuff, adjusting your chain, throttle, clutch, these are very important things to know. Build your knowledge slowly, motorcycles are deceptively complex things, and it’s fun to know how stuff works.

4. Be smart

Social media is a good slave, but a bad master. It’s perfectly fine to ride to a place with the aim of getting some good pictures for your Insta, motivation can be hard to come by sometimes. Don’t let the Insta likes be everything however, enjoy the journey, interact with locals, meet some new riders. Enjoy the real life, virtual fun will come automatically.

Live your own life, don’t become a keyboard warrior who hates on other people on Facebook. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s a meaningless, stupid activity, ruins someone’s day and leaves you frustrated. I know that controversy gets more likes, but don’t become an idiot for likes.

Don’t try to make money from social media, or motorcycles in general. Being an “influencer” might seem like fun, but behind the scenes it’s usually a hellhole of financial ruin and mental burnout. Working in the auto industry might sound exciting, but it’s usually extremely underpaid, because of course you’re passionate about automobiles, so it’s not exactly “work”. Get a boring 9 to 5, save money, buy bike, ride. “Make your passion your job” is bad advice.

5. Be safe

Riding a motorcycle in India is extremely dangerous, statistically it’s nothing but a death wish. When your parents try to discourage you from buying that first bike, understand that they have a very good reason to stop you going on this path. For literally lacs of people, it ends in death.

When I used to tour thousands of kms on motorcycles, I did a lot of things which seem strange and horrific now that I think about them. I wore dog tags, with my name and blood group and father’s name on them, so if I’m found dead in a ditch somewhere somebody can at least tell my parents. I used to run a blog, and on that blog I always left a final post scheduled to auto-publish after 3 months unless rescheduled, so that If I die, at least that article will appear online and spook some people.

I have always believed that if you ride a lot in India, the fact that you’re still alive has nothing to do with your skill, and everything with luck. Going on a highway at 100 kph and hitting a dog that you never even saw spawn out of thin air is not a skill issue. I don’t tempt my luck too much anymore, and have reduced the length of my trips over time. It’s still fun, but I do miss the madness of 1000 km days.

What I’m trying to say is, buy a good helmet. Nowadays you can get a fantastic one for like 5000 bucks. Riding gear is costly, and hard to live with, buy it slowly. Don’t buy the cheap stuff, save, wait, and buy the medium stuff, you don't need the premium stuff. But a jacket, pant, boots, and gloves can wait, helmet can’t. Helmets save lives, and they look bloody cool. The feeling of wind through your hair is overrated, the feeling of divider through your skull is not.

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Last edited by Aditya : 8th February 2023 at 05:05. Reason: Word changed
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Old 7th February 2023, 06:02   #2
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Excellent and well written points!
Although I am more into cars now, i would say that motorcycle rides do provide a thrilling and a unmatched experience compared to cars.

In addition to your advice, being a vivid motorcyclist, if I could add my 2 cents :

Get a high quality Full Face helmet - No half face, no cheap modular helmets, even if your friends say "full face helmet doesn't suit your RE broo!".You dont want to be eating bugs on highways and a good helmet will keep wind noise and everything low so you get to focus more on the road.
Being in 2 high speed motorcyle accidents twice in my mid 20s (1. A hit and run by a car, 2. A girl suddenly decided to jump divider and a slip and fall in the middle of the highway, didnt hit the girl but lost control due to sudden maneuver) you always fall face down even if you have elbows folded in front, your face is going to hit the ground with a bam and I cant thank my full face helmet enough for saving all my 32 teeth!

Wear a jacket "always" when riding - If you dont have a rider jacket, wear a good leather/fabric jacket - this is going to save you from abrasions a lot!

This could be biased, but always prefer a bike that has excellent handling rather than speed or sound or the so called "thump", my accident could have been maybe avoided if my bike had good handling, it was front heavy and had a bad chassis. I realized this when I bought a bike with good handling.

Be aware that everyone on the highways hates you, stay on the left or middle lane, try not to be a nuisance.

Motorcycles are deathmachines when not ridden sanely. Learn downshifting and rev-matching to slow down faster, make it a habit - however you will wear out the clutch and gearbox "if" your technique is wrong, but you can always replace clutch; you cant replace bones.
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Old 7th February 2023, 08:09   #3
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Very well put and I resonate with your views, specially the exhaust part, seen so many buy big bikes just to torture it to death by revving them in neutral to show off, little do they know no one cares.

Another advice for the young folks, if you are buying a bike to impress the ladies, understand, they don’t give a damn about your bike. Yes there will be odd few, but majority just will get turn off by that sound and a few who like it, like it because of how bike looks and not the way how you look on the bike

After first few months of riding in Groups and with photo shoots done, make a very small group of like minded people. Ride with them often, you will build a much deeper bond and look forward to those rides. Go long at-least once a quarter and don’t limit yourself to just breakfast rides.

Above all have fun and stay safe.

Last edited by AtheK : 7th February 2023 at 08:25.
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Old 7th February 2023, 08:28   #4
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Another point - Don't be tempted to show every random car and bike guy on public roads what yours is capable of. When you lose control of your calmness, you will tend to make mistakes and pay a dear price. Even experienced riders fall into this trap. It will only end up in misery. Do better, be better.

Last edited by TheHelix0202 : 7th February 2023 at 08:30. Reason: Word correction
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Old 7th February 2023, 19:34   #5
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Wow, what an amazingly well-written article.
Each of the points is so true and relatable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderZone View Post
2. Be nice
This may come as a shock to a large part of the automotive community, but nobody likes our loud machines. As someone with an aftermarket exhaust, I can tell you with complete confidence that when we go by someone doing our vroom thing, they find it annoying.
Yesterday I am returning from my weekly 100km ride and just about to take the left home from NH66 at Vyttilla junction (Kochi, KL) when this guy on a low bike (HD I think) passes by revving the engine creating such a big racket that I wondered why the KL MVD didn't flag him given how they go with a vengeance after REs with modified exhausts. He then proceeds to ride slowly for few seconds and then again creates the racket - rinse and repeat. A guy who doesn't seem to know that everyone finds it annoying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderZone View Post
5. Be safe
Riding a motorcycle in India is extremely dangerous, statistically it’s nothing but a death wish. I have always believed that if you ride a lot in India, the fact that you’re still alive has nothing to do with your skill, and everything with luck. Going on a highway at 100 kph and hitting a dog that you never even saw spawn out of thin air is not a skill issue.
When young I have done my share of crazy biking on Chennai roads during the 90s and the 2000s till I sold off my CD100 in 2010.

When I then bought my CBR250 in 2014, the only thing I hoped/prayed was that I don't have a fall - speed or quickness or nothing else mattered. More so since I was now biking on narrow and congested Kerala roads with folks not bothering about lane discipline or the jaywalkers/strays that can take you by surprise.

I am not a biker in the long-distance biking sense (prefer my car for long rides), but in the city/town I have invariably preferred to use my bike/scooter putting close to 2lakh kms on all bikes combined. So, can relate to most of the article.

Last edited by Aditya : 8th February 2023 at 05:06. Reason: Spacing
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Old 8th February 2023, 09:21   #6
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Re: Advice for young bikers

I have have got a broken arm and a nasty scar as a reminder from my younger days of riding. Now I understand that nobody cares about a bikers vroom vroom sounds (or dholki sounds of a certain popular brand). Or any stunts. Or anything at all. Only it is the biker who thinks that people are turning heads. In reality, people are only irritated.

Also if you are among those riders who ride for your own pleasure (and not to impress others), then better do it in such a way that people are not annoyed by your antics. Happy riding!
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Old 8th February 2023, 09:57   #7
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Well listed pieces of advice. I have been riding for nearly 40 years now - 35 years of which I had my own 2 wheeler. I drive cars but even at 53, I prefer bikes.

Last week, I gave up my 2010 CBZ Xtreme and got myself a 2016 Bajaj Avenger 220 Cruise. Reason? I started realising that with age, tiptoeing on a tall bike is not safe, especially with your sister as pillion. I used to own an Avenger along with my CBZ a few years ago in Chennai. I sold it off because I moved to Kerala and I had already sent my Xtreme there a couple of years earlier.

Now when I looked around for a new bike, I was horrified at the OTR prices of some of the ones that suit me (Meteor, Hunter, etc.). For safety reasons, I have found that I need to have power on tap even if we don't burn the tarmac all the time. Avenger Cruise seems a fair compromise though I was eyeing a second hand Vulcan 650 S before going back on it due to service availability concerns. (I know - two entirely different classes - but it's about practicality not money)!

On topic, my one advice to new riders is to make sure that they can ride the slowest speeds without having to "walk" the bike in cities. It's more important than you may think, especially considering most of us Indians are still only of "average" height. Make sure you have control and balance on your machine. And let the "squid" go.
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Old 8th February 2023, 10:35   #8
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheK View Post

Another advice for the young folks, if you are buying a bike to impress the ladies, understand, they donít give a damn about your bike. Yes there will be odd few, but majority just will get turn off by that sound and a few who like it, like it because of how bike looks and not the way how you look on the bike

Above all have fun and stay safe.
Most importantly, if one is trying to impress the opposite sex, then better go at a slow and steady pace and give themselves a chance to be seen by the target. Going fast doesn't give much chance either to the one trying to impress or the one whom they are trying to impress
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Old 8th February 2023, 11:00   #9
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Re: Advice for young bikers

This is Awesome, a well needed post

I totally agree that a dog/cow coming out of the bushes of divider of four-lane will put you in a situation where both your skills ans bike/car extreme capabilities might not be enough.
When we are on highway juctions, it is still a highway for us but mind you, it is a local road for those area locals.

"Defensive riding/driving" is exactly this thing, assume what-if any animal can come, don't blindly trust on sourrounding vehicle. Trust only on your vehicle and your riding/driving skills.

Go to race track (controlled environment) and check your and vehicles limits, not on public roads.
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Old 8th February 2023, 11:17   #10
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Adding a point based on my experience:

1. When driving on Indian roads, always keep a lookout on all sides, specially wrong side drivers, people crossing in the middle of the roads. When driving in the city drive at a safe speed.

About 15 years ago, while returning home from my college, I was driving along the main road (around 40kmph), when something on the left side caught my attention. When I looked front, all of a sudden i saw 2 guys on a bike crossing the road when there was no intersection or crossing. Before i could react i hit them and went flying over my bike and landed on my face. Luckily my helmet saved my face and teeth. But while falling, my knees hit the handle bar and got some internal injuries. After a month of limping and physiotherapies i was able to walk properly again.

2. Ensure that you do regular maintenance of your bikes. If not you will find yourself stranded someday when the bike wont agree to start.
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Old 8th February 2023, 12:16   #11
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderZone View Post
Develop good habits, slowly.
Thanks a lot for this @RiderZone. Very valid points, canít stress enough on each one of them especially the helmet part which I learnt the hard way after losing my brother 24 years back due to a freak accident which caused a major head injury when we he was riding with me as a pillion.

Nevertheless, my 2 cents- Never ever get aggressive as soon as your signal turns green, infact it should be the opposite. Always look out for a moron who would jump his signal, be as slow as possible once your signal turns green. Donít worry about impatient people honking at you, itís your life which is at stake.

Cheers,
VJ
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Old 8th February 2023, 13:18   #12
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Very well written post. This took me back to my riding days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiderZone View Post
What Iím trying to say is, buy a good helmet. Nowadays you can get a fantastic one for like 5000 bucks.

Helmets save lives, and they look bloody cool. The feeling of wind through your hair is overrated, the feeling of divider through your skull is not.
I cannot stress this point enough. If not for my helmet, I would've lost my eye while on the highway once. A chunk of rubber came flying from a truck in front of me and struck me straight on my face (helmet). I was lucky that I did not lose balance. I pulled over and took half an hour break just to get into my senses. I was shaken with my hands even shivering for the first couple of minutes. My Studds Shifter took full brunt of the impact. I had a deeply scratched visor. Luckily, nothing broke, so, I continued riding. The first thing I did that evening was to get a LS2 helmet. Sure, it cost me a bomb back then (first job, was earning peanuts for salary ), but then, investing on safety gear is like purchasing an insurance policy. We never know when we might have to use it, but when the need comes, it will be worth every penny.
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Old 8th February 2023, 15:09   #13
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Re: Advice for young bikers

Wow, now this is one wonderfully compiled and precise write up, summing up all the nitty gritties.

As a novice year old rider, I can't agree more to each and every point you have mentioned here , and even personally I emphasize on the importance of proper riding gear.

Stay safe, stay humble, that's what I've been teaching myself since day one.
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Old 8th February 2023, 15:53   #14
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Re: Advice for young bikers

I think one of the most important things to remember for any biker is to ride in the left most lane and not the right lane - this is especially true for highways since riding in the rightmost lane can result in getting rear ended by a car that's on an overtaking maneuver or just going too fast, not to mention getting surprised by something or the other jumping off the divider. However, this rule works well in the cities too, especially in bumper to bumper traffic. However, I hardly see bikers following this rule. For most cars, there is hardly anything more frustrating than a slow moving bike in the right lane blocking the road and slowing them down.

The other important thing is wearing a good quality full face helmet. My helmet saved me twice - once when someone threw a stone and it would have hit me in the face if not for my helmet, and once when I fell on my face because my pillion landed on top of me in a skidding accident on an oil slicked road.
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Old 8th February 2023, 17:53   #15
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Re: Advice for young bikers

6. Be Adaptable

You need to be ADAPTABLE TO roads to become a better rider. Accelerating through the entire corner, adding more lean, as you speed up only really works in gentle bends, with near perfect visibility or in controlled environments like race tracks, when you know the nuance of the track. On streets you can crash following some of the track practices. The key to be a better rider is to blend "some" of the aspects of track riding to the conditions that are presented to you on hand while riding.

I always say, a good rider is one who adapts to the roads and makes peace with his pace. A bad rider makes the road accommodate to his pace, which is short-lived eventually. And as someone said, I live to ride another day!

Cheers!
VJ
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