Riding Slow - Keep Control Over Your Motorcycle

The technique of riding slowly is a funny one to get your head around. Most of us are too busy focusing on beating fast-moving traffic and ripping up the rural roads to bother perfecting our slow riding skills. But other than the guy who lives near an highway without traffic and works a few kilometers down the same road, most of us spend more time than we think riding slowly.

Junctions are the most common places you'll be riding slowly, the mini roundabout or a U-turn being possibly the tightest. Plenty of us get nervous when it comes to it. Full-lock, first-gear turns with cars coming at you adding pressure on you not to wobble, put a foot down or even topple over are the hardest.

But the truth is you're probably more in control of your motorcycle at slow speed than at any other time. All you need to do is relax and feel confident enough to stop yourself thinking about what your motorcycle is doing, and be more concerned about other vehicles around you.
  • Go to a deserted car park, or closed road on a early morning, put a stone on the ground and practice riding round it. Start off with as big a circle as you like and get tighter, eventually aiming to be against the lock stops. Try it both ways.
  • Control your speed. Do this by balancing the throttle, clutch and back brake. You can still keep your front brake covered if you want, but there's no real need. Keep practicing until you're as smooth and as balanced as possible.
  • Sit up and take command of your motorcycle. It's better to lean the motorcycle into the turn, rather than your body. This keeps your body mass above the motorcycle, and it helps you to control the weight transfer as you turn.
  • Don't ride all tensed up, with rigid arms and a stiff body. You need to be fluid, able to move about on the motorcycle and to allow the motorcycle to move underneath you as you lean into the turn. Relax as much as possible to let the motorcycle do its thing.
  • Don't get fixated with the bit of road two meters in front of you. You need to know what's coming before it's too late, so look up ahead at where you're going and the motorcycle will follow. It'll also slow things up around you and greatly improve balance.
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