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Articles > Transitioning from a bicycle to a motorcycle

Experience gained from riding a bicycle can provide valuable skills that can also be applied to motorcycling. However, there are several major differences (with speed being the most obvious).

Bike Size
A motorcycle is in essence a 'fat bicycle with an engine'. It requires more effort to keep upright and manouvre when the engine is not running. If it tips over, depending on the make and model, quite a bit of damage can occur (particularly mirrors, levers, exhaust systems, etc). As a motorcyclist, your prime responsibility is to keep the two small patches of rubber in contact with the ground.

Slow-speed riding
At first it will feel strange - without pedals to 'pedal' with your feet (which are now assigned to the task of changing gears and operating the back brake), you have to adapt your mental muscle to using your hands to control the speed of the bike.
Normally when riding a bicycle, you use your legs to pedal slow and smoothly. But on a motorcycle, this slow speed control is done using the clutch. For bicycle riders who are learning to ride a motorcycle, it can be a create very strange feeling.

A bicycle is ten times lighter than a motorcycle. Whilst 'Counterstreering' has been a major teaching point in motorcycle training, most bicycle riders are unaware that they also do indeed countersteer. Countersteering is pushing the handlebar of the side on the direction you want to turn. By doing so, the bike is made to lean.

But the difference, as just mentioned, is the weight of the bike - because the motorcycle is heavy, it needs much more 'steering input' to cause it to turn. As such, greater strength is required to push on the handlebars. On a bicycle, the rider can merely lean their body to initiate a turn. On a motorcycle, countersteering is used to make the bike's lower half to veer in the opposite direction you want to turn, and the top half will move to the direction you want to turn - i.e. causing the bike to lean. But because of the forward momentum and gyroscopic effect of the wheels, the bike will not keep on leaning further and tip over, but continue to move forwards in an arc.


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