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7 Things Only a Biker Knows

By Walter F. Kern

5. The Throttle is Controlled by Twisting the Right Handlebar Grip

In a car, the speed is controlled by the accelerator pedal. The harder you push your foot down on the accelerator, the faster the car goes. Release the pedal and the speed decreases. On a motorcycle, the speed is controlled by the throttle that is built-in to the right handlebar grip. Twist the grip toward you and the speed increases. Relax your grip and the speed decreases.

There's a lot of action on the right handlebar grip and considerable coordination is required. The right hand must be continually adjusting the speed up and down while also activating the front brake. Also, when turning the bike, the rider must press the right handlebar grip forward to make the bike turn right or possibly pull the right grip backwards to make the bike turn left. Also, some bikes have turn signal switches on each handlebar grip so one might have to press a switch to indicate that a right turn was anticipated and press it again when the turn is completed.

6. A Bike Has a KILL Switch

Cars don't have KILL switches. The closest you can come is to turn off the ignition. On a motorcycle, a KILL switch has several purposes.

The motorcycle KILL (or STOP) switch is in series with the ignition switch. When the KILL switch is open, the motorcycle will not start.

Most motorcycle training courses suggest that you get in the habit of using the motorcycle KILL switch to shut off your bike. The reasoning is that if you don't use it, it won't work when you need to use it.

Much confusion occurs in traffic when you inadvertently trip the KILL switch and then can't figure out why the bike won't restart. Always look at the KILL switch first.

You may need to use the KILL switch if your bike falls over and you can't reach the ignition. Just trip the KILL switch. KILL switches are also known as RUN or STOP switches.

7. You Turn a Bike by Countersteering

Cars turn by turning a steering wheel. A bike has handlebars and turns not by steering but countersteering.

At all but parking lot speeds, a motorcycle turns by pressing the right handlebar grip forward to turn right and pushing the left handlebar grip forward to turn left. In other words: push right, go right; push left, go left. This is countersteering.

To confuse matters even more, a trike or sidecar rig (3-wheels) does not countersteer. It steers just like a car. Push right - go left; push left - go right. That's because these three-wheelers don't lean as motorcycles do.

Motorcycles turn by leaning. There are various ways to get the bike to lean and there are various experts who claim their way is the best. Countersteering is the fastest way to get the bike to lean. Pressing the right grip forward, turns the wheel to the left moving the contact patch to the left. The bike is then pulled over to the right into a right lean, thereby initiating a right turn. Don't believe it? Stand in front of a bike as it approaches you at speed and have the rider push the right grip forward. You will see a momentary wheel-turn to the left quickly followed by a lean to the right and a turn to the right.

=> Back to Page 1: First 4 things only a biker knows

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