Does bicycling experience help with riding a motorcycle
May 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm #3992Gary856Participant
I rode mountain bike for many years before I started riding motorcycle last year, so I wondered about this in the beginning. Here’s what I found out:
In the beginning, maybe a little, but not a whole lot, because:
– mc is much heavier.
– Mc is much faster, even going uphill. You’d never experience going uphill fast on a bicycle.
– The main challenges were mastering the basic controls – clutch, throttle, shift lever, brakes. On a bicycle, leg muscle and gravity provide familiar and predictable power/speed; on a mc, the right hand twisting the throttle, and I felt “disconnected” from the way the speed was built and scrubbed until I used to it.
Later on (after basic controls became intuitive, and after getting used to managing the much higher speed and momentum), maybe:
– Head/eye movement, body positioning, leaning, weight sifting (left/right/front/back) in anticipation of upcoming turns/terrain are similar.
– While similar in basic principles, dirt riding on a mc is still way different from on a bicycle, due to the much higher weight and speed.
– Having mountain biking experience lets me feel fairly comfortable riding mc off pavement, at low speed, at least.
At this point I feel the techniques and experience from bicycling and motorcycling compliment each other.May 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm #26730eonParticipant
In the beginning I would have said no, it did not help. Later on I was not so sure. There are a few areas where I think it helped.
– Avoiding the so called “death grip”. Does not take much experience on a bicycle to realize you need a loose grip whenever going over rough ground.
– Exposure to traffic while feeling pretty vulnerable. Not sure how others coped but I rode away from the dealer at 5pm midweek in downtown Seattle without thinking twice about it.
– Might also have helped my confidence in leaning into turns.
– Braking. Probably the biggest gain was the experience in understanding what the feedback through the brake levers mean at a subconscious level (especially on a scooter where the braking setup is identical)
But I think these were small gains in the overall scheme of things.May 25, 2010 at 9:55 pm #26731eternal05Participant
…but not in the way people might think. I had a very similar experience to you, Gary, in that at first, it didn’t help much if at all. My experience on bicycles was primarily road racing, though I did do some mountain biking for fun.
I would say that simply knowing how to ride a bike doesn’t help you learn to ride a motorcycle. However, I think that being a super-serious cyclist does help you with more advanced parts of riding. It helps with a lot of the intangibles, like “feel” for your traction, comfort at high lean, instinctive head movement, and perhaps balance. One area that I found it really helped me was braking. I was immediately a very good braker as soon as I figured out how the damn clutch worked. My hands were already trained for sensitivity in that particular motion, and I was already comfortable applying the brakes while leaned and turning. Learning to trail brake, and having confidence in the front tire while trail braking, came much easier than I think it would to somebody who’d never raced down a twisty mountain road before.
So right….just what everybody above me saidMay 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm #26729WeaponZeroParticipant
I haven’t owned a bicycle since I was 12 years old. My parents never replaced the one I had back then that got stolen. And I don’t feel that going all those years letting bicycling skills get rusty really hurts me at all TBH.May 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm #26732Gary856Participant
Good point on brake feel and being loose from cycling. Cycling teaches one brake modulation to avoid lock up, so I guess from that I never had problem “squeezing” instead of “grabbing” the brake lever. From mountain biking I knew to be off the brakes and carrying enough speed to float over rough/loose pavement, and brake just enough where I could find traction without exceeding it. Trail braking and keeping maintenance throttle into a turn were both intuitive to me.
I was more of a cross-country recreational rider in mountain biking who spent much more time grinding up hills than flying down. I thought maybe someone who’s a downhill racing specialist (mountain biking) or a road racer (bombing down steep mountain roads at high speed) who are used to higher speed on a bicycle would find even more connection between cycling and mc riding.
I just started reading a book on motocross and dirt riding techniques. It says riding well starts with positioning your body at the balance point at all times. This is so true both in cycling and in riding motorcycles. When I manage to do it right, it feels like dancing in steps with the equipment (bikes) and the weight of the bike disappears, instead of wrestling with it where you feel the tremendous weight and momentum.May 25, 2010 at 11:52 pm #26733eonParticipant
I was never much of a mountain biker and I never raced but I have flown down plenty of mountain roads and I was always able to leave my friends behind. Call it stupidity or lack of fear but I’m convinced it was that lack of fear that kept me safe. My slower friends would crash when they freaked out on a sharp bend or oncoming traffic. I’m not convinced there was much in the way of technique that translates over to motorcycling (at least on the road). One of the hardest things for me was to roll on the throttle mid-corner when you already think you are going too fast. There is nothing in cycling that compares to that.
briderdt is probably the most experienced cyclist on this board and he has mentioned in the past he felt it helped him a lot. Can’t say I understood his reasons but something about riding in a peloton helped him make the transition.May 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm #26765briderdtParticipant
…I’ve ridden on the road and raced for many years (over 3 decades in various capacities), and I think the ONE thing it helped me with most was in already having a built-in traffic radar for hazards and the idea that I’m basically invisible to anyone in a car.
Why is that so important? Because I didn’t have to develop THAT skill along with the skills of just operating the motorcycle. It was one less thing that had to take up the available conscious-thought allotment.May 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm #26734AParticipant
I have been riding road bikes since I was a teenager, I pedaled coast to coast, twice before I turned 21. I was a bicycle messenger in Seattle, SF, CA and NYC. I raced (NCCC, USCF, UCI) road bike, (NORBA, UCI) mt. bike and downhill, I have about 40-50,000 miles in my lifetime. I have also paticipated in AMA sanctioned enduro and hare scramble events on dirt motos.
The cycling experience I have when I was a messenger got me the most road-worthy skill for motorcycling. Sord of develped a sixth sense that anticipate for catastrophic events before they happen in traffic, also the reflex to look for ways out of impact instead of using the brakes when obsticles occur, even if it means to go off pavement (where dirt moto riding skills are helpful).May 28, 2010 at 2:58 am #26778gitchy42Participant
I have ridden my bicycle on the street, at high speed (>40 SB on Glen Jackson/205 bridge) and done mountain biking. I believe that it helped me with balance and low speed maneuvers.
Oddly enough, I think that learning motorcycles has helped me on my mountain bike. I was riding it around over the weekend while I was out camping and I tried some counter-steering. Worked great, but it freaked me out a little, a 30-pound bike falls into a lean a lot faster than a 400-pound motorcycle…..
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