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Beginner Advice

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Riding - With Jake Tindall


Jake T · August 24, 2022

Jake Tindall - DTRA NationalsJake Tindall at DTRA Flat Track Nationals at the MCN Festival - Braking Point Images

Depending on your background, riding can either be an exhilarating prospect, or a scary one but worry not, no matter your experience here at RideTo we want to arm you with all the information to keep you safe on the roads.

We sat down with rider and Flat Tracker Jake Tindall to find out his top 5 tips he would give to those looking to learn to ride.

Find the Right School For You

1. Find A Training School That Suits You.

For me this is a really important thing to get right as you start your motorcycling journey. If you don’t already know, the first step of getting on a bike is to complete your CBT. For many people this can be the first time on a motorcycle and trust me, I understand it can be daunting for some.

So my first piece of advice is to find a school that suits you. There are plenty of schools to choose from as you can see on the RideTo site. Each CBT training school will offer similar services but there are a fair few variables that may make you more comfortable.

Some schools will offer 1-2-1 tuition whilst others may be able to teach in languages other than English, or perhaps you’d prefer a female instructor or require somewhere that has a cafe for down time. Whatever you feel you will need to help you be more at ease when learning then there are options out there.

Remember on the day of your CBT ask the instructor anything you may be unsure of, it’s their job to teach you and to get you confidently riding on two wheels by the end of the day.

If you want to know more about the CBT process follow the link here to our blog ‘What To Expect On The Day Of Your CBT Test’.

2. Have Confidence In The Bike

Now I'm sure you’re sitting there saying ‘well that's easier said than done’ but the quicker you can learn to trust the ability of the motorcycle the quicker you will build your confidence on the road. This will come into play at various points throughout your riding journey as you will soon find out.

Getting to grips with how the clutch and throttle combine to enable you to perform slow riding manoeuvres is a real skill that's worth putting in time to master once you have passed your CBT. This will also be a big bonus when/if you come on to do your DAS and as your Mod 1 is all about performing manoeuvres safely.

My top tip is to utilise the rear brake when riding slowly. Practice moving off slowly, feathering the clutch and gently applying some rear brake. You should be able to carry enough momentum to keep yourself upright and balanced.

Look where you want to go

3. Always Look Where You Want To Go

Again this might seem an obvious one, but it really is such a game changer, especially for new riders. It really is as simple as just looking where you want to be. A common mistake to make is either staring at your front wheel or at the road immediately in front of you.

This can lead to you not only being narrow visioned and missing potential hazards ahead of you but you will often find yourself with a case of target fixation. By this I mean you will ride towards what you’re looking at. You will find this especially relevant when performing the slow manoeuvres on your CBT or Mod 1.

A lot of riders will stare at the cone (which you are supposed to ride around) and subconsciously steer themselves towards it. Any fans of motorcycle racing such as MotoGP will notice that the riders have their heads turned with their eyes fixed on the apex or much further ahead as they enter a corner. I’m not saying be Marc Marquez but you get the point.

Bonus Tip:

A fantastic piece of advice I was given when I first learnt to ride was always look ahead to see where the road is going to lead you. It’s a very common mistake to take a corner too quickly and we often hear things like ‘oh I didn't think the corner was going to be as sharp as it was’ and this comes down to not reading the road ahead.

If you’re on a country road approaching a corner and you cannot see the exit then look ahead, can you see the tree line or hedgerow follow a curve? The same for city/urban riding, can you see any lamp posts or buildings which may help you understand how sharp the corner is?

If the answer to either of the above is no… then you’re going to want to slow right down because you have zero idea of what is ahead of you. If in doubt, slow it down.

4. Find The Right Bike For You.

There are a lot of opinions floating around about ‘the best bike’ but ultimately the best bike is different for all of us. So my advice is to ignore a lot of the opinions being thrown at you, do your own research and find a bike that works for you.

One of the wonderful developments in the last few years is that a lot of manufacturers have brought out their own versions of smaller capacity motorcycles. So if this is the area you're looking at then you can choose from sports, cruisers, cafe races, retro classics… the list goes on. You can check out RideTo’s list of top bikes to get you started here.

I will always recommend you test ride any bike you buy. One, so you know it runs soundly (If you need any pointers on what to check when buying a second hand bike follow this link to a handy blog) and Two so you can get a feel for what its like to swing your leg over this particular bike.

Research can only get you so far and ultimately there is nothing quite like sitting on a bike, seeing how you fit, does it work for you and your needs?

Jake Tindall - DTRA Nationals Jake Tindall at DTRA Flat Track Nationals in Ammanford. - Braking Point Images

5. Try As Many Different Types Of Riding As Possible

Now this one I know made me a better rider… obviously not everyone wants to be a track day hero, I know, I started off in the world of cruisers and had a ball just mooching around the country lanes.

To be honest, I still love doing this, but I can honestly tell you that when I started pushing the boundaries of what motorcycle riding has to offer, I developed as a rider ten fold. The amount of advice I got from riding off road or on track or long distance are all skills that are translatable to your everyday riding and go an awfully long way to becoming the most well rounded rider you can be.

If you’re unsure of what's out there, RideTo have put together a handy blog covering all the different options once you have your license.

Whatever type of riding you get into, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy it. It's honestly the most amount of fun I think you can have. So take your time to explore everything the motorcycle world has to offer. See you out there.

This information is given to you as a guide to support you in your choice of licence and RideTo has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided about motorcycle licence and training requirements. However, RideTo cannot guarantee the information is up to date, correct and complete and is therefore provided on an "as is" basis only. RideTo accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever arising. We recommend that you verify the current licence and training requirements by checking the DVSA website.