You’ve just purchased a motorcycle from your local bike shop – exciting! It’s now time to pick it up and ride your motorcycle home from the dealership. This is the first time you’ll be riding your new bike and that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Plus, motorcycle dealerships are often in congested city locations. Add the fact that maybe you’ve changed your style of ride such as going from a cruiser to a sportbike or a larger touring model. Maybe this is your first bike or newly licensed and this is your first road ride. Bottom line is, you’ve not had any experience on the motorcycle you’re picking up. With a good plan and these ten tips to riding your motorcycle home from the dealership – you’ll be at ease, prepared and ready to enjoy the ride!
Taking the First Ride for That Unforgettable Experience
Many dealerships offer a shuttle delivery option for an extra fee. But depending on how this is calculated, and if you live a fair distance away, you may end up paying a lot. Of course, if you have a friend with a van or truck you could try the same. But unless they’re competent in transporting heavy objects such as motorcycles, things could end up going wrong. And then there’s the option of your rider friend, husband or partner riding it home for you. But this is the moment that is to be yours – it’s you who should be taking the first ride! So, you opt for riding it home.
Be aware that the salesperson who will hand over the bike and keys to you will help in a run down of the bikes operation. However, far too often I’ve seen this done less than adequately. Furthermore you’ll tend to be on the receiving end of the salesperson “personal opinions” of how things should be done which are not always warranted.
Follow these ten tips to riding your motorcycle home to ensure your safety and readyness.
Ten Point Checklist
- PLAN YOUR ROUTE: Plan your journey for a safe ride home from the dealership. This means planning your route ahead of time and stick to it. Plan this right down to the lanes you’ll use and will ride in. This is easily done using Google maps which in ‘street view’ mode will allow you to take a virtual advance ride. Tip: travel as much as possible on straight roads to give you time to get a good feel for the new weight you’ll need to power and balance!
- AVOID RUSH HOUR: If you’ll be fetching your bike on a week day avoid rush hour time slots; schedule your pick up well in advance or after the rush. If on a weekend, usually early Saturday or Sunday mornings before 11.00 a.m. are generally calmer.
- KEEP YOUR ROUTE SIMPLE: Keep your route as simple as possible and ride roads you are familiar with. This is not a time to try out a new short cut. You want to avoid distractions.
- GET TO KNOW ALL CONTROLS: Before mounting up, familiarise yourself with all controls – how the turn signals work (self cancelling or not), ignition location, immobiliser if present, etc. Adjust the mirrors to fit your viewing needs. Read the full pre-ride inspection here.
- CHECK FUEL: Check to ensure you fuel and enough to get you home. The dealership should provide a full tank. But be sure to check. If you’ve not got enough you’ll have to include a gas stop.
- SIT ON THE BIKE: Now, sit on the bike (no need for helmet at this stage. The bike is not running yet.) and practise lifting the bike off the side-stand. Then kick-up the side stand balancing the bike. Then find the side-stand and push it into place, being sure it’s fully deployed.
- GET A FEEL FOR THE CLUTCH AND BRAKES: Next familiarise yourself with the clutch and brake lever still with the engine off. Feel the pressure required to apply and release them. Put the bike in first gear (bike is off) roll it forward by walking it; slowly let the clutch out to feel where the friction zone is where the power engages.
- PRACTISE USING FRONT AND REAR BRAKES: Get a feel for the front brake and the rear. Roll your motorcycle slightly forward and apply the front brake. Then do the same with the rear – still without power.
- READY TO RIDE; START THE BIKE: Now its time to get suited up and leave – start the bike. Use your “pilot’s” check list” acronym you were shown during your rider training course. Either FINE-C : Fuel, Ignition, Neutral, Emergency Kill Switch – Choke or another one that’s popular is: KNIFE – CCS. Kickstand, Neutral, Ignition, Fuel, Emergency kill switch, Clutch, Choke – Start!
- FRICTION ZONE: Ease the clutch lever out until it just enters that friction zone and the bike tries to move forward. Allow the bike to move forward slightly – discover the friction zone and pull the clutch in. Practice this a few times until you’re feeling familiar with it. You’ll move off using your slow speed skills, controlling power to the rear wheel with the clutch.
Your new motorcycle will be a weight that’s different from the one you’re familiar with.
**For new riders, it will be heavier than the motorcycles you learned to ride on in a parking lot. It will handle and perform entirely different to what you are accustomed to and likely more powerful. Plus new tires, brake pads and components may respond quicker and easier than you’ve experienced for a long time. You’ll need to go easy, gently and that means without pressure or stress or too many expectations from yourself either on this first ride.
- Traffic check, traffic check and traffic check again. Don’t rely on the traffic around you to look out for you. Get the big picture.
- Keep your eyes up and away from your instruments while riding.
- Pay attention to how the bike ‘sounds’ and react based on this sense.
- Be visible; remember create space cushions and choose the safest lane positions.
Be sure when you’re home, read your new owners manual fully before your next ride. Congrats!