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What is the hardest part of riding a motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle can be an extremely fun and liberating experience. However, it does come with its own unique challenges. When learning to ride a motorcycle, some parts of the process can be more difficult than others.

Developing Basic Motorcycle Riding Skills

One of the hardest parts of learning to ride a motorcycle is developing the basic riding skills. This includes things like:

  • Balance – Keeping the motorcycle upright while at a stop and maintaining balance at low speeds.
  • Clutch and throttle control – Releasing the clutch lever smoothly while applying the right amount of throttle to start moving without stalling.
  • Shifting – Changing gears takes practice to master the timing and coordination.
  • Braking – Applying the brakes properly without skidding or losing control.
  • Turning – Leaning and steering the motorcycle smoothly through turns and curves.

These fundamental skills do not come naturally for most beginners. It takes repeated practice and training to develop the muscle memory and feel for operating the various controls on a motorcycle. Stalling, wobbling, jerky starts and stops are common challenges faced by new riders. It can be frustrating at first, but learning the basics is essential for safety and for building confidence.

Low Speed Maneuvers and Tight Turns

Once some basic motorcycle operation skills are established, one of the next major challenges is mastering low speed maneuvers and tight turns. These include skills like:

  • U-turns – Turning the motorcycle around in a narrow space.
  • Figure 8s – Riding in a figure 8 pattern within a confined area.
  • Obstacle swerving – Quickly avoiding obstacles at low speeds.
  • Slow speed curves – Negotiating curves and turns from low speeds.

Executing these types of maneuvers smoothly requires excellent throttle, clutch, and rear brake control. The motorcycle needs to move slowly and precisely according to the rider’s inputs. Finding the right friction zone with the clutch lever and using just enough throttle takes practice. Too much throttle or releasing the clutch too quickly can cause the motorcycle to lurch or stall. Any jerky or abrupt inputs also risk unsettling the suspension and balance of the bike. These low speed skills test a rider’s coordination and sensitivity to the motorcycle’s controls.


As speeds increase, cornering becomes one of the more challenging aspects of riding a motorcycle. Some key techniques include:

  • Countersteering – Pushing the handlebars left to initiate a right turn.
  • Head turning – Looking through the turn so the motorcycle follows.
  • Body positioning – Shifting body weight and leaning into the turn.
  • Throttle control – Rolling off or on the throttle to maintain speed.
  • Braking – Trail braking can help settle the suspension.

These techniques must become second nature through repetitive practice. Riders need to build muscle memory and reflexes so they naturally countersteer, lean their body, and control speed when entering corners. Panicking or making abrupt inputs during cornering can lead to running wide or losing control.

Emergency Maneuvers

While the goal is to always ride within your limits and avoid emergency situations, it is still important to practice techniques for handling hazards and surprises on the road. Some potentially life-saving emergency riding skills include:

  • Swerving – Making quick evasive direction changes to avoid a hazard.
  • Hard braking – Coming to an abrupt stop by aggressively applying brakes.
  • Straight line braking – Stopping in a straight line while avoiding target fixation.

These types of emergency maneuvers induce a surge of adrenaline and tension even for experienced riders. Exercising good judgement, quick reflexes, and skill can mean the difference between a close call and an accident. Extensive training and practice in safe environments helps prepare riders to handle emergency situations.

Riding in Challenging Conditions

Once basic motorcycle skills are mastered, riding in challenging road and weather conditions poses its own difficulties, including:

  • Rain – Wet roads reduce traction and visibility.
  • Wind – Crosswinds and wind gusts can push the motorcycle.
  • Cold weather – Possible ice on the road reduces grip.
  • Night – Riding in darkness with limited visibility.
  • Off-road – Riding on loose dirt, gravel, etc.

Each of these scenarios requires extra caution, consideration, and specialized techniques. For example, riding in the rain means choosing smooth throttle and brake inputs to avoid losing traction. Riding at night requires adjusting your speed so you can stop within the range of your headlights. Off-road riding utilizes standing position, power sliding, and other distinct skills.

Maintaining Focus and Avoiding Complacency

Beyond physical techniques and machine operation, one of the most challenging mental aspects of riding is maintaining focus and avoiding complacency. Even experienced riders face hazards like:

  • Fatigue – Riding while tired dulls reactions.
  • Distraction – Letting your mind wander from the task at hand.
  • Overconfidence – Feeling too comfortable on familiar roads.
  • Traffic – Dealing with congested roads and impatient drivers.

The mental stamina required to actively process your surroundings, make good judgement calls, and stay out of dangerous situations is quite difficult. Fighting off fatigue or boredom and not becoming overconfident during routine rides demands continuous effort and discipline from riders.

Finding the Edge of Traction

For motorcyclists who like to push their riding on race tracks and winding mountain roads, finding the limit of traction can be extremely challenging. Key techniques like trail braking, hitting apexes, and matching engine speed to wheel speed must be executed nearly perfectly to ride a motorcycle at its performance edge. Proper body position and weight transfer become critical at higher speeds and lean angles. Mastering advanced suspension control also factors in. Racing, time trials, and performance street riding force riders to develop elite levels of sensitivity and skill when operating a motorcycle near its limits.


While learning to ride a motorcycle has its difficulties, the thrill and satisfaction from mastering such a focused skill makes the initial challenges worthwhile for most riders. Start small, practice fundamental techniques until they become second nature, and progressively expand your skills under safe conditions. Maintain patience, discipline, and focus as you tackle each new riding milestone. With consistent practice and training, handling a motorcycle even in demanding situations simply becomes another part of the rewarding experience.