10 tips to teach a novice how to ride

Learner riders at the HART course

The last thing you want to do is teach a novice rider all your bad habits built up over years of riding, even though it has served you well.

While you should encourage any newcomer to go and do a professional training course (it may be mandatory in your region anyway), it is also handy for learners and novice licence holders to obtain some road craft from a veteran rider such as yourself.

You may have a vast amount of knowledge that you can share and teaching a novice is a very rewarding experience.

It’s great to be able to share your passion with someone and foster a lifetime of riding fun.

Here are 10 tips on how to teach a novice, not what to teach them:

1 Communication

You will no doubt talk their ears off with anecdotes, but when they are riding, you need to let them concentrate on what they are doing. So if you use a bluetooth communicator system (so long as it is legal in your jurisdiction for learners), keep the chatter to a minimum. Don’t alarm them by suddenly shouting, either.

Interphone F5XT Bluetooth for motorcycle helmets - Fatigue - road rules
Bluetooth communication is handy

2 KISS

“Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS) and limit the amount of instructions. The brain can only take in so much information in one hit. Try doing repetitive drills such as u-turns, even though it will be boring for you.

3 Lead the way

Monkey see, monkey do, so ride in front of the learner to let them follow your lead. This way you can teach them correct cornering lines, where to look, when to brake, when to switch on their indicators and importantly remind them to turn them off again.

Teach a novice rider
Let them follow you for a while

4 Exaggerate

If they are following your lead, sometimes you have to exaggerate your moves a little. For example, turn your head substantially to show them that you are looking through a corner or move right over to the outside of the road before turning into a corner.

5 Observe

If you’re in front, you can’t always see what they are doing wrong, so it’s a good idea to mix it up by following them for a while. Let them decide where to go and watch what they do.

Teach a novice rider
Observe their riding

6 Regroup

Organise to stop frequently so you can go over what they have done right and what they have done wrong. It’s also a good opportunity to answer the many questions they will have.

7 Be positive

Don’t dwell on what they have done wrong, but praise them for doing things right. We want this to be a positive and fun experience for them.

8 Brevity

While you might enjoy long rides over challenging roads, it’s best to start out with short and easy rides on quiet country roads and build up gradually. Learning to ride is fun, but it’s also physically and mentally tiring.

9 Celebrate

Reward their improved skills by taking them on your recreational rides or even a weekend trip away. This is a good opportunity for fun and intensive training.

Teach a novice rider
Time for celebration

10 Patience

Learner riders will be slow. Don’t encourage them to go fast, keep up with you or even match the speed limit. Tell them to go at their own pace and don’t ride out of their sight. Soon enough they will be joining you and sharing your life’s joy.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve often thought a small bike is a good starter because most have learnt balance/steering on pushy’s , if country areas are available somewhere
    hire a small trailbike, teach throttle control ,skids, wheelspin etc off the road
    so they’re not thinking when they are experienced about how to ride the bike but can concentrate on what’s happening on the road

  2. All very obvious generic stuff I thought when I read the title there would be some actual riding tips, except for exaggerating your moves there wasn’t much there and you shouldn’t exaggerate your moves unless you tell them you are going to. As you said monkey see monkey do so you don’t want them coming a cropper because they though they were supposed to do it that way.
    But before you hit the road you need to go over theory and cause and effect.
    If you look at a pothole you will hit the pothole so look where you actually want to go.
    If the learner has experience driving you will need to drill the proper use of brakes get them to do emergency stops numerous times even scare them a few times until they use the front brake properly, there have been numerous deaths due to using the rear brake only.
    Teach them that the throttle is sometimes better than the brake
    And in an emergency to look where they need to go and dive for it.

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