Many riders talk about how riding their motorcycle makes them relax and “blows out the cobwebs”, yet I see so many tense riders.
You can tell a tense rider immediately from their hunched shoulders and straight arms with locked elbows. It’s like they are shrugging or trying to strangle their bike.
It’s a dead giveaway that they are not confident nor relaxed with their riding.
Maybe they are going too fast for their skill level, or the road is wet or challenging and unknown to them.
In these situations you become tense and the first thing to tense up is your shoulders.
This straightens your arms which makes it more difficult to counter steer as your arms are now pushing down on the handlebars rather than forward.
Also the forces coming up through your front forks go up your arms which can be tiring and affect your riding ability.
How to relax
But there are ways to relax while riding that will improve your riding and increase your enjoyment. It may even make you faster, if that’s your goal.
We don’t suggest doing yoga on a moving motorcycle, although there are Guinness Book of Records mentions for the most consecutive yoga positions on a motorcycle.
Instead, you can practise a type of meditation where you focus your mind on the activity of riding.
You need to clear your mind of other distractions which is pretty easy in the closed-off atmosphere of a helmet.
The second step is to lift your gaze.
Hunched shoulders also tend to make you drop your head and shorten your focus.
The shorter your focus, the less time you have to react to road conditions, sudden corners and other hazards.
So lift your head and make a conscious effort to look further down the road and around the corner.
The third step is to physically relax your arms.
I recall a professional rally driver once showing me his technique for un-hunching his shoulders: He basically flapped his arms for a few seconds like he was doing a short chicken dance while he was driving.
You can do it on a motorcycle as well.
As your arms relax and your shoulders drop, your arms will naturally bend so you have more control and can more easily counter steer.
Try these steps the next time you feel your shoulders hunching up and your vision becoming fixated on where you might crash!