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Bike Talk

Have you ever had a conversation with your bike? Have you ever talked to it; maybe asking it to get you to your destination? Have you ever had your bike answer you? You may be saying, “Of course I’ve never heard my bike say anything because a motorcycle can’t talk!” Or can it?

Maybe you haven’t heard your bike talk because you just weren’t listening. In reality, your bike is talking to you all the time. In fact, your motorcycle communicates very clearly as you tool down the road together. You just need to pay attention to what it is saying. Let’s explore some of the ways in which your bike speaks to you.

"Your motorcycle speaks very clearly as you tool down the road together; you just need to listen to it."

Taking Off

Have you ever noticed your bike drifting a little off to the side on you when you start out? Maybe you had to steer it back into the path you wanted to take to stay in your lane of traffic. This might have been the bike telling you that you were looking down instead of focusing on the direction you wanted to go. Once you looked up toward your destination, the bike straightened itself up and traveled true. A hoppy start or a stall on takeoff certainly tells you to ease the clutch out more slowly.

Matching Gears

Sometimes the bike speak is a little more obvious. When your bike is screaming at you, it’s probably telling you to shift to a higher gear. When it’s chugging or lugging on you, its message is to drop to a lower gear or to use the clutch if it’s already in first gear. With the exception of being in first whenever you stop, it’s not really important which gear you are in. As long as your bike is happy, you must be in the proper gear for your speed. While shifting it either up or down, your bike will also tell you about an uneven or too quick of a clutch release with a jerk. It’s simply requesting a smoother clutch release after the shift.


If you feel your motorcycle wobbling while going through a corner, that’s your bike talking to you, too. When you look through the turn to the exit of the corner and beyond, the bike follows a smooth path of travel. When you look back over the handlebars to see where you are in the curve, the bike straightens up and when you look at the exit again it leans back over. The wobble is your bike asking you which way you want to go; around the turn or straight. Your bike can’t see where you are taking it so it follows your eyes and the bobbing is simply asking you to make up your mind about your path of travel.

Likewise, if your bike starts bouncing from front to rear while turning through a curve, it may be because you are decelerating in the turn and then rolling back on the throttle. Rolling off the throttle has the same effect on the bike as applying the rear brake, causing a shift in weight from back to front and reducing the lean of the bike. Rolling back on throttle shifts weight to the rear again. The bouncing is you bike asking you to decide if you want it to speed up or slow down.

Another way in which your bike talks to you while cornering is through the handlebars. If you are fighting the handlebars in a turn, it usually means the bike is telling you that you went into the corner too fast or you are using an incorrect path of travel through the curve. Make sure you select the proper entry speed and cornering line before you get into the turn.


Your right foot should stay on the brake when stopping. Anything that causes the bike to feel unstable and makes your foot t come off the brake before you’re fully stopped is the bike talking to you. For some people, the bike is screaming so loud they have to make a seagull landing by quickly shooting both feet out to catch the bike. Regardless of how loudly the bike speaks, it’s telling you to keep your eyes up and looking at the horizon to maintain your balance until stopped.

Obviously a squealing tire is normally the bike’s way of saying, “You’re overusing the rear brake!” A rear tire skid is easily controlled by keeping the rear wheel locked and by making sure your eyes are up and looking well ahead. It is also easily avoided by using a little less pressure on the rear brake pedal next time.

Your motorcycle can be a great coach in helping to improve your riding skills. It will tell you when it is not happy. By listening to what it has to say when you’re riding, you can develop a smooth riding style that will make your riding even more enjoyable. Like a cat, your bike is content when it’s just purring. That’s when it’s telling you that it, too, is enjoying the ride.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!