Insider Secrets – From a Motorcycle Driving Instructor

Motorcycle Instruction

As a Motorcycle Instructor, I not only helped many people successfully obtain a licence, I also taught them some very important motorcycle safety.

As the creator of Haul N Ride, I would like to share some insider tips on Motorcycle Assessment and Safety.


I will begin with CROW FUEL LIMB: Pre Riding Bike Check.




CROW – Chain, Rubber, Oil, Water (if you have a radiator)




Motorcycle Fuel Gauge




Fuel – Full Gas Tank





Tree Limb




Limb – Lights, Indicators, Mirrors, Brakes



Remember to have a safe bike before your assessment and remember CROW FUEL LIMB before you ride for the rest of your life.

Note: In Australia we ride on the left side of the road. Just swap the following advice in opposite countries.

Extremely Important – Before you Begin Instructing a Learner

Learners are Nervous

You as an instructor must remain calm at all times. If this is a problem, don’t begin. Allow someone else to teach them.

Motorcycle Instruction

1. Motorcycle Induction – For students learning to ride for the first time

Wheel the Bike

Ask the student to stand beside the bike and walk it around to get used to the weight and manoeuvring it forward and backward and turning. It is essential the student is able to do this before sitting on it.

Motorcycle Instruction Wheeling a Bike

Squeeze the Brake

Ask the student to squeeze the Brake Lever on the handle bar before mounting the bike. Tell them to do this every time, even on a flat surface.

Motorcycle Instruction Safe Mounting

Mount Left Side

Teach the student to always mount the bike on the same side as the Kick Stand. Explain that this is safer as the bike is leaning toward them.

Motorcycle Instruction Secure the Weight

Remove Stand – Fold Before you Ride

Remind the student to lift the stand after mounting the bike. Tell them “You don’t want to ride off with it down”. This teaches the student at an early stage to fold the stand up.

Some bikes allow the rider to ride off with the stand down, while other bikes have a safety feature built in to prevent this.

Riding with the stand down must be avoided during the assessment.

Motorcycle Kick Stand

Hold Secure Test – Feel the Weight

A strong person will be able to stand at the front of the bike with each leg on either side of the front tyre.

This strong person will also hold the handlebars as the learner sits on the bike holding the hand grips. The learner can then sit on the bike and experience putting both feet on the foot pegs or running boards.

Next the learner can put both feet on the ground and hold the weight of the bike as the strong person gently tilts the bike from right to left, testing the learner’s ability to keep the bike upright.

If performed correctly, the learner will discover what it is like to grip the ground with their riding boots and steady the weight of the bike as the weight shifts.

Holding the weight


Locate the Pegs – No Looking

While the strong person is holding the bike, the learner moves both feet on and off the foot pegs repeatedly, without looking. This is an important learning exercise as a rider must know where the pegs are without looking when they are riding.

Motorcycle Instruction Foot Pegs

Check Blind Spot – Look Over Shoulder

While the learner is sitting on the bike, (with both feet on the ground), the instructor approaches the “Blind Spot” and asks the student to say “Now” when they see the instructor in the mirror.

The instructor will be almost beside the student at that moment. This teaches the student how important it is to “look over the shoulder”.

Motorcycle Instruction Look Over Shoulder

Learn the Controls – Know Your Ride

With the student sitting on the bike, show them the location of the Indicators, Hazard Lights, Speedometer, Hand Brake, Clutch Lever, Throttle, Kill Switch Stop/Run, Start Button or Kick Start, Ignition, Foot Brake, Horn, Light High Beam, Light Low Beam, Pass Switch and any other important controls on the bike.

Motorcycle Instruction controls

Walk the Bike – Feel the Brake

Ask the student to sit on the bike and using both legs, walk the bike forward. This teaches balance and weight control.

For safety, explain to the student how to hold the fingers on the brake lever to be ready to squeeze if the bike moves too fast. This also provides the experience of “finding the point” where the brake engages and disengages, making the learner more comfortable with the hand brake.

It is better to learn what it feels like squeezing too fast and hard at this speed, than later while riding.

Motorcycle Instruction Duck Walking

Locate Neutral – Change Through the Gears

When the student is confident to hold the bike upright using the right leg and with the engine not running, teach the student to apply the clutch and change gears. This teaches the learner the location of the gears. Have the student put the bike in neutral for the next step.

Gear Change Motorcycle

Turn Ignition On – Start the Engine

Teach the student how to confirm the bike is in neutral, turn the Kill Switch to Run and start the engine or Kick Start the engine. Explain the “Kill Switch” to turn the bike on and off.

The Kill Switch is less expensive than the ignition to replace, so it makes sense to use and wear out the cheaper option.

Motorcycle Kill Switch

Throttle Control – Smooth & Steady

Explain to the student that accelerating too fast could cause a rider to seriously injure themselves and damage the bike. Demonstrate how sensitive the throttle is in responding to twist.

Ask the student to have a turn. Allow the student to practice raising and lowering the revs slowly without over revving the engine.

Allow the student (only once or twice) to over rev the engine so they learn the position on the throttle and how far the throttle has to be twisted to gain the higher revs.

Motorcycle Instruction Throttle

Find the Point – Locate the Friction Zone

Ask the student to dismount the bike. Sit on the motorbike and demonstrate the change of sound of the revs as you enter the friction zone.

Demonstrate how going beyond the friction zone moves the motorcycle forward and squeezing off the zone stops the forward movement.

Explain how you are controlling the “stop/go” with the clutch and not the brake.

If the student is ready, have the student mount the bike, hold the clutch, change to 1st gear, locate the friction zone and rotate the wheel a quarter of a turn. Allow the student to repeat this process many times until they are comfortable finding the point.

Motorcycle Clutch Friction Zone

Live at the Friction Zone – Slow Speed Manaeuvers

Explain to the student that slow speed riding is achieved by control of the clutch, not the accelerator and brake.

Shut Down the Engine and the Power

Have the student turn off the engine using the Kill Switch and explain the importance of turning off the ignition and removing the key every time they leave the bike. If the key is left turned on, the headlight will rapidly drain the battery.

Motorcycle Ignition Switch

1st Gear to Park & Standing on Solid Ground

Ask the student to change the gears to 1st. Explain how leaving a bike in neutral allows the bike to fall over if it is knocked or rolls forward. 1st gear will prevent this from happening.

Dropped Motorcycle

Explain what would happen if the stand were placed on sand or soft ground. It is better to find a flat rock and place it underneath the stand than to return with your bike on it’s side.

Correct Safe Dismount

Instruct the student to squeeze the hand brake when dismounting. This prevents the unfortunate situation of the bike rolling forward while getting off.

Motorcycle Hand Brake

Extra Controls

Show the student the location of any other features, such as helmet lock, Steering Lock and Fuel Tap/Choke.

Motorcycle Steering Lock

2. Learning to Ride and Assessment Practice

Protective Clothing – Safe Riding Gear

Do not begin teaching a student to ride a motorcycle until you Both have protective riding gear.

Motorcycle Instruction Protective Clothing


Practice Correct Mounting Procedures

Hand Brake to mount the motorcycle and fold the stand up.

Motorcycle Instruction

Practice Starting Procedures

Key ignition on, Kill Switch in Run position, Hand Brake squeezed, Neutral Gear and Clutch in. Start engine, practice smooth throttle control, change to 1st and practice friction zone.

Basic Motorcycle Instruction

Begin Riding – Duck Walking

Have the student ride all the way around the car parking lot with both feet on the ground moving and slow speed controlling the bike with the clutch friction zone. The focus here is smooth take off and NO throttle. Engine idling and using clutch only to Stop Go.

The student will continue to duck walk until they reach a speed too fast to continue.

Motorcycle Duck Walking

Begin Riding – Both Feet Up

This is the BIGGEST AND SCARIEST STEP for the student.

Allow the student to practice lifting the feet up briefly and duck walking repeatedly until they are ready to keep both feet on the pegs.

DO NOT ALLOW the student to keep the feet on the pegs while turning a corner.

Straight line riding with feet on pegs, slow down to walking pace, duck walking around corner and feet up on the straight.

The student requires much practice in this manner until they are very confident to try keeping the feet on the pegs during a turn.

IF THEY ARE GOING TOO SLOW WHILE TURNING WITH FEET ON THE PEGS, THE STEERING WILL WOBBLE AND CAUSE PANIC. Therefore do not rush the student. All students are unique and overcome this step in their own time.

Praise the student for their achievement and give encouragement, not rushing them or being pushy.

Motorcycle Instruction Left Leg Down

Kill the Duck on the Straight

Now is the time to teach the student to stop with left leg down on the straight. It is still acceptable to Duck Walk on the bend, but stopping and starting on the straight will allow the student to practice Left Leg Down when stopping.

Explain the reason for left leg down is so the other foot is operating the brake until the motorcycle comes to a stop.

Basic Motorcycle Instruction

70/30 – Learn it Early to Increase your Chances of Passing the Emergency Stop

70% Front Brake and 30% Rear Brake. Explain to the student that too much rear brake will cause rear tyre skid. The front brake has more traction as the front forks compress, the weight moves forward and the front tyre contact patch grips the road surface.

Also many bikes have disc brakes on the front and drums on the rear. Have the student practice GENTLE application of the front and rear brakes. It takes time to find the point where the brakes apply gently and not throwing the rider forward.

Practice this for as long as it takes to learn the brakes. Using brakes incorrectly can cause some surprises.

Motorcycle Brakes

Kill the Duck on Turns – Both Feet Up

Choose a location with NO DISTRACTIONS OR TRAFFIC and a location that has PLENTY OF SPACE. A tight space with obstacles will cause the student to turn sharp and the potential to lose control of the motorbike. Large open space with wide turns is safer.

Have the student ride for as long as they like doing circular/oval laps. The student will put both feet on the pegs when they are ready. Celebrate with them when they achieve it.

Motorcycle Instruction - Turning the Bend

Clutch, Both Brakes and Left Leg Down

Assessors do not like the right leg landing during a stop (however if the bike is falling, it is necessary). For this reason, and now that the student is confident in riding without the duck walk, the student requires plenty of practice taking off and stopping. Clutch Brake Left Leg Down.

The student must learn to take off by lifting the left leg onto the peg (not allowing the leg to hop a few times prior to landing on the peg). PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!

Clutch, both brakes and left leg down.

Honda Shadow

Change Gears

Assessors do not like you changing up or down at the incorrect revs. Have the student practice changing up and down the gears with the engine turned off many times. They need to learn where the gears are without the distraction of moving forward.

When the student is confident that they know where each gear is located, ask the student to practice riding around changing from neutral to first to second, back to first etc.

Once again a lot of practice is required for the student to learn to listen to the revs and know when is too early or too late for the gear change.

Motorcycle Gear Change

Slow Speed Balance – The Combination

The student needs to learn the combination to prevent steering wobble at slow speeds. Finding the Friction Zone, combined with a light increase in the revs of the throttle and slightly applying the rear brake will stabilise the motorcycle, keeping it upright.

Slight acceleration will prevent the engine from stalling

The clutch friction zone will control the speed

The rear brake will increase stability and assist in speed control


When the student can confidently travel slowly in a straight line without wobble, they will have learnt a very important skill. Crawling through slow moving traffic is a part of every day life as a motorcyclist.

Motorcycle Instruction Slow Speed Balance

Controlled Stop

During the assessment, the front tyre must not go over the stop line or be too far away from the line. Bike lands in correct location and left leg down. (no duck walking). Using chalk, draw a circle on the car park and ask the student to approach the circle and land the front wheel directly in the centre and left leg down. Changing down the gears and approaching the circle at slow speed should be easy now that the student has practiced slow speed balance.

Motorcycle Instruction Controlled Stop

Counter Steering, Slalom Weaving & Obstacle Avoidance

At this stage the student should be confident to ride around the car park changing through the gears, turning around bends both left and right, controlling speed using the clutch and left leg down. As the student is going down the straight, have the student practice pushing down on the right hand grip to weave right and then pushing down left to weave left. Counter steering needs to be practised to allow the student to experience leaning of the bike and increases overall confidence. After many laps slalom weaving, you may like to put a motorcycle glove in the ground and have the student practice obstacle avoidance using counter steering.

Motorcycle Instruction Slalom Weaving

Figure 8’s and Figure O’s

Draw a circle and explain to the student to imagine it is the centre of a figure 8. The student will begin riding in a large figure 8 crossing the circle in the centre. Slowly the student will reduce the size of the figure 8 as confidence increases. Many bikes will easily perform this while idling. Some bikes will require slight throttle to prevent stalling. Either way, the friction zone is the tool that is used to perform the task successfully.

When confidence has been attained, introduce looking over the shoulder and indicating during the figure 8 and figure O. I taught my students to do both to ensure they maintained control of the bike and MILO in both directions. The assessment will only use one method for testing.

Figure O’s: Left indicate to the left side of the road with foot on road, not on kerb. MILO before turning. Mirrors, then indicate, then look over shoulder and if clear, turn a figure O while looking over shoulder.

Control the speed with the clutch and revs. Return to the same spot you left with the left indicator signal flashing as you approach the kerb.

Motorcycle Instruction - Figure 8

Emergency Stop

I cannot highlight how important practice is. It is expected that you meet the stopping distance requirements.

Do not change down gears and do not lock the rear wheel.

Very Important: Remember after you have completed the stop, to return you bike to 1st gear. You do not want to stall the bike in front of the assessor when you take off. To perform an emergency stop, clutch fully in, 70/30 brakes and stop as rapidly as possible to safely stop, while maintaining full control of the bike.

Emergency Stop Motorcycle

3. Street Riding & Highway Riding

Correct Road Position

Ride around town in the same tyre track that the driver’s tyre of a car travels (just inside the centre line).

(except when it is safer to move away to allow clearance, such as turning traffic)

You must move toward the left hand side of the road to turn left and the right side of your lane to turn right. 30 meters before an intersection MILO and move to the position I just mentioned.

Look in both mirrors, indicate, look over the shoulder in the direction you plan on turning and only allow the indicator to continue flashing 3 times after completing a turn.

There is one exception to road position. If there is an unsafe surface such as loose stones or pot hole, you may move as close as safe to enter the turn.

Before Braking Check Mirrors

If you plan on braking, check both mirrors first.

1st Gear Stop Line

Double check you are in first gear when leaving the stop sign. You do not want to stall the bike in front of the assessor when you take off.

Look After Stopped

You are expected to look both directions when approaching a give way signed intersection.

However you should be looking at the stop line to locate the front wheel in the correct location at a stop sign. For this reason you only need to look for traffic after you have stopped.

Use Roundabouts Correctly

Learn the rules in the book and obey the road position, right of way and correct signalling on roundabouts.

Motorcycle Roundabout

Look and Slow Down

You Must be doing a speed as if you were going to stop at a pedestrian (Zebra) crossing, rail crossing giveway or giveway sign. Approaching a give way at a higher speed (even if clear) is not allowing you time to stop if needed. Slow down and keep the assessor happy.

Cul De Sac

Look over Left shoulder, indicate left, right shoulder, indicate right, left shoulder, indicate left as you exit the turn.


You must move toward the left hand side of the road to turn left and the right side of your lane to turn right. 30 meters before an intersection MILO (Mirrors, Indicate, Look Over shoulder) and move to the position I just mentioned.

Look in both mirrors, indicate, look over the shoulder in the direction you plan on turning and move along the road in that position until the turn is complete.

There is one exception to road position. If there is an unsafe surface such as loose stones or pot hole, you may move as close as safe to enter the turn. Do not ride on an unsafe surface.

Look Again as Turning

Look over your shoulder during your left turn to watch for pedestrians. Look over your shoulder during a right turn to watch for traffic overtaking you.

Motorcycle Safety Look Over Shoulder

Cancel Signal

Only allow the indicator to continue flashing 3 times after completing a turn.

Watch Mirrors Frequently

Unless the street is very short, you must look in your mirrors often. I taught my students to practice by counting to 8 slowly like this: 1 Thousand, 2 Thousand, 3 Thousand, 4 Thousand, 5 Thousand, 6 Thousand, 7 Thousand, 8 Thousand and then check mirrors. This trains you how often you should be checking behind you.

Motorcycle Safety Mirror Check

Watch Speed Limits

Seriously, Speeding will be an instant Fail.

Speed Limit Sign

Look Well Ahead

The assessor will notice if you did not see something occurring in front of you. Be safe and know what you are heading into.

Go Around Parked Cars

Remember to use MILO when a car is blocking or protruding in your lane. Don’t just swerve around it.

Create a Buffer Zone.

Move away from parked cars in case a door opens and allow clearance between you and a truck.

And always allow clearance from a parked car.

Motorcycle Hit Parked Car

Indicate After Turn Before Turning

Imagine this. You wish to turn left, but before your turn is another street. Even if that other street is closer than 30 meters, do not indicate until after you have passed the other street. Other road users need to know which street you are turning.

Park in a Motorcycle Bay

Practice reversing into a motorcycle bay on an angle to the road. Practice if possible on hills and slopes. Remember this important point: The bike will lean in the direction of the stand. You don’t want to park on a slope and have your bike on too much of a lean making it unstable and easy to fall onto it’s side.

Motorcycle Instruction Parking

Hill Start

Do not walk your feet. MILO and using the friction zone on the clutch and the correct revs, move away as you would on flat ground.

Hill Start a Motorcycle

Change Gears – Rev Selection

Practice rev selection when gear changing. You must have enough revs to change up, or you will labour the engine. Conversely, you must have low enough revs to change down.

Safely Overtake Another Vehicle

On the Highway, allow the student to safely overtake you, ensuring the student allows clearance between you and them and MILO to ensure it is safe to overtake.

Motorbike Overtaking

Highway Speed

It will take time for the student to increase highway speed and confidence. Do not rush the student. Ride slowly as they build confidence.

Motorcycle Highway Riding

Oncoming Trucks, Caravans and Large Traffic

I recommend the rider position adjacent to the centre line of the road on the straight. This is safer as animals can enter the road from the left or right. However, when a vehicle is approaching in the oncoming lane, move toward the side of the road to allow clearance.

Move to the side to allow clearance and lean in. Large oncoming traffic can cause a lot of wind and destabilise the motorcycle at high speeds on the highway. Lean forward to reduce the effects of wind push/pull while large vehicles pass.

Motorcycle Passing Truck

Road Position on Bends

In Australia we ride on the left side of the road. Just swap the following advice in opposite countries.

When travelling a sweeping right bend, move to the left of your lane adjacent to the side of the road. This provides better vision around the corner and clearance from oncoming traffic.

When travelling a sweeping left bend, move adjacent to the centre line. This provides better vision around the corner. However if another vehicle in the oncoming lane approaches mid bend, move toward the side of the road to allow clearance.

Motorbike Sweeping Bend

3 Second Rule – Do Not Tailgate

On the highway you need to prevent yourself following the vehicle in front of you too closely. To achieve this, watch as the vehicle passes over a shadow, tree or side post. Count slowly to 3 and the object will pass you. Count in this manner. 1 thousand, 2 thousand, 3 thousand. To correctly observe the 3 second rule, the object should pass you after you have finished counting. If it passes sooner, you are following too closely.

Giving Way & Picking Gaps

Traffic travel very fast on the highways and freeways. You must be confident that there is sufficient time to safely enter the traffic and allow you to accelerate to highway speeds. If not sure, wait for a larger gap in the traffic. Reaching highway speeds from stationary, requires fast gear change and rapid acceleration. Once again, practice this skill before attempting to enter moving high speed traffic.

Highway Speed – Counter Steering and Slalom Weaving

As confidence increases and only on a safe surface along the straight, practice slalom weaving using leaning and counter steering. It is actually fun if performed safely.

Ride with a Pillion Passenger

At this stage your student should be ready to take the assessment. If you choose and your learner feels confident, you may offer to ride on the rear of the student’s motorcycle as a pillion passenger. To begin with, you can put both your feet on the ground to assist in stabilising the bike. Obviously you will not attempt this unless you are both confident.

Pillion Passenger Safety

Night Riding and Wet Weather

It is a good idea to take your student out in all weather conditions, including night time. Just be sure to explain to the student that more distance is required to stop in wet conditions.

Riding in The Rain

Teach More than is Required to Pass

I taught my students safety as well as what was required to pass. That is why I took them out on the highway.

Tips to Pass – What to Avoid

The following are sure ways to help you Fail the Assessment – Do Not Do the following.

Failure to do up your helmet

Taking off with the stand down

Disobeying traffic signs and warnings

Dangerous riding


Failure to cancel the flasher (indicator) after completing a turn

Following another vehicle too closely

Failure to Give Way to another vehicle who has Right of Way

Incorrect Road Position on turns

Failure to MILO

Failure to look in mirrors frequently

Failure to look in mirrors before braking

Failure to indicate early enough before turning a corner

Failure to look both ways crossing a railway crossing

Not stopping at the correct position on a stop line or failure to stop at a stop sign

Incorrect revs while changing gears

Landing with both legs when stopping

Locking the rear wheel in a skid

Entering traffic too early (dangerous) or too late (lack of confidence)

Incorrect Gear, Stalling and generally lack of skill in controlling the motorcycle

On The Day

All lights must be working or the assessment will be cancelled.

Learner’s Permit must be shown to the Assessor prior to assessment.

Appropriate clothing and safety gear must be worn or the assessment will be cancelled.

Hopefully I have provided enough “insider” information to help you obtain a licence.


Remember: After you Pass and obtain your licence, continue to observe all the road rules, don’t speed and ride safely.

Haul N Ride website was created to explore Innovation and Human Creativity with a focus on Interesting, Rare and Unusual Motorcycles and Accessories. Haul N Ride welcomes the sharing of projects and ideas, creating an enjoyable and educational online resource. We like to hear from readers so please leave a comment below and let us know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Thank you for visiting Haul N Ride. Dave

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