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Can You Ride a Motorcycle If You Can’t Ride a Bicycle?

You know I myself learned how to ride a bicycle quite late compared to the vast majority of people.

So I am completely aware that there are people out there who do not know how to ride a bicycle but, nonetheless, may still want to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Can you ride a motorcycle if you can’t ride a bike? You can ride a motorcycle if you can’t ride a bicycle. If you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, you will have a harder time learning how to ride a motorcycle. People who can’t ride a bicycle should learn how to ride a bicycle before moving on to motorcycles.

This is an important topic that should be taken very seriously. Please, continue reading below as I disambiguate this situation in more detail.

Below I cover more interesting questions and offer helpful tips and solutions.

A parked motorcycle.

Do You Need to Know How Do You Ride a Bike to Ride a Motorcycle?

If we really get down to it, no, it is not absolutely mandatory to know how to ride a bicycle in order to learn how to ride a motorcycle. But it helps.

The consequences, for one, are way smaller. For example, it is a lot safer to fall off a moving bicycle than to fall off a moving motorcycle. What is more is that falling off a bicycle is way cheaper than a motorcycle. So you should take that, arguably, safer and cheaper, opportunity to put in some practice and accumulate some experience before moving on to motorcycles.

When you first start learning how to ride a motorcycle, a lot of your focus and attention will be directed at controlling and operating the motorcycle. Concentration and focus are not unlimited resources. So you will not have a lot of concentration and focus left to spend on being aware and keeping track of your surroundings.

Some Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses will, however, require you to know how to ride a bicycle before they allow you to apply for the course. (Some MSF courses may have only this single requirement.)

Many MSF-certified coaches will usually ask their students about their experience with motorcycles. They may ask questions like, “Have you ever been on a motorcycle as a passenger?” and “Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?” 

If you have no experience whatsoever, then you will, in general, be asked about any experience with riding a bicycle and driving a stick shift car.

They do that because motorcycles run in a different manner, and knowing how to ride a bicycle and drive a stick-shift car will help. 

If you know how to use manual transmission, this will allow you to understand better how shifting works on motorcycles. But with that being said, you need to understand how moving on two wheels works as it is very different from a car.

However, other MSF instructors may not really inquire about whether or not you can ride a bicycle. There are cases where people who do not know how to ride a bicycle have passed the MSF course successfully. I recommend checking out my in-depth article on what to expect from an MSF course, where I get a little more in-depth.

If you want to find out more about MSF courses, I recommend reading my article discussing whether MSF courses are worth it (Just a hint, yes, they absolutely are.)

Then there are also the different controls.

Not knowing how to ride a bicycle is not a sentence that will prevent you from learning how to ride a motorcycle. However, it is a handicap that will make things extra difficult and dangerous for you.

In fact, many motorcycle riders have taught themselves how to ride a motorcycle.

Is Riding a Motorcycle Harder Than a Bike?

Riding a motorcycle is harder than riding a bicycle—especially heavier motorcycles. Motorcycles are more complex machines. The complexity, the weight, and the potential high speeds make riding a motorcycle more difficult compared to riding a bicycle.

Both motorcycles and bicycles require balance to be ridden. However, the unique thing about motorcycles is that once you get them going, they will stabilize on their own with the momentum.

Arguably it is easier to keep and maintain balance by using the momentum on motorcycles than on bicycles.

However, everything else about riding a motorcycle is a lot more complicated and difficult.

You will be using the pedals and handles to control the motorcycle all at the same time. You will be controlling the throttle, the brakes on the front and back wheel, the clutch, and so much more.

While with a bicycle, it may be challenging to get to a situation where things get really dangerous while with a motorcycle, a simple unplanned twist of your hand can cause the motorcycle to speed up uncontrollably. Even letting your hand relax for a second may be enough to get things out of control and crash with your motorcycle.

Is Riding a Bicycle Good Practice, and Does It Help in Riding a Motorcycle?

Riding a bicycle is a good practice, which will help you get a good feel for what it feels like to move on two wheels.

However, the usefulness of riding a bicycle does not expand more than that. There are a lot more aspects to riding a motorcycle that are unique to motorcycles alone.

However, keep in mind that if you have been practicing on a bicycle and are looking to move to a motorcycle, you need to wear proper motorcycle gear. You cannot wear a bicycle helmet on a motorcycle, for example.

Is Riding a Motorcycle Like Riding a Bike?

Motorcycles and bicycles follow the same fundamental dynamics and physical principles. In other words, the balance is very similar. However, this is where the similarities end.

Riding a bicycle is not like riding a motorcycle.

Granted, knowing how to ride a bicycle will give you a good feel of what it is like to move on two wheels. But it will definitely not prepare you for the complexity of riding a motorcycle.

On a motorcycle, you have many different controls, levers, indicator lights, pedals, and so much more. While you are riding a bicycle, you do not worry about such things as they are simply not present.

There are also other differences between riding a motorcycle and a bicycle. You will need to learn how not to lose control of the weight of the motorcycle and how to control the clutch, engine, and the front suspension. And there are other things like countersteering and highsiding.

Just because someone may be good at riding a bicycle does not mean they are good at riding a motorcycle.

The Weight of a Motorcycle vs. a Bicycle

Bicycles are relatively lightweight. Their weight typically ranges between 15 to 40 pounds. This makes them easier to control, and even if you fall off or crash, the potential outcomes will most likely be less severe.

Motorcycles weigh between 100 and 1,000 pounds. In certain cases, even more. This not only makes them more challenging to control and maneuver but also a lot more hazardous.

The Speed of a Motorcycle vs. a Bicycle

The average speed for riding a bicycle can vary a lot depending on the terrain, the rider’s experience, conditioning, and more; however, people usually ride bicycles at speeds between 7 and 30 mph. (The world record is slightly over 50 mph.)

Motorcycles can achieve a lot higher speeds of up to and in excess of 200 mph. Of course, it is very important on what roads you are driving the motorcycle and the ambient conditions; however, such high speeds are very hazardous.

Turning on a Motorcycle vs. a Bicycle

Motorcycles are harder to maneuver than a bicycle.

The way you make regular turns, U-turns, and turns on winding roads and cross-sections on a motorcycle follows the same principles as when riding a bicycle. 

But since the motorcycle is heavier and used at higher speeds, this makes the little corrections to your trajectory and riding technique more difficult and tricky.

Breaking on a Motorcycle vs. a Bicycle

Breaking on a bicycle may be very similar to breaking on a motorcycle. However, again you are riding a different vehicle, and braking on a motorcycle is trickier and more dangerous when done improperly. 

When riding a bicycle, many people may just hold on to the breaks until they come to a complete stop. Doing the same thing on a motorcycle can cause you to lose control of the motorcycle and crash.

Accelerating on a Motorcycle vs. a Bicycle

If you want to ride your bicycle very fast, you will start pedaling as fast as possible. You can achieve some reasonably high speeds with a bicycle, but it happens slowly and gradually.

Speeding up on a motorcycle is different. Some motorcycles are capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in just a few seconds. A slight unintentional twist of your hand can cause you to speed up uncontrollably and fall off the motorcycle or crash.

What to Do If You Can’t Ride a Bike but Want to Get a Motorcycle?

It is recommended to get yourself a decent, basic bicycle, nothing too expensive, and learn how to ride it.

In fact, I can speak from personal experience here. Learning how to ride a bicycle later in life is, in fact, easier, I found. Kids usually may have a harder time grasping the whole concept of riding a bicycle.

The older you get, the more embarrassing it becomes knowing that you can’t ride a bicycle. But you have to do it, especially if you are truly passionate about riding a motorcycle.

Just go out, and find some obscure forest trail where the chances of meeting anyone are extremely low if that will help you. (This is what I did.)

As a kid, I tried what I believed was my best, but I was unable to learn how to ride a bicycle. However, when I got older, I learned how to ride a bicycle in about 3 to 5 minutes. Well, I had no other choice but to learn because there was no other way for me to reach the place where I was working at that time.

I was amazed. Until then, I thought that I was just one of the people that just maybe were not made for moving on two wheels.

So if you cannot ride a bicycle, that’s not a big deal. Get yourself a bicycle. Even a second-hand bicycle will do as long as it is in good condition. Or borrow one from a friend if you can.

You don’t need training wheels but get yourself some protective gear like a helmet and some elbow and knee pads. You may fall a few times, which is perfectly normal, just make sure you stay safe and don’t get hurt.

When you have mastered riding your bicycle, you can start learning how to ride a motorcycle—once you have the basics of moving on two wheels, you may get pleasantly surprised at how fast it can be to get good at riding a motorcycle.

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