How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Riding a Motorcycle?
Learning the basics of motorcycle riding takes a few hours. Proficiency can be achieved with 3-5 days of practice. Mastery requires 1-2 years, but improvement is a lifelong process.
If you are here, you are probably a beginner, or maybe just considering if getting into motorcycling is going to be a tough venture, so to speak.
I have seen people with lots of aptitudes right at the beginning and people with lots of difficulty right from the start. I have followed many motorcycle classes and initiated friends, familly and even my kids into the sport. I have coached elite athletes from the beginning of their careers to the world championship, I know what I’m talking about when it’s time to evaluate the time it takes to get better at something.
Read more to understand what’s required to learn motorcycle driving. Armed with this knowledge, we will get to evaluate the standard time it should get you to get comfortable and finally the time it may take to be confident and good at riding.
Table of Contents
The basics to learn motorcycle riding
What you need before you start:
- Fitness, being able to walk and get up a flight of stairs is the minimum.
- Balance, Being able to ride a bicycle is the minimum.
- Reflexes, Being able to catch a balloon or get your balance back when you slip on something is the minimum.
- Situational awareness, being able to know what is surrounding you and what could be a dangerous situation is minimal.
Being good at riding a motorcycle is a relatively vague concept, and there are a lot of caveats to it. This is why below, I get into more detail about everything you need to know.
To learn to motorcycle you need a little bit of balance and fitness. Don’t be afraid, You don’t need to be able to run a marathon. I would say that if you can walk half an hour and you can get up one story of stairs, you are good to go. Your fitness level will dictate the number of hours you can ride without getting dangerous to yourself and others. If you plan to ride on-road and only causually for one or two hours at a time you will be okay.
On the balance side, you will learn it during your driving lesson, but let’s say that if you can ride a bycicle you should be okay to learn to ride. The basics are very easy and with a little bit of practice, you will be okay. If you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, I strongly suggest you learn that skill first.
You will also need your basic reflexes to be okay. I’m not talking about muscle memories here, I’m talking about reflexes. Muscle memory is learned with repetition, a good example is the things you need to learn for emergency braking: Quickly downshift while applying brake efficiently the front wheel while applying the most pressure on the rear brake without losing traction, and at the same time find an escape path and take a quick look in your mirror to make sure the car behind you is also braking. Those skills are often associated with reflexes but they are learned skills.
Reflexes are more the speed at which you can react naturally to something unexpected and the time it takes to put your body in motion. You don’t need to have the reflexes of a F15 pilot, but you still need to be able to react correctly. Being able to get your balance back when you slip on a patch of ice or quickly catch a ballon thrown from your kid in an incorrect direction can be good indicative of normal reflexes.
Being in a good mental condition is crucial to learning motorcycle riding. If you are exhausted, stressed or depressed the learning experience will be slower and harder.
If you have attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, you must take special steps to be sure you are safe while riding. You can read more on this in my article here: Is it safe to ride a motorcycle when you have ADHD?
All this being said, the more important aspect of the mental condition is spatial or surrounding awareness. This is one of the most important skills you can master to get a good and safe rider. Again, you don’t need to be able to manage an air leak in your space capsule while calculating the trajectory to manually attach to the space station while your college is unconscious from an unknown cause.
You must have a normal sense of awareness. Let’s say that you must be able to know what’s surrounding you and how things and people are moving around you, what could be dangerous, and what are your options if something happens. Situational awareness is pretty well explained in this article.
A good indication of poor situational awareness could be to often fall because you did not see the “Slippery when wet” yellow sign or hitting a car in your blind spot while changing lanes and trying to read your SMS messages.
your capacity to ride a motorcycle depends a lot on situational awareness, luckily for you, this is a skill that can also be learned. Let’s say that you had seven accidents in your last two years of driving a car, maybe you should focus on learning situational awareness skills first.
Things to learn at the beginning
The people who find it hard are usually the ones who do not know how to ride a bicycle or have never driven a manual shift car. They may find it harder to focus and control the motorcycle and use both their feet and hands at the same time.
you can also read: Can You Ride a Motorcycle If You Can’t Ride a Bicycle?
Oftentimes the problem will be the lack of confidence of beginner riders and them not knowing where to look. You have to trust your motorcycle and watch in the direction where you want to go.
Don’t be afraid to drop the motorcycle in the first lessons, failure is a part of the learning process and the motorcycle used for learning should have all the protective bars installed. Dropping the motorcycle 5 to 10 times while learning the basics is the usual norm.
In the beginning, you must learn to use the controls of your motorcycle, steering, clutch, gas and brakes. To learn this, most of the schools have the same process. First, you learn in theory where the controls are located then you practice in a parking lot and only when you are ready and with around 10 to 20 hours of practice, you can go on the road.
While it can seem difficult to learn all those new skills, don’t worry. Motorcycle school should have a well-planned program to build your confidence and your skills on top of another. They will teach you first to use the clutch without gas, then, add a little bit of gas but stay in the first gear, then, show you how to switch to the second gear and so on.
If you are too nervous about riding a motorcycle, I recommend going over the tips I share in my article about How to Get Over the Fear of Riding a Motorcycle? (9 Pro Tips).
Overall, learning how to ride a motorcycle is not an easy thing to do and should not be underestimated. Nonetheless, it is not as hard as it seems to be. Some motorcycle riders have taught themselves how to ride a motorcycle.
See article: Can You Teach Yourself How to Ride a Motorcycle?
Learning to ride a motorcycle is a process that never ends. Every day you will be learning something new.
Ask around, and even older motorcycle riders with more than 40 years of experience under their belt will confirm it. You may have been riding your motorcycle for more than 40 years, and you will still be learning.
What is the hardest part of learning to ride a motorcycle?
Every person is different. Where one may struggle, the others may excel.
Different people will find different things difficult.
One of the things that some people may struggle with is situational awareness. For many people riding a motorcycle will be a completely new experience filled with many new mechanics and techniques. Now, top that with the need to exercise extra attention and stay constantly focused, and you have a recipe for some very difficult times.
Many new motorcycle riders may need a week up to a few months to get comfortable with the motorcycle before being able to get out in the traffic. It is also worth noting that heavier motorcycles can be harder to ride as I stated in this article: Are Heavy Motorcycles Hard to Ride?
Some riders may also find some of the finer-touch techniques of riding a motorcycle more difficult, like properly rev-matching, for example.
Others may struggle even if they have experience riding scooters and manual gear cars—the extra weight of the motorcycle, the balancing, and maneuvering, working with the clutch and gears, and at the same time maintaining one’s focus can prove very challenging, indeed.
Finally, How long does it take:
- Basic skill, a few hours are required to learn the controls and basic maneuvers.
- Intermediate skills, A few days to a few months is required to feel comfortable on a motorcycle.
- Advanced skill, A few years is required to learn to master every aspect of riding.
To learn the basics
You can learn to ride a motorcycle in less than a week. Many motorcycle riders can learn to ride a motorcycle in as much as a few hours.
Usually, the easiest things to learn are the basics of moving on a motorcycle and moving on two wheels, in general. (And if you already know how to ride a bicycle, you are good to go.)
Following that, you will have to learn where the controls are and how to use them. Some people may have trouble if they have never used manual shift cars before, but it usually takes between a quarter of an hour to a few hours to get used to how the controls work.
The controls are fairly standardized across the different motorcycles. So once you learn the basics, you can ride different motorcycles without having to relearn everything.
Some of the things that may take you longer to learn are the low-speed maneuvers, the tighter curves, the u-turns, and figure eights.
Some aspects of riding a motorcycle may sound more complicated than they are, like countersteering, for example, which is not that hard once you get the basics of riding a motorcycle down.
One of the things that takes a lot of time to learn is developing a certain level of mental resilience and discipline. A lot of things do happen on the road constantly, which will require tough skin, so to speak.
Situational awareness is another aspect of motorcycle riding that may take a longer time to develop. Although it does not sound like it, it is harder than one may expect.
And lastly, some motorcycles may be easier to ride than others. For example, dirt bikes can be a lot more forgiving if you make some minor mistakes compared to sports bikes.
Now let me tell you something quite bluntly. Anyone who tells you they are good at riding a motorcycle will be lying to you. This is a process that literally takes a lifetime and then some. It is a never-ending learning process. You will always keep finding yourself in new situations, and you just need to keep an open mind and be able to think on your feet.
to get comfortable
After learning the basics, it usually takes a few months of frequent riding to start feeling more comfortable with your ability to control and maneuver the motorcycle.
However, this process can also take up to one or two years, depending on how often you go for a ride.
Bigger and more powerful motorcycles may be a little more intimidating and require more time for the rider to get comfortable riding them.
to get really good at riding
There is almost no such thing as being really good at riding a motorcycle. It is a learning process that never ends throughout the whole life span of the person.
Almost every time you go for a ride, you may find yourself in new situations, which will add to your overall knowledge of how to ride a motorcycle. In other words, to get really good at riding a motorcycle—it takes years. And then again, different motorcycles will feel and react differently so no one can really say they have truly mastered motorcycle riding.
What is the fastest way to learn how to ride a motorcycle?
The fastest and by far, the best way to learn how to ride a motorcycle is by taking an MSF class to get your license.
Your instructor’s ability to teach and explain, skill and overall personality will play a major role in how effective your MSF course will be and how fast you will be able to learn.
An MSF course is irreplaceable even for more experienced riders that need to brush up on their skills. If you are considering the idea, I’d recommend checking out my article: Is the MSF Course Worth It? (What to Expect)
In combination with that, it is worth reading books, watching videos, and overall getting more educated on the topic. Reading books and watching videos will not necessarily make you better at riding a motorcycle; however, they can serve a valuable role in widening your knowledge and understanding of what happens on the road and what you can do.
But all your efforts will be fruitless if you do not ride your motorcycle often. You can read: How Often Should You Ride Your Motorcycle? If you don’t ride enough, you will eventually start to lose your skills and reaction times.
Can You Forget How to Ride a Motorcycle?, the odds of this happening are pretty much nonexistent, but you will not feel comfortable while riding, and you will need some time to refamiliarize yourself with the motorcycle.
To sum it up
Not everyone will be born with the same natural skills and capabilities; this is why some people may find it easier to get good at riding a motorcycle while others will struggle quite a bit.
If you are new and still struggling, do not lose motivation, watch videos, take training courses, buy books, and educate yourself as much as possible. Understand that this is a learning process that will never end. Even write to me if you need motivation, my email is: [email protected].
Don’t do anything you are still not comfortable with. One of the mistakes many beginners make is to try to compete with other more experienced riders.
Get some good comfortable gear and exercise extra caution while being on the road.
Practice, and be responsible, and eventually, you will start feeling less nervous and more in control.
That being said, not everyone is born a natural rider. Riding a motorcycle takes a lot. It takes a lot of learning, coordination, focus, and skill. And the fact is, not everybody may end up being a good or even a decent rider after all.
Meet Simon, the 46-year-old aficionado behind YourMotoBro. With a lifelong passion ignited by motocross dreams and a Canadian Tire bicycle, Simon’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. From coaching underwater hockey to mastering muddy terrains, he’s an authority in thrill and adventure. Certified as an Off-Road Vehicle Excursion Guide and trained in Wilderness First Aid, Simon’s love for bikes is as diverse as his collection—from a robust BMW GSA R1200 to the memories of a Harley Davidson Night Train. By day a respected telephony consultant, by night a motorcycle maestro, Simon’s tales are a blend of expertise, resilience, and undying passion. ?️✨