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Riding a motorcycle is therapeutic. In fact, it has been proven to be good for stress relief, and you can also get a great, low-impact workout because it engages core and leg muscles. However, there are many things to learn to enjoy riding safely.

Before hitting the road, there are a few things to consider. In addition to always wearing protective gear like a helmet, gloves, and protective clothing, knowing the basics is crucial. One of the most important skills to learn when riding is being able to stop the motorcycle. Let’s take a look at how to stop a motorcycle the correct way.

Stopping a bike by downshifting

Brad Mates attending the Third Annual Academy of Country Music Celebrity Motorcycle Ride in Las Vegas, Nevada
Braking a motorcycle to a stop | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When stopping a motorcycle, the correct way to slow down is by downshifting one gear at a time until you come to a complete stop. Throttle Pack has some great tips about how to use downshifting. When slowing down, if you don’t downshift gear by gear, your speed will become too slow for your current high gear. This means that if you need to accelerate rapidly and let off of the clutch for a second, your motorcycle’s rear tires will lock up and stall, causing you to skid and possibly lose control of the bike.

The first step is to roll off the throttle. Next, using gentle pressure, apply both the front and back brakes. Then, you will release the brakes and prepare to engage the clutch. If you are in a higher gear, such as fourth or fifth, apply the clutch and shift down to the next lowest gear. 

To avoid lurching forward, try to match the engine’s RPM to the rear wheel. Some motorcycles come with a back-torque limiter or a slipper clutch, eliminating the need to match the engine and rear-wheel speed. Then, release the clutch and allow the motorcycle’s engine to do the braking. Repeat until the first gear is reached.

How to hard stop a motorcycle in an emergency

Sometimes, no matter how cautious a rider is, there will come a time when they have to stop quickly. If you have to stop in an emergency, you won’t be able to downshift. The first step to hard stopping a motorcycle in an emergency is to roll off the throttle and engage the clutch. Then, apply the front and rear brake while focusing mainly on the front brake. You should apply the brakes quickly, but try to use a smooth, progressive technique while doing so. 

Also, it’s crucial to shift to first gear while applying this technique to prepare you to move if the situation calls for it. However, the primary goal is to stop quickly, so getting the motorcycle into first gear will be a secondary goal. 

How to stop a motorcycle without stalling by using the clutch


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While stalling a motorcycle can be embarrassing, it’s also rather dangerous. Motorcycles are hard to see on the road, so stalling at an intersection or anywhere in traffic is a recipe for disaster. When coming to a stop or slowing down, downshift using the steps described above. It’s essential to match the engine and wheel speed with the throttle to avoid stalling.

Riding a motorcycle can be a great experience when safety and proper riding skills are observed. However, there are many facets to riding a motorcycle. To ride safely, there are other things you will need to master besides start and stop. Riding a motorcycle takes practice and patience, and there are many nuances that can only be learned through experience. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you will get.