Riding a Motorcycle Downhill: 3 Techniques to Keep in Mind

Downhill slopes and corners tend to be the most dangerous for motorcycle riders. They rapidly increase your speed as you race to the bottom of the hill, which can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not paying attention. Some riders have trouble adjusting their speed when the force of gravity is at work. Others might not be able to turn once they reach the bottom because they are turning too fast. Braking compresses the forks of the bike, and the shocks might have trouble absorbing all the bumps of the road when the brakes are engaged. This can make it hard for riders to maintain their balance. A slight bump or hole in the pavement can throw off their stance, increasing the chances of an accident. 

But you can get to the bottom safely if you utilize the proper riding techniques and essential gear, like a motorcycle communication system. It’s all about controlling your balance, speed and understanding the physics of the downward momentum. Use these downhill motorcycle tips to avoid unnecessary spills and falls. 

  1. Lean Back to Reduce Your Speed

The descent will only increase your speed even if you lay off the accelerator. That’s why you need to lean back on the bike to create more of a drag. Shifting your weight to the rear will help counteract the gravitational effects, so you don’t lose control of your speed. Your body will want to slide down towards the front. You can try using your upper body strength to push yourself back, but your arms will likely get tired after a few minutes. Grip your legs around the gas tank to stay in the rear position. This requires strong core and leg muscles, so be sure to practice those exercises! 

  1. Slow Down on the Approach

The descent accelerates the current trajectory of the bike, so slowing down before the elevation starts to dip will help you further reduce your speed. Knowing what’s ahead can help you set your expectations. Widen your gaze to better anticipate possible changes in the topography before they occur. If you see a descent on the horizon, you will have enough time to adjust your speed accordingly. Always err on the side of caution when going downhill — even if you’re in a hurry to reach your destination. It’s easier to speed up than it is to slow down on the side of a hill, so give yourself enough time to come to a complete stop if necessary. 

  1. Set Your Turn Speed Early

Turning at the bottom of the hill will only make things more challenging. You need to go into the turn at the proper speed to avoid tipping over when you lean to the side. Start braking before you make the descent if you need to turn at the bottom. Adjust the speed on the way down based on how much momentum you need to turn. You will have more control over your speed when you shift down to a lower gear instead of pressing down on the brakes. All that extra pressure can wear down your brake pads, making them less effective in the future. 

It’s better to use positive throttle when going downhill instead of drifting on the tail end of your last acceleration. This gives you more control over the speed of the bike. It also redistributes the pressure by sending power to the back tire, so you don’t send all your weight to the front. 

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Additional Safety Considerations When Riding Downhill

You should always wear the proper safety gear when operating a motorcycle, including the proper riding gear and a full-face or half-face helmet with goggles to shield your eyes from debris. The risk of injury is even more pronounced when riding downhill, so make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself from harm. Use a helmet communication device when riding a motorcycle to wirelessly connect to your phone or GPS so you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. Mount your mobile device to the handlebars of your motorcycle to avoid looking down. You will also have peace of mind knowing you can call for help in an emergency without physically reaching for your device. 

The communication headset clips onto your helmet without obstructing your view. The receiver should be near your mouth to pick up everything you are saying. The headset will work with most types of motorcycle helmets. Use a half-helmet communication system when wearing a half-face helmet to keep the mic in the right position. 

Feel Confident When Riding Downhill

Mastering hills is just part of learning how to ride a motorcycle. They can easily throw you for a loop if you’re not paying attention, but slowing down and preparing for the descent will help you stay in control. Practice learning how to control your speed in a quiet area where you don’t have to worry about navigating traffic. Once you make it to the bottom of the hill, you will have a better idea of how it affects your speed and balance. 

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