How Do I Ride A Motorcycle Down A Steep Hill

Regardless of where you live or how flat the area you live is, there is going to be a time when you are going to have to ride down a steep hill. In order to do so safely and properly, there are few things you are going to have to do. That’s why I decided to write this helpful article, to share some of my tips and tricks as well as the proper way to do it.

So, how do I ride my motorcycle down a steep hill? To ride down a steep hill you have to use engine braking to help regulate and limit your speed. Don’t use your brakes to do this, if you use your brakes for long periods of time they will overheat. You will not have the same amount of stopping power you are used to. You never want your brakes to overheat.

This is just a very brief answer, there are all kinds of factors to consider such as what to do if you have to stop quickly on a steep hill and how to take a corner going down a hill. If you want to know how to safely and properly handle these types of situations, read on.

How To Ride Down A Steep Hill On A Motorcycle

There are many things you need to consider when travelling down a steep hill, unfortunately many new riders neglect to learn the correct way to handle going down steep hills or are simply unaware there are things you need to do when riding down a steep hill.

This causes them to treat hills just like any other stretch of road, which is not the best thing to do. Steep hills require a rider to do a few things differently. Let’s go over the different things you need to do to ride down a steep hill safely.

To start off you need to use engine braking, this is crucial. Engine braking is the force or vacuum created by the intake stroke of the engine. This creates a resistance that works to slow the motorcycle down. Simply put, when you let off the throttle or downshift, the engine will make the motorcycle slow down.

This is perfect for travelling down steep hills. You want to use this force (engine braking) to help limit and regulate your speed during long stretches of hills. You do not want to continuously use your brakes to do this.

If you drag the brakes or keep them engaged for long periods of time, you run a very good chance of overheating or “cooking” your brakes. When this happens you will no longer have the same amount of stopping power. This is not good. If there is a sudden stop at the bottom of the hill or an emergency situation, you might be in trouble.

This doesn’t mean you cannot use or shouldn’t your brakes when going down a hill. Just that it is better to use them only when you actually need to stop or if the amount of engine braking isn’t enough and you need to slow down a little more. Try to use as much engine braking as possible, it’s also going to save quite a bit of wear on the brake pads and brake rotors.

Another useful tip in case you notice that you are gaining a bit of speed, or you are not comfortable with the speed you are travelling and want to slow down, is to try downshifting to a lower gear. Thereby increasing the amount of resistance created by engine braking. This is what I prefer to do instead of using the brakes in short bursts.

Speaking of using brakes, if you do need to stop in an emergency, don’t reach for a fistful of front brake. Most of the motorcycle’s weight is already on the front forks.

It’s easy to shift your weight forward (and the remaining motorcycle’s weight) when stopping on a hill, thereby overloading the front suspension and causing the rear wheel to lift.

Start off with a little pressure to both brakes. Then continuously and gradually begin to apply and increase the pressure to both the front and rear brake.

Stop and go traffic can be a bit strange going down a hill. Simply letting off the brake will cause the motorcycle to roll forward before you even apply any power to the wheels.

It can feel awkward and a bit wobbly the first few times. You can fix this by using the same technique as starting on an incline hill. Make sure you are in 1st gear, then apply the rear brake and pull in the clutch. Start to give it some throttle while slowly letting out the clutch to the friction zone.

The friction zone is the point at which the engine starts to engage when you start to let the clutch out. When you feel the engine starting to fight against the brake, hold this and keep the throttle constant

Then slowly release the brake and off you go. Make sure you don’t dump the throttle. Let it out slowly if you want. For the best stability when moving slowly, keep the clutch in the friction zone and drag the rear brake. Just make sure you don’t overheat the brakes.

I find when I do this, I have better control than if I simply just popped it in gear, pulled in the clutch and hoped for the best. It’s always better to have power being delivered to wheels when you want to move.

Along those lines, avoid the urge to just put it in neutral and to coast down the hill. While it might be easy and simple to do. You are not going to have any engine braking, you’ll only have your brakes to slow down. Not the way you want to do it.

If you are worried about engine braking putting extra strain on your engine or damaging it, don’t worry about it. It’s perfectly fine and will not cause any damage or harm to your engine and transmission.

Just make sure you are paying attention to the sound of your engine and the RPMs. While the engine will sound like it is under more load or strained more than normal, if you also start to notice the RPMS are getting too high or the engine sounds like it is under too much strain, then you are going to want to change up a gear or apply some brakes to help relieve some of the load off the engine.

Don’t worry, even a little too much strain shouldn’t be a problem for the engine. I just prefer to be on the safe side.

If you need to take a corner or turn on a steep hill, you really need to make sure you pick the correct entry speed and line. Your entry speed is going to have to be a bit slower than it is when you normally would take the same corner on flat ground.

You also want to make sure to set up well in advance, you need to give the motorcycle time to balance some of the weight back to the rear after braking. The rest is pretty much the same as taking any other corner.

If you want to learn more about it, I wrote a helpful guide all about cornering, check out the link below.

One more thing, try to keep your weight off the front handlebars. I know you should always do this, but it can be too easy to use the handlebars to help prevent you from sliding forward.

You don’t want to do this, instead grip the tank with your legs and try to keep your weight shifted towards the back slightly. Fight the urge to lean on the bars.

Handlebars should only be used to give inputs to the motorcycle. Not to grip or keep you on the motorcycle.

TLDR; When you are riding down a hill, use engine braking as much as possible to slow yourself down, don’t continuously use the brakes. This will cause them to over heat. If you need to slow down more, downshift one gear to increase the amount of engine braking. You can use the brakes but not all the time. Try to use them for short periods of time only. However if you need to stop completely, of course use your brakes.

Well that’s it for this article, I hope you learned something and it answered your questions. If there was anything you were not sure about, feel free to drop me a message using our contact form.

Until next time, happy riding!

Jordan Baker

Hi, I’m Jordan. I’ve been riding motorcycles for a few years now(9+ years). Along the way I’ve learned a bunch, made mistakes and picked up a thing or two. I’ve also spent countless hours practicing and working on improving my skills, something I try to do a few times a week. That’s why I made this website. So I can share my love for riding and everything I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you’ll stick around and check out a few articles.

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