Practice For A Motorcycle Driving Test: Pass The First Time.

One of the happiest moments in my life was when I passed my motorcycle test and was finally able to legally ride a motorcycle. To help you make this happen too, I decided to write this guide with useful things I learned and drills I did that made the process a bit easier. Hopefully these drills will make you more prepared for your test as well.

Before you start practising any of these, you are going to need to find a suitable place to practice. This is probably going to be an empty parking lot or a closed private practice area, such as a track or other type of private road. In most places you will not be allowed to use public roads to practice.

To help you find a good place to practice, check out this guide I wrote all about parking lot practice. In there you will find a ton of tips how you can find a suitable and safe place.

Ok, with that all out of the way let’s get to topic.

How to practice for a motorcycle driving test

Motorcycle driver tests are going to vary from state to state and country to country. But that doesn’t matter. They are all going to test you on pretty much the same set of skills and with similar drills.

So in order to pass your motorcycle driving test, you are going to need to make sure you are ready and have the basic skills necessary to pass whatever exam or test they throw at you.

While I cannot give you the exact exercises they are going to ask you to perform, I can give you a good set of drills that are aimed at preparing you for whatever they send your way.

I’m going to share the drills I used when I was practising for my test and what worked for me. Hopefully these will help you pass the first time through.

With that being said, let’s get to the drills. More specifically, slow maneuver or closed track drills. To start off you are going to need to find an empty parking lot, as mentioned and to get permission from the owner if possible.

Pushing The Motorcycle

Once you have found a suitable place to practice, it’s time to get to work. The first thing you are going to do is practice walking or moving the motorcycle. Many tests will start off with you pushing or walking the motorcycle through a course or performing a u-turn with it.

So that’s why we are starting with this drill, you don’t want to fail because you didn’t bother to practice it. It’s not that hard and should only take you 10-15 minutes to get good at.

What you are going to do is, start by grabbing the handlebars and getting the motorcycle upright. Pull in the clutch and pop it into first gear, put the kickstand up and hold the clutch in fully.

You need to put it in gear so you can use the clutch like a brake, just let it out if you want to slow down or stop. This helps if you ever have to do it on a hill or incline.

With both hands on the handlebars, you are going to walk the motorcycle forward a few feet then make a u-turn to the right or left and come back to the starting point. Practice doing this standing on both sides.

Your goal is try to make as tight of a turn as possible, while still maintaining control and balance of the motorcycle.

After you have done this a few times and you are fully confident, it’s time to move on. If you drop the motorcycle during this part of an exam, you will fail.

Now you are going to sit on the motorcycle and practice backing up the motorcycle. Practice backing up in a straight line, as well as turning to simulate you backing into a parking spot.

When doing this, make sure you are looking over your shoulder to see where you are going, don’t just rely on the mirrors. You need to treat this as if you are riding on the road.

If you pick a heavy motorcycle to learn on this might be a bit more difficult, this is one reason why smaller and lighter motorcycles are better and easier when you are learning.

After this you should be a bit more comfortable with how to move the motorcycle and balance it. Now it’s time to actually start the motorcycle up and start riding.

Learning Clutch Control

To begin we are going to start with the most basic but extremely important thing. Getting the motorcycle moving from a stop as well as starting to learn about the friction zone, clutch and throttle control. In order to ride a motorcycle it is crucial that you learn how to do this properly.

This drill might seem a bit boring, but it’s the foundation to everything else you are going to learn. So make sure you put in some effort.

You are going to start at one end of your practice area. Put the motorcycle in first gear and keep the clutch fully pulled in. Start to give the motorcycle a little bit of throttle, then hold the revs at that point.

Then with your left hand, slowly start to let the clutch out, about an inch at a time until you feel the motorcycle start to move forward. Where this happens is known as the friction zone.

Hold the clutch there and let the motorcycle move forward, just sort of duck walk it for a few feet. Work on trying to keep the revs constant, and use letting the clutch out a little more, or pulling it a bit to regulate your speed.

Every few feet, pull in the clutch and come to a stop, then repeat the process. Do this the whole length of your practice area.

When you can do this without stalling, it’s time to move on. You are going to do the same thing, except this time you are going to slowly let the clutch out the whole way and get both feet up and on the pegs.

Ride for a few feet, then come to a stop and repeat the process. Whatever you do, do not dump the clutch. Let it out slowly.

I would repeat this drill until you can consistently get the motorcycle moving from a stand still without stalling.

If you find you are stalling it all the time, you need to increase the amount of throttle or let the clutch out a bit slower. When you do stall, it’s not a big deal. Just close the throttle, pull the clutch in and hit the starter button.

Changing Gears

After you have this down, you are ready to build on this and learn how to properly change gears. Generally when it comes to riding, I like to change out of first gear as soon as possible. When in first gear the motorcycle is much more sensitive to throttle inputs and that makes it feel jumpy.

So start at one end of your practice area, pull in the clutch and put the motorcycle into first gear, then just like in the previous exercise you are going to get the motorcycle moving and your feet on the pegs.

Try to get it up to around 5-10mph or so. In a fluid and smooth motion, roll off the throttle and pull in the clutch. Then get your left toe under the gear selector and give it a good tap up (be careful not to accidentally shift into neutral). Then slowly let out the clutch while getting back on the throttle.

After you have done this, ride for a few feet and then reverse the process and shift back down to first gear and then come to a complete stop. To do this, roll off the throttle and pull in the clutch and give the gear selector a good tap down to put the motorcycle back into first gear.

Then you slowly let out the clutch and roll back on the throttle. Then bring the motorcycle to a complete stop by applying even pressure to the front and rear brake and pulling in the clutch to prevent stalling.

When you are changing gears, work on not looking down at your feet or the controls. Keep your head and eyes up, scanning or watching the “road” in front of you.

Repeat this drill a few dozen times or as many as you need until you are comfortable changing gears and can do it without looking down or missing a gear change.

Weaving Around Objects

Now that you can do this, we are going to work on weaving. Start by setting up some cones or markers as shown the diagram below.

Next you are going to start at one end and complete the course as shown below.

When you are doing this drill you are going to focus on weaving around the cones in a slow and controlled manner. Try to keep the motorcycle speed to around 5-10mph. You are not trying to win a race or get through as fast as possible.

To make this a bit easier, you are going to work on keeping the clutch in the friction zone and drag the rear brake. This will help smooth out the throttle input and make the motorcycle feel more stable, controlled and balanced. It’s important that you learn how to do this.

You also want to keep your head up, and use your peripheral vision to watch for the markers. Avoid using the front brake, if you need to slow down or want to regulate your speed, pull in or let out the clutch to increase or decrease your speed. You can also use the rear brakes as well, just don’t let it out all the way.

When you are through the markers, perform a u-turn and return to the start. Try to alternate between left and right u-turns.

Keep practising this drill until you can do it smoothly, confidently and without putting a foot down. If you put a foot down at any point during an exercise while taking an exam, this can sometimes mean a failure depending where you are taking the test.

Learning How To Do U-turns

Next you are going to work on u-turns. You don’t need to set up any markers for this, just use the parking space lines as a marker.

Get the motorcycle moving, as soon as your feet are on the pegs you are going to perform a tight u-turn. Work on turning the bars full lock and letting the motorcycle lean under you, try to keep your body more upright.

Look over your shoulder and point your nose to your shoulder, this will help you tighten up your u-turns.

Fight the urge to put your foot down, it will feel like the motorcycle wants to tip. But it wont. You need to trust it. When are you doing a u-turn, never use any front brake, don’t chop the throttle or pull in the clutch.

If you do that, you will drop the motorcycle. If you feel like it is losing speed, you can let the clutch out a little to increase power to the rear wheel.

You probably won’t need to perform an 18ft u-turn for the exam, but if you can do one, then a 25ft (which is roughly the size they will ask you to do) u-turn will be a piece of cake. So your goal is to try to do a 18ft u-turn, which is roughly the width of two parking spaces.

Run this drill until you can easily and confidently do a u-turn both to the left and right.

Sharp Turn From A Stop

Next we are going to work on making a tight turn from a stop. This is important to learn so you can safely make a turn while staying in your lane.

You don’t need to set up any markers for this, just start as shown in the diagram. Move forward a few feet then make a sharp turn to the right or left. Most exams will only ask you to make a sharp right turn, but to be safe I would practice both directions.

Once you have made the turn, if you wish you can make a u-turn and then return the starting position. Work on keeping your head and eyes up and pointing your nose where you want to go, don’t look at the ground.

Run this drill as many times as you need, until you can do it easily without putting your foot down. Keep the clutch in the friction zone and drag the rear brake through the turn if needed. Don’t be afraid to turn your handlebars full lock if needed to help tighten up the turn.

Quick Swerve

Now you are going to speed it up a little bit and work on swerving, this is important and something you are probably going to have to do during the exam.

To start, set up some markers as soon below.

Get your motorcycle up to a speed of around 15mph or so. Then when your front tire gets to the first marker, you are going to swerve to the right or left. Once you have cleared the second set of markers, you are going to bring the motorcycle a smooth and controlled stop.

Keep your body upright and let the motorcycle lean under you. When doing this exercise or the rest of the exercises, you are not going to drag the rear brake or hold the clutch in the friction zone.

Do not use the front brake when you are swerving, wait until you are clear of the obstacle, if you do use the front break you will crash the motorcycle.

Don’t look at the markers or the lines, keep your head and eyes up. Use your peripheral vision to watch for them. When it is time to stop, you are going to pull in the clutch and use both the front and rear brakes.

Making sure to apply continuous and gradually increasing pressure to both the front and rear brakes until you have come to a complete stop. Don’t stab at the brakes.

Run this drill a few dozen times on each until you are comfortable with doing this.

Quick Stopping

Next you are going to have to practice your quick stopping. Start by setting up some markers or cones as shown below.

Get your motorcycle up to around 15mph or so. When you get to the first marker, you are going to stop as quickly as you can without passing the second set of markers. Try to do this without skidding, stalling or letting the rear tire lift, some places might fail you for this.

To stop you are going to apply continuous and gradually increasing pressure to both brakes. Think about squeezing the front brake and not grabbing it.

If you feel the back tire start to lock up or skid, let off the pressure a little bit then reapply pressure. When you are almost stopped you are going to want to pull in the clutch to prevent stalling and put your left foot down.

Cornering Or Turning

The last drill I would recommend you practice is turning or taking corners. Start by setting up some cones or markers as shown below.

Get your motorcycle up to around 25mph before you take the first turn. After you take the first turn, get your speed back up and just before the second turn you are going to slow down slightly, to a good entry speed and take the turn.

Try to keep your speed for the second turn as close to 25mph as possible. You are supposed to take the turn with a bit of speed.

Those are the main things I would work on before I would take the test. Your goal is to become confident and comfortable with all the basic controls so whatever exercise they want you to perform you will have the confidence and the skills to complete it.

Practice as much as you can, if this means a couple hours, 3-4 times a week until your test, then do it. The more practice you get, the better a rider you will be and the easier the test will be. Stick with it and you’ll succeed.

Those are just a few drills to help you out, if you want more drills. Check out the guide I wrote, it’s packed with helpful information all about practising and improving your riding skills.

I hope this article was helpful, if there was something you are not sure about or just wanted to ask any questions. Drop me a message here, I promise I will do my best to answer all questions.

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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