How To Ride A Harley-Davidson Motorcycle


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How To Ride A Harley Davidson

Are you a beginner biker who has just bought or is about to buy a Harley-Davidson bike but doesn’t know how to ride it? Don’t worry, you’ll get to know how to ride your new Harley-Davidson bike here.

Riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is actually pretty easy as long as you know what you’re doing. It’ll be all about wearing the right motorcycle gear, knowing the controls of your bike, getting on the bike, starting the engine, practicing turning, practicing stopping, and more. For added help, you can always join a motorcycle training school and give your riding skills the boost it needs. 

In this article, you’ll get to know all about riding a Harley-Davidson bike, how to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.

How to ride a Harley-Davidson bike

Riding a Harley-Davidson bike can be a freeing and fun experience for bikers. However, before you cruise off into the sunset on your Harley-Davidson bike, you’ll need to learn to ride it first. There are numerous things that you should keep in mind. Here are 10 simple steps to learn how to ride a Harley-Davidson bike.

1. Put on appropriate motorcycle gear

When you’re riding a Harley-Davidson bike, there’s nothing separating you from the environment. This makes wearing the right motorcycle gear crucial for staying safe on the road. Here are some of the things that you should equip.

  • Helmet – Look for a helmet designed for riding bikes, and it must be compliant with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. Ensure that it fits you well and allows you to maintain your normal range of vision.
  • Eye and face protection – Safety goggles and a shatterproof face shield would protect your face from any road debris or if you’re in a collision. When you’re equipping your face protection, check that it fits securely, and you’re still able to see properly.
  • Clothing – Lastly, you should wear garments that cover most of your body, like long pants and jackets. You will also want to supplement your clothing with gloves and over-ankle boots. Despite the clothing, you should still be able to move around without any restrictions.

2. Know your bike’s controls and symbols

You will not get very far on your bike without knowing how to use each of its controls. While you can find the basic motorcycle controls listed below, it’ll be a great idea to consult your owner’s manual for the specifics to operate your bike.

  • Handlebars – The handlebars are stationed at the front of your bike and help you steer the bike.
  • Throttle – Located on the right handlebar, the throttle will control the speed of your bike. You can speed up by twisting the throttle towards you, and slow down by twisting it away. Once you let go, the throttle will spring back to its original position.
  • Clutch – The clutch will be on the left handlebar, opposite the front brake lever. You should pull the clutch to change gears. The clutch will be engaged automatically in its normal position. For disengaging, you should squeeze the clutch.
  • Front brake lever – The front brake lever will be in front of the throttle on the right handlebar. You should squeeze the lever for braking the front wheel.
  • Rear brake level – The rear brake lever will be by the right footrest. You should press it down with your foot for applying the brake to the rear wheel.
  • Shift lever – The shift lever will be what actually changes the transmission’s gears. Located by the left footrest, you will be moving the lever up and down with your foot to select the desired gear.
  • Ignition switch – The ignition switch will turn the ignition system on/off. The ignition will work in conjunction with the starter button for starting the bike.
  • Starter – The starter button will be what you use for starting your Harley-Davidson bike after turning on the ignition. The starter is generally found on the right handlebar by the throttle.
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3. Inspect the bike

Inspecting your bike regularly will help it stay in great condition and keep you safe when riding. Try and check your bike weekly and before each ride. When you’re doing so, take a look at the following –

  • Tires – Check out the air pressure and look for wear and tear
  • Fluids – Make sure that you’ve got the right oil and fluid levels
  • Turn signals – Test the turn signals and ensure that both the front and rear signal lights are working fine
  • Headlight and taillight – Verify that both of the lights are operational
  • Battery – Remember to review the condition of the battery and check that it is firmly attached
  • Chain or belt – Check for the chain or belt’s tension and lubrication
  • Brake light – You should apply each brake control individually for ensuring that they’re both able to turn on the brake light
  • Clutch and throttle – Make sure that the clutch is tight and smooth, while also ensuring that the throttle springs back after you twist it 
  • Brakes – Test the brakes individually and each brake must feel firm and b able to hold the bike in place when fully applied 
  • Mirrors – Position the mirrors such that you can see as much of the lane next to you and the lane behind you as possible 
  • Horn – You must push the button for the horn to see if it works 

4. Get on your Harley-Davidson bike

Now that you know how you should prepare for a ride and how your bike functions, it’s time to get on your bike. If your motorcycle has a kickstand, get on the bike from the left side and use your foot for pushing the kickstand up while straightening the motorcycle with the handlebars. Remember to raise the kickstand before you ride away.

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When you’re getting on, ensure that the bike isn’t too large for you. Both of your feet need to be able to touch the ground. Moreover, you should feel comfortable and have total control of the bike.

5. Start the engine

This is the step where you’ll be firing up your engine. The starting process would differ based on the make and model of your bike. However, this is how it is usually done –

  • Turn on the ignition switch 
  • Shift the transmission to neutral 
  • Squeeze the clutch before pressing the starter 

6. Find the throttle and brakes

Before you take off, clarify the location of the throttle as well as both the front and rear brakes. They’ll be some of the most critical controls to manage when you’re riding.

Bunch Of Harley-Davidson Riders

7. Use the clutch and switch gears

The clutch will have to be pulled each time you’re switching gears. Change gears as you’re adjusting speed. Shift up when you’re going faster, or shift down when you’re going slower or stopping. Switching gears will be easier once you get more familiar with the bike. In general, for shifting gears –

  • Properly pull the clutch lever. 
  • Move the shift lever up/down until you hear the gear engage. After that, slowly start releasing the clutch.
  • As you’re releasing the clutch, gradually twist the throttle for getting back up to speed.

Shifting down may prove to be trickier than shifting up. If you aren’t applying enough throttle when slowing, your bike may jerk or skid when you’re releasing the clutch. It can be prevented by downshifting when the engine’s speed is lower than the motorcycle’s speed. You should make it your goal to coordinate the movements of the clutch, shift lever, and throttle. It’ll help you change gears smoothly while avoiding any complications.

8. Practice turning

Beginner riders must exercise caution when turning. If you take a turn too fast, it may cause you to drift into another lane or go off the road. Braking too suddenly for a turn may cause you to skid and lose control of the bike. Making turns on a Harley-Davidson bike will require precision. It’s important that you should practice turning frequently. Here is how to make a proper turn.

  • Reduce your bike’s speed by braking or rolling off the throttle.
  • Look through the turn that you wish to make. You should only move your head while keeping the rest of your body steady.
  • Lean with the bike into the turn. You should lean more at faster speeds and sharper turns. If it’s a slow and sharp turn, you should only lean the bike. Moreover, avoid braking for keeping control.
  • You should maintain steady speed through the turn, or look to speed up as you’re coming out of it by rolling on the throttle.
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9. Practice stopping

Stopping will effectively involve braking and downshifting. Even though the front brake is more powerful, it’ll offer 75% of the braking power as the rear brake. You would want to apply both evenly when you’re coming to a stop. When braking, you should shift to a lower gear that is appropriate to your speed. When stopped, remember to keep both brakes on and put the left foot on the ground to stay propped up.

It is possible to stop by just downshifting and rolling off the throttle. However, the controls will not activate the brake lights. Remember that you should pump the brakes to notify other bikers that you’re slowing down.

Woman Taking A Break Riding Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

10. Try lane positioning

A bike is significantly smaller than a car, SUV, or truck, giving you a lot more leeway on what position you can take in a lane. Whether you should be sticking to the middle of the lane or staying close to an edge will depend on the situation. There is rarely only one correct position. However, the lane position should maximize your ability to see and be seen by others. It means staying out of other drivers’ blind spots, while keeping a safe distance from motorists ahead of you and on your sides.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about riding a Harley-Davidson bike, how to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and more. Riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is actually pretty easy as long as you know what you’re doing. It’ll be all about wearing the right motorcycle gear, knowing the controls of your bike, getting on the bike, starting the engine, practicing turning, practicing stopping, and more. For added help, you can always join a motorcycle training school and give your riding skills the boost they need.

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White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.