Sloping roads are certainly difficult because of their characteristics, you need to know how to deal with them and above all have a safe drive.
It is known that motorcyclists like curves and consequently mountain roads, it may seem a trivial subject but it is not at all.
In this article I will talk about how to deal with an uphill and downhill on a bike.
This article continues the series entitled “First steps on a bike”, where I explain different techniques and ways to behave when riding a bike for beginners and non beginners.
How to tackle an uphill ride on a motorcycle
- To tackle a climb on a motorcycle, as in many other riding situations, try to anticipate dangerous situations and always move without haste and with the greatest possible attention and concentration.
- You have to learn to assess the slope of the track, and if it is very steep, try to assess how to deal with it.
- Before the ascent do not take a run-up, and do not tackle it at high speed, this could cause you to lose your balance or avoid potentially dangerous obstacles.
- Before climbing, shift your body weight forward, towards the tank, to avoid any sudden rises or abrupt shifts in the centre of gravity.
- Considering that you are using a low gear (1st – 2nd gear), act on the accelerator with the utmost care to avoid tugging, which could cause you to unbalance.
- If the track conditions allow it and you feel ready to do so, climb into gear and continue to steer the throttle regularly.
- Avoid continuing to climb and climb, this increases fuel consumption and most of the time is useless, choose the ideal ratio and use it. And only when conditions permit or require you to change gears.
Caution: on a sloping road, if you have to stop, lean your feet well and always hold one of the two brakes applied to stay still, remember that if you have to perform manoeuvres such as parking or simply an intersection or another particular situation, this will be much more difficult and dangerous than in a similar flat situation. The slope of the ground can create big problems.
In case you are stationary and need to start again, I suggest you read “Starting from a stationary position on the bike” where it is explained how to start uphill.
How to tackle the descent on a motorcycle
Remember that downhill braking will be longer and harder both physically and for the mechanical parts than flat braking. To have control of the bike on a downhill gradient you will need to use the engine brake, engaging a low ratio, the front brake and the rear brake.
Before facing a descent, slow down to the appropriate speed.
Climb the gear and put a short ratio that allows you to use the engine brake, but do not exaggerate, choose the gear according to the slope. The lower the gear, the stronger the action of the engine brake.
For steep descents use 1st or 2nd, for medium descents use 3rd-4th. Obviously it also depends a lot on the type of bike and the power it has.
Before tackling the descent, lean back slightly on the saddle to avoid putting too much weight on the front wheel and its suspensions.
Always use both brakes and use the engine brake to slow down.
If the slope requires a greater engine brake, a lower gear must be engaged, accompany the manoeuvre to change gears with the brakes so as not to leave the bike without any control. Slow down the vehicle and reduce the engine revs, when the engine is in the right gear, and gently release the clutch and then the brakes. In the climb you could eventually use the one-two to make the manoeuvre more fluid, if you want to know how to do the one-two, go to read How to use the gearbox of the motorcycle (at the end of the article).
Avoid climbing to the limit and at too high a speed, this could cause damage to the engine, and/or could cause the rear wheel to lock with the consequent loss of grip.
Downhill climbing is a difficult and demanding manoeuvre that requires concentration, and must always be carried out in the following sequence: 1 Brake – 2 Clutch – 3 Shift down – 4 Release the clutch – 5 Release the brakes.
Warning: never shift into neutral or clutch pulled, relying solely on the brake system. Because this could overheat, lose efficiency and no longer function, putting you in a situation of extreme DANGER both for you and for others.
The general rule of thumb is that you must never let go of the bike without any control so you must always have a gear engaged and if you have to climb, use the brakes temporarily to control the bike.
If you have to park or simply manoeuvre the bike I suggest you to read this article “Maneuvering the bike from standstill”.
On an uphill gradient, choose the right ratio, do not switch off the bike and shift your weight towards the front of the bike.
On the descent, increase the safety distance, always check the bike with the engine brake and if necessary, help yourself with the brakes and back slightly on the seat to avoid overloading the front of the bike. The first few times remember to stay calm and manoeuvre safely and try to ride intelligently.
If you drive often in the mountains, also read “How to deal with hairpin bends” where useful tips on how to drive on this type of bend will be given.