Ride a Motorcycle Downhill

Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling adventure, but it can be really daunting when you have to go down a big hill. Set aside any horror stories you’ve heard—riding downhill is perfectly safe, as long as you take the proper precautions and give yourself plenty of time to practice. We’re here to answer all of your questions, so you can have a fun, safe time whenever you hit the road next.


How should I sit when going downhill?

  1. Shift your weight toward the back of the seat. Don’t redirect your weight toward the front of your bike. You’ll end up shifting too much weight to the handlebars, and you won’t feel as in control. Instead, slide further back in your bike’s seat to balance out your ride.[1]

How should I keep my hands on the motorcycle?

  1. Maintain a good grip on the handlebars, front brake lever, and clutch. Place 2 fingers on your front brake lever, leaving the rest of your hand on the handlebar. Then, place 1-2 fingers from your other hand over the clutch—this helps you stop your bike from stalling.[2]

How do I position my legs?

  1. Grip the motorcycle tank with your legs. When you grip the tank, you’re locking yourself in 1 place. This way, your weight won’t shift forward, and you’ll have more control over your bike.[3]
    • This technique also makes it a lot easier to brake along downhill curves.

Where should I look when I ride downhill?

  1. Keep your eyes on the road. It’s really easy to focus on your front bike wheel when you start heading downhill. Instead, keep your gaze forward, so you know what lies ahead.[4]

What gear should I be in going downhill on a motorcycle?

  1. Choose a gear that puts your RPM a little over what they normally would be. Don’t put your bike in first gear—this will spike the RPM, and forces you to use the brakes frequently. Instead, pick a gear that lets you ride within the speed limit without raising your RPM too much.[5]
    • For instance, second gear is a good option when you’re going down a curvy hill.[6]

How do you go down a hill on a motorcycle?

  1. Ride slowly while applying light pressure to your brakes. Pull on the brake pedal ever-so-slightly, which helps slow you down a little without locking the front of your bike or engaging the ABS on your motorcycle. Start from a very slow speed or standstill as you make your way down the hill.[7]

Should I hit the brakes quickly when I ride downhill?

  1. No, you definitely shouldn’t do that. Riding downhill can be scary at first, and it’s understandable if you’re reaching for the brakes. However, always apply the brakes gradually, so your wheels don’t lock up suddenly.[8]

How can I get more confidence riding uphill?

  1. Start with smaller, more gradual hills. Practice riding uphill at a pace that’s comfortable for you. You don’t have to scale a mountain or huge hill on your first try; instead, get the hang of climbing smaller hills, and work your way up.[9]

How do you go down a curvy hill?

  1. Stay in second gear and use the front brake as you approach the turn. First gear may not give your bike the appropriate amount of power; instead, stay in second gear. Apply the front brake as you approach the turn, so your bike slows down a bit.[10]
  2. Feather the clutch and let up on the front brake around the turn. As you go around the curve, release the front brake. Then, “feather,” or pump the clutch as you go around the corner. Once you’ve cleared the corner, apply the front brakes again.[11]

Should I switch gears while I’m turning?

  1. No, you shouldn’t. If you switch gears mid-turn, your rear wheel might spin or lock up, which will send your bike skidding. Instead, experts recommend changing gears before you start turning.[12]

Can countersteering help me around a curve?

  1. Yes, it can. Countersteering is a fancy term for leaning in the direction that you’re turning. As you reach a left or right turn, press lightly along the left or right handlebar, respectively. This causes you to lean in the direction of the curve. As you exit the curve, just accelerate—your motorcycle will right itself on its own.[13]
    • Leaning can be a pretty nerve-wracking skill to try at first, but it isn’t that difficult.

How do I ride a motorcycle up a steep hill?

  1. Balance your weight toward the middle or front of the motorcycle. Don’t shift your weight too far back, or you’ll have a hard time steering your bike. Instead, place your feet on the pegs and keep your weight along the center of the seat.[14]
  2. Switch gears quickly. Guide your bike into second gear as you approach. Once you’re climbing the hill, shift your motorcycle into third gear. Once your bike loses some power, shift back down to second gear so you can maintain momentum up the hill.[15]
    • Whatever you do, don’t shift your bike into first gear—your wheels will spin, and you’ll be stuck in the middle of the hill.