Adjust and Check Controls
Check and adjust the controls way ahead of time. You will distract yourself fiddling with the buttons if you’re not familiar with them before leaving. Don't do that!
Make a mental note of the following: Is the choke still on? Where's the starter button? It’s important to know everything about the bike, mostly controls on the bars like the lights, turn signals and horn.
Two fingers on the clutch and two on the front brake are for normal riding, but use all fingers the very first time you compress the clutch. Try this: When the motorcycle is running, check your friction point with all fingers before moving to two or three fingers covering the clutch. If the clutch adjustment is way out of whack, it could need the lever fully compressed. If that’s the case, when you put the bike in gear—and have your other fingers pinched in order to keep the clutch lever from being fully compressed—the bike may lurch forward.
Most bikes have lever adjustments, but don’t worry about these unless you’re riding the bike for a couple days. Also adjust the mirrors to show as much around you as possible. Sit up straight and point the mirrors so that your shoulders are barley in the frame. Don’t block too much of your mirror with your body.
Don’t be an idiot. As I write this I’m riding the 2015 KTM 1290 Superduke, one of the baddest naked bikes on the market—it’s nimble and insanely fast. Going 90mph on this motorcycle feels like 45 mph on most others. It’s deceiving, and besides the fact that it can get me in serious trouble with the law and the asphalt, I won’t ride that motorcycle fast for at least a day. Get comfortable with the motorcycle and take it easy.
Use Hand Signals
It seems every bike on the planet has a different way of using signals, whether it be bulbs that are too tiny, or switches that are hard to use. Get used to using hand signals. I often forget to turn off my signals as my personal motorcycles doesn’t have the usual signal controls. Don’t be distracted by the signals and don’t distract other drivers around you by leaving yours on.
Do NOT RIDE it at all if...
Reasons you should not ride the motorcycle in the first place:
You don’t have gear or the wrong borrowed gear (meaning it doesn’t fit you)
It doesn’t have a kill switch
The brakes are too worn out
When you rev it at idle, it won’t idle back down right away
Issues with the brake or headlight
A demo ride that doesn’t involve a walk around or provides you with information before the ride
You don’t feel comfortable—this is simple, don't force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do
This isn’t a ride at the carnival, if you don’t have the confidence and get hurt, it can result in serious consequences. I’d much rather be a guy without a crazy story to tell, than an Internet star who is know for the fiery crash into a parked car.