Performing a U-turn on a motorcycle is one of the toughest maneuvers, particularly for new riders. In fact, many veteran riders find U-turns so tricky because they rarely have the opportunity to practice. Here’s a quick walkthrough to help you master the U-turn in tight spaces without dropping your bike.
Step One: Prepare for the Turn
It’s best to start off going in a straight line before the actual turn to prepare and maintain a steady speed. Slip the clutch, open the throttle and gently ease onto the rear brake. Some riders recommend creating a bit of a struggle between the engine and the rear brake to add stability. The speed you’re traveling as you approach the turn is the same speed you should maintain as you make the U-turn as well.
Step Two: Starting the U-Turn
Next, turn your head sharply to look where you’re planning to turn. Your head should be turned sharp enough that your chin rests on your shoulder. Keep your eyes fixed on this point and turn the handles while maintaining a vertical posture. Allow only the bike to lean into the U-turn and be sure to apply pressure to your outside foot peg. This will negate the lean to a degree. If it helps, shift your weight toward the outside edge of the bike seat.
Step Three: Addressing Potential Problems
If you feel like the bike is falling in, you are probably leaning into the U-turn instead of keeping your posture straight. Fix this by straightening your back and applying more weight to the foot peg on the outside. It may also help to open the throttle and release the clutch a little to reduce the momentum pulling the bike down. As you turn, remember to use the rear brake, which helps the control feel tighter and reduces the bike’s tendency to fall down.
Another potential problem is the bike heading toward the curb. This is a common problem for new riders attempting U-turns because their attention is often distracted. For some beginners, just looking at the curb can throw off their attention, cause a panic or cause them to steer off course. Remember to keep your eyes focused on where you want the bike to be at the end of the U-turn.
U-turns take a great deal of practice and require more time and attention than general riding. New riders should set aside some time each week to practice tight U-turns in parking lots until they perfect this necessary skill.