RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Riding a motorcycle is practically the same on any bike. Just like the actions a motorcyclist has to undertake to make certain maneuvers. And yet, it is extremely personal. So after you get your motorcycle license, you start to adjust your riding to your own preferences. That also applies to stopping the bike. Because, which foot do you put down when stopping a motorcycle?
We might exaggerate a bit when we say everything works the same on any motorcycle. The gear shifting pattern can differ, you use the front brake more on sport bikes, while you mostly use the rear break on a cruiser and you can keep your bum in the saddle on certain bikes, while you have to move it when you ride a sport bike through turns.
Stopping a motorcycle does work similar on different bikes. You minimise the speed and get the motorcycle to a standstill. And finally, you put a foot on the ground to keep your balance. Chopper, cruiser and touring bike riders often put two feet on the ground. But some just use one foot. What’s up with that? And why would one prefer to put the right foot down? Or the left one, for that matter?
While getting your motorcycle license – especially when you get it in the Netherlands – one gets taught to put your right foot down and keep your left foot on the peg. The idea behind this is, that you can shift gears quickly when you pull up.
I still hear my instructor yelling in my ear when I was getting my motorcycle license. “Yvanka, put that right foot down!”. I’m one of those stubborn people who prefers to put my left foot down.
When talking about ‘which foot do you put down when stopping a motorcycle’, is one way of doing it better than the other? And is that always the case? In every scenario?
Motorcyclists who ride a lot through the mountains and hilly areas will tell you to put your left foot down when stopping a motorcycle. We assume you ride a regular motorcycle, not one that’s been completely rebuild to suit certain different needs like rear braking with your left foot. So we assume your rear brake is located on the right side of your bike.
When you put your left foot down when stopping the motorcycle, you can keep your right foot above the rear brake. And apply it when needed. This prevents your motorcycle from rolling backwards. Or downwards to the front.
It’s almost hard to find a spot to really practice a slope test in the Netherlands. You could find a dike to do it, but you will hardly ever use it when you ride or live in a country that is as flat as ours.
Which foot you put down when stopping a motorcycle could also be determined by which way you are going. Let us explain for a minute.
When you need to stand still in front of a crossroad – for example because you have to give right of way – and you want to turn left, then you put your left foot down when stopping the bike. And keep the right one on your foot peg. This way, you can slightly lean the bike over into the direction you want to go. This makes it easier to make the turn when pulling up.
The same goes for turning right. Do you need to get to a standstill and want to turn right afterwards? Then you put your right foot down and keep the left one on the peg.
We just talked about different situations in which putting a certain foot down can help you with following maneuvers or actions. But you will also regularly bring your motorcycle to a standstill in the middle of nowhere. On a big parking lot or on a drive way.
So which foot do you put down when stopping a motorcycle in the ‘middle of nowhere’? That’s a simple answer; whichever you prefer.
When you simply want to stop your bike to park it somewhere, check something or want to cross a street in a straight line, then it is up to you which foot you put down. You could put both your feet down, if you are tall enough to flatfoot your bike. Can you hardly reach the ground when seated on your bike? No problem at all, Just put one foot down.
Whether that is your left or right foot, will depend on your own preference. One leg is often stronger than the other. Or it’s just a tad more flexible. You don’t always realise this. It can also has its effect without you noticing and thus create an unconscious preference.
I’ve got one for putting my left foot down. Honestly, I also put my left foot down when stopping for a traffic light at which I have to turn right. Is that the most efficient way of doing it? Nope. But it just feels right.
Put the foot down which feels most secure to you. The one that makes you feel like you can balance your bike and keep it steady. That argument we spoke of earlier, to put your right foot down so you can shift gears quickly when pulling up, doesn’t really fly anymore. Certainly not with most modern motorcycles.
Do you have a one cylinder bike? Or a very lightweight two-cylinder? Then you might want to shift gears quickly since you don’t have the same rev range most heavier bikes do.
But do you ride an MT-09, that goes all the way up to 13.000 revs? Then you really have to work it to get it into the rev limiter when pulling up at a traffic light. Of course you could manage to do so, but most motorcyclists will have more than enough time to pull up in first gear, put their left foot back on the peg and shift gears afterwards.
My Aprilia RSV4 goes well over 100 km/h in first gear. So I really see no reason to put my right foot down to be able to shift gears quickly. Certainly not when it feels more natural to put my left foot down.
The biggest advantage of putting your left foot down when stopping a motorcycle? You can keep your right foot on the peg and above the rear brake. Do you enjoy pulling up quickly at traffic lights, like we from REDRIDINGBOOTS do? And do you ride a proper wheelie machine? Then you can controle those powerwheelies with your right foot and rear brake.
The answer to the question ‘Which foot do you put down when stopping a motorcycle?’ is very personal, just like riding a motorcycle in general. In some situations, it can be more efficient to put a certain foot down. Think of when you ride through mountains and have to come to standstill. Then putting your left foot down is most efficient. Standing still at a traffic light and want to turn right? Then it is slightly more efficient to put your right foot down.
But it will often be a case of preference. Which foot you put down when stopping a motorcycle is up to you. You might have an unconscious preference or you might make the choice very deliberately. As long as you keep your bike steady, it is no big deal.