Part of being a responsible motorcycle rider is accepting the need and benefit of continued practice. Many riders think they don’t need continuing rider education in the form of practice drills. Many think they are excellent riders, have 20 years or more of experience, there is nothing they can be taught, or they let their egos and pride get in the way of practicing maneuvers. But if they would set aside their feelings and hit the parking lot for a few drills, they might find that not only can they improve their skill sets, but they might have fun doing it. The thrill of completing a drill that you were unsure of your competence in, is exciting and personally rewarding.
To improve your maneuverability in limited spaces, try practicing doing u-turns in a parking lot. Attempt to use only 2 marked spots and complete the maneuver at 5 mph or less. Unless you truly are an excellent rider, with more than 20 years of experience, and can’t be taught anything new, you will find it difficult, and most of you might need up to 4 marked spots to complete the maneuver. Continue to practice until you can do it in the 2 marked spots. You’ll find that the limited space requires attentiveness, and a balanced use of your clutch friction zone in combination with the brakes while turning at slow speeds. Look where you want to go; over your shoulder in tight turns like the u-turn; don’t look down or you will be likely to go down. Use the counterweight technique to help balance at low speeds while turning. This method consists of putting increased pressure on the outermost footrest or peg while leaning the upper body opposite of the turn. You can also slide your body off the center of the seat, providing a balance to the motorcycle. As you practice you’ll find that you’ll be able to complete the maneuver goal of 2 marked spots, under 5 mph in gradual increments. Next practice figure eights and slow crawling as in parades. Figure eights will give you the confidence you need in tight places; it will allow you to maneuver your motorcycle in crammed parking lots and through obstacles you are presented with. You can practice slow crawling and balance when you come up to traffic packed stop lights. As you slow down with the traffic approaching the red light, try to keep your bike balanced without putting your feet down before the light changes to green and traffic moves on. This can be done with the right combination of the brakes, clutch and throttle.
Whether you’re a new rider or you’ve been riding a while, practicing your techniques can give you the skills you need or hone the skills you already have, and leave you prepared for any contingency involving limited spaces.