Motorcycle Driver’s Handbook

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Mechanical problems

Things that go wrong with the motorcycle itself can also cause emergencies. Three critical emergencies are a tire blowout, stuck throttle and wobble.

Tire blowouts

If you have a tire blowout, you will need to react quickly to keep your balance.

You cannot always hear a tire blow. You have to be able to detect a flat tire from the way the motorcycle reacts. If the front tire goes flat, the steering will feel “heavy.” If the rear tire goes flat, the back of the motorcycle will tend to move from side to side.

Here is what to do if you have a blowout while riding:

  1. Hold the handle grips tightly and concentrate on steering. Try to maintain a straight course.
  2. Stay off the brake. Gradually close the throttle and let the motorcycle coast.
  3. If it is the front tire that has blown, shift your weight as far back as you can. If it is the rear tire, stay where you are.
  4. Wait until the motorcycle is going very slowly, then edge toward the side of the road and stop.

Stuck throttle

When you try to close the throttle, you might find that it won’t turn or the engine won’t slow down. If there’s traffic ahead or you’re making a turn, you must react quickly to prevent a collision.

Here’s what to do if you have a stuck throttle while riding:

  1. Turn off the engine with the kill switch and pull in the clutch.
  2. If the motorcycle does not have a kill switch:
    1. you may be able to leave the clutch out and stop the engine with the brakes; or
    2. you could pull in the clutch and let the engine race until you can stop and turn it off with the key. This method could result in damage to the engine.
    3. Park the bike until you can get it fixed.
  3. Park the bike until you can get it fixed.


Sometimes when going at a fairly high speed, the front wheel can suddenly begin to wobble (shake from side to side). Some things that can cause a wobble include:

  • a windshield or fairing that is improperly mounted or not designed for the motorcycle
  • loose steering-head bearings
  • worn steering parts
  • a wheel that is bent or out of alignment
  • loose wheel bearings
  • loose spokes
  • improper tread design
  • road surface

Excessive speed will increase the likelihood and severity of these problems.

The only thing you can do in a wobble is to ride it out:

  1. Firmly grip the handlebars and put your weight forward. Don’t try to fight the wobble.
  2. Gradually close the throttle and let the motorcycle slow down. Don’t apply the brakes; it could make the wobble worse. Never accelerate.

Pull off the road as soon as you can. If you are carrying a heavy load, distribute it more evenly. If you are at a gas station or have a tire gauge, check your tire inflation.


Rev: 2015