Stayin’ Safe: Straighten Up and Ride Right

proper motorcycle posture
This rider is positioned for a day of comfort and control. Back straight, arms loose, hands resting on bars, knees against the tank and feet comfortably on the pegs, ready to support the rider’s weight.

I don’t care for people who do a lot of posturing; but I do have admiration for riders with good posture. After all, riding posture is one of the most overlooked aspects of road riding. For most of us, the topic was last mentioned in a beginning rider course (you took one of those, right?). Yet, proper riding posture can do wonders to improve control and provide all-day comfort.

Even on a straight road, it’s important to place ourselves in a central position that allows the bike to move freely beneath us as we stay mostly still. For that to happen, we must sit upright and relaxed. The back should be straight, but not stiff (and never slouched). Arms should be loose and elbows relaxed, never locked. Hands rest lightly on the bars—not gripping them—to improve feel through the bars and enable lighter steering input. Knees are bent slightly and lightly press against the tank. Having your feet on the footpegs ready to bear your weight creates a more athletic position (I place the balls of my feet on the pegs when not shifting or braking).

Riders often complain of aching shoulders, sore wrists and stiff backs after even a few miles of riding. The culprit is often poor posture. Improve comfort by rolling your hips forward, which straightens the spine and absorbs shocks more efficiently. Rotate shoulders back instead of allowing them to roll forward; this one adjustment will greatly reduce shoulder stress and arm fatigue. Hinge forward at the waist to reach the handlebars without straightening your arms. Be sure not to place weight on your hands and wrists. It may feel awkward at first, but will soon become second nature.

So, straighten up and ride right…and see what a little posturing work can do to give you more control and less pain.


  1. Thanks for this article. No I’ve never taken a rider course but plan on taking an advanced rider course this spring, been riding for 20 years. I currently ride a Victory Vision with stock bars and seat with a Airhawk pad and even after 50 miles or so my upper and mid back gets sore. Never knew if an arm or seat issue. I will try to remember your suggestions next time in the saddle and hopefully it will relieve some of my discomfort.


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