How To Ride A Scooter For The First Time In India or Elsewhere

How To Ride A Scooter For The First Time In India or Elsewhere

A few days ago we finally rented our own scooter. It was an exciting moment because I have fantasized many times about owning a scooter and driving around in Italy (kind of different to India). So, yesterday I attempted to ride it for the first time. I had never tried to ride any kind of motor bike before, but I thought it was pretty easy to ride a scooter.

Little did I know, how frickin’ different it was to ride a scooter to anything I’ve ever driven before. I was unpleasantly surprised. The first time, I tried it in our Indian front yard which is surrounded by brick walls and barbed wire. Also, the ground is completely uneven and rocky. I was unsuccessful.

How to ride a scooter for the first time

The reality of driving a scooter was so far from my expectations that I quickly became frustrated and embarrassed in front of my husband and Shekhar, our Indian friend. The first two times I attempted to drive the scooter, it would shoot off towards the wall and two seconds later, the scooter was on the ground. Thankfully, I had quick enough reflexes to not run into the wall and not fall into the ground along with the scooter.

This was clearly a really bad place to ride a scooter for the first time. So, Josh drove me to a very-low-traffic-road to practice. I did better this time. In spite of Josh saying that I did pretty good (and meaning it), it was 100% not good enough for my expectations. I definitely thought I would be able to just hop on and drive off instead of having to practice for several days to get the hang of it.

How to ride a scooter

The biggest surprises were weight and steering. The bike is a million times heavier than I thought, and steering is not as easy as I thought. Apparently, leaning and head turning is big part of the steering, which I did not know. Nobody told me these things. I wrongly thought it would be very similar to riding a jet ski.

I also think I had more fear now with walls, uneven territory, and barbed wire, than in the vast ocean. It seems that fear and confidence have a lot to do with driving a scooter. Pretty much anything is like that I guess.

I was absolutely disappointed and frustrated about my first experience, to the point of tears. (I hate to admit.)

The pictures are from the second day of driving in our front yard. After knowing what to expect this time, I gained confidence and did better. But it was still quite hard to maneuver in a small rough area, and I was still almost running into walls and barbed wire when turning. This led to several times letting the scooter fall off. Picking up the darn scooter added to my frustration because, as I said, it is quite heavy for a girl that weighs less than 100 pounds.

I definitely had excuses. “I am so small”, “I have very little control because the bike is so much heavier than me,” “nobody told me what to do.” But I’ve read that if you go to Thailand, you’ll see tons of very short Thai ladies riding their scooters around. So, why wouldn’t I be able to? These Indian roads (and front yard) really don’t help.

scooter india

So, my scooter experience hasn’t been a happy one so far. I am looking forward to being able to take the scooter out on my own into these crazy dangerous Indian roads. Though, I wish I was learning in Italy. And I also wish our scooter was a nicer color than silver.

How To Ride A Scooter

1. Get on the scooter with confidence. Place your two feet flat on the ground if you are tall enough, and one foot on the scooter and one foot on the ground if you are short. Grip the handlebars.
2. Set the key to on.
3. Hold the brake/clutch and press the starter button to start the engine.
4. Give it a little gas if the engine sputters or stalls.
5. Accelerate steadily by turning the right handlebar. Scooters don’t like sudden, they like progressive and steady.
6. Balance the bike with your weight, like on a normal bike. Turn with your head and body by leaning into your turn and slowly rotating the handlebars.
7. I am still a little confused about braking. In several websites, it says to use the front brake about 70% of the time and for slowly breaking, and to use the back brake to completely stop. And both simultaneously for an emergency stop. But other people tell me to use the back brake because if you use the front, you will flip over (which makes sense). I would appreciate any thoughts and input, and advice on this.
8. Finally, when losing control or before a crash, always let go of the scooter; you are more important than the scooter. (My husband had to repeat this one to me many times when I was struggling and attempting to save the scooter from falling to the ground.)

scooter india

Happy riding!

42 Comments

  1. Its been a while since you posted so you probably already know this but the reason you need to use the front brake is because when you brake, weight is shifted to the front. This makes stopping with the front brake much quicker than if you only use the back.
    I’ve been riding motorcycles for more years than i care to remember and i rarely even bother with the back brake – you get used to how much force to apply with experience.
    Just make sure you are not turning and trying to brake sharply at the same time, that will only end one way. Or rather, the bike going one way and you going the other.
    I have to pick up my sons first moped on Saturday and just realised i have never ridden a scooter before! You are the first post i came to when googling it.

    Reply
    • Hi Richard, thanks for the knowledge! That’s funny you’re picking up a scooter and never driven one before 🙂
      Thanks again, for stopping by to drop some useful and kind words.

      Reply
  2. Hey yesterday i tried to ride a scooter but it was unsuccessful. I got so tensed when the scooter accelerated in a fraction of seconds.I stopped learning then on. Can I do it?

    Reply
  3. Thanks for this post. I’ve been practising to ride the scooter for 2 days now, and I had to laugh at myself when I rammed my scooter into a tree – clearly, a lot more practice needed! I’ll keep going… 🙂

    Reply
  4. I haven’t ridden a bike for years and only a scooter once (about 3-4 years ago now) but boy oh boy, trying to do it again thinking it’ll be easy because I did it once ages ago is just as hard as learning how to do it again the first time. It’s definitely not “like riding a bike”. Confidence is definitely a key player when it comes to scooters and trying not to overthink everything as well. Once you panic and overthink everything you have to do or where everything is – it’s game over. Having said that, as everyone knows – practise makes perfect! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Yes, You are given very great ideas to ride a scooter Thank u . I have an interest to ride a bike & iam 18. Now iam Learning the scooty thanks for giving such a great learning tips.

    Reply
  6. I start this topic by talking about my first “scootering” experience. that was today, since I never had ridden a scooter before, and only 3 days after buying mine, to relax after a heavily tiring work day (my new work after I was unemployed for a month and half).
    I’m not that tall, and i’m kinda thin, so the size and mass of a scooter is something new to me, since my only 2 wheeled experience is bicycles.
    Managed to launch it in straight line, both feet outside in the sides to work as emergency stand xD
    I was slow. very slow. but found easier on straight line with more speed. yet, I was mostly going 20kmh (say, 10mph)
    I’m sorry for all the cars behind me. And turning in acceleration after a stop was a bit difficult to me, so I waited a long to be sure I had all the needed space and time to turn slowly.
    Then caught a street without traffic and accelerated a bit. winds today are strong, and when had to do a ‘u’ turn, you guess it. once again I’ve put both my feet in the sides. Tip toes.
    Still don«t manage the throttle too well, and my wrist was sore a bit because for sure I wasn’t using it properly.
    Then returning home, in one turn to the right, a bit tight I almost hit a parked car xD
    I noticed my driving line wasn’t correct so I just released the throttle (didn’t pressed brakes) and managed to avoid it.
    In the next street, a cop in a 150cc scooter turns to the way i’d turn too (I had my blinker for long, sometime si forget to disable it) and looked at me, but he didn’t cared and zipped away.
    My time to return home, since had to cross 2 sidewalks, I went slowly, and touched it with the front wheel.
    then with my feet help and a bit of throttle, managed to run over the obstacle.
    Both feet outside until coming to a stop. shut down and… I only have the center stand. wasn’t managing to put it in the stand.
    Then just let it run backwards a but and kicked in the center stand. done!
    I really need to keep on training. way more. maybe it’s better I do it in the middle of the night when there’s no traffic at all.

    Reply
  7. Wow I don’t know why but I’m reading people’s scooter driving experience lately maybe because I want to realize that I’m not the only one who is struggling to learn scooter driving. I’m 18, 38 kgs and live in India. My scooter weighs 108….yeah I’m handling it idek how. My feet doesn’t reach flat on the ground. Its really difficult to drive on a potholes filled roads. A few days back I fell off my scooter because of some pothole I didn’t see. Geez that was so embarassing everyone was looking at me. I am still practicing in the early mornings everyday and I hope I will be able to ride like other people who I see everyday.

    Reply
  8. Hello, this is varsha,
    I am learning scooty from one month,
    still i m good in driving,but not very good
    especially i have no experience in bicycle also
    i can drive in traffic also bt now my problem is jst i cant balance the scooty properly
    jst i dnt to knw wht cn i do for this,still i m confused for how to maintain breaks,hw to maintain balance
    feeling very frustrated some times,
    and feeling very tension and fear while driving

    please suggest me how to solve this.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  9. Hi Mani,
    Thank you for sharing. I am in Koh Phangan, Thailand and rented a scooter earlier today. Geesh!!! I had no idea it would be this hard! I had to stay back at the hotel because my friends wanted to scoot north to check out another beach. I kept practicing and then I fell off. Haha! You should have seen the staff running. They helped me up and we all laughed. So now I’m not afraid to fall and yet I still can’t balance. It was such a frustrating and embarrassing day. But I’m alive about to do what I do well and sit on the beach. Maybe one day I will get it…not today 🙂

    Thanks again for easing my feelings of being the only one,
    Q

    Reply
  10. I rented a scooter today in Phuket, never having ridden before and started going with the rest of the traffic with my girlfriend behind me.

    We had some fun and luckily I brought both of us back alive, but I have to admit that of all the stupid ideas I’ve had in my life, this is among the top 🙂

    Eventually I got the gist of making turns and not panicking when tuk-tuks and buses would pass us at less than half a meter distnce, but I couldn’t get to do the sharp turns gracefully and would ask my girlfriend to get off, just in case.

    The hardest thing I found to be using the throttle while doing turns, because due to the position of the rear brake sometimes, pertains the brake would cause me to also turn the accelerator and completely lose control of the motorbike. At one such attempt I fell and the bike hit my big toe, which is now badly swollen.

    Despite all this I think it’s an efficient and easy mode of transportation if you get to be confident on it, but the feeling of how exposed you are while riding it gives me shudders.

    Would I do it again? You bet I would 🙂

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  11. Hello. We got a new scooty two days ago. Yeah I rode it..have a good balance on straight roads and light turns but the 90 degrees sharp turn is just so difficult to do…every time I try to take a turn into streets my scooty starts falling. Anybody any advice for sharp turns? Learning scooty isn’t as easy as I thought.. Infact it is very difficult for my feet doesn’t reach the ground completely. And oh God the tricky brakes. Still learning.

    Reply
  12. This blog made me feel a lot better. I’m in Vietnam right now and everyone here rides a scooter. Looking at everyone (including my expat friends) scooting around I assumed it couldn’t be that difficult. Little did I know, ha ha. Just keeping it upright is a battle!

    Reply
  13. Oh no!!! Now im a little more scared. But thanks for the reality check. I don’t think it will be easy but I’m not expecting it to be super hard either. Then again I weigh almost twice as much as you at 180.

    Reply
  14. For me, step one in riding a scooter for the first time is finding a good helmet. I live in Viet Nam and I’ve seen actual fatal crashes. Your brain is too special to be left unprotected.

    Reply
  15. It’s good to hear that you found balancing. But be more cautious now. Most of the people fall from their two wheeler just after they got proper balancing due to over confidence and risky tricks. Have you fallen off your scooter these days.?? 🙂

    Reply
  16. Hope u understood how to balance it. Unlike a motorbike, a scooter is more likely to skid if you apply sudden break. The chance of skidding will be more if you apply the front break first. I would suggest you to use both the breaks simultaneously in 60: 40 (rear break 60% front break 40%). It’s proper method of breaking according to two wheeler manufacturers and driving schools..
    Thanks

    Reply
  17. Use the back brake more often than the front one. It’s true, if you use the front brake first, the scooter will flip over.
    Over time, it’ll get easier and you’ll be able to use the back brake first and then along with that the front brake.

    Reply

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