Why are right turns harder on a motorcycle?

Riders may find it harder to turn right on a motorcycle in countries where they ride or drive on the right side of the road, but in countries where they ride and drive on the lefthand side, riders may find it harder to turn left. This is because the natural direction of turning in roundabouts and u-turns is always the same for the side of the road you ride on.


In this article, we discuss why some people find it harder to turn right than turning left. And also why other people might find it harder to turn left than turning right. But for a start, it might not be the same for everyone riding on the same side of the road.

We’ll discuss the following:

  • The habit of turning in a certain direction
  • Physical disadvantages on your motorcycle for turning
  • Physical disadvantages of the rider when turning
  • How to gain confidence in turning left or right

The habit of turning in a certain direction

As you may (hopefully) already know, not all countries drive on the same side of the road. In the United States and most of the world, people ride and drive on the right which is referred to as right-hand-traffic (RHT). The remaining 75 countries of the world all drive on the left which is known as left-hand-traffic (LHT).

Image below representing red as RHT and blue as LHT:

Image source: Benjamin D. Esham (bdesham)

Those that live in an RHT country will always be turning left or anticlockwise in a roundabout or u-turn. Turning left occurs much more often than turning right whether you ride a motorcycle, car, truck or bicycle. So it’s expected that a beginner motorcycle rider would feel more at ease in a left turn than a right turn.

In the case where you learn how to ride just by riding on the public road, you’ll gain more experience in left turns (in an RHT country), and at some point you might realise that you don’t feel as confident turning right. Your experience in right turns might be lacking in comparison with your overall riding experience but it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong with you.

You might just need to practice and improve…

Physical disadvantages on your motorcycle for turning

Besides the habits of turning in a certain direction, it is possible that your bike has some kind of problem turning left or right. The most obvious reason I can think of is a misaligned rear wheel causing the problem.

If your rear wheel is running left, you may find it difficult to turn left and the same goes for when your rear wheel is running right. You can easily see when a motorcycle’s rear wheel is not aligned when you are riding behind it. It will look like the bike is riding a bit sideways in one direction.

To make sure your rear wheel is aligned, you can stand the bike upright, stand behind the bike a few meters and then look level over the chain. If the chain doesn’t make a perfectly straight line from your perspective, it means the alignment is out.

You will need to check whether the shaft is on the correct marks on both sides of the wheel. If it is, you might need to remove and inspect the wheel shaft and the swingarm shaft as either of these shafts could be worn. This is quite a serious problem.

Replacing a worn shaft on the wheel or swingarm would also include replacing the bearings. It is costly but you certainly can’t ride with a worn shaft or worn bearings. They need to be replaced as soon as possible.

If the rear wheel is simply misaligned, you need to align it again and make sure it is tightened correctly. It will only cost you a few minutes of your time.

Physical disadvantages of the rider when turning

You may have a physical disadvantage that makes it harder to turn in a certain direction or feel uncomfortable turning in that direction. This actually happened to me and I was completely unaware of it.

As it happened, my eye tests showed that I can’t see very well with my right eye. I never noticed this because my brain was constructing an image from information from both eyes. My left eye was doing all the heavy work when reading or looking at distant objects.

After getting glasses, I noticed how much my vision improved and it was kinda scary thinking what I was visually missing while riding on a motorcycle.

So something like this could make you less confident turning in a direction even if you don’t know exactly what the cause is.

How to gain confidence in turning left or right

If you are sure your bike is in good condition and that you don’t have some physical disability causing problems in your turns, then you might just need to practice turning and gain confidence through experience.

A good way to practice your turning is by doing a “figure 8” where you basically do a u-turn in both directions. This slow-speed exercise will help you understand how your bike wants to react and it can help you break the habit of turning in only one direction.

If you don’t know how to practice the “figure 8”, this training video from DanDanTheFireman can help you understand the concept and provide you with some tips:

Final words

I hope this article helped you in some way. I understand that there might be some other uncommon factors as well but this should be what is hindering most people when they are turning in a certain direction.

Featured image by frenchsuperbiker on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

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