How to Cross Railroad Tracks on Your Motorcycle

Tip #198 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual.

crossing railroad tracks on a motorcycle illustration

Railroad tracks can be intimidating to new riders, and even experienced riders need to treat them with respect. But crossing them is easy if you know how. Most important: Attack them from a perpendicular angle—cross them at 90 degrees to the way they run, or as close as you can to that. This may mean you need to swerve in your lane, cross the tracks, and then swerve back.

Stay on the gas while you cross them. Better still, slow before the tracks, and then gas it as you cross. Why? You’ll lighten the front end so you maintain more steering authority, and the tracks won’t grab the front wheel.

Finally, weight the pegs. You don’t have to stand upright, but lifting your butt an inch (2.5 cm) above the seat turns your legs into a live part of the bike’s suspension, and pushes your weight/contact point lower into the chassis (where the pegs join the frame). Keep a firm grip on the handlebar and look ahead. Congrats! You’re safely on the other side.