Advice for New Motorcycle Riders: 8 Things to Remember
Remember when you were new to riding? You were probably thrilled at the thought of getting the proverbial training wheels removed, weren’t you?
Well, slow down there a minute, Bucky, because patience really is a virtue if you want to learn to ride a motorcycle—the safe and proper way, that is.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to riding a motorcycle, especially figuring out what a good starter motorcycle should be able to do for a beginner rider, such as yourself. Take a seat, friend, because I’m about to break it all down for you. Whether you want to learn to ride a street bike or how to operate any type of motorcycle, there are steps you need to take first.
1. Take a class.
Yes, you need to take a motorcycle safety course before you can operate a motorcycle safely and confidently.
In these courses (which usually last about three days), you’ll work with certified instructors who’re familiar with the motorcycle laws in your area and can help you respond to common riding challenges in a controlled environment. Afterwards, you’ll have a basic understanding of riding and how to keep yourself safe on the road. And, with time, you’ll be seasoned riding pro.
As a matter of fact, these classes are so beneficial that sometimes many veteran riders will take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course just to brush up on their riding skills.
2. Get your insurance, license, and registration.
While no one likes the idea of spending two hours standing in line at the DMV, it’s part of getting licensed to ride a motorcycle.
In addition to passing a test administered by the motorcycle safety course you enrolled in, you are also expected to pass an additional written test at the DMV before you can get your motorcycle license. (Find out how to get a motorcycle license in your state, here.)
Last but not least, apply for motorcycle insurance. Being insured while riding a motorcycle is incredibly important considering how vulnerable you are to road accidents, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
3. Research the best beginner motorcycles, then buy one used.
While you might be tempted to find the best motorcycle on the market, you have to remember that you’re still learning to ride. Think about it: what car were you driving when you were sixteen? The same mentality applies when you’re on the hunt for good starter motorcycles.
However, being more cost-conscious doesn’t mean you can’t find some really great beginner bikes, and buying a used motorcycle is often better than buying brand-new. Just be mindful of the potential ticks, scratches, and dents that that motorcycle will earn. You won’t lose nearly as much sleep denting a $3,000 bike than you would an $18,000 one, that’s for sure.
4. Buy yourself some high-quality safety gear.
If there’s one thing you really shouldn’t skimp out on, it’s your motorcycle safety gear. Your safety is everything. Don’t take it lightly, especially when you learn to ride a motorcycle.
Any gear that doesn’t feel tough and withstanding will likely not stop you from getting skinned to Hades if your body is flung off your bike. Similarly, get yourself a high-grade motorcycle helmet to protect that squishy thing in-between your ears. The impact on your head during an accident can mean the difference between life and death in many cases, so don’t be stupid; wear the helmet.
At the end of the day, just keep this simple acronym in mind, folks: A.T.G.A.T.T. All The Gear, All The Time.
5. Be on alert, constantly.
There are people on the road who shouldn’t be on the road, and then there’s you. Much as you want to, you can’t trust that everyone around you is following the law or being mindful of their surroundings. This is especially true if you’re commuting during high-traffic times.
Always be aware of your surroundings. For the first six months or so of riding, take some detours to avoid high-traffic areas and drive slowly. This way, you can focus solely on riding a motorcycle without having to react to every bozo who brake checks you at a traffic light. Once you’ve really honed in on your skills, you can venture along the roads that are more traveled.
6. No passengers until you're a confident rider.
You really shouldn’t put others’ safety at risk until you, yourself, are comfortable with riding. Adding another rider to your trip means you’ll have to make adjustments to the bike’s suspension. Not to mention, you’ll have to account for the extra weight when you’re braking and taking sharp turns, or else that shiny side is going to be way, way up, if you catch my drift.
If riding with a passenger is a must, pick someone who’s ridden on the back of a motorcycle before, or who rides themselves. It will be much easier to ride with since they’ll have some semblance of what to expect and how to react in certain situations. Plus, an experienced passenger can proffer some constructive dialogue that will further enhance your riding skills.
7. Try to stay away from highways, freeways, and interstates until you know what you're doing.
Yes, the only way to learn to ride a motorcycle and earn confidence is by practicing. But you have to walk before you can run, eh?
Try to stay away from high traffic areas until you’re completely comfortable with the speed and experience that’s required. At this point, it isn’t just about your safety; you also have to consider everyone else’s safety when you decide to put your riding skills to the test. At some point, yes, you'll have to utilize these roads, but don’t so prematurely.
8. Perform a pre-check before you saddle up.
Ever made halfway anywhere only to realize you have a flat? I have, which is why you need to give your bike a thorough once-over before hitting the road.
Not only do you need to test your tires, though, you also need to examine the engine oil and check for leaks. And when you turn the bike on, make sure all the lights are functioning correctly (headlight, tail lights, blinkers), your clutch isn’t sticking, and that the tank has enough gas to get you past where you need to go.
Though some of these precautions may seem obvious, it never hurts to be reminded. Whether you already have a bike and have been riding for a few months, or you just bought your first set of wheels, take this advice to heart because it will help you in the long run!
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