Everything First Time Motorcycle Riders Need to Know

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There are a multitude of reasons you may be thinking about becoming a motorcycle owner and rider. It can be less expensive than a car, it’s freeing, it looks cool, it’s a chance to make new friends; the list is virtually endless. It could be as simple as it’s almost summer, the sun is out, and why not? Whatever your reasons, if you’ve given it some serious thought and decided joining the motorcycle ranks is something you want to do, there are some things you need to know to make your entrance as seamless as possible.

Do It the Right Way

Any time you start something new, you should follow the proper steps from the beginning. Take classes, get licensed, and be legal. You need training in order to learn how to ride a motorcycle; it isn’t a hobby you can teach yourself—maybe some can, but you shouldn’t try it out for size. You don’t necessarily need professional training, but it is recommended over learning from a close friend or significant other.

Think of the skills you’re good at. How successful do you think you would be at teaching them? Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you’re capable of teaching it. That is equally true for your boyfriend teaching you to ride; you argue about where to put the toothpaste, so chances are you’ll argue about how to drive this hulk of a machine. If you choose a course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, you often get an endorsement on your driver’s license allowing you to say goodbye to tests, and hello to insurance discounts. The professional route means no fights or headaches, plus bonuses—a  clear winner.

Once you’ve completed your course, it’s time to take the test for your motorcycle license; don’t skip this step as a non-necessity just because you’ve learned to ride. Statistically, unlicensed motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a crash. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with a license, and riding is taken more seriously because of it. Licensed motorists generally ride soberly and legally, and they constantly improve their riding abilities, because they know they are required to do so.

Wait Until You’re an Experienced Rider to Get Your Dream Bike

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One of the biggest draws to motorcycle riding is the bike itself. You’re picturing this big bad beast of a machine that is just so beautiful you can’t look directly at it. In all honesty, it’s probably not the right choice for your first bike. Choosing a smaller, less impressive bike that runs well is the best choice for your first bike, because you’re going to drop it, and you’ll most likely change your mind on what your dream bike looks like after having ridden for a while. You’ll get your dream bike one day, when you’re ready.

Safety First: Don’t Forget Your Gear

Wearing a helmet isn’t the only thing you should be wearing when riding. In fact, in many states it isn’t even required, but it’s highly recommended. You think you’d be mad if your bike got scratched because you dropped it; imagine how you’ll feel when it’s your body dropping, and you don’t have on the right gear. Every rider should be wearing a helmet, riding gloves, jackets, and pants, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are plenty of used and discounted gear in a variety of stores and online shops; just look around for deals. You should also look into purchasing rain gear that will not only keep you safer, but also offer more comfort. An added tip from the AMA is to replace your helmet regularly; its interior can be damaged without you even knowing—better safe than sorry.

Safely Navigating the Streets on Your Motorcycle

One of the most important things you need to understand as a novice rider is that you need to be a defensive driver. Pretend everything around you is trying to attack you, and you’ll stay relatively safe. It may sound dramatic, but it’s the best approach. Unfortunately, the majority of drivers aren’t looking out for motorcyclists, so you need to look out for yourself. You should always do a pre-ride inspection; check your chain, belt, or shaft, depending on your bike; check that your lights are working, examine your tire condition and pressure, and more. Inspect your ride from head to toe so there are no mechanical mishaps while you’re on the road.