Sure, you can enjoy the crisp air and shining sun from the driver’s seat of a convertible, but if you’re the kind of person that enjoys a more visceral connection to the road, only a motorcycle will do. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to begin your two-wheeled journey, spring is hard to beat.
As a novice motorcyclist, you’re going to have questions. That’s what we’re here to help with. Read on for a look at the best way to familiarize yourself with bikes, prepare to become a licensed rider and make the all-important purchase of your first bike.
A Rolling Start
When you throw your leg over that saddle and set off on a ride, there’s only a fine line between safety and real bodily harm. That’s why you need to take learning how to ride seriously. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation makes classes available to help beginners learn to ride safely, and we strongly recommend you take one.
Once you’ve got the basics of starting, shifting and maneuvering the bike down, and perhaps learned a bit about how to pick up a dropped bike, you can begin to think about ownership. There might be new bikes within your price range, but we recommend you begin with a used bike. Remember that bit about lifting a dropped bike? There’s also the chance you decide riding isn’t for you.
Selecting Your First Motorcycle
While the number of motorcycle marques out there are probably fewer than the total number of carmakers, motorcycles themselves vary greatly, even down to the individual bike. That’s why it’s important to make the right selection for your first bike.
You should understand the different types of bikes available. If your friends own bikes, see about getting the chance to test-ride them so you can decide if you should buy a standard, sportbike, supermoto or Café racer. This is especially valuable in the world of motorcycles because your chances of getting a test ride on a bike are slim and none.
Many popular mid-weight bikes can be had at great prices, and make excellent first rides. A few examples include the Suzuki SV650, a sporty standard with plenty of power, the Kawasaki Ninja 250, which in recent years has seen a displacement increase to 300cc, the Yamaha XT 250, which delivers the dual-sport capability for those who want to venture off-road, or for the hipster crowd, the Moto Guzzi V7.
Regardless of what you select, you’ll need to insure it. Just like with a car, insurance is a prerequisite to enjoying the open road on a motorcycle.
The Gear Makes the Man
The last step in getting your moto game on is gearing up. It would be easy to get preachy here about “as a new rider, you should adopt the ATGATT philosophy” — but in fact, every rider should adopt it. It means “all the gear, all the time” and it’s the best defense against road rash, or worse.
Your body is worth protecting, so if it comes down to a choice between bargain gear and quality protection, we encourage you to get the stuff that’s tough. Fit is another major concern, and there is good gear out there that won’t break the bank, or is at least more approachable than some of what hardcore riders choose.
With your skills honed, a solid ride beneath you and the right gear, all you need now is a few bucks for gas. Put a smile on, because your shillings go a lot farther in bike land than they do for your four-wheeled vehicles.