Riding a motorcycle can seem intimidating at first.
For an “outsider” the two-wheeled world can seem complex and mysterious. There’s a different set of vocabulary to learn, new skill sets to acquire, gear to buy, licensing, and of course… the purchase of a bike to consider.
Though the process can seem complicated and intimidating — the truth is becoming a “biker” is much more simple than you may think!
Step 1: Explore Your Options
The motorcycling world is more varietal than many first-time riders realize. There are entire sub-cultures to explore to find out what you enjoy most. Consider researching and attending a few local motorcycle events, shows, and gatherings to see what appeals to you!
Step 2: Motorcycle Licensing
Motorcycle licensing laws and regulations vary from region to region, but most areas will have some kind of certified requirement for you to be able to ride legally on the streets.
You might think that you need to explore what type of motorcycle you should buy, or even shop for before getting your license, but that’s simply not the case. Often the first step in becoming a biker, is to try it out! Most licensing schools are relatively cost-effective and require some kind of coursework and on-bike experience. This is an excellent time to get a professionally-led overview of what riding is all about.
Step 3: Buying a Motorcycle
Many non-riders might be shocked to hear that this step should come before buying gear, but many experienced riders will recommend this for one crucial reason: practice.
After completing your licensing, you must continue to practice. Riding well take time and effort, and your safety depends on continuing what you learned in motorcycle school as soon as possible. Waiting weeks or even months to purchase a motorcycle after licensing can mean forgetting lifesaving motorcycle exercises and skills.
Step 4: Buying Motorcycle Gear
This step can technically be completed while shopping for a motorcycle as well (as long as it doesn’t delay your bike purchasing too much!).
Your top priorities while shopping for gear should be: 1) Comfort, 2) Protection, 3) Visibility.
“Comfort as #1?!” you might say… yes, and there’s a good reason why. Regardless of how protective, expensive, and visible your gear might be, if it is uncomfortable or painful every time you put it on — do you think you’ll wear it? Modern motorcycling gear is made to fit virtually any size, and situation these days, so be sure to find something that fits you!
Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice
As soon as you have your bike and your gear basics, get out there and ride! Start off slow and in a controlled area if possible. Subdivisions and empty parking lots are great places to put your beginner motorcycling skills into practice with limited risk to yourself, and your bike.
The #1 rule of this period of your riding is to be patient! It will take time to become accustomed to your motorcycle and all the new sensory input you’ll experience from being on the ride.
And although it may be frightening to hear — don’t be discouraged by any tip-overs or even crashes. Small (and sometimes even large) mistakes are part of learning, take them in stride and don’t let them keep you off two wheels for too long!
Step 6: Find Friends
Chances are you’ll have already found a few like-minded riders at this point, but if you haven’t yet then it’s worth making the effort to. Friends not only make riding and events more fun, but can drastically increase how quickly you learn as well! Finding experienced (yet safe) riders is a great way to further your riding and mechanical knowledge, and most veteran riders out there are more than happy to help.
Above all your riding journey is your own. While pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone might be part of the process, never let anyone or anything pressure you into an unsafe situation. Motorcycle riding is one of the most freeing and fun hobbies/lifestyles in the world, and everyone’s experience with it is different. Get out there and enjoy your ride!