Nov 15, 2018
I’ve been riding motorcycles all over the U.S. for 37 years. During this time, and hundreds of thousands of miles, I’ve been most fortunate to have never been in a moving accident. I say moving accident as I have dropped my bike on a few occasions while parked in the driveway, fortunately with minimal damage other than to my pride. Over the years though I’ve been asked many times what advice I would give to new riders or those thinking about buying a bike. Here’s the advice I usually give.
First off, don’t buy a motorcycle just to look cool or to copy a friend. If this is the main reason you want to ride you’re setting yourself up for failure. By the way, “failure” usually means an accident (pain, suffering and/or death) or minimally, wasting your hard-earned cash. If you aren’t passionate about riding or at least very committed you won’t be determined enough to get the proper training and experience necessary to stay safe on the road.
Next, buy a bike that’s suited to YOU in the size, make, model and riding style or as close to these as you can afford. Factor into buying the bike buying the necessary helmets, riding jackets, gloves, boots, pants and assorted accessories that will keep you safe and comfortable in hot, warm and cold weather and in the rain or any combination of these. Of course some of this can be added along the way but to those of us with miles in the saddle we know this can be a real expense so plan for it.
The next thing I’d do is register for a motorcycle safety/riding training program. There are several of them out there which can be found through doing a Google search or asking your local motorcycle shop. One that we offer in my wonderful home state of Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, http://www.pamsp.com. This awesome program offers classes for all riding levels from new riders to experienced riders. For new riders it will help prepare you to get your license and the classes may even get you a cost break on your insurance policy. One of the best parts is the classes are FREE to Pennsylvania residents. I think this is why PA is such a haven for motorcyclists.
Once you have the proper mindset, bike, equipment, training (and license) the next thing you need is riding experiences. This is where most new riders often fail. The reason is many don’t have the support system of riding friends or else may have a riding friend or two who don’t ride often, ride at conflicting times or ride in a way you don’t care to ride. To stay motivated and gain valuable experience you need saddle time. One way to get out riding is to find group(s) of like-minded people you can ride with and learn from. Sometimes there are events at your local motorcycle dealer you can go to and occasionally make riding friends. There are Meet-Up groups you can connect with and there are riding groups and clubs you can check out. No, I’m not talking outlaw motorcycle clubs. I’m talking friendly, family groups such as the Southern Cruisers Riding Club http://www.southerncruisers.net . The SCRC is a motorcycle riding club you don’t have to “join”. You can just drop in and ride with them. There are rules of proper riding you’ll have to adhere to but you should be doing that anyway. I’ve been dropping in with such a club located in the Baltimore area and have really enjoyed the local and long distance trips we’ve been on and the friendships made.
In summing up, if you truly want to experience the incredible joys of motorcycling, the gorgeous scenery out in the country, the camaraderie and friendships you make along the way, then motorcycling may be for you. To stay interested and passionate though as with any activity you should immerse yourself in it to learn and make friends. Find what part of motorcycling you enjoy the most and pursue it. In my case I enjoy long road trips, alone and with friends. I enjoy the friendly people I meet out in the heartland of our country, the nature I experience in the mountains (along with camping, kayaking and rock climbing) and the thrill of carving some incredible twisty curves through the Adirondack, Ozark and Great Smoky Mountains. I hope to see you on the road one day…