Many seasoned motorcycle riders have done or experienced some or all of these things. We thought itd be fun to share the list we came up with so new riders can find some peace in knowing others have been there or are experiencing what they are right now.
1. Youre going to drop your motorcycle at least once.
2. Youre going to be nervous for awhile.
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3. Youre going to get frustrated.
4. Youre going to hear “crash” stories from non-riders, whether you like it or not.
5. Youre going to get advice on riding from others, whether you ask for it or not.
6. Youre going to realize at some point that youre not wearing the gear that fits properly, like sunglasses that make your eyes water, gloves that are too bulky, pants that expose your back side, etc.
7. Youre going to struggle with how to manage a new hair style called “helmet hair.”
8. Youre going to spill gasoline all over the tank at least once.
9. Youre going to realize riding your own motorcycle is cooler than you ever imagined.
10. Youre going to find yourself smiling a lot more, both on and off the motorcycle.
Now, tell us in the comments below what youve experienced as a beginning rider that others can expect to happen.
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88 thoughts on 10 Things to Expect When Starting to Ride a Motorcycle
Love this post. I’m just a beginner, I have a 400 DragStar. I’m scared it’s to big for me but after reading all the wonderful stories on here I’m determined to ride her. Thank you everyone one for sharing your experiences.
I love all of the positive encouragement expressed. My mom never wanted me to learn how to ride, and after she passed away it was a goal that gave me peace and definitely a sense of joy. The sense of freedom and zen I get while riding is immeasurable indeed. After being run off of the road on my Yamaha V Star 250, I was so determined to master the art of motorcycling, I treated myself to the most lovely bike; a 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 C.I am manifesting a dream that has been a long time coming!
1. Always stop with your front wheel straight. Several times I dropped my bike because I did not do this. 2. Ride your own ride. If they are going too fast for you, slow down. 3. Come up with a great story about how someone got killed walking across the street in their safe neighborhood (real or made up) or just say, “thank you for sharing” and turn away. 4. Join a woman’s riding group. We get it. We’ve been there. We care. We will support you. 5. There are lots of great women’s motorcycles on eBay cheaper.6. Oh, by the way, I dropped my bike five times in training class. 6. Cycle Gear is your friend!
I just got my Sportster 883 in June. I’ve dropped her five times but only one time out of my driveway and that was in an empty church parking lot. Thank God for saddle bags! I was able to pick her up and carry on. I named her Bella Vento, which is Italian for beautiful wind. Helmet tip to all you sistas out there! This is so flipping fun!
I just received a Ducati from my son as a gift. I am so excited to learn to ride. I’ve always wanted to ride since I was a teenager, but college, family, work always delayed the dream. I’m getting some pushback and shock from friends, but I don’t care. I’m doing this the right way in taking the appropriate classes and reading manuals. But, just reading “10 Top Things…”made me even more excited for the adventures I’m going to have on my bike!
Congratulations! We’re so excited for you.
Those were good comments on when you first start riding. One of my challenges was what to wear and how to get it all together with billfold, keys, phone, etc. After nine years of riding I now have it down. Feel free to do it your way but safe always. Ride on ladies.
I started on a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster earlier this year, with hubs teaching me. I immediately dropped it. A few weeks later, after some practice, I crashed it; nothing too dramatic, but ouch! Then I wised up and took a class. It made such a difference to learn from someone who knew how to teach a beginner. I just got a Heritage Softail and I love it, but it feels a lot bigger than that Sportster, so I’m still practicing tight turns before I start riding to work.Anyone else name their bike? This is Priscilla.
If you are like me, you may hit a time when your confidence takes a dent and you will want to give up.Don’t!Trust yourself. Don’t let lack of confidence stop you from doing what you want to do.Get on the bike and tell yourself you can do this.The day will come when you suddenly feel right on your bike.Then, you will never look back.
I’m a beginner rider and used to have a cute 2006 250cc Honda Rebel that I rode very little. Now that I finally decided to retire as of June 1, I have leisure time to ride my bike and get more practice and get more confidence — but I always remember not to ever ride with overconfidence. I took the CHP motorcycle course and picked up a lot of safety tips. Soon after I sold my Rebel and searched around for a little bigger bike. Once I sat on the 2014 Yamaha V Star 650 Custom I had to have it! It fit me perfectly. Soon after I enjoyed buying bike accessories. I ride near my home and some of the back country roads out here to get more practice. I don’t feel too confident on tight right turns and need to practice more on that. Luckily, 2.5 blocks away from my home is a huge undeveloped area where I practice those sharp right turns. Looking forward to become a more experienced rider to ride longer rides with my BF or when I ride alone.
I learned to ride at 58! It quickly became my favorite thing to do. The feeling is incredible, and the friendships and immediate connection/acceptance with other riders is fantastic. Take the safety course and know that you’re going to get those little butterflies when it’s time to ride for a while. I started on a 1200 Sportster but after a year I traded up for a Softail Deluxe I affectionately call Pearl.
Everything seems to be geared to men. Don’t feel ashamed to speak up, that is how things change. Don’t let someone tell you you can’t! Be free, that’s what it is all about. By the way, I have dropped mine three times and each time I pick the big bike up and finish my ride. It’s mine, I don’t care what onlookers think. At least I live instead of wishing I might.
I have experienced each one of these! Comforting to know I am not alone. This is a great online group to be part of. I ride with my husband and also with a group of friends. I have only ridden alone once, and I hope ride solo more often in the coming months! Thanks for all this awesome online support!
Hi Mimi,We are happy you found us. We have lots of great stories of women riding solo, like this one about a new rider’s first overnight solo adventure.Ride safe and have fun!
Good article. I was nervous when I first started riding. I dropped my bike twice. I’ve gotten lots of advice from other riders.
I love my bike so much. I wish I could keep her in my bedroom. I love everything about riding, from the sound of my 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Low to the feel of the engine.I love buying and wearing the gear. There are a lot of cool options for women these days. I especially love the low wave you exchange with other riders. I try to be cool but my full face helmet is covering a gigantic grin.I’ve dropped my bike at least five times—all when still but I can pick her up by myself which is an amazing feeling. I’ve spilled gas all over the tank and my jeans more than once. You learn.I am a rider!
Yes you are a rider, Jessica! We’ve all done these things, so know you are definitely not alone.I love that you wear a full face helmet on your Sportster. Keep on riding safe!
I am just in the dreaming stages of learning to ride and am so inspired by every woman that has taken the leap! I’ve ridden on the back quite a bit and realize being in the driver’s seat is way different. But I’m sure the feeling is very similar. I can’t wait to learn and am trying to overcome the naysayers, some even saying “Don’t do it!” Imagine that! They don’t know me well, that’s pouring gas on the fire!
You will make the best friends ever!
What a great group shot of you and your riding buddies! This definitely makes us smile.
I’d add one more here: Parking is harder than you imagined.You must think about how you need to pull your motorcycle out of a space when you park.You will know what I mean.
What I find the most frustrating is, even after more than 10 years of riding, finding the right gear is a chore. Either the pants ride too low in the rear or the shirts are too short. Or the jackets are manufactured for looks and not safety. It’s frustrating. I used to wear Harley gear (I rode a Yamaha) only because it fit properly, but the price… oh my! Then I tried Joe Rocket which was too short in the back.The search continues as long as my pocketbook allows
I just started riding again last year and so glad I did. I rode several years ago and had taken the MSF class and loved it and am so proud of myself and what I did.I started out with a 2002 Suzuki Intruder and rode with my husband from time to time and then we had to sell bike. Now I have a 1991 Honda Shadow VLX 600 and love it. I dropped it and hurt myself a little and recovered and now can’t wait for riding season to start back so I can get back on the bike and practice getting better. This website is so helpful and I love how other ladies are so encouraging.
I can honestly say that 1–10 are all accurate! I have experienced them all and have made me a better rider. Learn at your own pace, on the bike that’s right for you and find riders that show patience and have compassion for a new rider. Then remember to do the same. You will enjoy riding in no time. You will find camaraderie with other female riders because we are sure growing in numbers! I love riding my bikes with my husband and my wind sisters!
I started riding in 2009. This did not start out like I expected. I have always ridden with my husband. It was my wish (and his wish for me) to get my license and start riding with him. I enrolled in a motorcycle safety course and started taking classes.Things went terribly wrong between my husband and I and we got divorced. I decided to continue with the motorcycle classes and I got my first bike, a small Yamaha. I like that bike very much and was very comfortable on it, however, I ride with my brothers and sister who all have larger bikes. So I decided to find something more suitable to keep up with them. I ended up with a refurbished Harley that had so much power that it scared the hell out of me. I was too scared to ride with everybody and still could not keep up. I happened to find a 2001 Dyna Low Rider on Craigslist so I went and looked at it with my brother and sat on it and it seemed just perfect for me. I’m short so being able to touch the ground and knowing the balance of the bike was a big help.I ended up getting the Dyna Low Rider and I’ve been riding it ever since. It’s the perfect bike for me. I am now able to keep up with everybody when I ride and am not so shy and timid about riding on my own anymore either.I’ve done everything on this list at least once, if not more. Finding the right bike was the biggest challenge for me. I have a tendency of doing things later in life. At age 50 I started training a horse and doing barrel racing with my youngest daughter. That was the biggest thrill of my life. And I excelled at it. I was 54 years old when I started riding motorcycles. I am thrilled to be able to do this and I encourage everyone to go outside their comfort zones and try new things.
I bought my first bike two weeks ago—a Honda VTX 1300. Everyone says, “Wow! That’s a big bike.” I love it and we just fit. My biggest problem is hills/inclines and corners. Still learning how master those. But the smile on my face outweighs the uncertainty. Never ride faster than your angels can fly.
You’ll discover throwing down the deuce [a wave] when you come across a fellow motorcyclist going the other way.
I started riding as an adult in the spring of 2014, a year after I lost the love of my life. I needed to find my joy again. I had mini bikes when I was a kid and had a faint memory of the fun I had. I signed up for a local beginner rider course, obtained my license and went shopping.I was a little lost at first but did some research, met some people right away that were very helpful, and bought a great bike (Honda NC700X). The 700 is plenty powerful—it’s a parallel twin engine, so it has great power in the mid range, meaning, as you are picking up speed it’s strong. There is plenty of power at take-off, however, it never feels like it is getting away from you as some of the bigger V-twins.I found it harder to balance on a cruiser style bike so the Honda is great! I love the natural seating position of the adventure platform, feet sit directly under you and you sit up straight. It’s easy to balance, light weight and I really like the built-in storage (not really a gas tank—it’s all storage!). Another big plus, is it’s very reliable, I don’t have the time or money to deal with a bike that has issues and needs to be at the dealer for repairs or recalls.In the city that gave birth to Harley, I get asked “why not a Harley?” I needed to do what’s right for me. Don’t let others talk you into anything that doesn’t feel like you. Sit on a lot of bikes, do your research, and most of all trust yourself! A man’s perspective is sometimes helpful, however, we ladies are built differently, our center of gravity is different and we have different bike needs. I’m proud to have made the smart choice for me. Not only did I find my joy again, I have met some wonderful people.Happy riding ladies, ride smart and ride like a girl!
When I returned to riding 10 years ago I always wore a full-faced helmet. It wasn’t because this helmet fit or was comfortable, it covered my face so that no one could see the tears of fear running down my face. I’ve worked as an ER nurse so I know firsthand what the results of a motorcycle accident looks like.I pushed through those tears to become a good rider and feel very comfortable on my bike. It took a lot of perseverance, support from my partner and family, a couple of good riding courses, and about 100,000 miles to transform me into the rider I am today. So even if you feel scared to death in the beginning, keep going, it may become the passion of a lifetime.
Great article! The center of gravity is very important for your first bike and if you are 5 feet 3 inches like me, a Sportster doesn’t work! I tried two of them when I got my first bike!Finally, I sat on the bike made for me. I lowered it a bit more and I knew it was right for me (green bike) and I had it for 11 years! It was a Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600cc! Everyone said it was too big for me and I heard lots of opinions but we bonded and I loved her! I bought a used Harley Dyna Wide Glide after that but the skinny front tire wasn’t for me so I traded it after a year for my 2016 Street Glide (Ice Pearl White). I love this bike and can’t wait to get back on it! I put almost 6,000 miles on it last year.
I have been riding for four years. I got my permit six months after my husband died. I signed up for a new rider course with the Harley-Davidson dealership. And I rode around the neighborhood for the first year. I didn’t have a lot of confidence so I took the course again the next year.During that time I met my current husband who also rides and I met a whole new family—Harley riders. After the second course I could ride independently with full confidence anywhere. But I choose the ride with my husband and my friends and I do smile all the time.
My hubby got a bike two years ago and yes, he has already traded up! He goes off on the weekends and I’m left at home. I would in the back of my mind love to learn to ride, but at 63 (a young 63), I feel I’m too old and scared to start now. But it does look like a lot of fun, but scary. I would love to surprise him someday when I’ve taken lessons. I just don’t see how you hold them up!
The MSF Basic RiderCourse” or similar beginner class is the perfect place for you to indulge your dream of learning to ride. As long as you have a driver’s license and can balance a bicycle, you are qualified to participate!Good luck!
Loved this article so much. So informative for someone like me who is looking at learning to ride my first motorcycle and what kind to buy.
I am not sure whether to feel better after reading this or not. I bought a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom Sport two months ago. Everyone is saying I’m dumb for buying a Harley for my first bike. Well, there is nothing I can do about it. I rode it twice and dumped it twice. I feel very nervous when I’m on it now.
Hi Shules, Unfortunately, we have heard your story many times. This is why we try to spread the word about how important it is to get trained first, before making that big decision of which first bike to buy.In any case, you will need to take the MSF Basic RiderCourse or a similar class in order to get licensed in Connecticut. There, you will be riding more appropriate beginner bikes. They are usually no more than 250cc’s, light, and much easier to handle that your big 1200.After taking the class, you will have gained confidence and learned some very important skills that you may feel more comfortable using while riding your Sportster. Or, you may decide to cut your losses and either sell the Harley (or keep it for later) to get a different bike that matches your skill level.
You are going to have to stop on an uphill incline and have trouble taking off again. You might roll backwards, stall your engine, or not be able to get going before others honk, stare, and yell insults or advice. Ignore them, breathe deep, and go. Find a hill or parking lot and practice in low traffic times. You got this.
Loved the 10 things you will do as a beginner rider. All very true! I like riding on my bike and seeing all the jaws drop on men’s faces as I speed by with no expression, then after I pass by I grin from ear to ear with a continued smile. I love riding!
I’ve done #1 three times already.#2 took a year and a half and sometimes to this day I still get nervous, especially before week-long motorcycle trips to wherever.#3 I still get frustrated at times depending on the situation/traffic/idiots on the road.#4 forget it…I don’t want to hear it, it causes #2 and #3.#5 is sometimes beneficial but not always.#6 still have issues with the sunglasses (my face is fairly flat and I don’t have much of a bridge on my nose and most sunglasses have too much curve) and the gloves for my teeny fingers.#7 I couldn’t care less about (just wear a bandana or headwrap when you take off the helmet.#8 yup, done that before and it was spilled all under the bike as well…oopsy.#9 and 10 hell yeah!
All of these are so very true. I have found that the more I ride the more confident I am both on and off my bike. After my first solo ride and my first day surviving traffic (I almost got plowed over by a Chevy Camaro blowing a stop sign!) I found myself feeling a spark of confidence that wasn’t there before. Also the more I work on my bike and learn about it the more confident and comfortable I am with it. It’s a vintage 1979 Kawasaki KZ650 with lots of quirks and I love it. Bringing it back to life has been a frustrating, long, and very rewarding journey. Keep the rubber side down and catch them bugs in the teeth!
You have your own throttle! If you are riding with a group and you’re not comfortable with the speeds, you have your own throttle, you can slow down. If it’s raining and everyone keeps riding, you have your own throttle, you can stop and put your rain gear on. If you feel like going for a ride but no one else does, you have your own throttle, you can ride by yourself (sometimes that’s the best way to ride.) You are in control. Enjoy, it’s a great ride!
Thank you for posting this! I haven’t wanted to ride since I dropped it. I can’t even back out of the garage because of the fear. This week I’m trying again. I really want to get over this.
You’re going to remember everything your instructor said to you. It will play over and over in your mind every time you are riding. Do it!
The first time I went to get gas, I couldn’t figure out how to get the gas cap off. Then I put the pump into the tank, turned my head for a second, turned back and gas was spilling all over the tank. I was trying to look so cool. It completely backfired. Live and learn. I’m happy to say it hasn’t happened again. I dropped it once too, but I smile a lot more. And parked motorcycle syndrome is a real thing, believe it!
Welcome to a whole new world of joy and terrific people! I understand your struggle and urge you not to look down. You’re likely doing so without realizing it’s the worst thing you can do. Looking at the road directly in front of you or in your peripheral vision will keep you going slowly. Get your eyes and head up, look towards the horizon of the road (not the tree or skyline) and you’ll be amazed at how fast you find yourself going! Look where you want to go and that means your eyes and head while turning, but once you’ve sussed out the pavement conditions and have chosen your line, focus further down the road. You should be doing this anyway for hazards ahead.If you can find a straight line of pavement without traffic or at least minimal cages, smoothly roll on the throttle, (but don’t hold back too much) and without looking at the speedo until you need to either brake or slow to turn. Don’t be afraid! The bike knows what to do and will handle a lot better at speed. Also, it’s a rush that will bring a huge smile! I often get lost in the ride and look at my speedo to find it pegged at 75-80! (I’m not advocating anyone do this by the way.) I’ve only been riding for six years and I absolutely love it! I wish I’d gotten a bike when I wanted to, 25 years ago! I ride a Yamaha FZ-09 and it’s a blast! I love the 120 horsepower and throwing it through the twisties. You’ll get there. Just keep getting out there and reaching out to WRN riders!
I am a new rider and struggling to pick up my speed. I can go 30 mph comfortably, but any faster and I get nervous. Any suggestions?
Hi Jessica,Congratulations and welcome to our sport! You are not the first to ask us this question. Check out the reader question we posted recently for our readers to help answer. Be sure to check out all the responses.
Thanks, Sash, for your comments. I’ve been riding since Dec 2013 and haven’t accomplished nearly the miles you have! Living in the SF Bay Area, I’ve gotten comfortable with sharing/splitting lanes in freeway commute traffic and riding the twisty, 1-1/2 lane “goat trails” in the Santa Cruz mountains. Still, I’m on my V Star 250 and wanting bigger bike, but not fully able to convince my mind I’m capable. V Star 650 and 950 on list.I’ve ridden my little 250 to Southern California, traveling freeways at 70 mph for 90 minutes at a time — and back roads —and have so many touring dreams. Yet while riders of 30 years experience say I’m ready for a bigger bike, I’m battling my own confidence. I know I need to just do it! You provide great inspiration. Thanks!
Christine,We reviewed the V Star 950 here when it first came out. Not much has changed since then. You might want to read our review. Good luck!
I have always been pretty good at everything I do. I learn quickly and I’m rather adept at most things that involve coordination and intellect. Learning to ride did not come easy for me and it made me so incredibly angry that I was not picking it up quickly! I was simply beside myself that I couldn’t remember the basics! But as we all know, there is much to learn. Still, my frustration was excruciating and became my greatest hindrance. I was quite determined, which worked in my favor. But I would have to say that this was personally the hardest thing to learn in my life. For many riders this comes easier. I would venture to guess that is the case for most riders. But I had many physical challenges to overcome that only added to my setbacks. One setback was dropping my Ninja 500 just moments into my first ride, damaging my right knee. I was back in the saddle in two weeks, but still struggled for more than a year.Since learning to ride in January 2013 I have ridden 50,000-plus miles across 35 states. I found that my second bike, my V Star 650, was better suited for my riding style and my riding challenges.
Thanks for sharing your story Sash. You have a good grasp of your own limitations and I know your story will help others. Readers who would like to know more about Sash and her life on the road, visit Sash & Steve’s Life on the Road, her column on WRN chronicling her motorcycling life.
I found this article to be very helpful. I am coming up on my 37th birthday, and I am waiting on the owner of my Harley-Davidson 883 to get back into town so I can purchase it from him. I just took the safety class for beginners and I had so much fun. I am dying with anticipation to get on my own bike. I have already heard so many crash stories and people telling me that I shouldn’t do it, but this is something I have always wanted to do ever since I use to ride with my father when I was younger. I am really glad I found Women Riders Now.
Well, we are glad you found us too, Lorene. Best wishes on the start of your motorcycle riding life, which I know will be just incredible for you. Keep checking back in with us.
My first bike was a 250 Kawasaki EL. Loved it but all my friends said I should get a bigger bike. They were right. I rode the length of my country on my 750 Honda Shadow all by myself. Dropped it a couple of times over the years but got it up myself no problems. I had a short affair with a Suzuki M50 then went for a test ride on 2014 Honda Valkyrie and the affair was over!Dropped it a few times but I ain’t doing it anymore! I can’t get this beast up easily or at all on my own. No way! Think Ive bitten off more than I can chew but I am not giving up. At my age (62) I don’t think I have all that much time left for riding beasts like that so I intend to enjoy it while I can. There is nothing like it! My heart used to beat faster when overtaking on those smaller bikes, “Oh God… let me make it.” Not on my Valkyrie. I’m around the traffic before I know it, smoothly, and purring like a kitten. Long hard kilometres are easy with no sore backside or stiff legs. I just need to be mindful of where I park mainly. It’s been on the very slow moves that I have had trouble, but that’s in the past! Getting your bike up is easy by putting your bum on the seat and walking it up.
Here is our story on how to lift a motorcycle that’s been dropped.
I have always had the bug to ride a motorcycle since I was a baby. My stepdad would take me riding on his Honda then switched to a Harley. I would have a fit if he wouldn’t take me. I took a riding safety course which taught me a lot — a true skill learning to ride — which taught me to be better driver and rider. And yes I dropped my new 883 Sportster which I bought shortly thereafter. I also crashed but through the experience have learned a lot.Take your time and be patient. Always be alert and if you are too tired, take a break or don’t ride until you have enough energy. Also don’t buy a brand new bike, because when you crash or drop your bike, that’s when you will cry that your new ride is messed up. And don’t say it will never happen to you, because I said that and it did happen. Since my experiences have taught me a lot, I am more comfortable and confidence has increased. I use to think negative about myself, but riding has changed my life forever and my dog rides too.
I learned to ride seven years ago. Took a riding course and it was a lot of fun. After laying down the Honda Shadow on my first time out of the parking lot (didn’t follow the turn through, did everything wrong) I decided I needed a smaller bike and downsized to a 250. I was quite timid riding it around and never got used to it. Three years ago I bought a little 150cc scooter. Rode that around for two years; it was actually really good for getting the basics down. The weight made it easy to practice on. Then my husband (who has ridden most of his life and has always encouraged me to ride) bought my Sporty. I’ve been riding it all over the state and a few other states. I love every minute of it. I’ve put more than 11,000 miles on my bike. Little by little I have been pushing my comfort zone, improving my skills. I love riding! If you think you want to learn to ride, take an intro to riding course and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Riding a motorcycle was always something I wanted to do, but it never seemed to be the right time to learn. After my divorce I made it (and myself) a priority. I had no idea what i was doing. My friends and co-workers in health care all had horror stories. It made me nervous. I took a safety course. I would recommend it to everyone! They took the time in small classes to make sure we all knew what we were doing. I cannot tell you the difference it made in my confidence level. Two weeks later I bought my first bike, a Honda Shadow 750. It took another six months, four helmets, two jackets, two pairs of boots, and four pairs of gloves to get comfortable. It was worth every fitting! The right gear makes a huge difference. Finding plus size women’s gear that fits and isn’t just look pretty can be difficult. Keep looking. And always, always, always carry a spare set of gloves. They get wet. They get lost. They get blown off the bike while pumping gas. They occasionally get carried off and hidden by the dog. Over the last five years my bike and I (and my dog too) have been so many places and met so many wonderful people. It is so very worth it. Just remember to take it slow and enjoy the ride. And seriously, learn how to pick up your bike, because it is going over. Usually stopped, usually when you are tired, distracted, needing to pee, whatever.
I am 58 years old originally from Arizona. I was brought up riding a Honda 100 dirt bike and throughout many years I have been on a few bikes, but not many. My husband has always rode a chopper with only one seat and then he bought a 2006 Harley Ultra and every time I rode with him and saw other women riding their own bikes I said, “I can do that if I would just get some more experience under my belt.” By saying that, my husband bought a Dyna and I got experience with that bike in the K-Mart parking lot and then I took a class in 2013 and believe me it was worth it. I have to say I was not all that happy with riding the Dyna because of the handlebars and having to reach out to far to control the bike. I then bought a 1995 Road King with the handle bars in a U shape and love the ride and how it handles. If I could give any woman or man advice it would be to go onto YouTube and watch Jerry Palladino’s “Ride Like A Pro” videos. Those videos gave me encouragement to go out and be confident in making U-turns, using the friction zone, braking and safety. You can buy the videos if you want but I just kept watching them on YouTube.There is also a video on how to pick up a bike and I actually taught some family how to after watching it. Now, I still get nervous and have not ridden by myself all that much, but so far I just like riding with my family and friends. Two more important things are: when you see a car stopped ready to pull out look at the wheels; are they moving? And also wear a helmet and gloves. Have fun, be safe!
Thanks for the advice. We feature many of Jerry’s articles and tips here on WRN in our Safe Riding Tips section.
The nervousness will decrease, but may not ever go away completely. It’s OK. It helps you focus and pay attention. I still get nervous every time I mount my bike. You might drop your bike even after you’re more comfortable. Sometimes things just happen. That trick of leaning on the seat and backing up really works! It was a lot more difficult to find the “right” helmet then I expected!
I have been riding almost one year. Still a little nervous at times. Dropped my bike once going slow. Thank goodness! Was still an eye opener. My biggest fear is the freeway. I have not been on the freeway yet and don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point of getting on the freeway. Scares me to death. It’s the speed. I really don’t like to go that fast – 55mph is the fastest I have gone on my bike, however I will say I absolutely love my bike Harley Sportster 883 and enjoy myself every time.I ride about three times a week. I’m 52 years old and look forward to many years of riding. So if you’re considering getting a bike, do it and just take your time. Pay attention to everyone around you and you’ll be fine. Have fun and be safe everyone.
I’ve been riding for almost seven years! (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) I took the safety course and learned to ride on hubby’s Honda Shadow Spirit 750. I dropped it three times, all at very low speed, and picked it up every time like they taught us in class. Hubby was giving me bike time in a parking lot and I went into a sharp turn in second gear. I yelled “it’s falling!”He yelled back “pick it up, you know how.” I’m sure the police officer parked in the corner got a good laugh.I now have a Honda Shadow Phantom 750, six 1000+ solitary rides, one Tail of the Dragon ride (our 10th anniversary!), and I ride all over locally too. I was very nervous when I started, stuck with it, and just rode, rode, rode. I still get nervous occasionally. I’ve had some close calls and watch other drivers like a hawk, but I still have so much fun on my bike that hubby sometimes gets a little envious. I wish fun safe rides to all!
Great article and great comments from others – yes, yes and yes to all of them.I rode a dirt bike for 20 years on the farm (or ranch if you’re in the US) and could handle anything it threw at me, however, many years after leaving the land, transitioning to a road bike at age 53 and learning to ride on the road, on a big road bike, scared me more than anything I’d come across on the farm. However, I just kept practicing and riding. Four years later, I am relatively confident to ride on long rides on my own, however, I still have a few nerves in moments and am still building confidence in such things as overtaking, especially caravans and road trains (a big truck hauling a lot of trailers) and also some slower speed maneuvers (U turns), but I love my bike and I love being a rider and, as so many have shared, I still learn something new every time I ride, and also, I have finally learned to ride my own ride. Thanks everyone for your contributions and encouragement to one another.
Engine guard bars keeps the bike at 45 degrees if you set it down, keeps from going on its side and easy to pick it up and little or no damage bill. I ride a 1600cc cruiser. Took the state classes for beginner and advanced. After six months riding, I started riding with Star Riding and Touring. Learned a lot from great people very quickly.
You have to learn how to ride your ride. Don’t be intimidated into riding to fast or doing things on your bike that you are not ready to do. Some males that I rode with in the beginning would ride to fast through curves and I was intimidated by that. So I found that it was not enjoyable to go on group rides. Now I have confidence and have learned how to throttle through the curves and maintain control. Take the safety course is a good thing. I would recommend that to everyone.
Wow – these are true! I’ve ridden about 1,500 miles in 16 months and I’m still sometimes nervous. I just switched bikes – let my husband trade in my Suzuki Boulevard S40 for a new bike, and I inherited his Suzuki Boulevard C50T. It is 185 pounds heavier than the S40 and weighs four times what I do. Last weekend we were in our neighborhood on the way home from a ride. I stopped at a light and when I put my left foot down it just kept on going. Turns out I pulled up right beside a big dip in the road without realizing it. Almost dropped the bike but caught it at the last minute. Every time I ride I learn something new that I need to keep in mind while riding. But every time I ride I also love it more. Be safe and enjoy!
I believe listening to the advice and experiences of seasoned riders is very valuable. True, some just like the sound of their own voice. However I have learned that most experienced riders are sharing this information for your benefit. You can never learn too much. Personally I have learned many things from the “I only have one thing to say” that I did not learn in the class. If nothing else, you will learn patience and respect while listening. Learning to ride nine years ago with more than 100,000 miles under me is the best thing I ever did for myself.
Husband passed away July 10, 2013. I took care of him in a hospital bed for tw years until he sadly left. His dying wish was that I restore his 1978 Harley and ride her. Well she is restored and I have been riding her for a month now. It is awesome! Am so happy I have been not only to do this for him but also for myself. I ride every day and find my spirit finally at peace with his loss! I know he knew it would take this to know we will always be connected until I meet him again! And all the riders I have met have been so helpful. God bless each and every one of you. Ride safe!
Most of those are very true. I have had my license just over a year. I am on my second bike (Sportster 1200 C was the first, just got a Street Glide Special 2.5 months ago), and I dropped them both. My new theory is that in the future, I’m going to put a mattress next to any new bike, and push the dang thing over so I get it over with and quit worrying about it, and so I control the conditions it happens under.I’m also planning on taking a class where I learn how to leverage it back upright on my own.Helmet hair is sexy. That’s my take. My standard remarks are that helmet head demonstrates a healthy dose of pragmatism and sense of self-preservation, and I just grin at anybody who gives me crap about it, calling them “Organ Donor” and ride off with the last word.
Yes, yes, and yes. First drop… sad. Second drop… frustrating. Third… pissed off! Let’s say I not only smile more, but also am more thorough about babying that darn sensitive kickstand!
Thank you so much for this article and everyone’s comments. We need your advice, and it’s helped me tremendously. Going bike shopping next week for the first time and getting a 250, despite everyone’s advice to go bigger. I will learn and practice my MSF skills on my 250, what’s the big deal? I can always trade up. Thanks for your advice, and WRN.
I’ve been riding for a little over a year, and I find most of these statements, if not all, to be true. I had a fall swerving and braking to avoid kids that rode bikes right in front of me in my own neighborhood (they came out of nowhere, and no worries, they didn’t get hit. They rode off after I fell with my bike). It shattered my confidence for a while but I still rode, in the parking lot mostly, to rebuild confidence. It was my third ride out, and I was by myself (third ride after the class and getting the license). My advice is to take it slow when you have to, and don’t give up if you do drop your bike or have a low speed fall. My fall/crash/whatever you want to call it made me even more cautious, and made me practice the skills more that maybe I wasn’t good at, at that time (swerving, braking, handling the unforeseen). Over a year since getting my license, and having that fall, I am commuting to work, I had my first demo day in May with Suzuki in Romney, WV, and I’m able to handle the “surprises” on the road a lot better. As for the helmet hair, I find that a French braid works well for keeping everything tame.
Yep, with time everything becomes easier and maneuvering feels natural. I would DEFINITELY recommend taking a motorcycle safety class. It was invaluable to me and my husband because you learn details that you may not learn so quickly on your own. Been riding for a little over a year. I don’t wear a jacket that fits me perfectly because I like to wear extra undershirts/sweaters underneath it when it gets cool. I’m not into looking cute – I’d rather be safe and wear what I need to be comfortable for the weather conditions. Ride safe!
Leave your ego at home and ride your ride. There are times you can’t care what people think or how you look. Never be afraid to ask for help. Trust your inner voice when you should challenge yourself and when you should stay within your comfort zone. When you get nervous or even scared, remind yourself that you do this for FUN and smile through it!
I’ve found most of these to be true. My hair disobeys my wishes frequently, so whether or not it is in a helmet, doesn’t seem to matter! And I’ve been fortunate to not be inundated with riding advice. There were two distinct reactions of my friends and acquaintances when they heard I was learning to ride: Camp A gave me those crash stories (some with a close connection; sympathy warranted) and was frightened for me; Camp B was happy for me and curious as well. For me personally, the standout was how long the nervousness lasted. I have been riding now for 18 months and I’d say it took a full year before the nerves really subsided. Perhaps longer than average, but I told myself someday, I wouldn’t have to think so hard about what to do, as operating my manual transmission car eventually became second nature. Frequent practice was the key: I began commuting on my bike 2-3 times per week and making sure the weekend included a trip along a nearby “goat trail.” It was then I noticed that I was irritated on those work days I needed to take the car! Get out and ride, even if 20 minutes in the neighborhood. Just ride. Give yourself some parking lot practice every now and then. For me, when I gained confidence, I rode better. Fear as a passenger is your enemy. Agree with others’ comments – ride your own ride, and the right bike is the one that fits you!
I am 55, and after 39 years of being my husband’s passenger, I got my license and have been riding for a month. My bike is a 650 VcStar that fits me perfectly (I’m 5 feet 2 inches so finding the perfect fit wasn’t easy!) I realize I’m a newbie, but my advice is to breathe! The first few times I took her down the road I was so nervous that I was nearly sick. It took a lot of encouraging and coaxing from my husband every time I went out, but now I am more relaxed and confident and discovering that I LOVE IT! Be safe out there and remember to breathe!
New riders, seat time is a must. Ride whenever you can, even if it’s to get a loaf of bread. Best advise I received nine years ago when I started riding. I was fortunate to have great people advising me and helping me. But the one truth I struggled with, dropping the bike. It happened more than once for me. What I learned, take your time as a new rider, don’t let anyone pressure you. If they are in a hurry let me them go a head, you will catch up. Also, riding with new female riders, that really helped me. Good vibes your way new riders!
You will skid in sand and/or gravel, you will drop your bike learning to do the eight in a box during class. (Remember it’s throttle control.) You will skid turning right on a wet road. You will run over boards, critters, tire tread, etc. You will embarrass yourself at least once when riding with more experienced riders. You’ll forget to use your turn signal. You’ll leave your tire pressure gauge in your pocket when washing your jacket or pants. You’ll forget to turn the headlights off when you go inside. You’ll accidentally roll the throttle when grabbing for your front brake (happens to all newbies while learning the basics). You will feel pride the first time you successfully perform an accident prevention maneuver because some cager tried to kill you. I could go on with more but you get the idea by now. Every time you ride a motorcycle you will learn something whether you’ve ridden two months or 50 years. Every time you ride you become a better rider but there is always room for improvement, so ride on and be the best you can be. Peace.
When you wave, make sure you keep your hand low and just point like most of the other riders. I raised my arm to give a “hello” and nearly lost my balance and my arm took a huge swing from the wind. Also, don’t feel bad if your forget to put down your kickstand. Once you forget and you catch your bike before the fall, you probably won’t forget again. Never let “ANYONE” (spouse, friend, etc.) tell you what “you” should ride. Always go with your gut and your choice.
You may outgrow your first motorcycle quickly.
This is all so true. Every one has happened to me. I have been riding almost 3 1/2 years now. I still have days where I feel a little nervous. I have made wardrobe adjustments and bike adjustments (highway bar) after some negative experiences with gear and drops. I was told by a seasoned rider after spilling that gas on my tank that I should always carry a rag or bandana for just such an occasion. Most advice I have received has been good, some I tossed because I know me better than anyone else. The best one is the smile. My dad rides also, and he tells me he loves when I ride behind him because he says I never stop smiling while I am riding!
Don’t let a dealer tell you what you want to buy and don’t walk in the show room with stars in your eyes. Have the attitude, what are you going to do for me and throwing in a t-shirt ain’t enough. I searched six states before I bought my first new. Please buy cheap and used for your first bike. Buying used won’t make you have a heart attack when (and you will) drop it.
Never fear, you will have these things happen to you even if you are a seasoned or very seasoned rider, and you will always receive advice from others (especially the guys around) no matter how long you have been riding. And never let someone tell you your bike is not the right bike. Ride what you are comfortable riding, whether it is a 250cc, a 1300cc, or something in between with two wheels or three.
I’ve found (and done) all of these. My addition: You will miss your motorcycle terribly when you have to drive/ride in a car. *sigh*
Though I’m no longer a beginner rider, when I first started riding I would get many “thumbs up” from people in cars, on the street, and waves from little girls on their tricycles. It still happens!