Beginners Guide: Common Obstacles How to Overcome them

Taking the first steps and overcoming hurdles

Jumping right into the sport of motorcycling isn’t always simple. Maybe your heart and soul are telling you to become a motorcycle rider, but your mind keeps interfering. For some reason, you cant find the emotional firepower to jumpstart the learning process and make your dream a reality. You’re not alone.

Thousands of women dream about riding a motorcycle, but many are held back by barriers ranging from fear of the unknown to financial worries. Below is a list of common barriers to riding a motorcycle—and why you shouldn’t let any of them stop you from becoming a woman in the wind.

Sound Familiar?

You just had a baby, changed
a career, bought a new home, etc. Motorcycling will have to wait.

Your family and friends might view you as irrational and irresponsible if you buy a motorcycle.

Your husband or significant
other likes you on the back of the bike. Why should you
mess things up by getting
your own?

Youre haunted by old stereotypes
of women who ride motorcycles as wild and irresponsible.

Visit Just Do It! to read how other women riders tackled issues like these. Then be sure to read theWRN Reader Stories for even more inspiration.
Obstacle 1: Confidence
Some women are intimidated by the thought of controlling a big machine like a motorcycle. “What if I cant handle it on my own?” “What if I drop the bike?” Its natural for women to question these things. After all, motorcycling is a male-dominated activity, and despite changes in the industry, many people still think it takes a big man to maneuver a big bike.
Lucky for women (and many men, too!), it’s no longer true that a rider must be of a larger size to handle a motorcycle. A person’s size does not have to be a limitation—in fact, there are many small women who have no trouble at all when it comes to maneuvering a bigger bike.
Over the last 10 years, motorcycle manufacturers have broadened their model lineups to include machines of many different sizes (to see a few, visit the Bikes to Get Started On page of the WRN Beginners Guide). The aftermarket industry has responded by offering plenty of parts for modifying a motorcycle to fit a rider better. There are ways to bring the handlebars closer to the rider, lower the seat, adjust the footpegs—nearly any part of a motorcycle can be altered to accommodate a rider of any size. Size and strength need not be limitations, and as with any sport or activity, there is a learning curve. As a rider gradually increases in skill, confidence builds right along with it.

Obstacle 2: Where to Start?
For some women, the biggest barrier to pursuing the sport of motorcycling is simply not knowing where to start. If this is your dilemma, here’s the solution: start with a training class. There are training classes available in nearly every state in the US. Most of these use a curriculum developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), the industry standard for teaching motorcycle-riding safety and skills. Visit to find a class near you. These classes are very popular with women, and approximately one-third of all graduates are female. Another reason to take an MSF course: In some states, passing the class riding test satisfies the state motor vehicle licensing requirements. Taking the beginner class is also a good way to gauge if motorcycling is something you’ll truly enjoy.

Obstacle 3: Product Knowledge
If a woman has never been exposed to motorcycling, she may be intimidated by her lack of knowledge on the basics of operating a motorcycle, such as using the controls. But when it comes to riding, remember that everyone starts at the beginning—men and women alike. Proper training, such as the MSF courses, will take you through all the steps necessary to learn, starting with the basics. As with any activity, the more you practice, the more proficient you’ll become. No one can expect to be an expert rider just after graduating from the training class, and it’s perfectly normal to practice your newfound skills in a parking lot or on a quiet neighborhood street before hitting the main roads. All riders learns at their own pace—the important thing is to take that initial leap, realizing you’ll acquire the knowledge and skills you need as you go.

Obstacle 4: Cost
Many people consider motorcycles to be out of their reach because of the high price tag. True, a motorcycle is a luxury item, but like most luxury items, a quality motorcycle can be bought used at an inexpensive price. To see for yourself, check out the WRN Classifieds to view numerous listings for pre-owned motorcycle.

20 thoughts on Beginners Guide: Common Obstacles How to Overcome them

  1. To Molly I say: I started at 58—I had never ridden before and it took me three tries to pass the MSF test. I have now been riding for more than a decade. The first two years I dropped my bike twice and broke my collarbone in one case. In the second case I broke my wrist. But I never once considered giving up. I’m now 70 and ride my Harley nearly every day. I plan on riding for at least another decade. As long as you are in good health, age should not hold you back. If balance becomes a problem or you feel your reaction time is slowing, that’s a different matter…otherwise, I say, go for it. For inspiration, read Gloria: A Lifetime Motorcyclist, (75 years on two wheels and still riding) by Gloria Tramontin Struck.

  2. I have been riding for several years, I ride a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe and I am pretty short! I have several problems with my lower back and my private parts hurting if I ride for any length of time. Have you heard of any other women having this kind of problem? Any suggestion or help you have would be much appreciated.

  3. Reading the comments has helped more than anything. My spouse has really encouraged me to take up riding so that we can do this together. I took the MSF beginner’s course when I was 61. The course was taught by a group of instructor trainees under supervision one of whom seemed to have developed his own set of hand signals. The combination of beginner rider and beginner instructor was not a good one for me and I ended up dumping the motorcycle just off the pavement, fracturing my left forefinger in the process. Now mad, I gathered myself together, jammed my glove back on, and completed the course. I got my learner’s permit but wasn’t able to ride for another year or more due to the fracture and subsequent stiffness.I’m 65 now and wondering if I’m too old. I still ski regularly and would like to continue with the challenge. I guess I’m harboring a fear of getting hurt.

    1. Hi Molly,I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience in the MSF course. One of the most important things we now teach in the RiderCourse is about self-assessment. Only you can assess your own limitations in regard to your health, strength, fear, and desire. Motorcycling does come with risk, as you know, so think about it carefully. You can always take another class to see if you have the confidence and desire to push through that fear.Good luck!

  4. Very informative articles.

  5. Thank you so much for this article. I have recently made the move from the passenger seat to the front seat and have many doubts and concerns, but after reading this I feel a little better about making the move. I am planning on taking the training course and I am reading everything I can get my hands on. I am so glad that I came across this magazine! I have found so much useful and encouraging articles in it. Keep up the good work.

  6. Although I grew up riding small dirt bikes in the Arizona desert, it wasn’t until I met my husband in 2010, and he helped me get my first road bike when I was 45. Now, six years later I’m on my fifth bike. We’ve been in search of the perfect adventure bike for me, and have finally found it.So not only am I a motorcycle rider, I’m an adventure bike rider now and also a member of the 100 mph club (on a closed course, of course!)I not only encourage women to ride, but older women too! I thought my life was pretty much over before I met my husband, and he’s shown me it was just beginning. Go on, buy the darn bike!

  7. Great article. Being a new rider, got my Road King on May 30, 2015, and a little more than a year later, I put about 17,000 miles on her, 18 states, including Sturgis, and Colorado, and all the elements! But a broken leg put me in a wheelchair for about five months. And now my daughter wants to ride.I was very interested in this article, since during my first year I got a whole lot of stupid unsolicited advice. I’m scrutinizing every thing I read before I send it to her. Great article! Well written. She’ll be taking the Harley-Davidson class. My son, now 17 got his license and his Sporty last year as well. It was an excellent class for $258. And I did want to ride a Harley! Wishes and dreams come true!

  8. Today is the day I fell off for the fist time. I didn’t have much confidence before and I am afraid it will be even worse now. My biggest fear from the very beginning was to not be able to control the bike. I went for a very ‘safe’ ride on a road I already did a few times. After I stopped at the junction and started moving to the right, I looked at the curb and I thought “it’s not enough space,” grabbed the front brakes and accelerated by mistake at the same time. I ended up jumping the curb and riding straight into the brick wall in front of me. No serious damage, to me or my little bike, except that it scared me so much! I did the course, and even had some extra lessons, everything was fine up until today. I am so scared now, what if … the number of situations I could think of! Still I want to ride so much!

    1. First, let me start off by saying that I am so glad you are not physically hurt. Now, mentally, that’s another story. We have many articles addressing this topic. You may want to use the search feature in the top right corner of your screen to hunt for articles about confidence, fear, and the like. For example, we have a wonderful article here written by therapist and woman-rider Brenda Bates that may help you overcome some of your newfound fears.Best of luck to you. Keep on riding. The more you ride, the better you’ll become. And wear all the gear, all the time (ATGATT).

  9. I’m a guy with a bit over two years of riding experience. I’ve coached two girls already.One of them has been riding almost the same amount of time as me but far less miles. The other just started a few months ago. I love seeing how empowering it is to them!I love seeing girls ride; in fact I love seeing girls ride harder than me! If any girl is reading this, don’t let anything stop you! I know our misogynistic society has riddled women with fears and insecurities that needn’t be there, but I believe it’s time we start empowering women.

  10. There are two types of riders: those who have and those who will! Fill in your own blank whether it’s drop it or stall it or damage it or get caught in the rain or panic. The key is ride your ride! We are riding circles around all the people sitting on the couch wishing. I’ve wanted to ride since I was 10 years old but my mother would not even allow me on a mini-bike. Fast forward 43 years and I received my endorsement this past Monday. I took the beginning rider class and failed after dropping the bike stalling the bike falling off the bike. I stepped away for three weeks before retaking the course. I wasn’t afraid of falling because I already had. I wasn’t afraid of dropping the bike because I already had and knew what that felt like. Also I knew what to do if it happened again. I scored a ONE on my range test the second time. I practice every day. I have a confidence that creeps into every other corner of my life. Confidence and cockiness are not the same. I respect my bike and everyday my riding coach is in my head “smile and have fun, ride your ride.” I have a HD 1200 Sportster and named it after my grandfather so I’m never alone. We got this ladies! Ride your ride! Thanks WRN for a great site and forum.

  11. Confidence is my biggest hurdle. I took the course and got my license almost three years ago. I finally decided it was time to buy a bike. I’ve had some practice with dirt bikes but no consistent riding. I bought my first bike a few days ago and I’m excited to learn on it but I just don’t have the confidence to get out on the street. A number of things make me nervous: I’m only 5 feet 3 inches so I feel small on my bike, and I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift until the safety course, so I feel like I’m so behind in understanding how a manual transmission works. Even riding to the parking lot where I can practice gives me anxiety and I’m starting to feel discouraged. I’m so glad I found this website. This article, along with the other ones I’ve read so far have really been encouraging. Thank you! I appreciate any extra tips or advice.

  12. Melanie C., I must be the queen of dropped bikes but I can tell you that I have never been hurt when it dropped. Embarrassed, yes; hurt, no. I would suggest that you take a course that includes picking up a dropped bike. I started riding at 60, my kids were grown and after the sudden deaths of two very close family members I was reminded that we are not guaranteed a “later today,” much less a tomorrow. If I was going to do this then now was the time. Haven’t regretted that decision.

  13. My biggest problem is lack of confidence. I’m stuck in a cycle that I can’t gain confidence if I don’t practice what I learned in class but I don’t have enough confidence to get started. Dropping my bike a couple of times hasn’t helped either. Thanks for your great articles.

  14. Don’t let age stop you. I am 60 years old. I took a riding course last fall and failed it. The instructor let me repeat it and now I have my permit. I am starting this spring slow and expect to be comfortable by summer. Go at your own pace and don’t let some man intimidate you. It is a great sense of accomplishment. Thanks for letting me share this.

  15. I’m right there with you Tonja Boyd. I don’t know about your age sister, but I’m 55 and WE CAN STILL do this!

  16. Great article! I kept my learners permit on my license for over 20 years and finally had the opportunity and a spouse that was all for it! I’ve been riding solo since 2003, three bikes, and more than 65k miles, including being off for surgery twice for more than a year. Riding makes me a better wife. Just ask my hubby!

  17. Thank you. I needed to read this. I bought a HD Sportster. I have issues with cornering in small places and turning. I love to ride. This I will definitely read and learn from.

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