I am a brand new rider. I passed my MSF training course and then my husband bought me a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. I am practicing in a huge parking lot. I am overcoming my fears of fast braking and continuing to practice the clutch control while at the same time using the throttle. As you can tell, I am brand new at this! Any advice to get over the jitters? Any advice or experiences that you had as a beginner would we so appreciated!
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Hi Sandy, This might be a little late in coming, but I’m a new rider too. I took the safety course/riding test at the end of January, got my license the beginning of February, and got a Triumph Bonneville a few weeks after that! It’s a huge jump to go from riding around in the parking lot of the safety course to interacting with cars, even if it’s on smaller surface streets like the ones in my neighborhood. The first couple times I took my bike out, I almost had to force myself. I was excited, but so nervous. I knew I needed to practice, and I always went early on Sunday mornings when I knew there would be no one on the streets, but I was stalling a fair amount and beginning to lose confidence in the skills I had acquired during the class.What helped me the most was finding other people to ride with. It sounds like you have your husband to ride with, but I was all by myself. I found a group of women to ride with and it’s made all the difference! They are incredibly supportive and are very encouraging. The first time I started to feel more at ease on my bike was the first time I went on a group ride with them. There were five of us, and I was in the middle. It really helped my peace of mind knowing that we were very visible to cars, that the people behind me wouldn’t judge me for my mistakes (stalling), and that they were there for me to learn from. I’ve done a couple rides with them now, and am feeling much more confident! They’ll even come meet me at my house and ride with me to the meeting spots. It’s really helped my riding to be surrounded by other women who challenge me just enough and who are excited for me to be riding no matter my level of expertise (or lack thereof).
I’m a beginner rider as well. I now have my permit to ride around and I registered for the earliest course I could find which is not till August. My husband and I looked at Rebels and smaller bikes but I was not comfortable on them. My husband is 6 feet 2 inches and I have longer legs than he does. I opted for a Vulcan 500 and I love the bike. I have been practicing around the neighborhood and when I felt comfortable I moved to side streets in town (we have no traffic). Last week I felt pretty confident to ride with the husband on country roads and I did excellent. I was a little slow for my husband at taking off and accelerating but I went at my own pace. The only problem is that I felt pretty confident to ride it to work this week. I was still on side streets but there were plenty of people out on the road. I originally mastered (so I thought) my right turns but my nerves got the better of me and I messed up on a slow right turn and almost dropped the bike. It really stressed me out. I made it to work OK. I decided after work to practice turning before leaving. It was like I completely forgot how to turn. My nerves got the better of me and I had a full blown panic attack. My husband had to bring his truck up and ride my bike back. I was so upset at myself. I am a bit discouraged but I realize I am pushing myself beyond my limits. My problem is I suffer from anxiety. Some days I ride with complete ease. Other days I start to stress and I put the bike away for the day. Once my anxiety kicks in I am done. Hopefully I will be able gain for confidence. I can’t wait for my rider class as I have been there every week trying to walk on for a cancellation. I know that will help.
Leslie,Thanks for sharing your story. Whether you have your permit or not doesn’t mean you are a skilled rider ready for the road. Not only are you putting yourself in danger, but others as well. Forgive my stern tone here, but I’ve said this many times on WRN for the exact reasons you speak of — panic attacks … and fear, crashing, dropping bike, etc.: I HIGHLY advocate taking the MSF class first and then riding your motorcycle out on the road, in that order. What made you think you could reverse that order? Do you have motorcycle skills learned from another place? Did you ride dirt bikes as a kid? Did you have to take a motorcycle learner’s permit class? Who taught you the skills you need to get on the roadway? Did you learn them from a certified motorcycle safety instructor?When done in the proper order: 1. take class, 2. buy bike, 3. practice in safe area, 4. ride on road, you have a high chance of success (no panic attacks, no fear, no crashing, no dropping bike) because you’ve learned and mastered proper technique. You’ve got muscle memory and experience behind you.If you’re determined to ride on the road before taking the class, which teaches proper and correct execution of motorcycle riding, turning, stopping, and starting, here is a helpful article on turning correctly.Why risk another panic attack or worse yet, an accident? Waiting a few months to take the class could save a lifetime of misery, wishing you’d done it right the first time. You’ll have the rest of your life to ride, happily, if you have patience and stay off the road until you learn the proper skills in the class in August. Good luck to you,
To Tricia Szulewski, Assistant Editor:Thank you for your response to my post [March 1, 2016]. Unfortunately I did not see it soon enough. I was out on the roads on my brand new bike and overshot a right hand turn and wrecked into a car in the left turn land. Luckily the car was not moving, only I was at about 20 mph. My bike has some damage and I had some damage. Nothing bad but now even after my MSF class I am terrified. I have tried to get back out on side streets and low traffic roads but turning right makes me feel so anxious. I am now questioning if I should continue to try to ride or just be a passenger. I feel like a failure!
Tina, I’m so sorry you had an accident. It’s clear to both Tricia and I that you started off on way too big of a motorcycle. You are a classic example of a rider who buys her too-big-of-a-beginner-bike before taking the MSF class, and then after the MSF class hops right back on it expecting to master it and the roads effectively. You’ve now damaged a brand-new-to-you Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T. Unless you know why you crashed, it’s likely you’ll repeat the same mistakes. We get letters from readers just like who continue on in spite of one spill, and then spill over and over again, eventually giving up on their dream of riding a motorcycle.What you have is desire and determination to ride a motorcycle so no, you are not a failure, and you don’t have to go back to being a passenger if you don’t want to. What I suggest to everyone in your situation is to put your motorcycle away, somewhere in the back of the garage and leave it there. Now go on Craigslist and find a used 125cc or 250cc motorcycle. Kawasaki makes the 125cc Eliminator, and there are several 250cc motorcycles including the Honda Rebel and the Yamaha V Star 250. We reviewed the latter and there are many good reader reviews about it as well. You can see our complete list of motorcycles to get started on here. The money you spent repairing the damage to your new motorcycle could have been spent on a used bike you bought first, one you don’t care about dropping. If you really want to be proficient motorcycle rider, you need to take a small step back and do the steps the right way. I know you’ll need to spend a bit more money to buy that used bike but think of it as an investment in your dream. These small beginner bikes also hold their value and you’ll be able to sell it to the next woman dreaming of becoming a motorcycle rider. Now, take that beginner motorcycle to a parking lot, set up cones and start practicing turning, cornering, stopping, etc., all the things you learned in the MSF class. Check out our Safe Riding Tips section for stories about practicing. We highly recommend the Ride Like A Pro DVD and book as well. You can Google it. Lastly, I encourage you to stay mentally focused and not dwell on mistakes. A lot of women have experienced what you have so know that you are not alone. But why don’t you be one of the success stories so you can share what you learned with others. Trust me! The SuperLow 1200T is clearly far too big a motorcycle in size and in power for you to learn on. And just because this reader’s question talks about her husband buying her a Sporster 1200 after passing the MSF class doesn’t mean that it was the right thing to do. Men are 99 percent of the time wrong in the motorcycle they choose for their wife or female partner. You can read our story about that here.Oh…and be sure to check out this story with tons of great rider feedback: Getting Back on Bike After an Accident.Keep us posted.
I am a new rider only riding for about one month. I have never ridden a bike and to top that have never been able to drive a stick shift car. I bought a Harley Sportster 1200 and was terrified to ride! I thought I would be able to handle the bike but was not ready for it. I’m doing well now since I have been able to manage and understand the clutch and throttle. I’m still just doing short, familiar rides but if I could do it over I would have started on a smaller bike just to learn the basic skills. I have spent a lot of time in a parking lot practicing what I learned in my safety class and also watching videos on riding. I’m lucky that I knew some women riders who have given me great advice and encouragement. Also I’m happy that I found Women Riders Now because the articles and emails from other women have helped me with my confidence knowing I’m not alone in my fears and hesitations!
I am so happy to have found this forum! I am brand new to riding. I have never operated anything manual in my life and I bought a new 2015 Harley-Davidson SuperLow 1200T a week ago.I am signed up to take the MSF safety course in April, but my husband is going to help me get started in parking lots.We were out for the first time last Saturday and I was doing OK until I dropped my bike. Then it was all downhill from there. I kept stalling it and I was terrified but I kept going anyway.I am so happy to know I am not alone in being nervous! Thank you!
Hi Tina. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard your story, word for word. It saddens me when I hear about new riders who go out and buy a brand new motorcycle that has way too much power and weight to learn on. Too many times the bike is dropped and damaged, but the worst part is the lack of confidence (or sometimes terror) that ensues afterward.While your husband means well, if he is not a qualified instructor, he doesn’t have the skills to teach a brand new rider the basics in a way that will prevent mishaps and promote confidence and skill. As a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach, I encourage you to wait it out until you get through the class. There, you will be able to learn on a small, light motorcycle from seasoned instructors at a pace that is designed to take you from learning one skill to the next. You’ll learn there what you can then take to a parking lot on your own bike, to be able to practice with more knowledge and confidence. Good luck!
Here’s what I wish someone told me. That fear is normal and very common, and actually, helpful. We need it. It makes us focus and slow down while getting familiar with riding. Trust your gut. There’s no time limit, and no baby step too small, but make sure you do a little more, each ride. Parking lots are fantastic, even for pros. Some motorcycle cops did a seminar at my work and taught us that the parking lot training keeps them fresh and their skills tip top. So it’s certainly not just for new, or returning riders. If you don’t feel ready for traffic, group rides, or whatever it may be, then don’t do it, yet. Also, have a friend who rides join you. They can give you tips, help move the bike to other locations, and follow you in a car, etc. (I found having a chaser vehicle gave me a sense of security when I first moved to public roads.) Plus, it’s best you’re not riding alone when you’re first getting started. And honestly, this website helped me so much, just knowing I wasn’t alone. And when in doubt, go back to what you learned in your MSF class, and repeat the lessons in your head, and on the bike. It can take, what feels like, a very long time, but before you know it, you’ll be writing about your story to help someone, too. Keep at it, at your pace, and give it the time and practice it deserves. It’s so worth it.
Hello Sandy, I have also just completed my beginners drivers course. I just finished applying for my first bike. I go in a few days to test drive and purchase my first and brand new 2015 or 2016 Harley-Davidson Street 500. I am so excited, but really nervous. I am glad to see that I am not alone. I told my husband before I even read this article that I wanted to ride and learn how to control my bike in a large parking lot and around our small neighborhood. Your bike is a little bigger than mine, but I feel really good knowing how many women riders there are.
I am a little late to this post, but I very well remember my jitters and still get them on occasion, especially if it’s been a while since I’ve hopped on my bike (awhile for me, being anywhere from three weeks to a month – I won’t ride in snow and ice). I started out doing rides around my neighborhood, but on my third ride out, I had a minor fall swerving and braking hard to avoid kids that rode bicycles right in front of me coming from in between the two houses (didn’t hit the kiddos, don’t worry). I had been going slowly, and trying to anticipate things like that while still learning my bike after the course. Even though I got up, got my bike up with some help, and rode home, I was pretty shaken from that fall. For about a month afterwards, the only riding I did was in a large parking lot. I practiced everything that I could and set up obstacle courses for myself. When I did venture out onto the road again, my husband and I did very easy rides, not a ton of traffic lights or stop signs, and not a ton of side roads to watch for initially. The parking lot and the easy initial rides really helped when I went on more complicated rides, like group rides or tougher roads. Now, almost two years after getting my motorcycle license and having that fall, I have done a demo day, done a charity ride, and made some advancements in my skills that I would have never thought I could do after that fall. Keith Code’s books have been great. He has exercises with cones that you can set up for yourself. To make cones, I cut tennis balls in half and they fit easily into pockets or a tank bag. Proficient Motorcycling is another great one and I think it does have some exercises to do. If I hop on a different bike, I like to see how it handles before I really ride with it. I’ve ridden my husband’s high strung FZ09, and my uncle’s bikes, and it helps to do some low speed maneuvers to see how they handle. It sounds like you are doing great and keep up the good work! If you have good roads around your house, you can plot out an easy course when you feel more ready. I never truly FELT ready when I first ventured back out on the main roads, but once I did it, I was so proud of myself. Motorcycles are super empowering and keep up the amazing progress! You will get there!
Thank you for this post and voicing my concerns as well. I have been riding since August 18, 2015. I am still fearful of riding in the rain and avoid it. But as others have said, I need practice time. Right now, I’m working up the courage to ride with others. I only ride by myself and my fear of making mistakes in front of others has stopped me from asking those I know to ride with me. I know time and practice will help me feel more comfortable. Like you, I will keep riding, keep learning, and move forward through my fears. Thanks again.
Good for you! Congratulations and kudos, good husband!Keep at it. It’s a wonderful accomplishment, an avenue for terrific moments and experiences with loved ones, and meeting new friends along the way!Great comments. Many people will share awful stories of injury and fear. Keep reading and writing to WRN and you’ll hear all the good things about riding. You remind me that I need more practice on the maneuvers that jitter me still, and I’ve ridden 100,000 miles. This July marks my 20th year riding. I’m planning another 6,000-mile trip in June, so let the prep work begin! Safe travels.
I rode for the first month in a parking lot using cones.I rode for the second month in a small housing development with cul-de-sacs.Then I went out on a real road, but not over 35mph for another month.I needed to know I could handle the bike, turns, cars.It took until near the end of the second riding season (Seattle=rain, cold) before there was no knot of apprehension in my belly when I got on the bike.Take our time!
Hi Sandy. I totally understand what you are going through. After I took the MSF course I purchased a Dyna Low Rider. Life changed and the bike had to sit for a few months. Once life got back on track, I started riding in our neighborhood. We had a lot of cul-de-sacs and slow traffic in the residential area. This went on for a couple months, and finally I just decided one early morning to just go for it. I had to get over my fear and knew know one one else could help me with that fear. I did it. I have been riding now for eight years, ride with a riding club of all men, bought another new Harley Dyna Low Rider last year and love the life of wind in my face. I did drop my old bike a few times and that is how I learned a lot about what my limitations were. I feared gravel. We now live off a gravel road; got that one down now and how to maneuver the corners. So glad you are one of us and just breathe and enjoy the ride.
I also took the MSF course. I waited four years before I even got on another bike and the class was the only time I had ridden by myself. I traded an old car for a 750 Honda Shadow Aero. I loved that bike and would look at it but I was afraid to get on it. My man took me to a big parking lot many times and I just practiced. I couldn’t get past third gear but that was OK. I just kept going through the gears until I could do it without mistakes and was comfortable. I practiced all I had learned in class and whatever my man said I needed to work on. He took me many days before he thought I could manage the street. I think it was several months. I was afraid of falling down or killing it. He’d just say, “That’s OK and the clutch is your friend. No worries, you’ll get it.”We live in a very small town with no traffic lights and only one stop sign. When I got to the stop sign people could tell I was unsure and they were very understanding and waited for me. It took me a very long time to get on the freeway and I still prefer the twisty roads near our home that only have speeds of 45 mph. I rode that bike for more than a year and just traded up to a Harley with more power. I don’t like the freeway but I can manage it now by myself and even enjoy the ride. Managing your fear is something only you can do and it’s wonderful your husband is so supportive. It will come in time. I’ve finally ridden 4,000 miles now. That’s exciting. Just remember that you can be careful and cautious as long as you want. There is no reason to rush yourself. I prefer to follow my man. I don’t feel pressured to go faster and if he gets a bit ahead of me, I just let him. I go my own pace. He always comes back to me. It’s so fun now that I can relax. You will to in time.
Hi Sandy -I started riding two years ago. My motorcycle was my 50th birthday present to myself. There is so much support and advice in the comments that fellow riders have left that there isn’t much more to say. 1. For the most, give yourself time. There was a great comment in the movie “Why We Ride.” One of the interviewees said that learning to ride a motorcycle was a lot like learning to play the violin. At first it is awful and then suddenly you get it. One day you will look down at the odometer and realize you have put 4,000 miles on your bike wonder when you did that. I promise. 2. Riding is the easy part – control is the harder part specially going slowly. It is absolutely OK to put your feet down. You do not have to have a perfect U-turn and you can always find a different way to go back to that missed turn. 3. If you drop your bike, at some point it happens, make sure you put the kickstand out as you right it back up regardless which side you are picking up. 4. There will always be someone with a horror story or a negative point of view regarding riding. Just remember it is their story or opinion, not yours. 5. Never ride without your gear: helmet, jacket and gloves at minimum. I am so glad you have joined us. We are unique group. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!
Hi Sandy, glad to hear that you took the MSF course. I started riding eight years ago after taking the course, and I was very nervous at first, even after the course. I passed both parts with perfect scores, so that gave me some confidence. But out in the “real world” was a different story. I practiced a lot in a large parking lot, and in an active community lot where I lived which gave me a lot of experience moving slowly, slow turns, quick stops, avoiding cars, braking and using the friction zone. I feel it’s the slow moves that are the hardest and mastering those first, I knew my motorcycle better and felt more at ease. My husband was with me in the large, empty parking lots, if even just to stand there for support as I practiced with cones and his instructions (he’s a rider of 40 years). And he or a riding buddy was with me when I ventured out onto a quiet road.First of all, relax. Motorcycling is supposed to be fun. You’ve learned the skills, now it’s practice, practice, practice, and you’ll feel more confident, but it does take time and patience. Have a supportive person and mentor and go at your own pace. When you feel ready, your first ride out on your own will feel amazing!Good luck!
Try taking an MSF riders course. When I started my course I had some mileage under my belt — a few hundred — and the instructors were great. I also found a group of women to ride with who were patient and supportive. They picked me up at my house and brought me home in the beginning. Riding with my husband was OK, but the club and the lessons was what really helped me.Keep up the good work. The jitters won’t stay for long.
Sandy, first and foremost — know that you are not alone and that you have now become part of a wonderful sisterhood of which most of us do our best to become supportive of one another. So, if you can, try to find another female rider in your area who is willing to spend some time with you while you’re getting comfortable with your ride. If you can, allow her to watch you a couple of times in the parking lot and then offer some suggestions to you. Once you’re comfortable enough, find some quiet roads to ride together with another sister and talk about what anxieties you might be experiencing. Your husband sounds very supportive, which is great! However, the physical sensations of everything from the clutch to the feel of the engine is often very different for a us than it is for most men. I was blessed that my husband is the one who pointed that out to me. He was indeed correct. Don’t try to be perfect, just be safe and learn to ride your own ride in your own time. It’ll all come together.Enjoy!GypC President, Poderosas MC
I empathize. The jitters gave me grief as well. Thank goodness for WRN! Since I stumbled on the site, I’ve developed confidence knowing that I’m not alone on so many levels and I have learned so much from articles and the responses.Riding skills did not come naturally or easily to me and initially the temptation to give up crossed my mind every time I went to the rider course back in 2011. Against all odds I did achieve my learners permit and then a license. However, as everyone knows, the skills acquired in the safe environment of a learning on a track is not enough for the real world of traffic and other hazards. My heart would pound so hard and I’d feel weak every time I got near my bike. I fell many times and nearly gave up many times.My determination and love for bikes helped me fight my demons. I’m now at the stage of going out on my own to practice. To eliminate some of my fears, I get out early, about 5 a.m., before the roads get too busy, and hit the freeways to ride without feeling so fearful. Fortunately, here in Melbourne, Australia, we are presently in the summer season and day breaks early. I can also take lights, corners, and roundabouts at a pace I feel comfortable with and build on speed as my skills improve. I’ve promised myself to go out at least once every weekend, as Lori commented, “The skills are perishable. You must practice, practice, and practice.” And that’s what I am now doing, instead of taking the easy way out and getting on the back of my partner’s Harley and accepting to be a pillion. I’m now starting to understand and feel comfortable with my black Yamaha V Star 250.In a couple of weeks (Christmas day) I turn 60. I’m 1.55 m (5 feet 1 inch) short and 7.7 stones (48kg). Sandy, if I can do this, you can too. Just believe in yourself and focus on your strengths and positive things about riding. Best wishes.
All of the comments have been very true. Take it step by step at your own pace, ride with patient riders, and practice, practice, practice! I suggest trying to find an industrial area where you live to practice early in the morning on the weekend. I have an area not far from my house that helped me a lot with turns. I got up for two months every Sunday morning and went to this area where there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Just a few truckers sometimes and other young people learning how to drive. A friend of mine told me he also used the same area to practice when he first started riding. A couple of the streets were dead ends, so I would practice making tight turns over and over again.It might also be a good idea to find someone where you live who teaches riding skills one on one. I found a guy who was a trained motorcycle cop and now teaches people one on one how to do low speed maneuvers, etc. I took the safety course, but his course upped my confidence so much. He was a patient teacher and I liked being able to customize the time to the problems I was having. He taught me the proper use of clutch, throttle control, using the foot brake for low speed maneuvering, and looking where you want the bike to go. Good luck and ride safe.
I’ve been riding for 50 years and still get a few butterflies in my stomach before I ride. I think it keeps me sharp.Personally I’ve always felt riding slowly in a parking lot is harder than actually riding on the street. In 50 years, I can’t recall ever having to do a U-turn in real life. (Of course, I’m a woman so I always know where I’m going.) That slow practice does get you familiar and comfortable with the bike however, and the seat time will help slow things down for you. Riding is a lot like sports; after repeating drills in practice over and over, the game slows down for you and it doesn’t feel like everything is happening at once. So stick with it!
Hi Sandy! I received my license one year ago this October and I had my permit for one year prior. I took it slow and I still continue to take it slow. I celebrate every milestone and achievement and take nothing for granted. As a mid-40-something-year-old, I decided to do this a bit later on in my life and celebrate that decision alone. Still, every time I get on my bike, I feel a tad nervous. Less than when I began, but I’m still a bit uncomfortable.Initially I compared myself to where others were in their learning and adaptation to this new experience. I came to find that I was simply doing it at a different pace and had to honor that. The most helpful thing I did was to join a local motorcycle chapter that takes riding and safety seriously and I learn so much from the lessons, discussions, and feedback. I have come to believe that the nerves are actually a healthy respect for what the endeavor actually is, what it entails, and how nothing can be overlooked or taken for granted. This website is super-fantastic as well. It is circulated throughout my group and even the most experienced riders enjoy and learn from it.
All the comments are great! I find reading books (Keith Code is my guru), magzines, watching videos or anything online from a reputable rider, helps keep me learning. I would encourage you to look for a used, smaller bike though. The Harley-Davidson is a great ride, but learning is hard on you and your bike (dropping it, clutch use, braking, stalling, etc…), not to mention the best thing about a small bike is you can pick it up yourself and it’s so much less intimidating to put it where you want it. On and off it. Since you like the cruiser style, a Honda Rebel 450 is a great starter bike. It’s not so small that you’ll wonder where the rest of it is, and you can easily reach the essentials. Plenty of zip in the little 450 so no worries about keeping up with traffic. I wish I’d known about this site and had the words of wisdom from fellow riders when I started. I loved it from the first ride when I was a kid and finally got back to it at 43. I wasn’t going to stop or give up no matter how jittery or how many times I dropped the bike. I bought my first brand new bike in May: a 2015 Yamaha FZ-09, and yes… I dropped it! I absolutely love it and feel I earned those 125 ponies by constantly striving to improve, roll with the curves, and get back on when I’m shaken up! I’ve put just more than 9,200 miles on the new bike in less than six months! I’ve got more 70,000 miles of riding in seven years and I encourage anyone, especially women, to let those jitters (adrenaline) flow and ride! Keep up the good work and keep reaching out to all of us. Best wishes and many joyful, adrenaline fed miles!
Take a step at a time. Ride with experienced riders and take short rides through quite residential areas. After a while you will get more comfortable riding on the actual road. I remember having those jittery feelings, but trust me the more you ride the more comfortable you will feel. I followed my husband’s lead and learned from him every ride. I still watch for his direction in certain situations and I have now been riding for more than six years.
All of the comments offer great advice. For me, I started on a Yamaha 250. There was just nothing intimidating about that bike. I had fun every time I climbed on. Initially my husband followed me in the car. This kept traffic off my backside so it wasn’t so bad riding in traffic and it allowed him to make observations about what I was doing well and what I needed to work on. He is a very patient person and this helped me tremendously. Within three months I moved up to a 750 and within six months I was test riding HD Dynas and Softails. One year after purchasing the 250, I got a Softail Deluxe. It all comes down to having enough saddle time (including that parking lot practice) to transfer that “head knowledge” to muscle memory.
I had those same jitters so bad I thought I’d have to give up. Then a thought came to me like a bolt of lightening: if this was impossible, nobody else would be doing it. It has become my mantra when trying new things. It hasn’t worked so far for watercoloring, but I’m still confident!
I love this website. I have not found its like in Australia. I am also new to riding and have a Yamaha MT07. I agree, it takes practice. I have been invited to ride with a women’s group who will protect me on the highway, but as yet have not left my little community.I believe going at my own pace and building up the skills needed to feel comfortable out there with high flow traffic takes time and everyone is different.I still get the jitters when I first get on, but after a couple of goes round the block I start to relax and enjoy it. My aim for next year is to ride in the world record attempt for the most women riders on a ride.
Hi Sharon,We have a lot of readers / followers in Australia and yes, we’ve been told there is nothing like it there. Actually, there is nothing like it anywhere so we continue to do our best to serve a global community with a focus on the U.S. though because that is where we are based. Thanks for your tips.
My best therapy for the jitters was to get out and practice those slow moves as much as possible. I still do this because I still get jitters. Do it every day you can and you will see and feel results. Look where you are going and when you make a u-turn whip that head around on your should to look where you want to go.Also reading a book about riding helped. I used the language and points in the reading to talk to myself and found it reassuring and a way to focus. I read Sport Riding Techniques: How To Develop Real World Skills for Speed, Safety, and Confidence on the Street and Track by Nick Ienatsch. Don’t let the title fool you, the principles can apply to most riders. Read and watch videos whenever you can.I took the MSF course in March 2014 and then promptly got a Yamaha FZ6R which I more promptly dropped half a dozen times just standing still (keep the bars straight!). After a year and 5,000 miles I traded my baby for a Triumph XRx this past April and just hit the 7,000 mile mark over the holiday weekend and have only dropped it twice!
Congrats on the new bike Hilary. Thanks for the great tips!
After I passed my MSF course, I read Keith Code’s book, ” A Twist of the Wrist” before I ventured out of our neighborhood roads and into riding the highways. It offered a lot of practical and helpful advice in navigating the more common and not-so common obstacles that I may encounter while building my confidence as I gain more mileage and experience riding on my own. I also watched a lot of Jerry Paladino’s YouTube tip of the week segments. Watching them helped me visualize and put into action the tips and maneuvers he explains when they arise.Ride your own ride. Don’t feel compelled to rush anything. Enjoy and have fun! Oh, wear riding shoes with great traction, ones that won’t slip.
We (men also!) were all there. It’s OK. Take it at your own pace! Ride at your comfort zone and skill level. Practice, practice, practice (I call it a$$ time). Ride with patient people, that won’t push you to an uncomfortable level go riding. The more you ride, the better it will get.When I finally “got on the road” (with traffic and everything else that comes along with that) I rode in the middle of two bikes for a sort of comfort feel. Eventually, I rode in the front to set the pace. Good luck, and happy riding. Oh, also, after riding for years, I’ve experienced times where I had a strange feeling about riding. Those are the times where I turned it around and came home. Hope this helps!
All good advice for new riders. I would add that there are many lady rider groups with riders who are willing and able to help bring others along in the speed and skills arena. I have worked with several in my Chrome Diva group and will continue to do so. Female riders are generally not about WHAT you ride, just that you do! And we have all been there. Stop in at a local motorcycle shop and ask about groups. You might just find a new bestie to ride with!
Also, visit our Women’s Motorcycling Groups page here for a complete listing.
Great points. I completed the MSF class in Sept. of this year. I practice before I go riding. My husband and I go to the local school and practice figure eights, stopping weaving and sharp turns. It makes a big difference, it’s definitely a confidence builder. When we ride he gives me tips. The one thing that I find is hard is knowing where to look when I am riding. The little instructor in my head says “keep your head up; don’t fixate on any one thing and look where you’re going.” The big thing is practice a lot.
I don’t have much to add to the great advice already given, but for three things: First, I used to go and do my practice driving at 7-8 am on Sunday morning when there was no one else on the road, which was a lot less stressful. Second, it is really tempting when you are starting out to keep to a very low speed. As you are practicing, just try to increase your speed little by little – it will give you more control of the bike, without freaking you out. And finally, counter steering really works – practice gently pushing on the hand, on the side you are turning towards, and it will become a really good habit! Have fun!
I’m a new male novice rider. Found this site when I was looking for opinions on bikes, and I got V Star 250. My own experiences for getting over the initial nervousness was get out there and practice all the things I learned in MBC. I realized the amount of time in the course wasn’t enough to get to know your bike and I think this is the most important for me. As another commented, ride your own ride and learn your bike characteristics. I was almost got ran over by two cars at intersection in my neighborhood because they seemed to not want to wait or didn’t see me, even though they literally were staring at me! So just take it slow and yield to everyone when you are practicing in your neighborhood. Several times I was rushing when the light turned green, or go at the stop sign, only to have the bike die out since I was in higher gear and still not familiar with the throttle response. I was so embarrassed each time, especially one time when I dropped my bike trying to practice a U-turn at 5mph (the homeowners rushed out to see if I was OK)!I then realized, “Hey, I’m a beginner. It’s since now only hurts my ego.” I waved my thanks, bleeked out some lame excuse about sand and mud, and continue on with my practice ride. Hope this helps.
Thanks for this valuable advice.
Find a (PATIENT and supportive) riding buddy! I just took/passed my MSF class at the beginning of October. I was skittish but I rode around the neighborhood a lot and practiced around cones in a local school for a couple days before I went out on any main roads. When I did go out on the roads my boyfriend would follow behind me on his motorcycle and videotape me riding in front of him with his GoPro camera. He would also make suggestions over our intercoms in our helmets (“When you make your next turn, try to make it a little tighter” or “OK, you want to start downshifting now and let the bike help you slow down before we get to this red light coming up instead of breaking hard.”When we’d get home, we would watch the video from his GoPro. He would make suggestions and/or I could see how I was doing and often had suggestions or questions of my own. Take your time and practice, practice, and practice some more! Have fun!
I rode in my neighborhood, practicing what I learned and testing myself for three months before I gained enough confidence to get on the road. I suggest getting to know your bike well (clutch point, optimal shifting rpm, etc), and also challenging yourself in new situations near home. For example: there are hills with curves in my neighborhood, dirt roads, speed bumps, stop signs with right and left hand turns (stay in your lane making these), and my favorite, the cul de sac. Practice tight turns both directions around the cul de sac. Once these are no longer challenging, you should have enough confidence to hit the road. Be sure to have a back-up phone number or plan in case anything goes wrong. This is a huge confidence booster as well! Good luck and enjoy the road!
My advice to all new riders, is to ride your own ride. What helped me may not help others, but it did work for me. We are women. We think too much! We are too worried about what other people are thinking and doing. Prior to the MSF class, I had only been a passenger. After the class, I would tell my husband, “I’m going here and back – give me 20 minutes. If I’m not back, come looking for me.” I would continue the distance and time that I was gone. I would find open roads that were not heavily traveled. I would practice stopping, starting, turning, braking, you name it, but I did it at my own pace. he only thing that I had to think about was me – what I was doing.If someone came up on me, I pulled over. As I progressed, I just rode my own ride. Right or wrong, I thought, “What are they going to do? Run me over.” To date, they haven’t, thankfully. I talked to myself; heard my rider coach like he was sitting on my shoulder. Still hear that voice from time to time. My father-in-law always told me that the throttle goes both ways. Remember that you are in control. You don’t have to go fast just because you can go fast. Hope that helps! Wish you lots of happy miles and memories!