In this installment of Riding Right, MSF instructor Susan Rzepka Orion answers some reader questions. Two women who recently passed the MSF class ask how to overcome their nervousness about venturing out on their own and wonder what motorcycle to buy.
WRN Reader Ronas Question:
Im a new rider in Los Angeles looking for info on how to get started. My only experience driving, as opposed to riding on the back of a bike, was in the motorcycle safety course about four weeks ago. I got my motorcycle endorsement last week and am so excited to get started, but I definitely need help. Id love to find someone who can ride with me while Im getting accustomed to riding in traffic, etc. I dont own a bike yet. Renting a bike and hitting the road solo seems kind of daunting. Do you have any suggestions? Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
WRN Reader Jos Question:
I just got a Honda Shadow 600 VLX (used). I went to the DMV, studied the book, and got my permit. I practiced in parking lots, then took the MSF course and passed. Before I got my bike, I was practicing on a little Honda 250 Rebel, and it seemed pretty easy. Although the 600 is not a huge bike, for some reason Im feeling intimidated by it.
I took the 600 out a few weeks ago, just to practice around my block (this was before the MSF class), and it kept stalling when I pulled on the clutch or came to a stop. My husband was out with me on his bike. I got a little frustrated, thinking it was me. We had just had my bike completely serviced. My husband then rode it around, and sure enough, it stalled with him, too. Well, we just got it back from the shop and it runs great, but I havent been on it yet.
I have to be honest—every time I think of mounting my bike, my heart starts to race a little. I did the parking lots great—before the class, that is. Now Ive taken the class and I want to ride, but this touch of anxiety hits me. I know I just need to get out there and practice, so whats my problem? The thought of stopping at a signal and having people all around me makes me afraid of jerking the clutch and stalling or something stupid like that. Ill take any and all advice, please.
Congratulations! By taking the motorcycle safety course, you learned how to ride right. The next daunting step is taking your motorcycle operators license out to play in traffic.
Its quite natural to feel somewhat anxious when transferring your new skills from a closed course to the open road. And its understandable to want help from an experienced rider. While significant others, friends and relatives are a great source of support, they may not always be the best riding mentors. The pressure to perform in front of those you know sometimes adds to your anxiety!
I cant make specific recommendations about local groups, but dealerships are great places to meet other riders, as are community bulletin boards and club Web sites. (Editors Note: WRN has a list of National and Regional Women-Only Riding Clubs, as well as the WRN Forum, both great places to find a female riding mentor in your area. Please be sure to use caution when arranging to meet folks you find on the Internet. Always choose very safe, very public places.)
Finding someone with whom you can ride can have its ups and downs, too. A riding companion who possesses good mentorship qualities (skill, experience, safety awareness and plenty of patience) can help you gain the confidence you need to move to the next level. But riding with others can also hamper your ability to learn the rules of the road at your own pace. Its important to build your skill and confidence, which will come only through personal experience. And thats a difficult thing to do if you dont have a bike on which to practice regularly.
Even more important than finding a riding companion is getting as much time as possible on a manageable starter bike. Choose something inexpensive and gently used to get up to speed. Then youll have something you alone can comfortably take out on the road for short trips, to a nearby parking lot, or on the streets in your own neighborhood. As you slowly increase your radius of travel, youll find that youre gaining experience and confidence as well. The more you ride, the better youll get. When its all said and done, its really just you and your bike. So practice, practice, practice!
Easing Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Start on a comfortable, manageable starter bike. You might actually feel like a giant on this bike, but its much better to start on something really small so you can get used to the way a motorcycle maneuvers, the ins and outs of throttle control, and the nuances of braking. (Editors Note: Be sure to visit Riding Right: Buying Your First Motorcycle for Susans advice on finding the perfect beginner bike.)
- Find a quiet neighborhood in which to practice your skills, one with few cars and other people around. If youre really fearful of practicing on a quiet street, then find a parking lot nearby. However, in a parking lot, youll have to come up with your own drills to help you practice stopping, turning and throttle control—thats why I recommend a quiet neighborhood as the ideal place to start.
- Try to venture out alone when youre practicing. This way you can go at your own pace.
Be sure you master the art of lifting a downed motorcycle, as described on WRN in Technique for Lifting a Motorcycle. This way, any fear you have of dropping the motorcycle with no one else around can be mitigated by knowing how to pick up the motorcycle yourself. If youre riding a small starter bike, lifting it from its side should be very easy. Knowing how to do this will help you venture out on your own, which, in the end, is really the best way to gain the much-needed confidence you need to become a more skilled and proficient rider. Its all about knowing what your limitations are as you move through the learning curve and knowing when to push your boundaries.
Check out more common reader questions and answers here in our Your Questions Answered section.
About the Author
Susa Rzepka Orion is a certified MSF RiderCoach who loves to ride and help others do the same. She rides Yamaha V Star 1100 Custom.
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Reading these comments has made me smile and literally laugh out loud at times. It’s so funny how just hearing the exact same things from someone else makes you feel so much better. My introduction to riding a motorcycle came from my ex-husband more than 20 years ago. We had bought him a Honda 600 CBR F3. Since “we” were paying for it, I wanted to learn how to ride it. Of course the first time I sat on it, he says, “give it a little gas and let out the clutch.” Uh, ok. Good Lord! That bike jumped straight out from under my legs into the air and landed on its side. LOL! You should have seen the look I got!After that, I learned not to “pop” the clutch. Driving a standard car is way different than a hand clutch on a motorcycle. He taught me “basics.” The bike was light, so I wasn’t afraid of dropping it. I learned enough to get it to and from work if he left it for me to ride because he needed the car. I was never comfortable on it, and never proficient. That was many, many years ago.Fast forward to last month.My now husband (16 years) rides a Harley-Davidson Street Glide. My father rides a Harley Road King. I love riding with my husband as his passenger and have thought many, many times about wanting to ride on my own. His bike, however, is very intimidating and way too big for me to re-learn on. So, we went looking for a Harley of course. I bought a Sportster 883 Iron. It’s seat height is perfect for me at 5 feet 4 inches and though smaller than his, it is still a heavy bike.We’ve had it for a few weeks, now. I’ve been on it literally six times, got my permit, and passed my MSF class yesterday. We live way out in the country, so traffic isn’t something I worry about much, but tight curvy roads are. Like anyone learning something new, I am good at some things and really suck at others. We have a boat launch three miles from our house that we have taken it to twice to give me room to practice certain things. We’ve been out on the open road three times. Once, just down to town to get gas and back and the second trip was to a different boat launch on the other side of the lake. Of course, as I went to stop, my foot peg literally stuck in the heel of my boot as I went to put my foot down. Over went me and the bike. My husband got the bike back up, and I rode back home. Got new pegs the next day … no longer an issue there. No damage done other than to my pride and confidence.Next ride was much longer … around the entire lake … it was a long ride, and I did quite well. I was proud. I recognized where I needed practice (gear for speed coming out of curves, etc.) My husband is wonderful, and I love him; but it is hard to ride with him as a learner. He expects me to keep up with him and gets angry with me when I make a mistake or fall back. All that does is hurt my confidence and put so much pressure on me. I don’t have issues hitting 55 on a good road that I’m familiar with. There are times I will get a little nervous and my speed will slow, but “seat time” will help with that if he’ll just let me learn at my speed.After passing my class, we decided to take the bikes out for dinner in a nearby town. What a disaster. I’d gotten so used to the little 125s from class that I’d lost the feel for how much bigger my bike is. I overshot the left turn coming out of our driveway into the grass, which he saw. I didn’t fall, I just told myself to keep calm and not do anything sudden and get back on the road. I did fine the rest of the way other than him not liking how slow I went on a very narrow back road. Then I couldn’t see his turn signal coming into the restaurant and had to slow fast and make a right turn that was over 90 degrees. I didn’t turn hard enough and a car (going very slow out of a parking lot) had to slow down for me to correct. He jumped all over me once we got where we were going, after having me park beside him on dirt/gravel area.Dinner was nothing but arguing. Afterwards I got on my bike, went to lean it to bring up my kickstand, dirt shifts., bike shifts too far and goes over. Again, we had to pick it up. I literally wanted to walk home after that. I was embarrassed and frustrated but I had to ride home so I got back on. I put my mind on what I was doing and drove home without incident. Now I’m dead set on practicing every day back in the parking lot—turns from a stop, stops, etc. on my bike and not some tiny bike from class. I’ve also reached out to our local Iron Divas chapter. I need a support group that understands where I’m coming from. My husband is just not good in this area for me.
I took the Harley-Davidson riding course and passed two weeks later. I bought a HD Sportster 1200 and started riding in my subdivision today. Need practice shifting. I will not leave the subdivision until I’m ready. I love riding, but very. very nervous right now. Need to practice constantly
So my first post on this site was about how I failed my safety course the first time, but passed the second time around. Fast forward to now last night I took my first freeway ride. I waited until 1 a.m. when not too many on the road. I was a bundle of nerves but I made it through it! I definitely need to work on pulling my speed up and get used to the wind and elements; I think this was the biggest adjustment for me.
My boyfriend shared this website with me and I’m so happy he did! I bought my Iron Sportster 883 about a month ago, and I’ve only ridden in various parking lots at this point. I’m taking my rider safety course this weekend and I plan to pass, ha! Reading the various testimonials has given me confidence knowing I’m not the only nervous one out there. I think with practice and patience I’ll get there. Thank you all for sharing!
Good luck with the class. We know you’ll pass!
I’m really happy to have found this site. The articles and videos were very helpful building my confidence in the lead up to actually getting out and riding. I was really nervous. You’ve passed the course but still don’t feel like you know what you’re doing – it gets better quite quickly when you run out of excuses and actually start the bike up and take it out for your first ride. We live in a country area so there was no avoiding the wide open roads (and high speed limits) but I haven’t ridden in traffic yet. I plan to practice the slow turns and maneuvers until I really feel like I understand how to control the bike in various circumstances. I chose a Honda CB300F after researching things like weight, seat height, riding position, ABS brakes, and although I think I will outgrow it after a while I was really keen to learn on a smallish bike. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I am so happy to have found this site I passed the course recently and have been practicing every day to better my skills. I have been setting up my own course and practicing swerves, turns, stops, and even remembering to turn off the blinker. I practiced in my neighborhood until I felt like the neighbors might be counting me as a nuisance! Today was my first day out on the road. I was a bundle of nerves but powered through it. My hubby came alone to monitor from a distance (bless his patient heart). We practiced the same 5 mile route five times. I didn’t get up to speed limits but did gain confidence in the gear shifting and turns. I am working on the speed.I will be 50 in a couple of months I am not an athlete. Before last month, I had never ridden a motorcycle. These are the things that I have learned:1. Take the course. Even better, get your partner…even if experienced…to take the course with you. That way, he will brought back to that learning mode.2. Get a bike that is right for you. Don’t think about long term. Choose by what is right for YOU right now.3. Challenge yourself but don’t push over your limits. If you aren’t ready, don’t sweat it. With practice and development of other skills, you will make it.4. The skills are perishable. You must practice, practice, practice.5. Enjoy. This is supposed to be fun. If you are like me, you will be nervous, a little skittish and your heart might even race. Once you start to master the skills, you will be exhilarated! Looking forward to learning and enjoying your articles.Happy Trails, Lori
Congratulations. Great tips. Thanks!
I just took my safety course last weekend and got my license yesterday. I’m a bit nervous about heading out on my own. I definitely plan on riding around my neighborhood first. It really put my mind at ease to know that I’m not the only one who gets that nervous feeling. I worry so much about shifting wrong at the stoplight, and killing the engine with traffic behind me. I’m surrounded by coworkers who have been riding for years. They’re not very compassionate about my plight. It’s nice to read that it’s not uncommon to feel nervous. Thanks for the motivation to get out there. We can do it!
Im really enjoying reading all about the experiences from other women riders. I am turning 50 in a couple of months and decided to get my motorbike license and have just bought a Honda CB400. It’s still early days (a week) but my confidence is waining and buyers remorse has kicked in! But reading the comments here, if I just keep practicing, take my time and find a vacant parking lot to control and practice maneuvering the bike, taking my time I will get there. I am trying to ride a bit every day but made the mistake yesterday of finding way too many steep roads which was scary and the bike conked out going up. I will keep persevering and finding the inspiration from your web site.
Yes, keep persevering Suzanne. Eventually your muscle memory will take over with riding and you will become one with the motorcycle. That is an excellent motorcycle to start on by the way. Good luck!
My husband asked me if I would like to learn to ride my own bike next to him. I was very hesitant at first but knew down inside that I wanted to ace the challenge. In my younger years I raced snowmobiles on an oval track and raced a ’69 Grand Prix in 1/4 mile races every weekend. Learning to ride a motorcycle has nothing to do with any of that other than my need for speed could get me killed. Having said that, I took The Rider’s Edge HD beginner’s class in Texas and passed. Then I immediately moved to Colorado – bummer. Mountain roads are beautiful but IMHO a beginning rider could benefit from a large flat area to practice. My quest lasted through my first summer. I was kicked out of more parking lots (yes they were empty) because the owners were concerned over their liability or motorcycle classes took precedence.Long story but after many very discouraging weekends I finally was offered an amazing church parking area. Now this was not an ordinary flat parking area – this was over a 1/4 acre of continuous two-lane paved road that consisted of different levels, curves on those levels, flats and best of all several stop signs. One grade was nearly 45 percent which provided an extra challenge. Initially, my husband drove my bike there for me and I followed in our car. I brought mini colored cones for setting up stop and go courses, water, food and fortunately we had access to a restroom. I would spend 4 to 5 hours a day every weekend practicing turns, stops, and stopping into turns. My HD instructor in Texas could not emphasize enough the importance of practicing slow maneuvers until I could do them in my sleep – stop/start, braking and especially making those left turns. I spent my first summer in that parking lot – not that everyone will take as long as I did. I never got over 35-40 mph. When I was confident to ride the winding, curving grades of the back roads of the foothills of the Rockies I was much more prepared to react without crashing or dropping my bike. There is a constant concern about elk and deer herds moving across the back roads, but I discovered the most dangerous concern I had was four-wheeling tourists not paying attention to the road. I realize this is a long post but I feel it so necessary to emphasize that most women need a comfort zone and a sense of security when learning to ride a bike. To enter into traffic unprepared is to invite what could be a life threatening accident. I had my bike lowered too so my feet were nearly flat on the ground when I stopped, this gave me the sense of control and stability I needed to stop accurately. I practiced until I felt ready, not when my husband thought I was ready. Hope this helps a bit and oh btw, I am 63 years old.
Failing the Basic Rider Course on my first try was devastating but didn’t stop me from going out and buying a Harley-Davidson Dyna that I really liked. I made some attempts to learn to ride it but thought my learning might be a bit quicker if I first started with something smaller. So I went out and bought a second motorcycle which was a really old, inexpensive Honda Rebel. Wasn’t long before I was buzzing all around my neighborhood and then even out in traffic. It was four months after my first attempt I again signed up for and passed the BRC, I was elated. Although nervous about venturing out on the Harley I am finding a lot of encouragement and advice here and want to say thanks.
Annette,Thanks for your comments. Check out the question and answer section on WRN about buying a motorcycle before taking the MSF class. It doesn’t exactly apply to your situation, but there is some very helpful advice and feedback from our readers that does address the choice of your two motorcycles.
I’m so glad I found this website. I took the MSF course last summer and passed, although one part of it has stuck with me, and not in a good way. The figure 8 in the box. I just couldn’t do it. I had no idea what I was doing wrong and the instructors didn’t have time to help me. No one could see that I was crying behind my face shield but my confidence was gone. I went on to pass the class but when I went to ride my first bike (brand new Triumph America) I was a wreck. No confidence. Totally freaked out. My husband is a lifelong rider and he was encouraging but couldn’t fix me. I sold the bike and bought a Can-Am. Thought maybe having three wheels would help. Nope. So that went too. I hated myself for being a quitter, for letting the bike beat me. Now it’s one year later. I am ready to try again. I have bought a used BMW 650. It will be here this weekend. I think I’m ready but there are still twinges of fear. I’m sure this is normal. I think I’m most afraid of failing again. Thanks for letting me vent. It really helps!
Great article…I’m nervous as well. I have a 1977 Suzuki GS400 that I bought to practice on. I passed the basic safety course and have my endorsement. I just bought a used 2001 Harley Sportster XL1200C. I’m glad it is a used bike; for some reason I feel better knowing it is used. The first time I took it out of the driveway and rode around the neighborhood, the power of the 1200 made me very nervous. I wanted to make a left hand turn down a side street, but felt like I couldn’t. I went straight for two more streets then finally made a left. It was a little wide. I’ve been out practicing a few more times and each time I feel better…more confident. I love how smooth it is. I’m making all my turns by taking it slow. Still a little wide here and there. I haven’t gone over 25 mph yet. My husband tells me there is no hurry. Practice, practice, practice.
Susan, you were so right-on with your advice. I’m a new rider and own a Honda Rebel (great starter bike, by the way). I live in a neighborhood which only has one access to the main road. It has been a great place to practice. My first trip on county roads was with my son who owns a Honda CBR. I felt comfort in having a fellow rider but I think I felt some anxiety in trying to keep up with him. I definitely learned that days what I needed to improve on – smoother stops and eventually, speed. In choosing my first trip out alone, I tried to pick a time that I thought the road would be least congested. That was a three-mile round trip. I finally worked up the courage to drive it to work for a meeting. I took as many back roads as possible but did have to cross over one main intersection and travel on another, but only to get to the nearby turn lane. The only trouble I had was when I was waiting for traffic to clear for that right-hand turn, I was on a slope. I waited until there was no approaching traffic then attempted to pull out. I didn’t give it enough throttle, rolled backwards a few times and stalled once. The main thing is that I stayed calm and made sure I didn’t back into the car behind me. I finally gave it enough throttle and went for it! When I get nervous I usually make stupid mistakes but somehow I managed to focus on what needed to be done (however when I got off of the bike after arriving at work I started shaking like a leaf). In reviewing this experience, I asked myself could I have done anything differently. I believe the answer is yes. I did not have to roll all the way to the stop sign while waiting for that right-hand turn. The view was clear enough that I could have stopped about 10 feet further back into a slight “valley,” which would have given me flatter ground to stop on without obstructing my view of oncoming traffic. I apologize for such a long post, but I thought it may help others. Just stay calm-you can do it!
I’m new to motorcycles in general. I’ve been a passenger, but never an independent driver. I am taking the beginners riding course in a few weeks and I am very excited. It may sound silly, but a lot of the reason behind wanting to ride is the dream of owning a Harley. I have been doing some research as well as talking to friends who ride and the general consensus is to start small, however I want my first bike to be a Harley SuperLow. I am 5 feet 4 inches and 135 pounds. I have tested out the SuperLow and it’s a perfect fit for me. Assuming I do well in the driving course and come out with a reasonable amount of confidence for a beginner, is a SuperLow a realistically appropriate beginner bike?
That’s a good question and one we can’t give a definitive answer to. On one hand, I’d say yes as the SuperLow has all the features we deem necessary for a beginner motorcycle for people who are confident beginners, that being low seat height and low center of gravity, ease of handling related to weight distribution, no more than a middleweight engine, to name the most important. However, there is always the risk of dropping your first bike as you get used to it. Repairs from dropping a new Harley-Davidson can be $500 or more, that’s why I usually advocate buying a used “cheap” bike you don’t mind dropping and dinging up. Good luck!
Thank you so much for this article. I passed my basic handling two years ago and with my learners license in hand I got myself a Suzuki GN250. I was OK at first — with help from my other half. I did some practicing, etc. Problem was I am 5 feet 2 inches with little legs. I was not confident because I couldn’t flat foot. I fell off a couple of times turning left at junctions (where the road disappeared from under my feet). After this, I made excuses not to go out. I am also scared of the big hills so by now I thought there is no way I can do this. Butterflies turned into monsters inside my stomach each time I started to go out, so I sold the bike. I thought I would never ride again but the bug never leaves you once bitten.I was out looking at bikes last week and came across the Yamaha V Star 250. Sat on it while hubby held the forks. I can flat foot; the center of gravity is much lower. I feel like I could ride this bike. Yay! I am going to buy it and try once more. So I say don’t give up. We all go at our own pace.
It is good to know i’ m not the only person that gets a fast beating heart and just outright nervous. I took the beginner riding course and bought a used Harley 883R. I had it less that a week and had a wreck on it. I didn’t get hurt but scared me pretty good. Now after $5200 in repairs. Thank God for insurance. I have it back and I have only sit on it. We have a big yard so my husband says I am grounded to the yard until I master stops and starts. But how do you master a bad case of the nerves.
Sorry to hear of your accident. We have an article with some good advice that addresses a “bad case of the nerves.” It is found in the WRN Riding Right section, but I’ve listed a direct link to it here as well.
It’s been 37 years since I last rode a motorcycle. This summer I bought a Yamaha V Star 250, took a Back to Basics Motorcycle course and began riding again, in our neighborhood at first. My son took me to a deserted parking lot to practice some of my slow speed skills, which are very rusty! I certainly don’t have the nerve and confidence that I had when I was in my 20s, but I’m committed to mastering my bike. It’s good to know that my butterflies before each practice ride are normal.
I took the rider safety course and I passed, and I took my DMV test and passed, so I have my motorcycle license and I even have my own bike. I guess you can say I was really excited to get everything going. Well now that I have everything I guess you can say I’m not up to par. God knows I want to ride my bike like my husband with no fear (he also took the class with me) but I get a panic attack maybe because I the bike has fallen on me three times, but I still get up and get back on it. I do ride in the “Cove” where I live but I’m terrified about traffic.The only thing stopping me is my anxiety! Help. Any good advise I’ll take.
Please visit the WRN Beginner’s Guide. There are articles that address your situation, particular in the Reader Stories section
Wow. Thanks for your comments. I thought I was alone in my skittishness. I took the safety class and passed it after a bad first experience in another class. A friend encouraged me after my initial tough experience to come and practice on his Honda Shadow. His wife rides too, and would applaud the progress I made in each lesson. After going from the yard to a parking lot and a ride on the street, I retook the safety class. The next weekend the safety instructor took me out on my first ride on my bike, a 883 Sportster. That made me feel like a million bucks (even though I was pretty nervous). We rode 75 miles and he gave me a big hug and told me he was proud of me. After that, I’ve been on my own. Each weekend I take her out, venturing a bit further every time. I’ve contacted a local group of women riders, and hope to ride with them soon. Now, though after reading your stories (thanks so much for sharing) I will smile as I pull out knowing that this nervousness is normal, that I have sisters out there pulling for me, and I’ll be thinking of all of you.
Today, my bike (Shadow Aero) was delivered and I was so exicited. I got my license about a 1 1/2 year ago through a motorcyle safety course. I went out and didn't make the turn and the bike fell on me and I end up having to call emergency services to get the bike off of me. It had pinned me down and I am only 4-feet-9. After that I slowly rode the bike home, however I couldn't get the bike up into the garage. So I went into the house and waited an hour and tried it again. I got it in the garage by crashing it into the wall. I not going to give up, however I am going to wait to practice with my husband.
I was reading this article and decided I was going to see if I can find someone to practice with. I love being on a motorcycle and will love to work with someone on building my skill.
I just came across this article, and Rona- you must have written it exclusively for me!
I had dreams of a Jarley for the past three years. The men at my job would drive up and have their guy talk while I would walk around the bike in awe! One of them noticed, and started on me about getting my own. I rode with him a few times on his Harley, then wham! the bug bit me!
I took the MSF course October 25, 2009, and on November 14 purchased my very first 2009 Sportster 1200L. The few times I have taken it out at night, you would have thought I drank two gallons of extra strength coffee! My heart was racing and my hands were jittery.
Thank God for friction zone knowledge. I think I would have ended up in my neighbor's driveway had I not been taught that! It has sat in the garage because I keep waiting for a night in shining Harley to ride with me, but no more! This Web site is the BEST thing I have ever come across, and I am thankful to the creator of this site for keeping me in mind!
I love that I have met new computer friends. Life is small and the world smaller. We shall meet one day!
I was delighted to read all the comments. I was ready to surrender. I worked hard for my license and I'm very proud of it. Unfortunately family and friends are not backing me so for the few times I have been on my bike it has not been overly successful. I'll be OK around the block the first time then I panic and think of all the comments and then all I do is stall the bike.
I end up putting it back in the garage and letting it sit. It's an Intruder Volusia 800. I'm not sure if it's too big but it was what I could afford. A smaller bike was not available in that price range. I do not have any one wo can take me out riding and I spoke to my original riding coach and she suggests practice. I'm in a very busy area so I'm not confident enough to go out of the area to find a parking lot to practice in. If anyone can offer any advice it would be greatly appreciated.
I'm a new rider and still nervous too. I actually have a 150cc scooter that I still ride. It's a blast for tooling around town and was a wonderful intro to motorcycles. The motorcycle I'm riding is my husband's 750. He may have to get another one when he gets back from his deployment!
I took the MSF course and recommend it to everyone. Being in traffic still makes me nervous but I'm getting out there every chance I can. I'm very careful and watch out for other drivers a lot more and that helps.
I've stalled at an intersection – just started back up and went on, same as I did in my first standard car. I'm determined to become better and more comfortable. I've dropped the bike twice, gently actually, during sharp turns – my weak point. My husband is a very good, patient teacher and was fabulous when I was screaming in the parking lot, “I'm dropping it, I'm dropping it!” He said, “Pick it up and get going.”
What a great site for learning and sharing! I'll be here regularly.
Hi, I'm a newbie rider, and although I love ridingat lower speeds (am OK in traffic), I get really nervous when I push her up to 50 mph. When am I going to stop being nervous at higher speeds? Will this eventually go away? With the wind blowing at me or from the side, I feel like I'm going to lose the bike and fall off. I've only been out maybe six times so far.
I would love to hear from you ladies who feel the same (or felt the same) and have overcome this.
It's nice to know I am not the only one who gets nervous about dropping my bike at intersections and looking stupid. As I read these comments, I realize others feel the same way I have been feeling. Afraid to take the bike out sometimes, but fine once I get out there. hanks everyone, at least now I know I'm normal.
I'm a newbie also. Although I've had my motorcycle license for eight years, most of my riding was on the dirt. I'd like to share my first almost accident experience with you all. I live in traffic congested southern California and while riding home from work the other day a car turned from his left turn lane in front of me. Luckily, I was able to stop before hitting him. Boy was I scared. As I said before, I'm a newbie and this just shattered my already shaky confidence. I was also furious!
I really enjoy the freedom of riding and I feel like this person took a little of the enjoyment away from me. I would love to be a positive voice for all of us nervous newbies, but we must remember that it can be dangerous out there especially when someone else is not paying attention.
You are right in your assessment of your response to the drivers who don't see us. All the more reason we have to ride so defensively and never let our guard down for a minute.
When something like this happens to me, if I can. I'll ride right next to the person and let them know they didn't see me and that they almost hit me. Car drivers need to be made aware of their mistakes.
Thanks! So many of us with new licenses, great starter bikes and cold feet! I'm glad I'm not alone. All of us will just have to get out there and ride (parking lots of course!), and that includes me.
I, too, am getting ready to take the class. Mine is the beginning of December. I am really hoping for a dry weekend.
I have been sitting on bikes trying to decide on one. I have long legs so the smaller beginning bikes make my legs feel cramped. So far I am leaning towards the Sportster 883 Custom. My husband is a Ninja man so we are completely different on this.
I was feeling very nervous about leaving our neighborhood and the parking lots within it but after reading the article and the posts I feel much better and think just staying around here for awhile will be a good idea anyway. Luckily, when my nerves are better I have a couple of female friends at work who are new riders also, that I will be able to ride with in addition to my husband. Thank you!
When I was 16, I wanted the local kid with the dirt-bike to teach me how to ride, but he never would. Last month, at 42, I passed the MSF course and had a blast. Now I've been poking around the Web for what to buy. My boyfriend has let me practice on his Shadow 750 a couple of times, but it feels just a little big, and I'm terrified of dropping his bike. I want my own, so if I drop it, I won't feel guilty about the scratches (just aggravated at myself).
I'm planning on visiting a couple of dealerships to sit on a couple of bikes for feel, especially since I'm only 5 feet 2 inches. From what I've read and heard so far, the following are options to look into:
Honda Shadow VLX 600
Kawasaki Vulcan 500
Yamaha V Star 650
Harley Sportster 883 (though I'm not into Harleys)
Suzuki Boulevard M50
I'm looking forward to riding on my own!
That's a really good list to start with.
This is a great article! I took the MSF last year and immediatly got my license. I purchased a Honda CBR600RR this last March, I have been doing a lot of parking lot practice and have dropped it twice now (thank God for sliders). I am intimidated even leaving my apartment complex because the speed limit on my street is 50mph. While I do want to get out there I continue to practice, take it slow, go at my own pace and know the nervousness will eventually ease.
I think that there is something to be said about women feeling comforted by knowing that they are not alone. I have had my license for three months now. I still feel very jittery when I first get on my bike. However, once I get moving I begin to relax a bit.
I live in a neighborhood where the roads are great practice for me. I notice that each time I ride, I am getting better with certain things. I prefer to venture onto the main roads earlier in the day as I am a bit nervous once the traffic gets too heavy. My husband is a tremendous help as he has been riding for years and makes it look so easy. So when I am not on my bike, I am on the back of his watching how he rides. He explains what he is doing as we ride. Believe it or not, that is very helpful for me. I am taking my time and enjoying every bit of it.
Like everyone else has said, thank you for this article! I am a new rider, 43 years old, and took the MSF Basic Rider Course about a month ago. The new rider jitters are very real!
I had a Suzuki V-Strom 650 awaiting me in the garage, but she has proved to be too much for me to handle just yet. After three drops and one crash, we found a Nighthawk 250 and I am getting my feet wet again. My challenge is that we live on a twisty backroad that has to be navigated before I can get to the straight main drag, so I'm terrorizing a nearby subdivision as I work on building my skill set.
It is so good to know that there are more women out there who are experiencing the same things I am. Here I thought I was the only one.
I can't imagine starting on a V-Strom 650 as your first bike without prior riding experience. That is a very tall and top heavy motorcycle. Once you become proficient at riding, the V-Strom is an ideal all-around, all purpose sport-tourer. But because the seat is on the high side, average sized riders must have plenty of experience to be able to handle getting on/off and stopping on the V-Strom.
I took the safety course and passed the first time. I am so proud of myself. It was especially important to me to do this for two reasons. One, it was my 50th birthday. And number two, and I should say the main reason — I have been riding with my husband on the back of his Harley Road King. That meant that my daughter who has Downs Syndrome would not get to go with us. And she loves being on the bike with him. So in order to get us all on the road at the same time, I took the plunge. I am very nervous when I first get on but after awhile I start to enjoy the ride.
I was at the Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky, Ohio, this year and went to a seminar put on WRN. I came home got on the Web and started reading. Thank you all so much.
This is a really good article for the new rider. I had that feeling of anxiety last year. I had to get back on after a motorcycle accident (hit in the rear by another motorcycle). I had already been on the back of my husband's bike, but we had just purchased me another bike. The thought of leaving my driveway was tough, but once I got out of the driveway and got down the road a little way to the stop sign, it was that old feeling of enjoyment that took over and I never looked back.
Of course, I did have to promise that I would not ride unless my husband rode with me. Well that one has been broken. I rode it to work in downtown Houston at the beginning of the month (have not told him that one yet). Riding becomes a part of you and as you get more use to your bike you will know all of its quirks. Riding is the best way we have found to releave stress. I will tell my husband that my bike misses me when we have not gotten out and really had a long ride in a while.
I just passed the riders course today. I passed on my first try. Yeah! Of course I still need some work. Thank you for this article. I wish everyone luck. I plan on purchasing a bike within the the next month. I'm looking forward to getting more comfortable riding.
I am brand new rider, too. I took my bike out solo for the very first time this morning – a pratice before using it to commute to work. While I think I did fine, I also now know that I am not yet ready for the PCH commute.
I passed the MSF class last November and got my motorcycle license immediatly, then no riding until June. The skills and reflexes are coming back but the fear is a bit strong with the traffic we have here. It will be a week or more of riding before I think I can start to commute on the bike.
Great article. It's good to know I'm not the only one whose intimidated. I took the MSF course three weeks ago and bought my first bike this past week (Sportster 883). It took me four days to work up the nerve to take her out for practice — I kept coming up with excuses (no insurance yet, need engine guards, etc.).
I finally bit the bullet and hopped on this afternoon. I live on a cul-de-sac, so I spent about 45 minutes riding up and down the street, practicing braking, shifting, cornering and such. My boyfriend cheered me on and kept telling me that I was doing the right thing by starting out slow.
I'm nowhere near ready to deal with traffic yet, so I'm just going to continue putting around the neighborhood until I get a better feel for my bike. I'm 48 and don't want any broken bones, so I'm taking it slow!
This is a great article. I also still get those nervous feelings. I took a STARS course about a year and half ago. I started on an old (1970s) Honda 125, then went to a Yamaha TTR125LE (with a Baja kit for the street). I just moved up to Honda Shadow Spirit 750. What a bike! I absolutely love it, but the traffic does make me nervous, and just like Rona said, I worry about dumping the clutch or doing something stupid with all those people watching.
I will take the advice and ride as much as possible. I think that it's wonderful that there are so many lady riders out there. Thanks for all of the support!
Really good article. So sensible. I received my MSF certificate in Sept. 07 and borrowed a friends Honda 250 to practice on. Rode around the neighborhood for a couple of months. Eventually riding on bigger surface streets.
It was my goal to never ride above my experience level. I was (am) slow about pushing my limits. My husband and son ride and they were very helpful, riding with me, instructing me, etc. There is a riders group in my area and there are several women riders who ride with me and give great advice, support and encouragement.
My plan was to graduate to a Harley Sportster we own. But I bought a used Harley Fat Boy that has been lowered, so that I can place my feet fully on the ground. There is a feeling of balance because of that and I like the big bike. It feels like I can be seen better and it has a lot of power to avoid road problems, if needed. try to ride every weekend because just being on the bike, putting in hours is so helpful.
So, at this point, I have ridden up to 200 miles in a day and am still learning…The freeway is still scary but riding is so great. See you on the road!
I truly enjoy reading all your stories. I have only been riding a couple of years and consider myself still a beginner. It is nice to know we all have the same concerns. My girlfriend rides and always complains about me being slow, etc. I try not to get discouraged.
I am struggling with the same nervousness. I took the MSF course last year, got my license and bought a Honda VLX 600. I feel very comfortable on the bike, but anxious in traffic. I only got a little bit of practice in before the weather turned cold. I plan on getting out a little at a time and place myself in new situations as I feel ready. This is a great sight. I love all the new rider information!
I, too, can benefit from this article. I took the course last August, and am excited to get out on the open road. I have a Suzuki 550 (1982) and it's a good size for me. I practiced as much as possible with my husband sitting on the sidelines at a nearby school lot, and then graduated to my neighborhood back streets. Lots of stop signs; can't really get past third gear, so I need to practice with a little more speed — (scarey).
I watch this site often for help and inspiration. I'm 40, and look forward to meeting other female riders, and learning from their experiences. My family and friends don't like that I ride, mainly because of safety issues, which I understand, but at the same time, I feel I need to prove to myself that I can do it and be safe. I can't wait for the snow and cold to go away so I can refresh my memory and get practicing again.
Thank you for posting this article! I am actually getting ready to take the Rider's Edge New Rider's course next week, and I'm very excited and nervous at the same time. This article has given me some great tips for after I complete the course and start riding on my own.