Am I nuts -

by Brittany U.

- for wanting to (maybe) learn to ride a motorcycle? Let me explain:

A little background info: I'm 23, a senior in college (will graduate this spring '13)…and I've never driven a car by myself (even though I do have a driver's license). I'm too scared to. I don't like how giant cars feel--I feel like all cars (even "small" ones) are too large and they make me really uneasy. I know the fear isn't logical but it's definitely persistent. My family is both supportive and unsupportive in different ways: supportive in that they're willing to give me rides whenever I need to go to the store, unsupportive in that whenever I try to work up the courage to drive, they show the same fear of me driving that I myself have of me driving.

Since I'm going to be graduating soon - I want to have the capability of being independent and I don't feel I can truly do that if I can't transport myself. Since my fear of driving is largely due to how large cars are - that's why I'm considering at least taking the class for motorcycles. I know that statistically motorcycles are much more dangerous and you're much more likely to have a fatal accident on one, but my fear of cars isn't logical so I can't really use logic to combat that fear.

So basically:
Is it impractical for a person who has barely even driven a car to try to learn to ride a motorcycle? (I know nothing about how the clutch/throttle/etc works, so that has me nervous)
Is a motorcycle in truth practical for day-to-day tasks such as commuting to and from work and getting groceries and such?
If it is practical, what sort of motorcycle should I be looking at? I'm not so much interested in speed, I just want to be able to get around in a safe and effective manner. :)

A few other details that might be a concern -
I'm very small (5'2" and under 110 lbs with a size 4 shoe)
I'm (almost) blind in my left eye (which is another reason I fear cars, because I can barely see anything on the driver's side without turning, and the windows and such always make it really hard to see)

Thanks for listening to me gab!

Comments for Am I nuts -

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Sep 16, 2012
by: Brittany U.

Hmmm...interesting. I admit, not /entirely/ the answers I was hoping for, but very helpful nonetheless. :D

I'm definitely intrigued by the idea of a scooter, especially something like the PCX 150. I hadn't been aware that scooters could actually get up to decent speeds; I thought you'd be lucky to get up to 30 mph on one and didn't think it was even a good idea to get on normal roads with one. I've been misinformed in that regard. I'll definitely research scooters in more detail.

The general recommendation seems to be to conquer riding cars first and then move to motorcycle, but I feel like it's almost opposite for me. I don't think I'll start with a motorcycle anymore (I definitely like the idea of a zippy scooter), but I feel like a scooter would be the gateway to getting over my fear of cars, rather than the other way around. It's not the size of OTHER cars that scares me--it's the size of the car I'm trying to drive that scares me.

I think my plan of action at this point is to wait until December (when I'm out of school for winter break) and try to take the MSF course on a scooter, and see how that goes. And, of course, if I do go that route, I will get a top-notch helmet, leathers, and boots, and wear them at all times. :) I know the leather will be rough given Texas heat, but I'd rather be sweaty and disgusting than lacking in skin. (Though I imagine heatstroke could be a concern during the height of summer. Are there any tips for staying safe while avoiding heatstroke?)

Sep 10, 2012
Am I nuts?
by: Anonymous

you must overcome your fear if you really want to drive a car or ride a motorcycle. I am totally deaf, and I had to learn how to overcome my fear of driving a car and ride a motorcycle. I took a driving education/class and motorcycle class, and they really helped me awhole lot. You must let the instructor know about your handicap so that he/she can work with you. Start driving a small car with good size windows. You must look at/check all the 3 mirrors(left, right and middle) all the times. Turn your head sideways like you are scanning real quick, but you will have to doublecheck the mirrors before you change lane, pass any vehicle or back out. Whenever I ride my Vulcan 900 bike, I scan and use the mirrors alot. Whenever I plan to pass any car, I have to turn my head sideway further real quick. I wish you the best.

Aug 29, 2012
Come here, Gal!
by: Shabnam

In India, bikes are usually the first for of commute. Cars come late in life - usually. So most learn how to ride a bike long before they get to a car. I learnt riding s scooter(Lambretta) when I was about 10-11 years old. So yeah, I was about 5' or less tall. Not a biggie. Go ahead and do it. A scooter may be better in some ways, but since I started riding bikes, I think they are far more stable. Add saddlebags for groceries(here we have something called a Laddakh carrier, which gives you a capability of carrying over 50-60 kgs of groceries!). Enjoy. I promise you its fun and empowering.

Aug 26, 2012
by: Jayne~

Honda just released a PCX 150 scooter that would be absolutely perfect for you!... no clutch, no shifting gears, just a foot brake and a hand throttle (gas)... plenty of storage under the seat... a perfect commuter bike... i recently took the MSF Course and one of the girls in the class took the entire class on that same scooter, that's all she's going to ride, didn't need to learn shifting and clutch... buy yourself a good "DOT Snell" helmet, always wear protective gear (leather boots, leather jacket), and go for it!... go to the Honda dealer and check it out!... (and if you're wondering, we just traded our Honda PCX 150 scooters in on one CanAm Spyder Limited)

Aug 25, 2012
Where to start?
by: Atl

I don't think you're totally nuts but I do feel that you should take a driver's ed class and at least kill that demon before thinking of a m/c. If you have limited sight in your left eye I think the driver's ed class would help you learn how to make the adjustments needed and you'd be in a safe situation while learning. Learning to make those adjustments on a m/c could put you in a nasty situation that might not have a good outcome. Then after finishing the driver's ed class sign up for a motorcycle safety class (MSF class) and see how it works out. If you don't have control of the adjustments for your vision and the MSF instructor feels you are dangerous to yourself or to your classmates they'll ask you to leave. So why set yourself for failure.
Just a little encouragement...I have a friend, an older gent, who lost sight in his left eye many years ago and he adjusted to driving when he lost sight and has been riding for several years now.
Also if you take a MSF class they will provide a m/c and may have some helmets to loan out so check to see what they have available before you buy anything.

Aug 25, 2012
Here's what I would suggest...
by: Lexxia

Hi Brittany, I know of people who have no vehicle license but they do have a motorcycle license so I would say that no, you aren't "nuts" at all. I don't know what the restrictions, if any, might be regarding your eyesight for a bike in your particular area though.

That you are worried about the size of vehicles and thus are nervous driving a car, as are people to drive with you, it may be a challenge for you because being on a motorbike is leaving yourself right open to those large cars and trucks and can be intimidating. I didnt' think that would be the case for me as I've been driving vehicles for many years now, but it was still a different feeling for a bit.

That said though, if I were you, I wouldn't start out on a motorbike then. Rather I'd recommend a scooter. Sounds "oh no not that!" perhaps but that is actually where both my husband and I began. It's also where friends of ours started out. Today our friends have an 1100 Harley, a 600 Ninja (I think it is), a 650 Suzuki and myself with a 750 Shadow. We all started out with the same scooters though - 125 Honda's. Kept up just fine to street traffic but no gears/clutch just the throttle and not too heavy to handle from dead stops.

If you want to ease into it but still be able to get from point A to B, there are ones that don't go quite street speed so you have to drive them off to the sides of the street more like bicyclists do.

Once you had confidence with them, then move up to a motorcycle. If your area is like our city, scooters are extremely easy to sell. We sold ours in about 2 days and got more for them than we paid for them. Many people here at least, seem to start that way.

Definitely take a course though. That is one thing I would strongly recommend regardless what you're going to ride. Taking a driver ed course for the car might help you get on the road more easily/confidently as well.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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