First Time Rider Tips
by Victor Krueger
I am a man... ooooooooh but don't condemn me for that alone :)
I have ridden tens of thousands of miles on two wheels. I am also a retired truck driver with over 2.5 million miles of "over the road" driving under my belt, so I consider myself to be somewhat of a "professional" when it comes to traveling and driving.
I taught my wife to ride a couple of years ago and I have this to say.
There are indeed many accurate and wonderful comments on this site. However, not all comments and/or advice that is posted here is worthy in everyone's varied situations.
Let's start here:
RULE # 1 IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT - MEMORIZE IT - AND NEVER FORGET IT.
1. ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS WHEN YOU ARE ON A MOTORCYCLE:
!!! YOU ARE INVISIBLE !!! Even if another motorist seems like he is looking directly at you - YOU ARE INVISIBLE - HE CAN'T SEE YOU !
NOW RIDE / ACT ACCORDINGLY.
2. If possible, be a passenger first. Ride behind your hubby or boyfriend or someone else that you "trust with your life". Let's call this person a MENTOR. Be willing to listen to EVERYTHING they say - because you will be doing just that, TRUSTING THEM WITH YOUR LIFE.
3. Pay attention to everything that you see, everything that the lead rider does, i.e. when he shifts, where he's looking, when he brakes... EVERYTHING.
A word about this. When I used to ride with my wife, while riding, I gave her descriptions of everything that I was doing and WHY I was doing them. I took it slow at first, getting her to notice traffic habits. Then I started throwing in information about the pavement, my acceleration, how I was shifting / braking and so on. This really enlightened her to what she would expect and gave her some initial practice at watching the other vehicles while on the bike.
This experience was absolutely invaluable.
4. Take the MSF course. Bare in mind though, these people are human too, and as such, they are subject to their opinions and mistakes the same as everyone else. Use your head and remember that old adage about the grain of salt.
5. After the course, if you really still want to ride then start looking at bikes and sitting on them. Size them up. Sit on as many different bikes as you can. You'll want to pick out a bike that fits your body and personal style. Your feet should be flat on the ground... AND THERE IS A REASON FOR THIS TOO... however !!!
Read this article... read the entire site. It's a real good place to start.
Pay special attention to the section labeled "Really, Really Bad Bikes for Beginners:"
Take this stuff to heart people. It's life saving information... and may save a few dollars in your wallet too.
6. If your hubby or riding mentor tells you not to try and ride that bike home from the dealer... DON'T DO IT.
Overconfidence can be a real killer. I've seen it happen. My student went to the dealer (without me) and picked up his shiny new ninja. He twisted the throttle, the bike shot out of under him and across the street and wrecked in the lot across from the dealership. Needless to say, it cost a few bucks to fix the (Brand NEW) bike, and the guy was permanently scared (actually scared to death) for riding. Two weeks later he sold it back to the dealer and took a major bite in the bank account. He still cannot ride.
7. Power - how much is too much ?
See rule # 5. If you have mastered the smaller bike, my wife started on a Honda Shadow 750cc, you'll want a bike that is big enough to comfortably handle the open roads and interstates with speeds of up to 65 and even 75 mph, depending where you live.
This is going to require a bike with at least 650cc or more. But then again, this is also dependent upon the cylinder configuration - whether it is a V-Twin or a straight 4 cylinder. The straight 4 cylinder bikes (mainly crotch rockets) can rap out some serious power using considerably lower cc ratings, but be careful here because the torque that they put out can be really surprising... like the bike jerking clean out of under you. My wife is now looking at buying herself a Yamaha V-Star 1300cc... the test ride went great too.
8. "ALWAYS RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE"
This means simply this: do not let anyone intimidate you or make you think that you have to keep up with them. Ride at a speed that you feel comfortable with... AT ALL TIMES.
Everyone's skill sets are not the same, and some people really don't have a clue that your a beginner or that you just can't take that particular curve at 95 mph like they did. It's all about you, not them.
Be your own boss and ride your own ride.
9. All hubbys/boyfriends/mentors, regardless of how much they may love you, may not be the best teachers. If your teacher isn't patient with you and very descriptive of his/her actions, by all means - GET AN NEW MENTOR, even if it hurts hubby's feelings.
10. Once your up and riding, do just that... RIDE, RIDE, RIDE. Be careful too. Remember rule # 1. You are invisible. Watch EVERYONE - EVERYWHERE. It only takes a second to make a mistake.
Always turn your head and check for clearance before changing lanes. Mirrors are NOTORIOUS for their blind spots. I can hide an entire Cadillac from a driver/rider in their mirrors, and they would never see it unless they turn their entire head around to check.
Get those miles in. Miles = Experience. The more the better too.
Best of luck to all new riders, and ladies...
Welcome to the ride!
It's nice to see you out there. I love to see my wife riding.