I'm new at this, will i get it?

by A.H.
(ausitn, tx)

I live in austin texas and wanted a bike because they're more economical. I have never driven anything like a bike, no dirt bike 4 wheeler or anything standard. I took one of those motorcycle safety weekend classes to get your license, passed and bought myself a small 250cc honda rebel. I got my cousin to drive it home (it was far away and I didn't feel comfortable) In the class we drove around in a parking lot never going over 20mph if that. I've driven probably 11 hours tops on a bike. The gear shifting is hard for me, i stall out sometimes and when i drove it around my apartment complex I drove it into a wall! (every things okay). My cousin has a bike and we drove around the parking lot at home, then when we decided to go on the street I was scared about going over 20mph! Is this normal? with practice in the parking lot and all that will I get better? I hope I didn't waste all this money! just let me know if it took any of you some time to get used to your bike before you'd drive on the road with traffic, and how long it took you. My cousin and his friends are big biker dudes who all grew up on bikes and they make fun of me for my little bike and being scared. I hope there are more girls like me!

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Nov 04, 2011
Newbie Also
by: Denise

I just got my bike a week ago. Harley 2005 low rider. she is 630lbs. I didnt want to buy two bikes. so starting on this one. she's heavy but so far have been fine managing her. I just seem to have a mental block thinking about shifting down and the window of time of when you need to slow down and shift down in order to come to your ultimate stop (sign or a light).

my brain is learning to do so much at the same time. I have taken short rides around my neighborhood but after one time around block I go home. Im like .... "whew I made it, just go home now". LOL im hoping to build the courage to go around more than once. Im cruising a terrifying speed of 20mph. HA! I am frustrated because in my mind I can't figure out when I am going to "get this". That is frustrating me. But trying to relax, take it day by day, one ride at a time.

each time i ride I do learn something else. I need to be in a parking lot but getting my bike over there is impossible for ME to do. I will need someone to drive it over and then I can practice some basics that I think will help me feel better.

ive never driven a manual car, so all this so new to me!

I sure hope my brain can learn this! I see girls riding and its hard to imagine they went through what I am going thru at this stage.

Nov 01, 2011
Ride With Me?
by: Sue Zuki

Greetings from North Austin, A.H!

I'm also a new rider. I took the MSF in late September and bought a used Suzuki S40 the week after the course. Your apprehension and insecurity are remarkably similar to the feelings I've experienced on my bike. Although I fell off my bike on the 3rd day of owning her, I mustered every ounce of courage I possessed to get back on and ride some more. My first month was spent just cruising through the residential streets in my neighborhood to get the feel of the bike and the friction zone, learning to properly lean into turns, starting and stopping smoothly at intersections, etc. As the other wise women on this site have previously mentioned, it was all about "riding my own ride", and learning at my own pace and comfort level. It's been so rewarding and miraculous to finally take Suzi on a main boulevard and ride comfortably at 50 MPH these last 2 weekends. My confidence is still not what I'd like it to be so I always ride in the far right lane and am typically reluctant to go faster than 50. Of course, the interstates are totally out of the question for me right now, but hopefully at some point it won't be the terrifying prospect that it appears to be at this stage. I've taken much comfort in reading the experiences of other riders on this site who have overcome their fears, improved their confidence and skill and are now completely enjoying the hard earned fruits of their labors.

Let me know if you want to ride with me sometime. I'm in North Austin and am always on my bike on weekends hoping to accomplish a new milestone and conquer a pesky fear. Having a local cycle sister such as yourself would make it all the better (and safer!).

You can find me on gmail as BuffChick10.

Oct 12, 2011
You will get it
by: Doxie

You are doing everything right. Be patient, take it at your own pace, ride your own ride. I had to practice, practice, practice in parking lots for months. I ventured out on the road every day also however and pushed myself every time I rode with what I was comfortable doing but consistently did it. It becomes easier, it becomes fun, it becomes a way of life. Hang in there and keep up the good work!


Oct 11, 2011
You will get it!!
by: Stephanie

Let me tell you, I was in the parking lot for almost four months! The first time out I stalled a few times. My husband followed me the car and I wouldn't even go all the way home. Stopped and made him take over! I did that for a long time too. That was last summer. This summer I switched from an Intruder 800 to a Savage 650. I feel way more comfortable. But, like I can't hardly get over 40 mph without being scared. I just now am where I don't feel sick with fear when I ride. It just takes time. I always feel like I have "FEAR" on one shoulder and "WANT TO RIDE" on the other and they always battle each other. "FEAR" used to win all the time. (Well, I got laundry to do...well, I have a headeache today....all "FEAR".) But the last couple of weeks "WANT" is winning and I actually find I'm mostly relaxed and sitting back a little more. It's just a matter of seat time. Experiencing different situations that you make it through is a real confidence builder. If you really "WANT TO RIDE" then "WANT" will win. Seat time, seat time...can't say it enough. Even it's just parking lot for now......Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can......

Oct 10, 2011
practice as much as you can!
by: Tessie

The more you practice the more you learn your bike! When I started I was like you never road anything the shifting took awhile for me and I killed it all the time (dumped it twice at a stop)! each time I took my bike out I got alittle better I only have 3500 mi under me but every time I ride i feel better. take it slow dont get into traffic till your ready. my first few times were so scary!Try to pick times when there is less traffic to start with.Each time will get better.As long as you can keep a cool head and and eye around you! you will get there.
And yes find some one to talk to to give you tips,my hubby has been great with that just pointers or "hey watch for this" things I would not have known or thaught of till it was too late!It helped me also to have a girlfriend ride with me. She had a little more experiance but to was learning we learned together once we ventured out there out of our neighborhood!

Oct 10, 2011
by: Anonymous

practice, practice, practice......go at your own pace. ride back roads over & over till you get the feel for it. You passed the test, you've already hit a wall, go for it......on a motorcycle fear has it's place! remember that everyone on the road is out to get you, you need to stay in control at all times. get on some gravel and slam the brakes to feel the slide then when it does happen you know what to expect and how to react. practice and learn from your mistakes each time.....it is so much fun. Look up the CMA in your area, they are good for teaching and taking care of the ladies. There is no better feeling in the world than to ride for a few hours out on the country roads of TEXAS.

Oct 10, 2011
by: Anonymous

10. Ask questions. The only way to know, or to learn, is to ask, and if there's some guy out there that wants to make fun or treat you stupid - well, he's just a jerk and who cares - he's the one that looks a fool - lots of guys out there, in fact most that I have run across, are more than willing to help us and answer our questions and teach us to be better riders, safer riders, responsible riders and self sufficient with regard to a working knowledge of our bikes and how they work!

You can do this and may just find that you really enjoy it. I have only been riding since 2007 (I was 37 at the time) and was absolutely terrified in the beginning. I had experience with a clutch from my racing days (mini-sprints), but motorcycles really scared me. ABATE was awesome, but I still spent my first season riding just local roads. This past weekend I put 400+ miles on just messing around and wouldn't trade time on my bike for anything else in the world (kids excluded!). I have also done some poker runs and charity rides and have learned from those as well. At least in my area, the crowd that tends to do that stuff seem to always be putting on a show, like they have someone to impress, all leathered up, etc. - and that is just not me. I just want to be out, on my bike, enjoying the day. Plus there are a lot of people on those "big rides" that really don't know what the heck they are doing - even though they think they do - or they want to go from bar to bar to bar....not what I want to be on the road with! You'll find your own way depending on what's comfortable for you, at your own pace - and that is perfectly OK!

Good Luck!

Oct 10, 2011
by: Anonymous

8. GEAR - you'll spend a ton before you find what works for you!
3 helmets on average before you find "the one" - get properly fitted in a motorcyle shop - you will probably have to ask - but make someone FIT YOU CORRECTLY! Yes, i am on helmet number 3, and finally have one that fits right! Good fit = comfort!
Jacket - I have several, but you can start with a jean jacket - you just need something to protect your skin, and you can always layer up. gogogear.com is gear made for us girls and it fits better than "unisex" and most shops offer only short cut jackets made for a size 0. I carry a hoodie, and wear either my lightweight (70 degrees and up weather) or my heavier weight (60 and below) depending on temp.
GLOVES - I carry 3 pairs: fingerless is awesome in the heat and fit is not usually a problem. Lightweight leather is good for most riding conditions, but sometimes hard to find that fit women ( i need an xs mens to fit my wrist, but have long fingers, so mens mediums are necessary to fit length, and women's are hard to find). I bought mens to fit the length of my fingers, but remember leather stretches - so they are now baggy and don't fit well and as a result I don't often wear them. Heavy weight for cool weather riding - keep these with you - nothing worse than cold fingers! Always wear gloves - otherwise your hand sweats on the grip and feels icky!
Boots - Good shoes are important, cover your ankles - no tennis shoes! I have a pair of leather boots and a pair of nylon/leather/rubber hikers - the hikers are cooler in warm temps, but I personally prefer my low heeled leather boot - it fits better on the the floor-boards (and pegs before I had floor boards) and gives me a little extra "leg" to reach the ground.
No matter what, you have to be comfortable on your bike or will not have any fun at all!
9. Many local shops now offer "girls night" - where women can get some hands on experience with basic maintenance and mechanics on their own bikes - great idea! Take advantage of this if it's available to you!

Oct 10, 2011
by: Anonymous

1. If ABATE offers a course in your area - TAKE IT! Don't buy anything yet - just take a course and see how you do and how you feel about it.
2. Start with a small bike, even though you will outgrow it quickly! A 250 Rebel (honda or any other small bike that is NOT a crotch rocket) are good starter bikes, don't buy new - you should be able to find a used one with low miles for reasonable. My first bike was a 450 rebel, but they haven't been made since 1987 - if you can find one though it will last you a bit longer before you are ready for something bigger.
3. Get a beginner bike that fits YOU! Both feet flat on the ground, 400-500 lbs. is a good starter weight bike. The biggest mistake ALL people make (especially men) is buying a bike that is too big. You'll have a lot more fun on something you are very comfortable with and continue this practice as long as you own a bike.
4. Take a season or two on this small starter bike, then move up to a 600 or 800. I know everybody thinks they have to have a harley, and while they are exceptionally well-balanced, with a low center of gravity, they also do not make a small (in terms of horsepower or weight) bike, other than the 883 (which is ugly and too tall for beginning).
5. Do your homework! I spent 8 months looking for my second bike - looking, sitting on them, etc.. Honda's shadow aero in a 600 or 750 is a nice fit for soemone my size (5'4"), Yamaha's V-star in a 650 or 900 wasn't bad and the Raider was an awesome fit and balance, but a little bigger than I was looking for, I landed on a drifter because I liked the look and the availability of an 800 cc, and with a weight of just over 500# easy for me to handle - my only concern was seat height....so I found one local (2 hours away) and went and sat on it. It was manageable, but a bit tall, but I loved it...so I did a little research and found that I could lower this bike up to 3" for a relatively small amount of money. I ended up lowering 1" front and back, and then after a bit I raised the front back up for a more "raked" look (lowering the rear end only will sometimes make the front feel "heavy").
6. If you are looking for the "street bike" experience rather than a cruiser - a 250 ninja and even then you'll have your hands full. Crotch rockets do not turn like a cruiser! They are made for wide, sweeping curves.....lord help you if you need to swerve one way to miss a dog and then back to miss a tree for instance (local boy killed exactly that way on a 600 crotch-rocket - it was his first bike). You'll never pass the driving test, at least in Indiana, as a beginner on a crotch rocket.
7. assume nothing - do your research no matter what bike you buy - look at dry weight of bike, seat height, rake, etc. - know what you are getting into!

Oct 10, 2011
Hang in there!
by: JoAnn

I, too, always wanted a bike. I got a really good deal on an automatic bike (yippee!) this spring so I bought it. Took the MSF class and failed because I was so damned afraid to even move. Like you, I had never ridden anything -- no dirt bike, no quad, nothing!

So...brought it to my boyfriend's house and there it sat with a Welcome mat next to it (he's a funny guy). Tried the parking lot thing and it would take me 20 minutes just to move.

A few times I would drive it on his road -- just up to the end and then would duck walk it around and back to his house.

Two weeks ago I was possessed and got on the thing and rode it on this road all by myself. Big step.

Yesterday, I actually rode (with him behind me), for 4 miles. Around a huge block. This may seem like nothing to anyone else, but it is an amazing step for me.

I am determined but I know I have to go at my own pace. May not get to ride again until next spring, but I'll be back at it.

Oct 09, 2011
by: Allison

Wow guys thanks! And yeah ive realized im good up to second gear in a parking lot and if i tried to go faster it would be too scary in there anyway, i dont think id want to do that in a car either. I'm just going to stick to less busy streets and maybe have my cousin follow me to stop any traffic if and when i stall out, and see how it goes. Its great to know im not the only one who cant get it first try.

Oct 09, 2011
YES, you will.
by: Stephanie P

I completely understand where you are coming from. I took a MSF course, but it took me 9 months after taking the course to actually buy a bike - because I was afraid. I had a blast taking the class, but like you said, never went over 20 mph in a parking lot and the only risk was dropping the bike and embarrassing myself. I realized I was afraid of getting out there in traffic with all the people on the road. However, I finally purchased a Ninja 250. After lots of hours in a parking lot, I finally started out riding around the block in my neighborhood, getting the hang of gear shifting and STOPPING! That was 4 years ago. I ride primarily for recreation...sometimes ride to work, but that's kinda hard when I should be wearing a skirt to the office....ANYWAY, the point is, if you really want to do this, keep practicing, and don't let the ribbing get to you. I'd be willing to bet none of them STARTED on a 1200!!!

Oct 09, 2011
easy does it
by: Yvonne - NC

You'll do just fine. Take it at your own speed. It is scary at first, but in time you will learn to enjoy it. Parking lots are good, but, you can only get to 2nd speed, so you do need to get on the road. I found riding in the neighborhood hard, if you can out on the open road, you'll do much better. Try to find a time when traffic isn't too bad, or maybe have someone take you to a country road. Good luck, you can do it, just be patient and don't let those guys get to you. They may have been riding a long time, but they too had to start somewhere. Good luck.

Oct 09, 2011
who am i doing this for?
by: Sylvia

I had to ask myself this after someone posed the question. The answer is definitely...me. We aren't perfect the first time we try something. I will be taking my class this weekend too and yes, it will be intimidating but the new challenge is worth it. I think it's one ride at a time in our own timeframe.
Congrats on taking on a new challenge!

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