Newbie Riders In Their 40's and 50's

by Sue Zuki
(Austin, TX)

2006 Suzuki Boulevard S40

2006 Suzuki Boulevard S40

I got my motorcycle endorsement and my first bike shortly after turning 50. Apparently there are many like me who didn't pursue riding until after turning 40. It would be great to know your thoughts and reasons for doing something so "outlandish" at this stage in life. Was it a mid-life crisis or was it a case of empty nest syndrome? Was it the influence of a significant other? Please share your motivation for shunning the rocking chair and knitting needles.

As far as my own story goes, I had the opportunity to get my endorsement and a great deal on a new bike when I was a 21 year old new recruit in the USAF over in Okinawa, Japan. Just a day or two after I formed my plan to go pick out a bike and make inquiries about how to enroll in a riding class, I saw a fellow airman walking down the street of my military base, on crutches, with the lower half of his leg amputated. I quickly found out that he had survived a motorcycle accident that cost him his leg. He was being given a medical discharge and forced out of the military when I saw him.

I spent the next 30 years thinking that motorcycles were too dangerous and that people who rode them were taking too much risk with life and limb. It wasn't until shortly after my 50th birthday (just a few months ago) that I awoke one morning from a glorious dream of myself cruising down the street enjoying the wind in my face and the power of my bike beneath me. Later that same day, I saw a colleague at work who has been riding his whole life and before I knew what happened, I heard my voice gleefully exclaim to him that I wanted to start riding. It was almost as if someone else had said it! My friend quickly and enthusiastically referred me to the MSF for training and then helped me locate a great deal on a superb beginner bike which is now the love of my mid-life. Indeed, for the few friends and acquaintances that I've dared to reveal my motorcycle riding to, I claim it's related to my mid-life crisis which I'm thoroughly enjoying thanks to the Suzuki. They'll REALLY be surprised when I get that beautiful tribal tattoo for my upper back that I've been lusting after!!!!

Comments for Newbie Riders In Their 40's and 50's

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Jan 28, 2012
Cycling after 50
by: Vautrice

I like you, always thought cycling was way too dangerous and would NEVER do it for fear of being in an accident.

My husband and I were visiting Colorado when a couple stayed next to us at the RV park. They too, were in their early 50's, but had been biking for many years. We watched them and thought how fun it would have been to ride up to Estes Park on a cycle rather than the truck. I also thought, "Wow, I wonder if I could do that." I had driven a dirt bike back in high school, but the asphalt roads never occurred to me. So...the idea was planted. I bought both our bikes online. We bought my husband's bike in October and mine the latter part of November 2011.

I needed the diversion from a stressful job and this is great. We ride every weekend so far, and can't wait to go each week. We are raising our grandson and he rides behind my husband. As exciting as it all is, I am still scared to death. If anything were to happen to our 12 yr. old, I would just die for making this decision. It may be "midlife crisis", but if this is "midlife crisis", I'm all over it. :)

Jan 13, 2012
Started at 50
by: Nana

I'm dating a man who rides with a great group of people. I was perfectly content riding on the back but watched some of our women riders go from taking the course to becoming pretty confident riders.

Took the course in the spring and started practicing on the Suzuki Bouelvard C50 that my fella bought for me to ride. I can't tell you how many times I dumped that bike. I had a few times that I was sure I wouldn't continue. But, I have a stubborn streak a mile long - I didn't get to this point in my life by backing down.

Now I LOVE to ride. I have faced my fears and beat them down. I ride with the group and though I still make some rookie mistakes, I handle them in a much calmer manner. I love riding the twistys and keeping up with the "boys." My longest trip has been 150 miles, but I'm hoping to take a much longer trip next summer.

Jan 05, 2012
age is no limit =)
by: robin_uganda

In Aussie where I grew up, I just loved to ride but many years in Asia plus raising a family cut back my opportunities. I'm 63, ride an average of 800-1,000km a week going up to Gulu where our orphans are every week & every month is getting to be more & more of a BLAST!!! Those stats were really interesting. Thanks.

Dec 28, 2011
Started riding @ 53
by: 18 til I Die

So all my life I always wanted to be a motorcycle Mamma, even the grungy kind you saw in movies! but I was college educated and worked as wall street IT geek and never made it out on my own. BUT I rode behind many boyfriends for years and loved it. After going to Vegas for my 50th and seeing a huge group of riders coming out of the hills at Hoover Dam, 60% or more being women on their own bike, I said I have to do this!!!
For my 53rd birthday this April, I signed up for the MFS course on my own. My husband said this really wasn't his thing but I should go for it. I research bikes so I could ride once the course was over and decided to start small since I would be totally by myself (no husband or mentor with lots of experience to help me). I selected a Yamaha Virago 250. A 300 lb really cute cruiser.

So I passed and went straight out to practice. I was scared but got better each day and ventured further away from the house and neighborhood. Grew to a Yamaha 650 for weight and engine size and put on lots of miles with another friend I met at class. I had a grand time! My husband got so excited for me he took the course in July and we got another 650 for him to learn on. He was too big for this bike and now we are riding 900's.

I have a brand new Vulcan classic 900 SE (my dream bike being the HD Softail Deluxe) and hubby rides a Triumph America. Both bikes solve our bigger engine issues and add more weight. They also fit our budget. So someday when I have more funds and can handle another 120 lbs (HD softail is 725 lbs) I'll get my dream cruiser. But for now I love my whitewalls and sexy Vulcan!
Confidence comes with experience and riding back roads not during rush hours keeps the crazy cars down to a minimum. I am addicted and ride every chance I get!!!

Our golden ride was on a trip to Vegas when we rented bikes and did the 160 mile loop to Hoover Dam and up Lake Mead. What beautiful roads and great sites. Once we got we hit the bigger highways with our bigger bikes. Now planning some over nights next spring! Yahoo!
So go fill your dream and never look back.

Nov 20, 2011
Statistics related to women riders
by: Sue Zuki

I appreciate all of the great experiences each of you ladies has shared on this forum. A common thread throughout each of your stories has been the issue of waiting for the right time and the ideal opportunity to start (or resume) riding. Good things are definitely worth waiting for!

Here are a few statistics I found online that may be of interest to you all. The data was taken from an article written on December 10, 2006 by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje of the San Antonio Express-News.
Once the preserve of gnarly guys with beards, tattoos and attitude, motorcycling now transcends gender. Today nearly one out of 10 motorcycle owners is a woman, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. In 2003, about 635,000 women owned their own motorcycles, an increase of 36 percent since 1998.

Nationally, nearly 60 percent of female motorcyclists are married.

Twenty-eight percent have a college or postgraduate degree; the median age is 42.

Thanks again to all of you for sharing such fascinating stories here. It's wonderfully reassuring to know that as a 50 year old newbie, I'm by no means alone. In fact, I stand in very good company with many other adventurous women just like yourselves who march to the beat of their own drummers and cruise through life on their own two-wheeled terms. Many miles and smiles to you!

Nov 12, 2011
Started at 41
by: Robin C

I always loved motorcycles but had never ridden anything bigger than a 10 speed. I rode as a passenger with my husband for a year, then decided I wanted to learn to ride. Our kids were grown, and I decided to go for it! Found a gorgeous bike and bought it and signed up for a class...then I told my husband and kids...after my new bike was safely in my garage! That was in the late fall of 2009, and I was able to take her out a couple times that year before the weather turned. Since then, I've put about 14,000 miles on her, ridden through several states and am totally in love! It wasn't a mid life crisis or empty nest, just finally the right time and resources to make the dream a reality!

Nov 08, 2011
Always itched to ride again
by: Dawn

Rode Dad's dirt bikes in high school, just bumming around not too far or fast. Got married and moved to the city, got pregnant.

Had a running joke. Whenever a gift giving occasion would come up. Hubby would ask what I wanted, my reply was always another bike. His reply, "you'll kill yourself in this traffic". After 20 years of this we came into a little bit of money, a couple days before my 40th birthday.
Again he asked how we should spend it. (kid was moved out and no big expenses coming up, so it was a windfall) my reply again, I want another bike. His reply, "if I can get one too, and you take the MSF class with me". I about fell off my chair.

Two weeks later, we had our endorsements and 2 new motorcycles in the garage. He got a Harley and I got a 600cc Honda Shadow. And after a rough start I've never looked back. That was 6 years ago.

I know people do, but I really couldn't imagine riding before the kid was out and life was more my own and not kid oriented. For me that was at 40.

Nov 07, 2011
Started riding at 56
by: Pam

I took the class in July of this year and in August I was riding a 2007 VStar 650. I had the bug for about 3 years and one day decided to do something about it.I love riding and the way it makes me feel. Can't wait til next spring when I can get back on her and ride for more than three months. Life was good before but now it's grand!

Nov 07, 2011
I've created a monster . . . at 48
by: Copper

After dreaming of having a bike since I was in my teens, I took the MSF test, passed with flying colors and purchased a 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT only 10 days after taking the test. Rode that bike for 2 years, then my dream bike became a reality.

At age 48, purchased a 2008 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic Anniversary Edition with over $6,000 in chrome. Was told by guys that the bike was too big (I'm only 5'6"), but it fits me like a glove. Love this bike, especially LOVE how guys love a girl who drives a big bike. My fiance drives a 2002 Ultra Classic and he loves my bike . . . maybe because my engine is bigger than his, but then, he has tunes and I don't. Think my next bike will be a Street Glide or maybe an Ultra, gotta have tunes.

Always have a dream. Don't give into those jerks (ex-husbands) who say "you're a chick, you can't handle it". I've driven a top-alcohol, front-engine dragster at the drag strip ... I've given birth 3 times naturally. . . I can do anything. Bring it on!!

Ride safe. Love Hermotorcycle!!!

Nov 07, 2011
New to riding and loooooving it!!!
by: Cocotte

I started riding this season and I'm 47. I'd been riding with my BF of 20 months and I like to ride with him, cause I can hug him some (corny, I know). Whenever we were out with friends, I would admire the women riders and thought they were so cool and I wanted to be cool, too. So, yeah. I took the safety course at the end of April and bought my little one, a Honda 600 in May, then my Big girl, Honda 1300, in August. I actually love riding more than my BF. If it's nice out, I'm there sorta thing. It's all I want to do, as I'm happiest on my bike. It really is therapeutic, don't you think? Can hardly wait for Spring. So I'll be on Hermotorcycle quite a bit this winter. See ya!

Nov 06, 2011
It just has to be the right time
by: Kelly

And that right time isn't the same for everyone. It may be good for someone in their 20's but the person standing next to them just might not be ready. And to force it isn't a good idea. So enjoy the choice you made, or finally made!

Nov 06, 2011
Searching for the negative
by: Yo

My 18 year old was intent on getting a motorcylce once he saved the money. Well, I was more intent on convincing him of the perils of motorcycling. However the deeper I entered the world of all things motorcyle, I realized I wanted one too!!! So, my husband and I--along with my son--took the MSF course in June. Started off on my Honda Rebel (which I still love)then found a great deal on my Honda Aero last month. Riding makes me .....happy (sigh). BTW I am 44.

Nov 06, 2011
Don't shun the needles
by: Lois

Yes I ride and love it,I have 2 bikes right now a Moto Guzzi cafe and a BMW F800ST. I rode with my husband for 25 years and finally got tired of looking at the back of his head (ha ha). I told him I was going to start riding again (I rode dirt bikes when I was younger.)he asked me to take the MSF course and he took it with me. We also recently took the North Carolina Bike Safe course.
But come snowy weather out come the needles it might be the knitting needles or the quilting needle but I have to have something to keep me busy during the snow times. I'm 50 this year my youngest just turned 20 so I feel like I have earned the time I spend riding.

Nov 06, 2011
started at 50
by: SueZ

Rode on the back for 30 years, and was happy there, then my daughter got her license and I thought, hey if she did it, maybe I could too. Hubby said, take the class, then I'll teach you. I did and fell in love with it! Now I'm recruiting all my friends! Should have done this long ago! Side note; I ride WAY MORE than my daughter! In three years I have 31,000 miles, and I'm in the Midwest! Took my last ride of the season today.....too sad.

Nov 06, 2011
45 years old
by: Katie

I started riding this year and am a real newbie. I am 45. Hubby took it up last year and boy he was having a blast. I am 5 10 and outgoing and a tad type A. Physically and mentally I was not meant to be a passenger on the back of his bike. One day after a couple of beverages hubby said to me, YOU better learn how to ride and get your own bike or you are going to left behind. He was hooked. SO I took the course and it was not easy (failed by 1 point) then I took a refresher course and did awesome and I have been riding ever since! It is just an awesome thing. People who ride are friendly and cool.

It is a wonderful thing.

Congrats to you both starting to ride as well. Drats we have been missing a lot!


Nov 06, 2011
My Time Has Come
by: LoriMand

I am a 54 year old female, married 31 years to someone who has been riding since he's in his teens. He has owned three Harleys, one of which he still owns and a new one we bought him a year and a half ago. He was teaching me to ride RIGHT before I got pregnant with my first of three kids, who is now 28 1/2 years old.

Well, I waited until now, when my "baby" is turning 19, to learn because just in case something were to happen to us both, they would be orphaned. But now that they are old enough to consider them all young adults, it's MY TIME NOW!
For our 31st wedding anniversary, I picked out a 2002 Concord Purple Pearl Harley XL883 Hugger with only 112 miles. Long story, but legit. It's in mint condition and my husband has been teaching me on a 125cc dirt bike with street tires. As soon as the crash bar is added, I will start learning on this, my own, bike.

I got tired of sitting on the back of his bikes and now it's my turn to enjoy the thrill of riding myself. I waited almost three decades for this and my time has FINALLY come! Happy trails to you all. Be safe and enjoy.

Nov 06, 2011
Livin' the Dream!
by: Diane

I started riding at 51. I always wanted to ride, ever since I can remember, but life happened, had kids, blah-de-blah, etc. etc. My friend and I used to say we would ride when our kids were grown, they grew up and that's what we do! It is awesome to be doing something that I dreamed about for a very long time!

Nov 06, 2011
Started riding at 55!
by: Joan

I started riding my own when I turned 55, I'm 56 now. Before that I was a passenger with my husband. He's actually the one to put the 'riding my own' bug in my ear and I'm glad that he did! I'm already on my 3rd bike! First one was a Honda Rebel, the 2nd one a Yamaha VStar 650 and my current ride, which is my VERY favorite is my 2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Superlow. I love, love, love to ride my sporty!!

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