If you just passed your exam and received your shiny new motorcycle license, welcome to the family! I’m always excited to hear about friends and acquaintances saying they are starting their riding lessons or shopping for a bike—it means the family is expanding. We all have to start somewhere, AMERiders tells you of a few predictable mistakes that some new riders make.
For all the new riders out there, even once you have that little piece of plastic in your wallet proving you are now a legal motorcycle rider, you’re not done learning and you are bound to make a number of predictable mistakes. It’s all part of the process. Some of these mistakes can be avoided and we decided to discuss them with you and give you some advice in the hopes you’ll learn a thing or two.
Motorcycle Lessons Are For Losers
“I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid, I’ve got this.” Good for you kid, but the problem with that statement is that pacing your little 50cc in your parents’ backyard has nothing to do with real-life riding.
Granted, being at ease in the saddle will give you a clear advantage over someone who’s never ridden: you already know how riding feels and are already familiar with some basic techniques. What sandbox riding doesn’t teach you, however, is everything relating to road safety, hazard avoidance techniques, and overall awareness. Don’t underestimate the purpose of these lessons—being humble while learning to ride is a bigger advantage than being cocky.
I Don’t Need All That Fancy Gear
We’ve all been there: having to dig into our pockets to pay for our first few pieces of riding gear. If you know anything about us, at AMERiders we are active advocates of ATGATT—All The Gear, All The Time. We gladly point and laugh at those assuming that flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops are appropriate riding attire.
We’ve done countless lists of cool and inexpensive gear that will get you started safely. Especially when you are getting started, you are more vulnerable to making mistakes and dropping the bike or falling, so suit up, you’ll be glad you did.
You don’t have to spend $3,000 in Dainese and Shoei gear right off the bat, but a good DOT helmet, a jacket with elbow and shoulder protectors, solid gloves, and boots/shoes that offer ankle support are a good place to start. For the pants, the number of affordable options out there are endless. But yeah, riding is an expensive hobby, so you might want to wrap your head around that.
Small Bikes Are Lame; My Dad Is Getting Me An H2 For My Birthday
I read that in a conversation thread somewhere—I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s one of the dumbest things a new rider fresh off the school bench can say. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually believe 125 or 300cc bikes are the best beginners’ bikes unless you want to have to change bikes after only a year or two because you’d like something with more gut.
However, there are fantastic and forgiving mid-range bikes that you will be able to grow with and learn from and that won’t feel underpowered once you gain more experience. Big displacement bikes sound sexy and badass—they kind of are. However, thinking you can get away with having 230hp between your knees with your license fresh off the press tucked in your pocket is like thinking you can run before you learn to walk. Patience my young Padawan, learning is a process. If you try to cut the corners, you could end up on the organ donor list.
If My Friends Can Do It, I Can Do It Too
There’s technically nothing inherently wrong with that statement, however, we all know what peer pressure does to us. It makes us do things we’re not always comfortable doing. Sometimes it makes for a good story to tell, sometimes it gets you into trouble. If your buddy is able to take corners at a 45-degree angle and at speeds of 50 mph, or if he is able to tackle any off-road trail in the world, it doesn’t mean you have to as well.
By that I mean don’t ride beyond your level of competence. As a new rider, you’re still fine-tuning your skills and learning your bike’s limits. If you push too hard, that’s when you make mistakes, either because you went beyond the limits or got scared stepping out of your comfort zone. As you gain experience, you will hone your skills and eventually, you’ll be able to keep up with your more experienced—or hooligan—buddies. There’s no shame in being the last of the pack if it means you are enjoying yourself and not having minor panic attacks at every new maneuver.
Cool, Now I Can give Rides To All Of My Friends
Quite frankly, going for rides with friends is a really cool experience, but you have to make sure you are ready for it. First off, you need to be able to communicate what you expect from them (no sudden reactions, hold on tight or else you end up banging helmets all the time, lean in with the bike, don’t try to counteract the motion, etc.). You also have to be ready to maneuver the bike with the extra weight—which you feel mainly when you are stopped or navigating at lower speeds.
As the rider, you are also entirely responsible for your friend’s safety. Do you have extra gear for them? Yeah, taking your friends everywhere is cool, but that means having to have double the gear so that they are protected if you mess up (so if you think gear even just for you is too expensive, you might want to reconsider carrying someone on the pillion).
Riding A Motorcycle Is Like Driving A Car
No. No, it’s not. If you think that, refer back to the first point and take your lessons, then we can talk. The only similarity is that laws apply to both car drivers and motorcycles riders—and even then, not all laws are the same for both groups.
You are much more vulnerable on a motorcycle than you are in a car—and much, much more invisible. Most drivers expect to see another car in their mirrors or in their blind spot, not all of them notice when there’s a motorcycle instead. Your level of awareness needs to be tenfold—you almost need to think for the others around you and drive in a much more defensive way than you would in a car. You always have to assume people don’t see you, so don’t hang out in people’s blind spots and keep your distances.
The road conditions can also have a bigger impact on you (potholes, tram rails, wet surfaces, etc.)
The silver lining is that as riders, we get to benefit from a few perks, depending on the area. Free parking for motorcycles is a thing in some cities, so is lane filtering and splitting, things cars are not allowed to do. So pay attention and do make the predictable mistakes that everyone expects you to make.
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
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