This is by far my favorite thing to do. There are lots of different opinions and debates about certain things that I will cover, especially safety, in this article. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I will be giving you mine. You are always free to make your own choices.
There is no feeling in the world like riding through the mountains, by the water, a twisty road, or mix of all above like doing it on a motorcycle. In a cage (car) you are inside an enclosed box and it’s like seeing everything from the inside of a fishbowl. Riding a motorcycle is like being part of the scenery you are riding through.
I can do a whole article about why I ride. Oh wait, I have done that…lol. Check out my article on “Why I Ride.”
This article is not for the experienced rider. It will be geared for the person who has never ridden before and is curious as to how to get started. If you have ever heard a term related to motorcycling, fear not. Check out our Motorcycle Terminology Page.
Motorcycle Endorsement Needed
Unlike many other things you would like to start, you will need a special license for this one. That being said, the first thing you will probably want to do is pick up the Motorcycle Riding manual from your local DMV. Once you have read it and understand it, take your permit test and secure your permit.
Now you’re ready to ride, or are you? Remember, just like when you got your car permit, you can only ride with another licensed motorcycle rider with a permit. Just because you have the permit doesn’t mean that you and your licensed friend should jump on a bike and start riding “Tail of the Dragon.” I would highly suggest if you have never ridden a motorcycle before enrolling in a school. They are worth every penny you spend. Just do a google search to find the schools near you.
Most schools will have a mix of classroom time and riding time. They will teach you all the basics of riding. It is at this point where most people will decide if this is a good fit for them or not. If you find that you are deathly afraid of motorcycles and that fear does not go away with your class time, you might want to think twice about riding. My advice is since you paid for the class at least finish it before you decide.
If you are deathly afraid after you finish the class, it could get much worse when you hit the road and you are now dealing with all kinds of other traffic and environmental hazards like potholes, sand, and road debris to name a few. Having a little fear is normal for new riders, it might even keep you from doing stupid things while out riding, but when you are done with your training you should at least have a little sense of excitement possibility of that ear to ear smile that most people get while riding!!!
You May Still Have To Take A Road Test
The school will supply you with a bike to ride and when you have completed the course, most states will award you with a motorcycle endorsement when you show the completion certificate. Some states you may still have to take a road test. If so, most schools will bring you to the test site and supply you with the bike you have been training on. Once you pass and go to your local DMV, they will add the motorcycle endorsement to your license. Now comes the fun part, as if you weren’t having fun already!!!
Once you have your license, you will need to find yourself a motorcycle. It’s like car shopping only fun!!! There are numerous makes and models for you to choose from. One thing I suggest is not to listen to people who are hell-bent on one brand or another. By all means, listen to people’s suggestions, ask many questions about their reasoning, do your own research, and most importantly make sure the bike is a comfortable fit for you. Ultimately you will be the one riding it, not them.
Cruiser or Sport Bike
My suggestion for a new rider would be to get a smaller and lighter bike to begin with. Somewhere in the 500cc engine range for a cruiser or a 250cc for a sportbike would be fine. Once you get comfortable riding and decide you really love it, which will more than likely happen, you can always trade up. By that time you will have seen many types of bikes, you will know what you like and what you don’t, and talked to a ton of people who have ridden for years and will now have your own opinion.
After you pick out your bike, now what? At this point, you will want to think about safety. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. It is my belief that a minor accident can remain a minor accident if you are wearing the proper gear. This includes a helmet, gloves, reflective clothing, and boots. Not everyone shares my opinion of this as I have seen many people riding in shorts, flip-flops, and no helmet. Hey, It’s your life, your choice. I will just say that I spent a period of time as an EMT in NY and I choose to wear proper gear. I’ll leave it at that.
The Most Controversial Piece of Gear
Let’s start with one of the most controversial pieces of gear, the helmet. Many states have a “no helmet” law. This means if you are licensed in that state you will not need a helmet. I am a Florida resident and Florida has a no helmet law. Just because they have a no helmet law it does not mean you have to ride with no helmet. It means it’s your choice.
There are also different styles of helmets to choose from. They have the ones that barely cover your head to a full-face helmet that covers your head, chin, and has a shield in front of your face. I prefer to ride with a 3/4 helmet which is like a full face without the part that goes under your chin. Whatever you decide make sure it fits properly. It should be snug. If you shake your head from side to side and it’s flopping all over the place, it could not only be useless in an accident but might actually cause you to have one.
Leather is Dark and Hard to See
A good pair of gloves that don’t restrict your hand movement should be part of your safety equipment. They should also have the ability to keep your hands warm should you ever find yourself riding in cooler weather. I also wear a reflective jacket with some extra padding in key areas. Leather is warm and looks cool but is also dark and harder to see by other drivers on the road.
Finally, a good pair of riding boots should always be worn. Try to find ones that are waterproof as you will undoubtedly get caught in the rain at some point. You will want to stay as dry as possible. Riding while soaking wet can tend to have your mind drifting from road conditions to thinking about how much you hate being wet.
As you gain experience over the years you will find what works for you. There are so many options to choose from. One of my favorite purchases was heated gear. I fought that purchase for years thinking I don’t need that. When I finally broke down and bought it I wondered why it took me so long…lol.
Living in NY, it gets really cold over the winter. I love to ride so I tried to ride as long as possible before the snow and ice hit. The heated gear allowed me to get rid of the bulky sweatshirts and just plug in and dial-up. It was like wearing an electric blanket!!! I have been on quite a few trips that the weather was supposed to be warm and all of a sudden the temperature dropped. I have even used it in Florida!!!
Cell Phone Holders and Lighting Kits and Music Oh My!!!
Ok, so now you have your license, bike, and safety gear. Are you ready to spend more money…lol? This part is optional but so much fun. There are so many cool accessories for bikes that I would need a separate article just to cover them. Anything from cell phone holders to lighting kits that change the light colors as you ride. Saddlebags, luggage racks, communications equipment, and GPS devices are more fun things to buy.
One more thing that I will add is that I always carry some spare (bike-specific) tools, spare fuses, and a first aid kit with me. You should also have a roadside assistance plan just in case. I joined the AMA which is an organization that is specifically for motorcyclists and advocate for motorcycle rights. When you join and sign up for automatic renewals (probably the cheapest thing you will do motorcycle related) you get roadside assistance for free.
AMA Protects Motorcyclist Rights
That should be enough to get your thought process going. Remember that any adventure you embark on has its own degree of danger and motorcycle riding is no exception. All you can do is take all the precautions on your end. That being said, I will be riding until I physically can’t do it anymore. For me, there is no feeling in the world like being on two wheels. If you have not checked out the “Why I Ride” page, now would be a good time.
We Will Never Run Out Of Cool Roads To Ride
The fact that we are full-time RV’ers and are constantly moving around the country means we will never ever run out of cool roads to ride. That makes me smile just thinking about it.
If you look under the scenic ride section, you can select a state that we have done a ride in and check out the rides for that state. In those posts, we will include a ride explanation, give you some pictures, and let you know whether we have a right/left sheet for that particular ride. Remember, you must be a subscriber to the site in order to request these sheets.
Motorcycle Events and Rallies
Motorcycle events and rallies are a great way to meet other like-minded riders. They are also a great way to raise money for important causes. Just google “motorcycle events and rallies” in your home town and you are sure to find some.
If you have any questions or comments on getting started in motorcycle riding, feel free to leave them below.
Ride Safe/Ride Often