Older Riders-- First Ride

Sometimes in life, it is time to try something new. Buying and riding a first motorcycle is one of those things that can happen just about anytime. It is a wonderful new experience, but there are a few considerations that should not escape note:

If You Can Afford It, Buy a Practice Bike

There is nothing worse than dropping a picture perfect motorcycle on the pavement because you did not quite get your foot in the right place at the right time, you turned your head the wrong direction, you lost your leverage on the handlebars, or whatever. If you are a new rider, it is not a question of "if"-- it is purely a matter of "when". My best advice is to buy a used bike first, preferrably 650 CC or less, and ride it for a summer, or at least a few thousand miles. If you get a typical "beater", you can ride it, drop it, enjoy it, and sell it without making a significant dent in your budget. By that time you will have significantly increased your skill level, fine tuned your preferences, and reduced the probability of unnecessary damage to the "almost final" bike of your choice.

Ride Your Friends' Motorcycles

No matter what anyone tells you about the "perfect" bike for you, you will not know what you really like until you have ridden several different motorcycles. That great looking chopper may be absolutely miserable on the road. The hot sport bike may absolutely kill your neck or back after an hour or two. Your legs may be too short or too long for certain bikes. It is truly rare that an inexperienced rider will choose the right bike on the first attempt. Unless money is of no object, try all your friends' bikes extensively before you buy the motorcycle of your dreams.

Skill Training Will Make a Difference

There is much about steering, balancing, and stopping a motorcycle that is quite counter-intuitive. It seems totally wrong that to turn left at speed we must push on the left handlebar instead of the right. In the absense of knowledge, there is an innate fear of using the front brake (which provides 70% of the motorcycle's stopping power on paved surfaces). Balancing a big motorcycle in a low speed parking lot turn takes special coordination. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides a basic rider course that can jump-start your skills. It's not a foolproof solution, but it certainly has the probability of increasing your life expectancy and reducing the chance of unnecessary carnage to the plastic or chrome on your new motorcycle.

Read About It

There are countless books on motorcycles, motorcycle safety, and riding technique. Some are quite readable and interesting. Almost all of them have information that will add to your understanding, skill, and enjoyment. For reviews of popular motorcycle skill and instruction books, go to our Motorcycle Skill Books section.

Car Insurance Does Not Cover the Motorcycle

Your car insurance does not cover your motorcycle. Talk to your insurance agent and consider purchasing from a separate company if your primary car insurance company cannot provide reasonable rates. Under no circumstances should you purchase insurance that provides lower coverage levels than you buy for your car or truck. Look at our section on insurance and understand that if you are injured in a motorcycle crash it will likely be your own insurance that you have to depend upon for compensation. The driver who crosses your path and causes the collision will likely have minimum or no insurance, and no assets to cover your injuries.