Getting Started in Motorcycling.

triumphstreetwin1A great question came in:

I’ve been wanting to get in to motorcycle riding for a while now and considering your recent shift , I thought this would be a perfect time to ask. Where do I get started? How do I choose a bike? What should I consider before going full bore in to this? If you feel like this is too much to respond to in line.    Thanks! – Snallygaster

Disclaimer:  I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 16… so I have some experience with the subject.   But like with the Gun Industry, I do not claim to be or consider myself to be any sort of expert.  I am merely an Enthusiast.
Answer:  The best place to start is getting some professional grade Education. Not from a Friend, Buddy at Work, or that Brother In Law that owns a Hayabusa. Because this isn’t like shooting sports where everyone is looking out for safety at the range and if you miss your target no one really gets hurt… With motorcycles, NO ONE is looking out for safety and pretty much you have to ride and operate as if everyone else on the road is trying to kill you.  Because some times – that’s exactly what the reality is.  So there is no room for error.  This shit is serious.

That being said, the best place to start is with a course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. MSF Courses are taught around the country. Generally you’ll find 2 Day courses for just a few hundred dollars, which will be a mix of Class Room and Riding work. Pretty much most States allow that course to serve as the Riding Test to get your Motorcycle endorsement.
You take that course, and you will be armed with a whole lotta knowledge about the realities of being a Motorcyclist verses common misconceptions.  And as a bonus, you are going to have a much better idea of what kind of bike you are going to like, which may be different than the initial type of by you think you want now.  A couple hundred bucks here could save you many thousands of dollars later.

Which bike is best?  Sport, Cruiser, Touring, Dual Sport, Adventure… It really comes down to you and how you are going to ride, where you are going to ride, and your tastes and personality. This isn’t like buying a car… this is far more personal. This is more about you, and for the love of God, do not buy anything to impress anyone.  This is about you – not anyone else.  Buying something to impress someone else totally defeats everything about Motorcycling.   Motorcycling is a very personal thing.

I do suggest buying a decent, used, and cheap bike from Classifieds, Cycle Trader, or Craig’s List (Always take a friend to go see the bike, a friend who has your back and is armed) or some other local source. Talk to your local cycle shops and ask them about used starter bikes.  They may have one not listed on their site or social media… Shop Specials

You want something used and cheap… because you are going to drop it. It’s going to take getting used to. So don’t sell your only car to buy an expensive bike. And don’t ride in bad weather until you get a handle on things. Spend enough money to get something reliable.  It’s amazing how much bike you buy used for two or three grand.

Take time to learn the dynamics of riding that bike. Work your way into it and don’t rush and don’t push yourself into areas that you are uncomfortable with.  And then – when YOU are ready… Buy that bike that you really like.  Race Car drivers don’t just start out in Formula One.  They work their way up to it.  But a Young Guy with some money and a good credit score can walk into a dealership and buy a Hyperbike before he’s able to even ride it.  Because AMERICA!  And that’s fine… You can do that.  And then the first time you enter a curve at high speed you are going to end up a statistic.  But if that’s what you want to do – Feel Free.   But I suggest learning how to carve an apex before you Warp Speed into it.  Guard Rails and Gravel Shoulders are not your friends.

New Starter Bikes should be easy and fun to ride, but you don’t have to start out with a 250 like so many suggest.  You can, and that’s fine… there is some wisdom to that… and in Europe, that’s the law.  But if you are smart and have some Self Control, you can get something reasonable after you learn on a cheap used bike that’s been dropped a few times by you and you now have the hang of it.

Really, Triumph has a fantastic new bike out that might be a great step up starter for a lot of people. The Street Twin. It’s a basic, classic, Triumph Bonneville with their 900 High Torque engine. It’s easy to ride, not too heavy, and not too powerful – but plenty enough juice to use.  And most guys that buy Triumph Bonnevilles, keep them for life. Which really says something about the Bike and the Brand.  They never grow old, never go out of style… because they are Classics out of the box.

2 thoughts on “Getting Started in Motorcycling.”

  1. Thanks, for covering all this for me. I signed up for an MSF course with a buddy of mine at the local community college. Excited to see how this goes.

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