Whether you’ve made up your mind to embrace the thrilling world of motorcycling or you’re just curious about it, it’s natural to have questions. What should you prepare for? What hurdles might you encounter?
What wisdom did you wish someone had shared with you when you first embarked on this journey? Allow me to illuminate these corners.
Personally, ever since I could form memories, motorcycles have fascinated and captivated me entirely.
Motorcycles have been my travel companions across the globe, traversing breathtaking mountain ranges, sweltering hot and sandy deserts, relentless rainstorms and hail, and precarious snow-laden mountain paths, where snowmobiles seemed like the preferred mode of transportation. Yes, it was that treacherous.
Motorcycles have been at the center of my most cherished vacations, and thrilling adventures and have connected me to my closest friends.
In fact, my wife of over two decades and I had our first date on a motorcycle, riding until the break of dawn. While motorcycles have enriched my life in numerous ways, they have also extracted their toll.
I have lost friends, and some have sustained injuries from which they never fully recovered. All this is to emphasize that despite the joy, thrill, and exhilaration that motorcycling offers, it cannot be carried out safely.
The best we can do is understand the risks involved and make informed decisions to minimize these risks. As a newbie on this fascinating motorcycle journey, I urge you to be aware that situations can take a turn for the worse in an instant, even when you’ve done everything right.
With this understanding, let’s explore some insights I wish I had when I was starting out, along with some complimentary advice (which is worth every cent of its free price tag). This tends to be a hard lesson for many riders.
Motorcycle Maintenance: Prioritizing Tires
Tires are arguably the most critical component of your bike. Instead of splurging on shiny embellishments, noisy exhaust pipes, and chrome trinkets, focus your expenditure on tires. Always replace them in pairs, invest in quality, and don’t wait until they’re completely worn out to replace them.
Motorcycle tires have a significantly shorter lifespan compared to car tires. I’ve seen far too many motorcycles riding on dangerously worn-out tires based solely on their tread depth.
For the love of all things motorcycle, frequently check your tire pressure and set it according to the owner’s manual, not the inscription on the tire’s sidewall.
The Essentiality of Protective Gear
Contrary to popular belief, a helmet alone is insufficient to safeguard your hearing. Wind and road noise can permanently damage your hearing over time, particularly with open-face helmets. I wish I had known this when I first started riding. Always wear earplugs!
Choosing Your First Motorcycle
A Sportster may be a small bike in the world of cruisers, but it’s rather heavy. A 600cc R6 may seem modest, but it generates a staggering 130 horsepower.
Trying to learn on a heavy or powerful bike is akin to learning to fly in a fighter jet or a 747. There’s a reason pilots start with small trainers like Cessnas and gradually qualify for larger and heavier aircraft. Also, ensure you don’t spend all your savings on your new bike and have
nothing left for a good helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, and pants. As the saying goes, “Dress for the slide, not the ride.” If you can’t afford the gear after buying the bike, you can’t afford the bike.
Learn to Ride Before Hitting the Roads
It’s crucial to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course or its equivalent before you start riding. You’ll learn valuable lessons about riding techniques and safety, which can save your life.
The course will also help you understand if motorcycling is truly for you. A license is not a learning permit; ensure you have the necessary skills before you venture out on the open road.
Respect the Machine
Motorcycles are powerful machines capable of reaching high speeds in a very short time. Always respect the power of your bike.
It’s easy to get carried away but remember, the faster you go, the harder you fall. Don’t rush. Build your skills gradually. It’s not a race, and there’s no prize for getting to the end of the road first.
Riding in a group can be an enjoyable experience, but it can also lead to accidents if not done correctly. It’s best to gain some experience riding alone before joining a group ride. And when you do join a group, remember, you’re responsible for your safety, not the group leader.
Visibility is critical for motorcyclists. Always assume that other road users can’t see you. Make it a habit to wear bright, reflective clothing, and always use your headlight. Use your lane position to make yourself more visible to others, and never ride in a car’s blind spot.
Motorcycle riding is a journey of constant learning. No matter how many miles you’ve ridden or years you’ve been riding, there’s always something new to learn. Keep an open mind, be humble, and never stop learning.
In the end, the joy, freedom, and satisfaction of riding a motorcycle far outweigh the challenges. It’s an incredible journey filled with excitement, thrills, and unforgettable experiences.
But remember, every journey starts with a single step, or in this case, a single ride. Take your time, be patient, and enjoy the ride. Good luck on your motorcycle journey!