Ok so you now know which motorcycle is good for new riders and what gear you should wear. The next thing is learning how to ride. For me, there is really only one option: Motorcycle Safety Foundation new riders’ course.
Also known as the MSF course, it includes a classroom portion and a field portion where you actually ride a motorcycle. It will take someone who has never set foot on a motorcycle and give them the knowledge and experience they need to pass the license exam and enjoy a long and safe riding career. They go over panic braking, slow speed maneuvers, clutch manipulation, obstacle avoidance, throttle control, and a lot of mistakes that new riders tend to make.
My favorite thing about the course is they usually have many different motorcycles there that you can ride. When I took my MSF course, I rode my GS500 to the class, and during the riding portion of the instruction, they let me ride a Rebel 250 and a Nighthawk 250. It was great, and it was really cool getting to compare different bikes!
Toward the end of the second day, you have to pass a riding exam and an obstacle course that tests all of the skills you have learned. In some states passing the MSF exam allows you to waive the DMV riding test, so you only have to take a written test at the DMV. This is why a lot of riders in California sign up for MSF, and I highly recommend it to any new riders who have the opportunity to take it.
Who should NOT teach you?
Friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, or basically anyone other than a certified motorcycle riding instructor. To put it bluntly, most people are not the greatest riders out there. Even good riders who have been riding for a long time often have the tendency to become a bit lax, and many do not remember how difficult riding a motorbike can be for the first time. They now ride through automatic movements and muscle memory. Their hearts may be in the right place, but get training from a real instructor.
People who have friends and family teach them how to ride motorcycles are statistically MORE LIKELY to suffer a motorcycle accident:
“The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.” – Section 12.1 of the Hurt Report
Where to go from here?
After reading this article, you should have a strong basic understanding of what to look for when buying your first motorcycle, the type of protective gear you should use, and how to learn to ride and obtain your license. This article is a good primer, but it should be one of many you should read. The best thing you can do is research on your own as much as possible before slinging a leg over a bike for the first time.
You might find some things in this article that you disagree with, or you might find a motorcycle that fits you perfectly that I didn’t mention. The point is you shouldn’t take my word, or the word of your friends and family as gospel. Do your own research, make your own opinions and above all else, ride safe!