Readers should appreciate the simple fact that so many things about riding a motorcycle come down to experience and putting down miles. What advice can be given will easily fill volumes, so rather than take the route of ‘War and Peace’ Clutch and Chrome will present the following information in ‘cheat sheet’ fashion with links to more detailed articles.
Like many firsts in life, most riders can remember their early, memorable months in the saddle, always wanting to ride and take in the overwhelming sensations that come with conquering the open road. Any seasoned rider who’s found themselves in conversation with a rider new to our motorcycle world can only smile at the enthusiasm and awe.
Why new riders should take the time to not only read this article, but reach out to experienced riders around them comes from a simple motorcycle adage, ‘When starting, a rider is given two bags, one full of luck, the other empty for all the experience they’ll gather over the years. Riders have to hope the second will fill before the first empties’.
Start riding right
To the point of the above saying and regardless of a rider’s experience, according to the most recent traffic studies, per mile driven fatality rates for motorcyclists were 26 times that of passenger vehicle occupants in 2013. Nothing can guarantee 100 percent safety while riding a motorcycle, the odds are greatly improved for riders who take recognized motorcycle safety courses.
New riders who may already have their license but haven’t taken a recognized motorcycle safety courses should consider one as first place to spend their biker bucks. Motorcycle safety courses are offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or MSF, which has been providing this service since 1974. This nonprofit organization has developed, and is constantly revising, motorcycle safety courses geared toward both new and experienced riders. Revisions to the course are based on recommendations by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
Know the basics
While not as exciting as laying down the miles on some open back road, knowing the basic skillsets will save those new to the motorcycle world frustration and embarrassments.
Many of the topics covered in the pages of Clutch and Chrome are included in motorcycle safety courses. For example, knowing how to give a motorcycle a technical once-over before heading out using T-CLOCS isn’t nerdy, it’s smart. Catching something wrong or broken with a motorcycle in the driveway is much better than finding out miles away from home.
Something as simple as what part of a lane motorcyclists should position themselves in is also covered by many safety courses and is advice that should be given careful attention. Most of the time spent on the road, riders are keeping themselves out of trouble and certainly out of harms way, lane positioning is no exception.
As mentioned below, at some point a rider will have to pick up, or lift, their motorcycle so having a good idea how it’s done should help. Speaking of preparation, riding in the rain isn’t just uncomfortable it’s a little scary the first time it happens. Clutch and Chrome has some helpful hints and what to expect and how to handle that ‘first time’.
One of the more common reasons a motorcycle needs to be lifted comes down to not parking it correctly. Trust us, there’s nothing worse than coming back to a motorcycle that’s fallen over. To help avoid that nasty feeling in the pit of a rider’s stomach, Clutch and Chrome has some great parking tips here.
What to ride?
New riders are spoiled for choice with the current lineup of new and used motorcycles. This could be considered the golden age for motorcycles with newer models offering the most reliable bikes full of the latest technology at a very affordable prices.
There’s much debate around whether new riders should invest in something off the showroom floor for their first ride or find a quality, previously owned motorcycle. The main reason behind buying something used is the proven fact that new riders will eventually drop their motorcycle. A familiar biker saying is ‘Everyone drops their motorcycle at least once’ leaving new riders to ask if they want to drop a brand new motorcycle, or one that already has a few dings.
If going the route of a new motorcycle, don’t feel bad. It’s a well taken route and dropping a motorcycle can lead to as little damage as scratched paintwork. A more important point about buying the first motorcycle is not getting too much bike.
Riders walking off the motorcycle safety course and buying in the latest, greatest powerful motorcycle is an accident waiting to happen. Besides, there really is no reason to buy a powerhouse for the first motorcycle. Current motorcycle engine technology is producing high performing engines in the ranges of 500cc to 800cc that will happily deliver what's needed and more for most riding opportunities and situations.
All the past reasons to avoid these smaller engine motorcycles are either wives tales or dated advice. It’s true the smaller end of the motorcycle range used to be home for very basic motorcycles, but the recent resurgence of ‘fun’ motorcycles have beefed up those choices. Newer, smaller engines have no more vibrations than their larger siblings nor do they mean a stripped down ride with many models featuring a laundry list of must-have accessories. Even better, motorcycle manufacturers are designing these smaller bikes with new riders in mind.
A great example of this is Suzuki’s SV650, which enjoys a 645cc liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin, a new one-push easy-start system, an automatic idle speed control and a new Low-Rpm assist feature that lets the rider accelerate the motorcycle effortlessly from a stop while reducing the chance of a stall. All these features might lead a new rider to think they would be at the back of their new motorcycle pack but this bike will keep anyone in its saddle happy.
Many motorcycle manufacturers have a nice selection of motorcycles that may be small on engine size but they’re big on design and style, suiting a range of tastes. Not only are these smaller cc motorcycles easier on the wallet to buy, new riders won’t have the sticker shock when trying to insure their new two-wheeled love.
Feeding the motorcycle spirit
At this point, the new rider has their motorcycle and is looking at the world through the eyes of a biker. Continuing the advice given so far, new riders should know when they can have a passenger on the back of their awesome bike. In a word, six months or 1000 miles before even considering it and more importantly, when a rider is confident in their abilities.
Why Clutch and Chrome even has an entire article committed to riders bringing together their motorcycle passions with a busy dating life. It’s at this point we should all acknowledge Clutch and Chrome is a complete service motorcycle magazine.
Finally, new riders want to try and keep that enthusiasm and passion for the open road. When starting, it may seem the same road can be ridden over and over without losing the ‘biker-thrills’ but at some point a little effort may be required to keep up the motorcycle spirit. Clutch and Chrome has several tips and hints to keep riding at the top of the weekend activities.