Newbie Motorcyclists - Beginner Motorcycle Riders
By Walter F. Kern
Even though I've been involved in motorcycling for over 18 years, I still feel like a newcomer to the sport. In my previous capacity as Motorcycles Guide at About.com and here running the Motorcycle Views site, I have to try to view the complete spectrum of motorcycling. That's a big job for one person. I don't have a staff of people as the motorcycle magazines do. I have me. As a result I write about what interests me and hope it will have some interest to you. I guess you probably have already noticed that I'm in my commentary mode again as opposed to my objective mode. Right again.
I am compelled to make some observations about the people who are just now becoming motorcyclists or are returning to the sport after an absence of a lot of years. You could call them newbies.
A few years ago, I attended a season-end party of the Polar Bear Grand Tour. After riding every Sunday during the winter, the Polar Bears come together one more time for fellowship, food, and presentation of awards. Those attending had to complete a certain number of rides to attain at least 30 points. Thus, these were the Polar Bears who rode the most during the winter. They were a seasoned bunch with a diverse background. They ride as individuals or as members of other clubs but for the winter, they are all members of the Polar Bears. (By the way, they have no connection with the highly publicized Polar Bears that go swimming during the winter months.)
The room was filled with 300 people, most of whom had received their 30 points or more. There were young and old represented. There were riders of all brands. There were women riders, children, and toddlers -- in some cases, whole families. I would guess that there was an overabundance of older riders mainly because many Polar Bears ride big heavyweight dressers that are expensive and it seems that it takes a few years before most riders are willing or able to buy these machines.
I did wonder if enough younger riders would be coming along to fill the ranks. My fears were somewhat allayed when I noticed a toddler in the group with his parents. I had seen him several times during the season riding in the sidecar of his dad's Harley-Davidson. His dad had outfitted the sidecar with a special infant seat such as is used in automobiles today. He was strapped in and safe in a completely enclosed sidecar right next to his dad's knee.
I went over to his dad and asked if the toddler had been registered as a Polar Bear. His dad said, "Sure, he got 34 points and qualified. He's only 27 months old."
Later in the evening during the awards section, he was asked to come forward to receive a special plaque as the youngest Polar Bear this season. That gave me a thrill to see a child so young entering the motorcycling community, participating, and even receiving an award.
I once helped take care of one of my grandsons during the day while his mother pursued her career. He was 22 months old at the time but had been exposed to motorcycles from the beginning. He played with my replica bikes, sat on my motorcycles, delighted in the sound of the engine and even let me ride the bike right up to him without fear. Even though his mother really didn't want him to participate in the sport later on, at least I think I also had the beginnings of another motorcyclist.
On the motorcycle forums I've run, a considerable number of people were always posting questions about getting started in motorcycling. Most people, surprisingly, want to be safe and take one of the safety courses endorsed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. When someone wants to forego the course and get a big starter bike, half a dozen forum regulars usually jump in and try to convince the newbie that they are taking the wrong course of action.
Twenty years ago, people learned to ride by going out with a friend. Not anymore. Newbies want to maximize their chances of survival on the roads. Their own family members are usually dead-set against them even getting on a bike. They often figure that taking the course will make them safer and that will perhaps convince the family members that they will be OK.
So, are you a motorcycle newbie? It doesn't matter how old you are or whether you're male or female. You can begin now to participate in motorcycling. It is an obsession to many. Just be sure you get trained to ride safely and you come over to the Motorcycle Views Forum (Just click Forum on the left side of any page on this site) to learn from others how to do it the right way. Just think about the fun that 27 month old Polar Bear toddler is going to have over the next 100 years being a motorcyclist.