How You CAN Learn to Ride a Motorcycle: What Motorcycle Should I Get? - Part 4
By Walter F. Kern
Part 4: What motorcycle should I get and what should I wear?
Getting that first motorcycle
You want to start off with a simple, cheap, beginner motorcycle and be prepared to see it fall over a few times while you get used to riding it. Check out my article, Basic Beginner Motorcycles for more information.
If you're not familiar with all the types of motorcycles, check out Motorcycle Types, that describes and shows 10 motorcycle types, one of which may fit your riding style best.
Just be sure that the bike runs well, has good tires and brakes, and is insured. After you've taken the MSF course, you'll need to get lots of practice riding. Find an experienced motorcyclist to go out with you and act as your mentor for a couple of months. Ride around in your local area first avoiding busy roads and heavy traffic.
Gradually ride on the country roads, the highways, and then the high-speed roads as you gain experience. Try to be aware of all you learned in your MSF training and put it into practice. You may have a few spills as you ride your motorcycle. Most of these should be at low speeds or parking lot situations and will not injure you. Your motorcycle may suffer some cosmetic damage but that's why you bought an inexpensive bike to learn on.
At some point in this training, if you haven't already done so, you'll have to take a motorcycle road test offered by your local Dept of Motor Vehicles. After passing this test, your driver's license will be endorsed. You are now motorcycle-legal.
If you're lucky, you'll get through your practice sessions successfully without damage of any kind. You may suddenly feel that the bike you bought and thought was so huge at the time, now appears tiny and you want something bigger. It happens to everyone. Probably you will be able to sell your starter motorcycle for what you paid for it. I did.
You will see a variety of attire for people who ride motorcycles. Some non-riders object to the black leather image as being too outlaw. They've seen too many bad biker movies. Whether you want to believe it or not, there are certain predominate styles of attire depending on the brand of motorcycle. I'll let you observe these for yourself.
Clothing is for comfort, protection, and safety. Every rider wears either a T-shirt (buy direct) or turtleneck sweatshirt. These are usually emblazoned with pictures (buy direct), sayings, or other motorcycle-related text.
The first thing you have to protect is your head. Now I know this is a controversial subject and that many groups have expended great effort to lobby states and other governmental agencies for the right to choose whether they want to wear a helmet. I choose to wear a helmet and I recommend that you wear a helmet at least for the first year while you are learning to ride.
You should wear gloves specially made for riding. If you fall and hit the road, most likely, your hands will hit first. Let the road rash be on your gloves, not your hands.
You should wear hard full-length motorcycle boots. Sneakers are not a good thing. Boots limit foot and leg injuries should you fall.
I prefer a leather or fabric jacket with vents. I started out with a leather jacket but now prefer a fabric jacket. Currently, I'm wearing a FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket. During the summer, I open the vents to allow air circulation. During the winter, I put in a liner to retain body heat. Riding down the road in the summer in the 90 degree heat will dry your skin quickly. A jacket will retain skin moisture and cool you. If you go down, you will thank the day you decided to wear leather and save your skin.
Leather pants or chaps are great if you want further protection. I prefer chaps when it starts to get cold. Many riders like full riding suits either of leather or synthetic material.
If you like winter riding, I recommend heated vests, heated gloves, and possibly heated socks if it really gets cold. Also, a full bib-style suit such as you might use for skiing is desirable.
The reality is that riders will ride with almost anything on, sometimes offering practically no protection at all. It's your call but I hope you'll think about what I've recommended here and make an informed decision.
Step by step, riders increase their experience and venture out into the world. Learn how best to do this by clicking Part 5, below.
=> Part 5: Becoming a Motorcyclist
=> Back to Part 3: Getting Trained