Beginner motorcycles and safety apparel go together
Beginners often agonize over what beginner motorcycle they
should buy as their first bike. Some new riders want to buy
a new beginner motorcycle but want a bigger bike that they
won't outgrow. Others opt for a used bike for the first year
or so to minimize the repair cost when they inevitably drop
the bike while learning. This article discusses the alternatives
in beginner motorcycles and makes suggestions based on discussions
in our Motorcycles forum. Links to actual forum discussions
are also provided to allow you to interact with other motorcyclists
who may have further advice on beginner motorcycles.
Getting that first bike
Perhaps you've known someone who decided to learn to ride
a motorcycle and the first thing they did was buy a big heavyweight
Now, it is possible that some people who have natural athletic
abilities and mechanical aptitudes may be able to pull this
off. The vast majority, however, will not be able to do it.
They will end up damaging the bike numerous times and most
likely injuring themselves in the bargain. You want to start
off with a simple, cheap, standard motorcycle and be prepared
to see it fall over a few times while you get used to riding
it. I personally dropped my beginner motorcycle at least three
times while it was in my garage. I started off with a 1981
Honda CM400T bike that I bought from a friend for $600. This
bike was also used by my wife as she learned how to ride.
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. Some of that practice may involve
simple spills that may cause some damage to the bike. That's
why you don't want to spend $20,000 for a new bike as a starter
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
bike for what you paid for it. I did.
While you're saving up money for that first starter bike,
be sure to set aside money to buy motorcycle apparel and a
helmet. You could end up paying more for this than for your
beginner motorcycle. If you choose to not purchase special
motorcycle apparel, especially while you're learning to ride,
you may have to pay medical bills that will far exceed any
cost for apparel.
You may have observed a variety of attire for people riding
motorcycles. Some non-motorcyclists object to the black leather
image as being too outlaw. They've seen too many bad biker
movies. My objective here is to indicate what you should do
to protect yourself while you are riding.
Clothing is for comfort, protection, and safety. 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'm only giving you one-man's opinion -- my own. I choose
to wear a helmet and I recommend that you wear a helmet.
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. They also give you an inch or so more height to
allow your feet to touch the ground when you're stopped.
I prefer a leather jacket with vents. 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 is expensive but it will last a lifetime.
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. These may be expensive but quite effective.
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.