Whether it's the music from Easy Rider or an advertisement showing a motorcycle rider going up the pacific coast highway, part of the mystique of owning a motorcycle is the picture of freedom it represents. Motorcycle riders always look like they are riding along with out a care in the world. It appeals to the weekend warrior in all of us. However, behind the picturesque liberty is a host of things that rider had to do, learn, and buy before they could look so care free. There are several things a beginner has to know before stepping on the starter of a brand new bike.
Pick The Right Bike
All your life you've seen big Harley-Davidsons go by and thought that was the bike for you or you noticed your neighbor with a Kawasaki Vulcan and wanted something that big and sleek. However, it's important you pick a bike that is best for a beginner. Your first motorcycle won't be the only one you ever buy and you shouldn't buy it thinking you can't have a bigger or better one later.
Your first motorcycle should be easy to handle. It's best to start off with something simple, light weight and inexpensive so you can get your boots dirty before expending the big bucks on a heavy hitter. Both Honda and Kawasaki have good beginner bikes. Harley-Davidson's Sportster is the lightest and best bike for a beginner but it is more recommendable that you start with something else and move up to a Harley. Check motorcycle review sites for the best bikes for a newbie. If you ask 50 bikers you might get 50 different answers, but at least they can point you in the best direction.
Get The Right Gear
Most people know they can't hop on a motorcycle with some shorts and a pair of flip-flops and ride safely. There are clothing recommendations you should follow to prevent self injury. A helmet is required to ride a motorcycle safely and in some states is the law. I'm sure you've seen lots of people riding without helmets, but you don't have to pay their medical bills. The next requirement is a good pair of riding gloves. The number one injury motorcyclists receive in any accident or spill is road rash. Let the rocks and dirt imbed in the gloves. Your hands will thank you for it.
Motorcycle boots are also an important part of the ensemble. Sneakers, Crocs or any of the new polyfiber soled shoes are not recommended because the bottoms can melt in the intense heat of the bike. Leather jackets and pants are also a good idea. The myth is that motorcycle riders wear leather because they are rebels and outlaws. The truth is they wear leather to be protected, comfortable and safe.
Take The Right Training
For people who've hitched a ride on the back of someone's bike or rode dirt bikes as a kid there is a tendency to think they know what they're doing and motorcycle riding is "natural". Holding up a heavy piece of hot machinery against head winds and gravity while going 60 MPH is not natural at all. You will need training on learning everything from how to stop and not fall over, to using your body's weight correctly to turn and not fall over. There are many online sites to tell you where to get specialized training in your area.
At first it seems like you'll pay more for the clothes than the motorcycle and you'll never get to have any fun. But once you get the hang of the machine and its requirements, you'll be cruising down the road in style.