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We all had to start somewhere

Posted April 9th, 2015 at 10:21 PM by Urban Ninja

There are very few motorcycle riders fortunate enough to get on a bike for their first time, drop it in first and just fearlessly go. For the rest of us, riding a motorcycle for the first time is a scary, humbling experience. Although a motorcycle is not like an animal that has a mind of its own, it’s an animal of its own kind and just like dealing with a wild animal, riding requires skill, experience and respect for the “animal”.

Most beginner riders share a common feeling about riding a motorcycle – fear. Fear of getting hurt, fear of damaging the bike, fear of embarrassment and fear of failure. Another common feeling experienced by new riders is the feeling of not being good enough or progressing fast enough. Having experienced all of the above to the full extent, I found a few effective ways of coping with such fears.

“Oh @$#&, I’m gonna crash!”
The fear of crashing and getting hurt is one of the most common anxiety inducers for new riders. Yes, your chances of crashing as a new rider are pretty high but this doesn’t have to be top of mind when you get on a bike. To eliminate, or at least reduce this fear, you have to get 100% comfortable with the bike and 100% comfortable with the idea that crashing it will not be the end of the world. Getting 100% comfortable with the bike means taking all necessary measures to not be afraid of the machine. If the bike is too high and your feet don’t comfortably touch the ground, get it lowered! Yes, you might hear people tell you that lowering a bike will not allow it to perform the way it should but as a new rider, I guarantee you won’t know the difference. If the bike seems too powerful, go down on engine size! There is no shame in starting on a 250cc or 300cc motorcycle and these so called “small engine bikes” of today are more than enough power for beginner riders. Just ask the folks at the track lapping 1000cc motorcyles on their 300’s.If you’re worried about cosmetically damaging your bike, get frame and bar sliders or perhaps even a full cage if you are really concerned about keeping those new plastics shiny.
Basically take all necessary measures to not think about the bike when you’re riding. The less you think and worry about your bike, the more you can actually focus on your riding.

As far as the fear of getting hurt in a crash, this is where the superman cape theory comes into play. Some parents help their kids get over childhood fears by telling them they are untouchable or invincible when they wear their superman cape. Your riding gear is your cape! But unlike a child’s cape which is nothing more than a placebo, proper riding gear will realistically protect you if you go down. Even if you’re just practicing drills in a parking lot, helmet, armored jacket and pants, boots and gloves – wear it all. Eliminating the possibility of serious injuries will again help you focus on riding rather than worrying about getting hurt.

“I’m never gonna get better”
Many experienced riders tend to forget that we all had to start somewhere. I’m sure even Marc Marquez didn’t start dragging elbow as soon as he got on a bike. Learning to ride takes time and strong dedication. We all learn at our own pace and there is no time standard for transitioning from a beginner rider to an experienced rider. A common mistake new riders make is comparing themselves and their riding abilities to riders who are much more experienced. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others but it is illogical to look at a rider who’s been on a motorcycle for many years and think that the two months riding experience you have under your belt doesn’t compare to his or hers. Instead, try getting together and going for a ride or practicing drills with other beginner riders. Every time I rode with riders who were on my level, I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I was underestimating my riding skills. Chances are, you are up to par with where you should be as a rider and perhaps even further progressed.

If motorcycling was easy, everyone would do it. Patience is a virtue and this is perfectly applicable to learning how to ride. You will get better! It will get easier! It only takes concentration and seat time. Learn at your own pace, listen to advice from veteran riders and you will be laughing at “newbies” along with other experienced riders in no time.

Go ride!
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  1. Old Comment
    johnydecali's Avatar
    Great post! Best advice I was given as a new rider (still am) is to go at my own pace. Go at your own pace. Go at your own pace. So many times I was told by my brothers, who all have 20 years of riding under their belts each, to just go at my own pace. If I don't go at my pace, I'll get uncomfortable, which can lead to a crash.
    Posted June 9th, 2015 at 10:10 PM by johnydecali johnydecali is offline


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