Learning to Ride

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolBy Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School

Your friend, a non-rider, goes with you to a local motorcycle dealer to get some parts you need. They know nothing about bikes but think riding is “cool.” While you’re there, he (or she) decides to buy a bike on the spot. They’ve never ridden before and know very little about motorcycling except that they know you ride. They buy a bike like yours, and expect you to teach them everything you know! You find this out after they buy the bike. Then you tell them they better get some training because you’re not teaching them to ride on their (or your) $20K, 1300+ cc, 800 lb. motorcycle.

OneOnOneWhat were they thinking? Would you go into a car dealership and buy a huge vehicle without knowing how to drive? I don’t think so. But many people who don’t ride have no idea what skills are needed to be a proficient motorcyclist. At our motorcycle school we know that as soon as the weather starts hitting 50 plus degrees and the flowers start blooming, we can count on numerous calls from people who just bought a new bike, know nothing about motorcycling, but are desperate to ride right away “because I just bought a bike!”  It happens every Spring, just like clockwork.

The good thing is that most motorcyclists realize that it’s best not to teach a friend, or relative how to ride and refer them to a local school like ours to get training!  Students tell us about their experiences with a relative or friend who was trying to show them how to ride. Often they start on a vehicle too large and/or powerful for their skill level and then can’t understand why they had trouble controlling the bike and may tip over or crash. This can lead to a person getting discouraged and feeling that perhaps motorcycling is not for them.  Once that happens, it is sometimes hard for the prospective rider to overcome the fear that the same thing will happen again.

Someone who hasn’t had a negative experience is more open to learning easily. They will have an easier time learning how to ride. Using a bike that is appropriate for a beginner in both weight and size is also important. A safe environment like a parking lot or quiet street, can help the newcomer absorb the motor skills needed to ride. If you’ve been riding a long time, it’s often difficult to understand why a new rider can’t “just shift into a higher gear” or maneuver at slow speeds. The skills learned over the years come naturally to the experienced rider and it’s often hard to remember what it was like not to ride.

So do yourself and your friend a favor and know when it’s appropriate to refer a new rider to the pros.  You’ll be glad you did!

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