10 Riding Tips for Beginners: Part 1
1. Gear up
If you’ve been interested in bikes for some time now, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of riders are all geared up. Since beginners don’t have their instincts trained well enough, they’re clearly more prone to dropping the bikes or getting involved in crashes. That’s why any person who is right in their mind will never get on a bike without protective gear.
We definitely have to get one thing straight: the better the gear you buy, the more protection it will offer… up to a point. Forking out the big bucks on top-drawer protective gear does not eliminate danger from your path.
Switching a $100 helmet for a $500 one does not mean the asphalt will become any softer, nor that gravity will just forget to act when it’s your turn to hit the ground. We all fall the same way, give or take. While it is of course, better to avoid the falling part, making sure you’ve got something between your body and the concrete of the highway is crucial.
Helmets are mandatory in most countries and states, and no matter what some anti-helmet law supporters say, statistics don’t lie: helmets save lives and they’re on your head for a very serious reason. Make sure you wear your helmet every time you get on the bike.
Now, another consideration on helmets: wearing an unlocked or a poorly locked helmet equals to almost wearing no helmet at all when the day’s luck runs out.
Taking a look at some accidents of guys wearing unlocked helmets should scare you into being very careful locking yours: wobbling alone is powerful enough to send an unlocked helmet flying off your head and leaving you unprotected just when you need this the most.
Gloves, boots and all
Protective clothing comes with several advantages, such as: shielding you from wind and rain (waterproof series), debris and insects on the road, offers some cushioning to break your fall (critical areas are reinforced and padded) and offers excellent abrasion-resistance in case you spill.
Die-hard ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) fans of wearing protective gear will advise young riders to do the same. While there is nothing bad in being properly geared, most experienced riders agree that gearing all up for 6 mile daily commuting is exaggerated.
Of course, when things go bad, they’ll quickly jump in with the “I told you” phrase… and you wish you had all the gear on you, but once again: try this during the insanely hot summer days and get back to us in a week…
Now then, motorcycling was never cheap and it will never be, most likely, so if you can afford , you could try and go for an all-season jacket. These jackets come with a 3-layer structure. The outer one is made from Cordura, it’s quite breathable and may even come with handy zippered vents on forearms, chest, arm-shoulder joint, or in the back.
They offer a fairly decent protection against wind and will gladly grind against asphalt, saving your skin. They also come with a detachable waterproof liner offering excellent rain and wind protection, and a third layer, closest to you, acting like a thermal barrier and shielding you from the cold in the inclement autumn days. Matching trousers are also available.
Depending on the ride you’re planning you could decide to wear touring boots and racing gloves. If you’re planning a trip to the convenience store 2 blocks away on the 3rd of July, gearing up with racing boots may be a bit overkill, set aside the fact that they’re not at all comfortable for walking around.
It’s hard to decide how much gear should you load on yourself, but after the first rides you’ll definitely start to learn and figure out for yourselves what’s best for summer, if you can stand a bit of rain without jumping in your storm-suit and so on.
Keyword : a properly locked helmet. Even if you fall and get some bruises or pipe burns, it’s always better to have at least your head protected as good as possible.
Tip: take your time when buying your helmet. Ask for professionals’ help, maybe read some reviews on the internet, and don’t be cheap. Your helmet is probably the most important piece of gear for any motorcycle rider.
2. Don’t go with the flow
As tempting it may be after the first miles on your bike, don’t try anything funky. Not now, not after the next 100 miles; you’re a greenhorn, no matter how skilled you may sometimes feel you are. Some of the nastiest accidents occur because this simple cause: new riders trying to do things which are way out of their reach. Add in speeding and you can almost hear your family sobbing. So just don’t try anything!
It’s always a great idea to ride with just one or two friends or maybe your instructor (you can also have a beer once the bikes are safe in the garage), a motorcyclist in your family or anything like that. Someone you get along with, with decent riding experience.
Why just one or two? Because you don’t know how to ride in a group; in fact you’re barely riding, so you need space for hesitant, wider turns, longer stops to slowly build your confidence, and you also need to feel free from excessive criticism, being able to focus on riding and not on how others see you.
Speed is indeed enthralling and seeing others ride fast may seem easy. It’s no rocket science, but you should not heed those asking you to do 80 mph just to catch up with them. In fact, a good guy to ride with in the first miles is one who does not ask of you to do anything you feel like not doing.
If you’re slow in the turns, he or she would better see if you’re ok, if you’re afraid, if there are questions already popping in your head. If he or she goes the “speed up, you chicken!” way, then you’d be better off alone.
There is no forced, fast-forward learning: you hook up with that guy to build up confidence, see the way the other rider turns, leans, brakes, passes and so on. Or vice versa, to have that experienced rider driving behind you to see how you do all these things and come up with a friendly knock on your helmet or necessary corrections, as needed.
Keyword: confidence. During your first hundreds of miles you’re to see how things really are in daily traffic. You have to get the basic info on what riding in traffic really is all about. You don’t have to prove anything to nobody, and you don’t have to impress anyone. Riding to the extent of your (altogether increasing) skills is the way to go.
Tip: carefully choose the ones you start riding with, as they will have a major imprint on your initial riding style.