Chances are if you’re reading this you’re interested in getting a bike. You keep hearing these adventure filled stories about riding cross country or you hear about this “biker life” and you want to know how to get involved. Where do you even get started? What is even the difference between a choke and clutch? Can you really customize your saddle bags with all those studs and cheetah print? These are all the questions I had swirling around my pretty little mind before I bought my bike. If you are curious about learning how to bike and what is involved this is the article for you.
First of all i started dreaming about riding when i heard one too many dreamy ass stories about these phenomenal bike rides cross country or through national parks. I had heard these stories for a few years. I think one day the straw just broke the camel’s back; I thought to myself okay this is going to happen. I am sick of hearing about, I need to know what these trips around the world with your backpack and your bike feel like.
I think would be a easier move to get a bike if you grew up riding dirt bikes or had experience riding on the back of a significant other’s bike. I didn’t have any influences. I did a big nose dive into this bike life with no stopping. I realize I follow this pattern in my life of really diving into the unknown. On one hand, this is a trait i deeply appreciate about my soul and on the other question my sanity.
Learn how to ride
I started my bike life journey taking a motorcycle course. In this course you practiced and learned for 2 days. Then you took your licensing at the end. These teachers give you all the skills you need to ride. They have bikes available for you to ride as well. The 3 day course costed about $125.
Take course through BMV, Harley Davidson, ETC
That’s a tip I received from a fellow bike life friend. So I signed up for the first course of the season. That course was canceled due to Indiana snow in the spring. Therefore I had to take the class the following weekend. This was Easter weekend and my class was twice as full because it was a snow day and regular class combined in one. Therefore this class was double in size due to being a regular class and make up class. I was the only girl in a class of 30 mostly middle aged biker men. A majority of the men in my course licensing had expired or they were transferring their motorcycle endorsement from out of state. Bottom line almost everyone had experience on bikes except for maybe 4 others and me. I definitely had to suppress my ego and just surrender to the fact I was a disaster on two wheels in front of everyone. Riding a motorcycle takes a lot of grit. Being a badass is not for the weak or if you have a huge ego.
Learn to Drive Manual
I would recommend learning to drive manual if you have not had experience driving this way before. I had never driven a manual car and still have not to this day. It was one of the hardest things to click for me. I missed out on absorbing a lot of skills during my class because I was still stuck building the foundation of the dance your hands and feet do when shift gears. Even if you go out 2 hours and practicing shifting gears on a car, I think it would help immensely.
Practice on someone else
I did not have anyone’s bike I could practice on. (and to be honest I don’t know if I would want someone with my skill at the time practicing on my bike.) You really have to just get comfortable being on the bike and learning what all of different levers, gears, or dials do. That is why i purchased a bike before I could comfortably ride because I was never going to get any better without experience.
Things I did not realize when getting a motorcycle:
Maintenance: Bikes need more maintenance than cars do. Within my first month of owning a bike I had to learn how to change my battery. It actually is not very challenging but I never imagined myself out in my yard fixing a battery. I do not have any mechanical skills but when owning a bike there are a lot more issues you need to learn how to fix.
Gear: I did NOT realize how much gear/equipment you needed and how expensive it is. To ride you need boots, a jacket, a helmet, and gloves. These are all the necessities but there are even more protective items like chaps, you can also purchase. Getting a quality helmet is vital. This is probably going to cost you $200 minimum. This is not something you can’t skimp on. Gloves are about $20 – $30. I have a couple pair of Doc Martens I can wear as my boots and I have a couple fashionable leather jackets that make due.
It is not like driving AT ALL:In my reflection in learning how to ride, I think it took me longer because I did not take it as serious as I should. IT IS NOT LIKE DRIVING A CAR. Even if you are a great car driver this is a totally different skill. The way you look at traffic is different; the way you judge lanes are different; your whole methodically in riding is different. Remember how long it took you to learn how to drive a car? Probably a month of drivers ed and another month of practice after that. Give yourself some time and go into with the mindset as a complete beginner learning something totally different.
Would I get a bike all over if I knew all of this? I am not sure that I would. At the same time I am glad I tricked myself into all of this. It is a much larger financial and time commitment than I realized. When I didn’t pass my motorcycle course one of the instructors said to me, “Make sure you really want this whole bike life.” Not until now I am even realize it is a LIFE. You are committed. I do love my bike. I feel like the coolest girl I know zipping around the city to teach my different yoga classes. One main reason I got a bike is because I do an intense amount of city driving and was hoping to save money on gas. Having a bike has added adventure to my life that I was needing living in Indianapolis. I am proud of myself for being 23 and brave enough to dive right on into this bike life I now live.