Tips for New Motorcycle Riders // Women Who Ride Motorcycles
A common question I always hear from new motorcycle riders and people who want to learn to ride is - how do I get better at it?
In this big post you will learn my top 5 riding tips for new motorcycle riders and women who want to ride motorcycles.
When we start something new (like learning to ride motorcycles), we always want to get good at it - no one ever started a new hobby because they wanted to suck. We want to be awesome, we want to rock it, we want to be total badasses.
The saddest thing that could possibly happen is you learn to ride motorcycle but still feel scared and unsure of your abilities. I see this all too often as a motorcycle safety coach & in my mindset coaching practice. My aim is to help women ride safe so they can live their best lives, but not everyone gets that far. Next thing you know, you don’t ride as often, stop making time to ride, life gets in the way, and then you stop riding altogether.
We need as many women riding motorcycles as we can because when you ride you discover a whole new side to yourself, it’s super empowering as you learn a new skill you never thought you’d have. Slowly you begin to create a new identity for yourself outside of anything you’ve ever known. You’ll feel strong, confidence, and capable.
By the way, sign up for my Women's Moto Round Up - my weekly newsletter full of motorcycle news, mindset tips and cute dog pics. It's curated specifically for women who ride and women who want to ride motorcycles.
So how do you actually become proficient at riding? Well, follow along for my top 5 riding tips for new and beginner riders.
Ok, so you’ve taken a motorcycle safety class, got your motorcycle endorsement and are ready to start riding - congratulations! That’s totally badass and a really big deal.
The start of your riding career is critically important to your riding style and will determine the length of your riding career. It makes the difference between either sticking with the sport, falling in love with it, and becoming a lifelong rider, and feeling discouraged, giving up and never riding again.
I had a super strong start to my riding career fueled by endless enthusiasm and some great mentors who lended a hand when I needed it. I love riding so much, y’all, that I became a motorcycle coach!!
As a new rider, you need to develop your skills so that you stay safe and get maximum enjoyment from riding. After all, riding motorcycles can be some of the most fun you will have, however it’s a big personal responsibility.
You’ve learned the basics of riding in your motorcycle safety course and it will serve you well to remember those riding techniques and safety principles. Keep all the materials they give you so you can refer back to them later.
There are many ways to build confidence and skill as you get more comfortable in the saddle.
Tip # 1 - Start slow
If you’re brand new to riding (like never ridden before or even been a passenger), you might feel a little uneasy on a motorcycle. The weight will feel heavy at first and the motorcycle will seem bulky. Because standing with you legs spread and a fuel tank and engine between them is not a natural posture.
When I first started riding I felt super awkward. I didn’t feel comfortable going fast (like over 40 MPH), didn’t really have a good feel for the weight of my bike, and was still figuring out how to use my bike’s controls without looking down.
To overcome this discomfort, I started riding in empty parking practicing drills on evenings and weekends.
Any empty parking lot will do, just make sure no one will disturb you and you aren’t creating a hazard for anyone. Places like schools, churches, big box stores, colleges or universities work really well because they have nice concrete and lots of space. Make sure your spot doesn’t have light poles in the middle of the concrete because light poles can be hazardous and distracting when riding so you want to stay away from those.
I used the local middle school near my house to practice riding. I went there when no one was around, mostly in the evenings and no one ever bothered me. It was super fun!
As far as what to practice when you arrive: drills like turns from a stop, emergency braking, shifting gears, stop and go’s, tight turns, corners, friction zone. Basically any exercise you did in your motorcycle safety course you can replicate in your parking lot so do as many reps as you have time for.
If you schedule time to do this regularly for the first 3 months of riding your confidence will improve significantly.
Once you feel like you have more control of your motorcycle, you can start to riding on streets around your neighborhood at speeds you are comfortable with. Gradually work your way up to higher speeds as your skills and confidence improves, but never go beyond what you are comfortable with.
Even though, this is a tip for beginner riders and women who want to ride motorcycles, I want to mention briefly that this is something many experienced riders do all the time. For example, I do this at the start of every riding season to refresh and refine my skills after winter. I do it when I get a new motorcycle. Some friends of mine do it all the time just to improve their craft so they stay sharp on the road.
Practicing is never a waste of time. Ok, so tip 1 - start slow by practicing drills in an empty parking lot and gradually increase speeds as you feel comfortable.
Tip # 2 - Wear Motorcycle Safety Gear
Staying safe on the roads extends beyond your skills and abilities riding a motorcycle. And since we all know riding motorcycles is inherently risky we need to manage that risk and minimize it as much as possible.
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury in a crash than someone driving a car. We don’t have the protection of the doors, hood, trunk - if we’re in a crash our bodies take the hit. Yikes.
A great way to protect our skin and ourselves is to wear motorcycle safety gear. Motorcycle safety gear comes in abrasion resistant fabrics and includes body armor to protect all the contact points that would be impacted.
The main protective gear to consider is a helmet, full fingered gloves, riding jacket, long pants, boots that cover your ankle, and eye protection.
For a helmet you have several options to choose from: half helmet, open face helmet, full-face helmet, and modular helmet, Within the full face helmet category there are two more types: the off road helmet and dual sport helmet.
Now, the helmet you choose will be based largely on how safety conscious you are and your style preference. Since I think safety is sexy I wear a modular helmet that covers my entire head.
Look for helmets with safety ratings of DOT, ECE and Snell certification on your helmet. Not all helmet have all three but the more the better.
Motorcycle helmets start out on the affordable end around $100 and increase substantially with additional features added. The important thing to know is the expensive helmets are rated the same as the cheaper helmets, however they have better noise reduction, better styling, are more comfortable and of better quality.
Motorcycle gloves that cover your entire hand and fingers are best. Look for fabrics like leather or a synthetic fibre blend that includes Kevlar.
Your riding jacket again should be leather or abrasion resistant fabric and contain pockets for body armor at the elbow, shoulders, and back.
Riding pants can be anything and heavy denim is a common choice. You can get proper riding pants with armor at the hips and knees for added protection.
Over-ankle boots will protect your ankles so look for something comfortable that suits your budget and style.
Eye protection is commonly included in helmet designs with a visor and sun visor. Other eye protection options are sunglasses, safety glasses, and eye glasses.
One final motorcycle safety gear item I always wear is earplugs. They protect my hearing while I ride so I never leave home without them.
Wearing motorcycle safety gear is well worth the investment and I wear it every time I ride.
Tip #3 - Maintain 360 Degree Awareness
When riding motorcycles, there is a lot to pay attention to on the road. Things like motorists, pedestrians, wildlife, construction, all play a major role in how we behave and what we pay attention to.
As riders, we need to be constantly scanning our surroundings for hazards so we can react to them in a way that keeps us safe.
360 degree awareness of what surrounds us at all times is invaluable. This means paying attention to what is in front, behind, to the left, to the right, above and below you and your motorcycle.
It sounds like a lot but it’s not. As you ride more and become more comfortable on a motorcycle, this will start to become second nature.
Maintaining 360 degree awareness will improve your riding and ensure you arrive home safe.
Tip #4 - Eyes Up At All Times
When I was new to riding and unfamiliar with my bike, I found myself looking down a lot to use my controls. I would glance down to indicate left or right, and steal a glance at my tachometer as I shifted gears. I think this is pretty common for new riders.
However, looking down for even a split second on the road can mean missing a car merging into my lane or a child crossing the street.
For these reasons it’s critically important to keep your eyes up at all times while scanning your surroundings for hazards. Get comfortable with your controls while you practice in empty parking lots so you are comfortable and confident on the road.
Once you’ve practiced controlling your motorcycle with your eyes up, you will start to build muscle memory in your body so that you move without consciously thinking about it. That level of mastery only comes with practice and repetition, though, so make sure you are comfortable enough to ride with your eyes up before riding on the road.
Tip #5 - Ride Within Your Comfort Zone
Riding motorcycles is incredibly fun when you have time and space to enjoy it. It will give you a sense of freedom you’ve never felt before, and you will experience a new level of self-belief once you realize you are capable of controlling a motorcycle. It’s seriously the best.
Riding within your skill level is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your safety on the road. Since motorcycles are more vulnerable than cars to accidents, we can’t rush in the same way we might if we are driving our car.
I never ride if I know I’m late for work or for an appointment. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I make quick, unsafe decisions or do not give myself appropriate safety margins or following distances in traffic.
When riding with others it can be tempting to ride beyond your skills to keep up with the group. However, riding within your skill level and comfort zone will ensure a safe ride. Make a plan with your group to meet up at various locations along your route in case someone falls behind.
So, there you have it! My top 5 riding tips for new motorcycle riders and women who want to ride motorcycles.
Download my free guide How To Be A Badass Biker Babe and Live Your Best Life to help you get started riding motorcycles!
Combine these tips and practicing them in the weeks/months after getting your endorsement and you will quickly become a more confident rider. I hope these tips help you ride safer and have a ton of fun in the process!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. As a motorcycle coach and mindset coach, my aim is to always share information to keep you safe on the road so you can live your best life.
Share this blog post if you found it helpful - it really helps get the word out so more women are empowered to ride motorcycles.
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Download my free guide How To Be A Badass Biker Babe and Live Your Best Life to help you get started riding motorcycles!
See you next time for more motorcycle & mindset tips!
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