In this installment of Ask RideApart, Kyra weighs in on just how hard it is to ride a motorcycle.
Readers: Hey, RideApart! How hard is it to ride a motorcycle?
Kyra: I'm glad you asked!
Readers: Wait, are you about to make this question an opportunity to teach a life lesson?
Kyra: Why, yes, I think so!
Readers: Oh no!
Readers: We want to read about motorcycles, not your overbearing opinions .
Kyra: Yup, I’m going to do it anyway!
My answer to the question “How hard is it to ride a motorcycle?” is one which I think transitions into everyday life. If you agree with my thoughts and take my advice, it may actually add substance and accomplishment to other activities.
First, I’ll answer a question with a question. How determined are you? Anything is hard if you tend to give up easily. Maybe you’re not talented at it, but how hard something is often depends on how hard you make it for yourself. It’s hard if you have a bad attitude. It’s hard if you don’t listen to your (credible) instructors. It’s hard if you lose confidence every time you screw up. These things could create anguish and stress during any sort of activity. Riding a motorcycle combines balance, strength, endurance and agility with courage, focus, acquired knowledge, and a tremendous amount of common sense. Truthfully, that last trait might be the hardest to achieve, but everything else is well-within the average rookie’s grasp.
If you take your moto education seriously, and you absolutely should, ripping around town, conquering single-track, even earning points with your Iron Butt will not only be a swift fulfillment, but it could very well be “easy.” Consider your training thoroughly. Dirt trails with a friend? Off-road course? Safety Course? Basic Mechanics? All? Finding the right training for the kind of riding you want to do is key.
READ MORE: Ask RideApart: What is the Best Motorcycle?
Then, you have to find the right machine both for the job and for your body type. Don’t fool yourself, just because you’re “big” or “tall” doesn’t mean you need a liter bike or a full-sized adventure bike. Alternately, just because you're "small" or "short" or "petite" doesn't mean you can only buy tiny, small-displacement bikes. Find something that not only looks good, but something that fits you. Sit on a bunch of bikes before you buy. Bikes are like pants, you need to try on a lot of them before you find just the right size. Also, since you're new, go with something you can drop. Because you will. A lot. Make sure you can pick it up just as many times as you drop it (again, a lot).
The right amount of power is also important. On dirt or in an area closed to traffic, you can get away with a vastly under-powered motorcycle. When you plan to continue your moto-Zen practice on public roads howeverw, find something that is humble enough to give you peace of mind, but scrappy enough to pull you out of a dangerous situation. Cars, trucks, grannies – they don’t always see you! Use torque and horsepower to your advantage. Considerately, of course.
There are many ways to skin a cat, or so they say. Any person who approaches the challenge with an open mind, patience, and perseverance can overcome whatever obstacle is thrown their way – especially in motorcycling. A positive perspective can help make any situation simpler. Someone clever once told me there are two types of fun: Type A is having fun during an experience. Type B, you find the fun upon reflection of the experience. Learning to ride a motorcycle is both, and everything is easy when you’re having fun!