New rider excitement is like nothing else. Maybe you just got your license, and all your gear is so new and shiny, it still has that new gear smell. Or maybe your gear is extremely cool and vintage, but it's even better because it's new to you.
Either way, you're eager to show it off to someone else who can appreciate it; but most of all, you just want to ride. Put some miles on. Test out your newfound skills in the best way possible. Doesn't matter if your bike is new or old; what matters is that you're growing your confidence and having fun. What even is fun without friends who share the same interests, anyway?
That's where finding a good riding buddy (or maybe even more than one) can come in handy. Specific criteria will vary, just like riders do. Here are some ground rules for figuring out what you're looking for in someone you're most likely going to be spending a whole lot of time with, though.
Matched Riding Styles Are Best
A majestic pair of 2024 KTM RC 390s in the wild.
What type of riding are you looking to do? Are you the type of person who likes to head out to the twisties and ride for several hours until your stomach is growling because you forgot to eat? If that's you, then you're going to absolutely hate riding with a friend who insists on stopping at every gas station in the area to pound energy drinks and pose on their bike.
Likewise, if you just want to do a café crawl and you aren't up for long rides, you're not going to like it if all your new riding buddy wants to do is munch miles.
Make sure you're on the same page when you're discussing any upcoming riding plans, and you'll both be a whole lot happier on the journey.
Know And Respect What You're Both Comfortable Doing
A 2022 Yamaha TW200 playing in the mud.
Asking someone to ride beyond their comfort zone can be okay, as long as they expect and agree to it. Maybe you're a seasoned off-road rider, and you have a friend who's interested in shadowing you to both have fun and increase their skills. A challenge can be good in that case!
However, asking someone to completely ride over their skill level is also asking for a bad time for both of you. If the other rider in this scenario is new and doesn't have a lot of confidence yet, a really bad experience could make them reconsider riding altogether. No one wants that.
Are They Going To Have Your Back?
Don't leave your buddy like this.
Unexpected (and sometimes bad) things can happen at any time, including while you're out for a ride. If you get a flat tire or you crash, is the person that you're thinking of riding with going to stop and help? Or are they just going to keep riding and leave you to deal with it by yourself?
No one wants to think about crashing most of the time, but if the worst happens, you don't want to waste your time with someone who won't at least try to help.
Are You Both On The Same Page About Communicating On The Ride?
Good communication is key, no matter how you choose to do it.
Helmet-mounted Bluetooth comms units are nice to have, but they're not totally necessary. Riding buddies existed long before that tech was even thought of, and hand signals (as long as all riders involved know them) work just fine without a charging cable.
What matters more than having the brightest, shiniest new tech is that all riders involved know what to expect regarding communication. If you can master that, you should be in for a good ride together.
Are They A Responsible Rider?
Always wheelie responsibly, kids.
This one can be a more difficult thing to gauge before you've ridden together for the first time. Just like drivers, though, some riders can be less safe on the road than you'd prefer. Sometimes it's because they're oblivious, and sometimes it's intentional.
Unfortunately, this is one of those things that you can usually only experience by going on a ride with them. Remember, just because you rode together once doesn't mean that you have to ride together forever.
If you don't feel good about a new riding situation, you can always leave. If the other rider is riding like a jackhole and you don't like it, you don't even owe them an explanation. Keep yourself safe and don't worry about being polite.
There Are Always More Potential Riding Buddies Out There, Trust Us
Your perfect riding buddy is right here.
Bad riding experiences suck. Full stop, no qualifiers. We're sorry if you've had one (or more).
Still, we're also here to tell you that riders are just like everyone else in yet another way. You may not meet your forever riding buddy right away. The good news here is, as long as you ride smart, you can always try again tomorrow.