When my friends find out that I ride a motorcycle, some of them are horrified. “It’s so dangerous!” I remind them that life is dangerous, that driving a car is dangerous, that walking down a busy sidewalk is dangerous, and yet we somehow manage every day. I have spent years honing my motorcycle riding skills, and I don’t take unnecessary risks. It’s all about managing risk, and risk versus reward. The rewards of motorcycling are great, and for me, more than worth the risk.

When my other non-riding friends talk with me about motorcycling, some of them are intrigued. A few have even asked my advice about how to get started on a motorcycle.

I always recommend that they take a riding class before committing to motorcycling. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has a great program, and the Basic RiderCourse, which is available in most parts of the United States. Many locations have motorcycles available for loan or rental in coordination with the classes, so you can see if riding is for you before you invest a significant chunk of cash on a bike.

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Advice For The New Riders – Getting Started the MSF Way

If I had it to do all over again, I might have started out on a dirt bike before I learned to ride on the street. The skills you can acquire riding on dirt will translate to better control on pavement, particularly when it comes to managing traction. If you can handle cornering on dirt, then a little bit of gravel on a city street won’t freak you out. The MSF’s Dirt Bike School is a great resource, and training centers are popping up all over the country.

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Advice For The New Riders – Getting Started the MSF Way

Even if you decide to start with a scooter, there’s a training course for you – and you should take it. Scooters generally have automatic transmissions and much simpler operation, but jumping on and taking off without instruction and some basic understanding of how to handle yourself on two wheels is just asking for trouble. Not to sound like an advertisement for the MSF, but they do offer a half-day Scooter School for entry-level riders. An internet search for “Scooter Training” will help you find instruction in your area.

If you spend the time and energy to learn to ride safely, your time on two wheels can be safer and more fun – much more reward than risk.

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Advice For The New Riders – Getting Started the MSF Way

Jason Fogelson is Editor-At-Large for RideApart. His new book, “100 Things for Every Gearhead to Do Before They Die,” comes out on June 1, 2015. It is available for pre-order now at http://BooksForGearheads.com.

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