Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Recently I passed another small milestone on my moto journey. I’ve officially been a motorcycle owner for one whole year (woop woop!) Although it’s been a year of ups and downs (both on and off the bike) I can honestly say that owning and riding a motorcycle has brought me so much happiness and joy and I couldn’t imagine my life without one now. It’s the best thing that I’ve done for myself in a long time and I'm so glad that I finally decided to take the plunge.
However, all of this got me thinking...
What do I wish I’d known before getting a motorcycle and what advice would I give to others in the same position? So today I thought I’d talk you through five things that I wish I’d known before starting my journey, and I hope this helps some of you who are on your way to starting your own.
1. Say Goodbye to Your Savings
Whilst riding a motorcycle might seem pretty cost effective when you consider the miles per gallon and free parking, if you take into account all the other things you’ll need to get started it can quickly add up to a small fortune. Helmets, jackets, gloves, boots, cleaning and maintenance supplies and security products are literally just the beginning. Now it’s not to say that you can’t buy these things on a budget, but this can easily become an expensive hobby and you’ll want to make sure that you can realistically afford all of this before committing to buying a motorcycle. Don’t forget you’ll also need some training, and that doesn't exactly come cheap either!
My advice to you is this, start with the essentials (which would be your training, safety gear, maintenance and cleaning products and security bits) and worry about the less important things like luggage, accessories and extra gear later. The best time to buy anything is usually when it’s out of season, so look out for deals on winter gear in summer and vice versa. Big retailers like Urban Rider and Sports Bike Shop here in the UK almost always have a sale on, and I’ve personally saved myself quite a few quid on things like helmets and jackets that I’ve managed to snag at a major discount:
2. Let’s Get Physical
I’ll admit this is one thing I completely underestimated before getting my motorcycle. I’m not someone that’s particularly into fitness, there was a point in my life where I regularly went to the gym and did plenty of strength training, but those days are long behind me and I’m definitely out of shape and unfit now. Before getting a motorcycle, I never really thought that it would be that physical or I’d need much strength in order to ride one, but boy was I wrong!
Riding a motorcycle requires you to have strong leg, arm, core, back and shoulder muscles to manoeuvre the bike around. Plus, bikes can also be incredibly heavy depending on what you’re into, which can be intimidating to a lot of women. But don’t let this put you off, I want to reassure you that even if you’re a petite rider or just unfit (like me) you can absolutely do this, and those muscles will get stronger over time.
When it comes to handling a heavy bike, it’s all about the way you balance and manoeuvre it. Once you’ve got the technique down you’ll be able to handle any motorcycle, no matter what size! If you’re looking for some inspiration, go check out ‘Ride With Red’ on YouTube as she shows you how to pick up a fallen motorcycle using her Harley Road Glide Special (which weighs over 380kg!) Another YouTuber I’d recommend checking out is Jenn Coppack, a personal trainer and motorcycle rider that makes content all about keeping motorcycle riders fit and healthy, from post-ride stretches to balance and coordination skills she’s got you covered:
Ride With Red: https://youtu.be/-V-kw2zUkSI
Jenn Coppack: https://www.youtube.com/c/JennCoppack/videos
3. Security Can Be a Nightmare
As a new rider, you’ll be super excited to hit the road, but you may not be aware of just how vulnerable your bike can be to theft. With close to 40,000 motorcycle thefts a year in England and Wales alone, there's around a 3.3% chance your motorcycle will be stolen. Whilst that figure doesn’t seem particularly high, you’d be absolutely gutted if your pride and joy was stolen, so making sure your bike is safe and secure is a big deal. The general rule is to budget between 5% to 10% of your bike value on security. Now, this isn’t an area I’d recommend scrimping and saving on, so buy the best level of security you can within whatever budget you have. Plus, this will actually help to keep your insurance costs down so it’s worth it in the long run.
My advice when it comes to bike security is to think about it in layers. Most motorcycle thefts are crimes of opportunity, so the more layers you can add to your bike the less likely a thief is to have a go at stealing it in the first place. A good place to start is with a lock, chain and cover. If you don’t have a garage and leave your bike outside overnight, try to wrap the chain around something secure like a lamp post or fence. Grab yourself a second lock to add another layer of security, for this I recommend getting an alarmed disc lock which will spook a lot of thieves and alert yourself and others to a potential theft. Finally, invest in a decent motorcycle cover, not only will this protect your bike from the elements but it’s also a great tool to keep your bike hidden from thieves. Whenever I shop for this stuff I always look out for products with a Sold Secure Gold or Diamond rating, for more information about this see: https://www.soldsecure.com/about/
I’d also recommend the Bennetts Bike Insurance YouTube channel as they’ve made some of the best bike security content I’ve seen, and their review and test videos really helped me when I was starting out: https://www.youtube.com/c/bennettsinsurance/videos
4. Getting Your Full Licence is Tricky
I applaud any of you ladies that have managed to get your full licence, as it’s a rather long and arduous process and one that certainly isn’t for the uncommitted. It’s easy enough to get onto the road by completing your CBT and purchasing a 125cc motorcycle, however if (like me) you quickly outgrow it and want to move on to a bigger bike you’ll have to jump through quite a few hoops to get your full motorcycle licence. There are a couple of different routes you can take in order to obtain your full licence depending on your age and previous experience; however it essentially comes down to these five steps:
· Apply for a provisional licence (costing £34 in the UK)
· Complete a one-day Compulsory Basic Training course (and get a certificate of completion)
· Pass the DVSA motorcycle theory test
· Pass the off-road skills test (known as the Mod 1)
· Pass the on-road riding test (known as the Mod 2)
And once you’ve done all of that, you’ll receive your full licence and can finally ride any motorcycle you want!
Now I must admit that I do wish it was a bit easier for us, I'm currently going through this myself and having to deal with covid cancellations and dodgy riding schools has only made the experience feel even more tedious. Plus, it’s so much easier and simpler to get a car licence! However, I do feel that this process (particularly the Mod 1 and 2 tests) produces safer riders long term, and that’s got to be better for everyone, right?
I could go into much more detail about the process of gaining your full licence, and in particular a breakdown of all the different tests and the costs involved etc. so I plan on writing another blog post dedicated entirely to this subject soon.
5. It’s Not As Scary As You Think It Is
Learning to ride a motorcycle brings fear and anxiety to many people, however I want to assure you that it’s nowhere near as scary as you probably think it is. Of course, there are risks involved when riding a motorcycle. But the same can be said for driving a car, riding a bicycle, swimming, sunbathing, eating a dodgy curry, and a countless number of other things. Point being, riding a motorcycle isn’t nearly as dangerous as people make it out to be. All things considered, it’s pretty safe, and the majority of motorcyclists ride their whole lives in complete bliss. So don’t let fear stop you from getting started!
Riding is a skill, and once you’ve mastered it your risks are significantly reduced, so my number one tip for any new riders (and especially for my nervous friends) is to visit a decent riding school and to get yourself some tuition. Then you’ll be able to practice off-road in a safe environment with a trained professional that’s going to look out for you. I’ve actually already written a whole blog post about tackling the fear, so go check it out!
Right folks, that’s all from me today but any questions, comments or suggestions you have I’d love to hear so please leave a comment down below. Keep safe and happy riding!