Photo Credit: Bengt Nyman via Flikr (modifications made)
Life on a bike is beautiful. There are many, who wish to move to the beautiful side of life by learing to ride a motorcycle. For those of you, who are thinking of getting your first motorcycle and beginning the biker life, here are 10 things that no one will tell you about motorcycling:
Just because you know how to drive a car and have some road sense, does not necessarily mean that you can ride a motorcycle. Though riding a motorcycle is no rocket science, it just not the same as driving a car.
To start with, you need to adjust to life without your car’s air-conditioner. After that, you need to adapt to wearing your riding gear. You also need to be more observant of your surroundings. Once you have completed these three basic steps, you need to acquire the skills of motorcycling.
The first step to riding is getting your own bike. You may have ridden your friend’s motorcycle before, but it just ain’t the same as riding your own. The difference is that you can stop riding your friend’s bike if you are not comfortable, you don’t have this luxury once you have spent your hard earned money on your own bike.
Don’t buy a motorcycle just because you think its cool. Buy something that fits your riding style. Some may want fast and agile bikes, whereas some want the comfortable cruisers. So choose wisely. Before you buy your first bike, its important to try a few motorcycles so that you are sure of what you want.
Also, don’t start with the big motorcycles. Start with the small and easy to control motorcycles and then move onto the big ones if you want to.
Unlike cars, where you can just buy a car and drive it out of the showroom, motorcycles come with an extra burden of wearing gear. For a start, you will need a good certified motorcycle helmet to be street legal. But, please don’t stop at the helmet. Invest in a good gear as soon as you have your motorcycle. You will need jackets, boots and gloves as the very basic.
"Dress for the slide to enjoy the ride"
A motorcycling gear in the cupboard is worthless. Once you have your gear, wear it every time you go out on your bike. If you have chosen to ride, be prepared to fall. When you used to ride around town on your bicycle, you would fall off once in a while. Your motorcycle is no different. No matter how skilled you are, you will fall off your motorcycle. Just make sure that when you do, you are prepared.
Accidents don’t come with a warning signal. Even if you have ridden for 10 years without a mishap, you should still make it a point to wear your gear all the time.
Motorcycles are small and sometimes can be missed by people in cars. It is important to be as visible as possible to pedestrians and other drivers. Wear gear that is visible; keep your headlights on even in Daytime.
Visibilty is not just about being seen, it’s also about being heard. LOUD PIPES, SAVES LIVES and you should consider changing your exhausts if they are too quiet. Remember to do it within the legally permissible limits.
Lets face it, only Fonzie from the Happy Days gets off his Triumph motorcycle with perfect hair. For the lesser mortals like everyone else, getting your hair back to the shape it was before you got on your motorcycle is a daunting task. Your hair will attain a shape known as Helmet Hair and most riders have now made this their permanent hairstyle.
Being a biker also comes with the burden of Saying NO to a lot of things. Even if you don’t want to, there will be times when you have to refuse. You can not offer a ride back home to someone if they don’t have a helmet. You will find it difficult to carry stuff beyond a limit, you will also have to say NO to your mobile phone while riding a motorcycle. But the most difficult is that you may have to say NO to motorcycling, if the weather is not right.
"Riding faster than everyone else only guarantees you’ll ride alone"
Just because you have bought yourself a fast motorcycle, does not give you the license to break the laws. When you overspeed, you are not only putting yourself in danger, you are also risking the lives of other law abiding citizens.
The speed at which you ride should depend on your threshold and not your motorcycle’s. Bikes can be made to go faster, you have to decide what is the speed that you don’t want to cross. If you still have the itch to go fast, try a day at the race track.
One of the most important lessons that motorcycling teaches you is to be adaptable. On a motorcycle trip, you may experience all sorts of weather conditions. It may be sunny when you started and start pouring a few minutes into your ride. Bikers cannot complain about the weather, they just have to accept it and move on. The key to motorcycling is to keep moving.
A motorcycle like any machine is susceptible to break downs. You should understand the basic repairs and it’s not hard to learn. There are many tutorials over Youtube to get you acquainted with your motorcycle. Carrying a Toolkit and a few spares every time you are on the road will save you from most situations.
Also remember, no matter how good you get at repairing your motorcycle, there is no pride lost in getting a good mechanic when things get beyond your skill level.