Do you ever find yourself watching people riding motorcycles and wondering what it would be like to have your own motorcycle? Motorcycle riding is a great hobby, especially if you are looking for an escape from the trivial things of everyday life. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a huge chrome hog to participate in one of the fastest growing hobbies. Your first task will be to research motorcycle info to try to decide which type of motorcycle or scooter matches your skill level and personal style. Then the next step is to have the equipment to protect yourself in case that you have an accident.
I want to mention scooters for a moment here since these have become extremely popular over the past 5 years, especially with the spike in gas prices. There are several scooters, known as maxi scooters, that are every bit as fast as small motorcycles. Maxi scooters are great for commuters, and you can even get an electric one from Vectrix that plugs into a normal outlet for recharging, but is also capable of reaching highway speeds. Scooters don’t match everyone’s tastes, but for new riders and daily commuting, these can be an economical way to go. If you don’t think today’s scooters are very cool, you can pick up a restored Harley-Davidson scooter on eBay for about the same cost and ride in style while enjoying this cool hobby.
Back to motorcycles. Do you plan to ride on the street, off-road, or a maybe a mix of both? If you plan to ride on the street, and this will be your first motorcycle, skip down to the next paragraph. If you plan to ride off-road only, then it’s a little easier to get started, but you’ll still need some help selecting a motorcycle that is right for you. Don’t forget that to enjoy dirt bikes, you’ll need a place to ride it. I found out the hard way growing up that most people don’t want dirt bikes riding on their property, even if it is just an old field or woods, because of noise and the fear of injury liability. You’ll eventually end up in trouble if you don’t get the land owner’s permission beforehand. The sales folks in motorcycle shops normally have been in this hobby for a long time and they can help guide you towards a good off road bike to fit you and they usually know of good and legal places where you can take it to ride. There are amateur motocross racing events that just about anyone can participate in regardless of skill level. Motocross racers often pass along their hobby to their kids. Kids can start out on 50cc mini dirt bikes in a special class just for them. A lot of families get their kids involved in the hobby of motocross as a way to build strength and confidence, but also for the family bonding that comes from traveling on weekends to events and camping out together.
If you plan to ride on the street, you’ll need to get a motorcycle license. It’s pretty easy to get a learner’s permit by studying the motorcycle handbook available online or at your local motor vehicle license office and taking the written test. Many states allow you to ride with just a learner’s permit for between 6 months to 18 months before you take your road test to get your actual license. Once you get your permit, the next step is to sign yourself up for a Beginner Rider Course at a community college near you. These courses are very fun and well worth attending since what you learn may save your life. Even if you have some riding experience, it’s a very smart idea to take a refresher course or Experienced Rider Course before you get back out on the streets.
The most popular styles of motorcycles for street are cruisers, sport bikes (some times called crotch rockets), sport touring, and touring. Today there are all sorts of new types of street bikes that don’t fit in any of these traditional classes. You can even get an automatic motorcycle from Honda, Aprilia and Ridley if having to shift gears is one of the reasons that you have avoided having a motorcycle hobby.
If you’re just starting the hobby of motorcycle riding, then buying a good used motorcycle is the way to go. It will take you a while to figure out what type of motorcycle fits your riding style and what level of performance you need from a motorcycle. I recommend searching for motorcycles on eBay because you can quickly locate a lot of different used ones near you by entering in your zip code. You’ll also get a good feel for what used motorcycles cost. From my experience, there are often much better choices for used motorcycles on eBay than you can find at motorcycle shops. Plan on setting aside enough money, maybe $500 for a set of new tires and to replace standard wear items such as a chain and sprockets, oil, coolant, etc.
In addition to getting your motorcycle, you’ll also need to set aside some money for the riding gear that you will need. For some riders, this can be an expensive and addicting part of the hobby. You’ll need to at least get a helmet, jacket, gloves and boots. Helmets come as full-face or open-face, and what you choose is up to you, but make sure it fits properly. That seems simple, but a properly fitting helmet makes a world of difference in terms of safety and your riding comfort. Too loose and the wind will lift it, but too tight will give you a real headache. DOT-approved is the minimum standard. Snell-approved is tougher standard and is good to look for in a helmet. Some folks prefer modular helmets that are full-face, but you can flip up the front. Modular helmets are often a little heavier, a little noisier from the wind, and are usually not Snell-approved. This does not make them a bad choice though, it’s just a personal preference thing.
Don’t plan on wearing a regular jacket for motorcycle riding on the street because regular jackets will usually balloon up from the wind or will flap and distract you. Leather is always a good choice for protecting your own hide from the wind and road, but there are a lot of new durable textile motorcycle jackets that do a great job without overheating you on warm days. Many modern motorcycle jackets come with armor or extra protection at the shoulders and elbows. Remember that it always feels a lot colder when riding a motorcycle, so your jacket will get more use than you might think.
Boots for street bikes should cover your ankle, and should have some sort of reinforcement around the left toe so that a standard shift lever won’t wear through there too quickly. Sneakers don’t offer any protection from hot engine parts and can be slippery on your foot pegs. The laces in sneakers or on boots can get caught on your motorcycle and you’ll end up in big trouble. For off-road riding, anything from a good pair of work boots to a pair of real motocross racing boots will do. Off-road riding often involves tree roots and wet or muddy riding, so make sure you have boots that are ready for that kind of action. Even when off-road riding on hot sunny days, you’ll end up on trails that have big mud puddles and ruts, so this is where good boots will be a plus.
To put aside a budget for your new motorcycle hobby, it’s possible to get started with a decent motorcycle helmet, gloves, boots, and jacket all for about $350 or $400 total, but you’re sure to see nicer gear for more money that will be very tempting. Online stores are usually where you’ll find the best prices for all sorts of motorcycle gear.
Once you get into the motorcycle hobby, you’ll discover that there are loads of motorcycle accessories that you can get to customize your ride. Some accessories are practical, such as heated grips or a motorcycle windshield, but some are just for looking cool, like chrome parts and custom wheels.
How deeply you dive into the motorcycle hobby is up to you, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started. Just about any motorcycle is fun to ride, whether on the streets or off-road. Having the right gear will help you enjoy your new hobby and to do it safely. It’s not about how much money you spend on your gear or your bike, it’s about getting outside and riding and enjoying the freedom, adventure and friendships that this hobby has to offer.