So, You Want to Start Riding but Don’t Know How!

So, you want to start riding, but don't know how!

There’s no denying it: riding a motorcycle is COOL.

Gliding through traffic in urban areas, whizzing by landmarks on the open road, or adventuring off-road – every moment brings the kind of freedom and excitement that you can only experience on a bike.

Riding a motorcycle can make you feel invincible and connected with everything around you. But it can be dangerous if you don’t prepare properly. You’re far more exposed on a bike than a car, and every crash can present a risk of injury.

That’s why on that first day you don’t just hop on and head out on the highway.

To stay safe, you first need to know what you’re doing by equipping yourself with the right knowledge and the right gear.

Let’s look at the essential steps you’ll need to take to begin your motorcycling journey.

You Need the Right Gear

The first step towards riding a motorcycle is to make sure you’ve got the right gear. Now this might seem strange, after all, why would you get motorcycle gear before even learning to ride?

It’s simple: it’s almost a certainty that you’ll fall, skid, or crash at some point. It may not be a major disaster where you get seriously injured, but chances are good you’ll find yourself scraping pavement sooner or later.

That’s why you need to be wearing a complete set of motorcycle gear from day one. In fact, you should NEVER get on your bike without it.

There’s a famous saying: “All the gear, all the time.”  So don’t even think about it. Get the gear. Wear the gear. Every time you ride.  Which means you need the following pieces:

  • Helmet with eye protection
  • Motorcycle jacket
  • Motorcycle pants
  • Riding boots and gloves

Of course, each should be designed specifically for motorcycling to perform its function perfectly and keep you as safe as possible.

The Helmet

No piece of motorcycle equipment matters more than your helmet. It can help prevent serious head injuries and can make the difference between winding up in a hospital (or worse!) or merely dusting yourself off and hopping back up on your bike.

Make sure your helmet is made for motorcycling and meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. These standards are put in place to maximize road safety, so you can be sure that if it’s compliant, that helmet will provide excellent protection. (Now if you want to go a step further to keep that noggin safe, find a helmet that follows the standards of the Snell foundation or E.C.E., both of which have even higher requirements.

Any helmet you buy should fit perfectly on your head. The easiest way to check is just trying it on, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to shopping in-person. In fact, you can find the right helmet on a reputable motorcycle gear site such as, where all you have to do is measure your head to make sure the helmet fits.

Here's how: take a soft measuring tape and wrap it around your head about a half- inch from your eyebrows. Then, compare the measurement with this chart to find your helmet size:

Size Inches
X-Small 22
Small 22 3/8
Medium 22 3/4 - 23 1/4
Large 23 5/8
X-Large 24 - 24 3/8
2X-Large 24 3/4 - 25 1/4


When it comes to keeping your face safe, it would be best to go with a helmet that has a full-face variant with a visor. (Note: if you do get a helmet without a visor, you should also buy a pair of motorcycle-ready sunglasses or goggles.)

The Jacket

Motorcycle jackets are made of highly resistant materials and reinforced at your most vulnerable areas to provide increased protection for your back, elbows, and shoulders. So, if you fall off your bike or skid across the tarmac, a good quality jacket can help prevent severe bruising, scrapes, and cuts, as well as painful road rash.

When choosing a motorcycle jacket, consider the fit and the weather conditions you expect to ride in. A properly fitting jacket should be snug around the torso area and allow for complete arm mobility. When taking weather into consideration, look for a jacket specifically designed for a particular climate, whether it’s warm, cold, dry, or arid.

The Pants

We don’t recommend hopping your motorcycle wearing your regular everyday pants. The pants you wear to work or just kicking around in use fabrics and materials based on style, and it’s almost a certainty they’ll rip to shreds in an accident. Note that this isn’t just dress slacks, this applies to jeans as well – the jeans we associate with bikers are specially made for that purpose and real motorcycle pants will feature reinforcements around the knee and hip areas.

Having motorcycle pants made of the same material as your jacket is always a good choice and a great look. You do have options, however, if you want to mix and match – motorcycle pants can be made of leather, nylon, denim, or heavy-duty textile.

Boots and Gloves

Do NOT disregard the safety and comfort of your feet and hands when riding. That’s where motorcycle boots and gloves come in. The boots should go over your ankles, have toe reinforcements, and feature sturdy soles that resist slipping. Your gloves need to be resilient to impact and able to handle the weather, all while keeping your hands flexible and free.

Learn to Ride a Two-Wheeler

Once you have all the gear you need, THEN it’s time to start learning the basics of motorcycle riding.  But before you do, it’s probably wise to pause and think about the process.  After all, you are hopping aboard an open vehicle with a powerful engine pretty much before you get any real chance to catch your bearings.

Instead, why not hop on a bicycle?

Riding a bicycle can be an excellent starting point for motorcycle riding. It will familiarize you with moving on two wheels, which will definitely make it easier to get comfortable with a motorcycle. Start by riding in a straight line and then move on to circles.

When you can ride a bicycle in circles, able to look around without discomfort or feeling insecure, that’s when you’ll be ready to get on a motorcycle.

Let’s talk about acquiring some of the essential motorcycle skills, all necessary for safe riding. These include:

  • Getting on your motorcycle
  • Learning where the clutch, gear shifter, throttle, and brake controls are and how to use them
  • Accelerating and decelerating
  • Shifting gears
  • Turning
  • Stopping

The best way to acquire these skills would be a properly designed, in-person, motorcycle course. While it might be tempting and more convenient to find some YouTube tutorials or ask a friend to teach you, taking this kind of course should be your priority.

A good motorcycle course has tons of advantages over other learning methods.

First off, you’ll get all the knowledge you need without anything getting overlooked.

Second, the course’s structure will follow a progression designed specifically for beginners. (In other words, you won’t be learning hard turns before you know proper gear shifting.)

Finally, a course will provide you with the necessary license so you can ride your bike legally.

Which course you’ll take will depend on your state. Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses are standard in many states, but some areas use different methods. The best way to find out what kind of training you can get, as well as what you’ll need for a motorcycle license, is to get in touch with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your area.

Once you complete the course and receive your license, the rest of the process pretty much depends on you.  Just like learning to ride a bicycle, expect to put in a lot of practice to make sure you safely enjoy your motorcycle.

And there’s one more extremely important thing to consider:

You’ll need to find the right bike for what you want it to do.

Choose a Good Beginner’s Motorcycle

The first thing we should clarify here is that you can’t find a “starter” motorcycle intended purely for beginners.

Now some bikes, however, will be a better fit if you’re only starting out – for example, one with less weight and power and that also handles easily and feels comfortable.

Some popular brands and models might catch your eye but be honest with yourself – because some bikes are too much at this stage. You don’t need a beast of a machine when learning the ropes. You need a stable, balanced, and easy bike that you can always keep under control.

In terms of weight, you should aim for a 300 to 400-pound motorcycle. This weight range will hit the sweet spot for most beginners – fully-equipped heavy-duty machines can weigh three times as much. When it comes to the engine, a maximum of 650 cc will serve you well.

The most important part of choosing your bike will be to try it out. Try sitting on the motorcycle and see if you can easily put your feet on the ground. Check whether the seat and position feel comfortable. (Note, if you choose a sport bike, you’ll be positioned leaning forward while street bikes will have you sitting upright.)

Next, try to move the bike back and forth. You shouldn’t have to struggle to handle the motorcycle, regardless of whether you’re in the seat or standing alongside the machine.

Remember: if you can find a motorcycle that’s just the right fit for you, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable as you gradually improve your riding skills.  That’s an important part of the entire experience.

Getting Comfortable on the Road

With your motorcycle license in your wallet and your new bike ready to go, it’s perfectly normal to want to hit the road – eager to test your skills.

You should, however, resist that temptation at first.

The skills you’ve learned need to become second nature before you’re a fully-fledged biker. This requires lots of practice, learning those essential skills, until you get to a point where you can perform the basic actions without a second thought.

For your practice sessions, look for wide open spaces like parking lots. Then, after you’ve gained confidence and you’re ready to take your motorcycle out, start first by riding on the back roads or low-traffic residential streets.

The point is to ease into the riding experience, and you can do just that by sticking to slower roads. If you want to find the most comfortable beginner routes, you can consult your local riding club.

When you feel ready to get on the road, don’t forget that the learning process isn’t over. Motorcycle riding is complex and consists of many aspects, from handling your bike to traffic situations and overall motorcycle culture.

Remember – no matter how prepared you are, it’s almost certain you’ll make some mistakes. That’s totally fine. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes. Be flexible and adapt.

Besides learning how to handle your motorcycle, you’ll need to develop a respect and awareness for other users of the road. This means becoming hyper-aware of how people behave so you can anticipate and avoid crashes or other unpleasant situations. As a beginner, you can never be too cautious – so make sure you’re doing everything by the book, while assuming everybody else will make the worst driving decisions possible.

Finally, it’s probably a good idea to become a part of a riding club. You’ll find experienced riders who can offer you valuable advice, which can help you get started, while avoiding common pitfalls. Plus, you’ll get to exchange experiences with others and feel the community and culture that make up the soul of motorcycling.

With all these steps taken care of, your journey from a beginner to a seasoned rider will begin.

Hopefully, it will be the ride of a lifetime!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  Comment below.


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