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By Riders, For Riders, 250 Million readers for over 16 years.
Guide to Motorcycling
Section One: The First Steps
Welcome to the World of Motorcycling! This eBook is dedicated to you, the aspiring motorcycle rider and may the information you read in it benefit you for a lifetime. So, before you strap on your motorcycle helmet and go riding off into the sunset for the first time, here is a collection of information you should read first. You will learn as much as I can teach you about the types of motorcycles; how to choose a bike that is right for you, motorcycle gear, where to start with licenses and suggestions on where to do those first rides.
If you are an experienced rider and are looking for more information about bikes, gear and accessories that has changed since you started riding, you've also come to the right spot.
The First Steps
Step One: Get a Learners Motorcycle Book:(.PDF Sample from Quebec, Canada)
Within Canada and the USA you can pick up (usually free of charge) a learners book to learn how to ride a motorcycle from any DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), Driver Registry or the Government Office in charge of issuing licenses. The book will not only help you pass your written/computer motorcycle test to get your learners license, but it will teach you the most basic of motorcycle safety, how to ride, where and what the controls are.
Step Two: Get a Learners Motorcycle License:
Licensing varies from Country to Country and even from smaller areas within a Country (like States, Provinces, Territories, Regions etc.) so I will go over licensing broadly so you get the idea of what to do. Within Canada and the USA you need to get a learner's permit first before you can either take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course or even ride a bike on the road. It is estimated that 25% of motorcycles on the road do not have a valid license. Please, get a license and don't risk it without one.
Step Three: Think about signing up for a local Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course:
It may save your life, it may extend your motorcycling career, it may make motorcycling more enjoyable, it may give you more confidence, it may even tell you that motorcycling may not be for you before you buy a bike. There are lots of "may" because everyone is different and have different backgrounds. But if any of those "may's" come true then you are a lot further ahead in the game. My opinion? I wouldn't even consider riding without taking the course. Not because I could not ride without it, just that I learned so much taking it and years later I'm still enjoying that benefit.
Step Four: Get Proper Riding Gear:
Start off by getting the best gear you can afford. If that is steel-toed construction boots, helmet, jeans and a leather motorcycle jacket and gloves, then fine. If you can afford all leather/textile motorcycle riding gear from the start, then go for it! Frankly, the odds are not in your favor during your first year of riding, so you will probably fall down, better to wear something that is going to protect yourself so you can get back up and ride again, until the next time you fall down. Remember, the majority of us get scared when things go out of our control and you fall down. But as hard as it is, you have to get back up (no matter how hard, afraid or scared you are) and get back on the bike even if it is just to "cure" yourself of that fear and to never ride again. Do it and don't regret it for all your life.
Word of Advice: Don't worry about leather or textile motorcycle gear (that was made to be used for motorcycling) about what is better than the other etc. It is all designed to save your life and absorb damage so you do not have to. Image is one thing, but protection (and your life) should be placed higher than image. How else are you going to keep showing off your ride if you're too injured to ride again? That would just not be good for your motorcycling image in the long run. My gear when I started off consisted of a jean jacket and pants, leather gloves and boots. I rode around the side streets and assumed I'd be OK at 40km/h in that. I choose that once I was ready I would have to buy at least a good motorcycle jacket because I know a Jean jacket isn't as good. Right now my riding gear is a Joe Rocket Ballistic textile jacket, jeans, steel-toe leather construction boots, top of the line Shark full face helmet and motorcycle leather gloves.
Step Five: Go for your motorcycle License:
Depending on where you live you will have the opportunity to upgrade your Learners License to something better. In some areas you may have to go though Graduated Licensing or get your full license right away. If you have to go though Graduated Licensing then you have to live with that fact. If you do not have to go though Graduated Licensing then I suggest you at least self-impose a "Graduated Licensing" system for yourself at the start. Yes, that isn't much fun to hear I'm sure, but most new riders will benefit from doing something to learn in steps. For example, restrict yourself to a engine size category like "anything under 500cc" or consider "no passenger" policy for your first year. By making realistic limitations then you will learn at a pace that is perfect for you. In some places in Europe not only are they not allowed (by law) to carry a passenger, but they are (by law) restricted to bike under 125cc and 30hp. Canadian Graduated Licensing laws are not that protective yet.
Step Six: Get Insurance:
Now that you have your license all you need to do now is great the legal
things over with. They are all important steps to getting you and your bike
on the road and you will want insurance (even if it is mandatory) to protect
you and your bike from harm. Call around all the local insurance places to
get quotes on your bike, you may be surprised that some of the quotes will
be double what others are for the same coverage, so it pays to shop around.
Here is some common terms you will come across: (click here for a complete
glossary of insurance terms) : http://www.melochemonnex.com/en/auto/glossary/index.jsp
Kanetix - Online Insurance
Quotes - Try this out and see how much it will cost you for insurance for
Liability insurance provides coverage for you if someone else is injured or killed. It also provides coverage if their property is damaged as a result of an automobile accident. If you are legally responsible for an accident, then you are also legally responsible for the damages. If you are uninsured, you will be charged with driving without insurance, and you may be fined. You may also have your driver's license suspended until you have made satisfactory arrangements to repay the owing amount.
Collision coverage protects your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. This coverage is optional because the cost of insuring some older vehicles for collision could be higher than the value of the vehicle itself.
Comprehensive coverage protects your car against loss or damage other than the collision coverage. This would include falling or flying objects, missiles, vandalism and theft.
Depending on you and your bike, Liability Insurance (without Collision and Comprehensive coverage) may be the way to go. Not only is it the least expensive option, but it fully covers you and the other party (just not your bike if you are in the wrong. If you are in the right and they hit you, you're bike is covered by their insurance (double check that in your area just to make sure)). If you have an older bike this is generally the best way to go due to the cost of adding on Collision and Comprehensive coverage may be more than the bike's value itself!
Collision and Comprehensive coverage don't come for free. They are usually the most expensive option to pay for, not only do you have to pay a high fee to have them, there are usually deductibles to pay as well on top of the fee, so even if you have it, it may not be worth it to even use it! Shop wisely.
Step Seven: Get Your License Plate:
So you got yourself insurance, now all you have to do is get your motorcycle a license plate and an insurance sticker. Usually getting your license plate is a government procedure that you do in person since they have lots of questions to ask you before they give you one. If you do not know where to get your license plate in your area, ask your insurance company and they will be happy to let you know.
In North America, we have to pay a fee for the metal plate itself (one time cost) and than a yearly change for the insurance sticker to put on it.
You can always buy a "Customized" license plate that you can put almost anything you want on it like : COOL1, RDRUNR, LITL KD, ICEMAN etc. anything that will fit on it. You should have a few combinations you like in case someone already has that one.
Mount your motorcycle plate with pride and welcome to the gang!
Step Eight: Off you go!