Riders Write In – Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling

Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling
Riders Writes: Andrew Durling




New Rider Suggestions

I just decided to write a blurb of sorts to try to help out the new rider. Try to give some advice, and tips/stories that I have learned.

I think if I were to do things over again, I would go to riding school first. I haven’t gone yet, but plan to in spring 2003. BEFORE I RIDE! I’m currently trying to get opinions from local clubs, individuals can give you a great opinion for schools. Got some great ideas from webmaster Mike since he went to the bike show with his wife. The internet is a good place to find things, but I have always found problems with where to look sometimes. Trial and error folks pretty well sums it up.

I have been doing some research into helmets and protective gear. You can spend a bazillion dollars on a helmet and other stuff, and still end up with substandard protection, depending on how you look at it. I was talking to a buddy’s dad and he always recommends Snell approved helmets. I guess they answer to more strict testing than just DOT approved stuff. Go into a bike shop and mention Snell helmets, and you can basically stop looking at the helmets on the bottom shelf……look up…….look way up. What I have found though, is that you can get a great deal on one of these helmets if you are willing to sacrifice some style and your first colour choices. I found a place that had full face Snell approved helmets for $99 Canadian, but only the gaudy ones that they had in stock! I’m gonna go back and get one I think, provided that they have one for my big melon. (Rhymes with GW Wycle Corld)

I have a buddy who swears by the army surplus boots. Makes sense when I think about it, for the $30 he spent, he got a $200 pair of boots, steel toe and shank, and they are in decent shape, can be polished, and aren’t really thick, so they don’t impede foot controls on the bike. I think I’m gonna stop by there and get a pair, even if they suck, at least I haven’t spent a fortune, right?

Riding in shorts and t-shirts,…………think about it, there are two kinds of people with bikes, those that have dumped there bikes, and those that are going to dump there bikes, need I say more?

As far as beginner bikes go, I think that really lucked out with what I got. It’s something that I have a second chance on if I twist the throttle too much by mistake, fairly light, and decent brakes, and very very easy to maintain. A 81 Honda CB400T. Mike had one of these bikes and loved it, and I think that I will be able to say the same. This bike seems to get me around ok for a beginner, and I’m over 200 pounds and 5’9. Got the bike and some extra stuff, cover, lock, and other poo for a great deal, and the bike has 12,000 km. Which I think is good anyway.

Please don’t make the mistake of getting the whizzy 1200cc monster that you really can’t handle. I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and every year there are exponentially more and more bike accidents in the summer. Most start off with the 17, 18 year old kids on the smokin joe Daddy bought for them. Be smart guys, especially the ones who are a buck ‘o’ five and on a bigger bike. You can always upgrade, and in this city, you won’t lose value on your bike. It is so hard to find a small bike to start off with, that you can bet that if you get a decent deal, you can double your money on resale, I know of many people that have done this. Just remember, buy in the fall, and sell in the spring/summer if you can, makes economic sense.

Remember as a new rider, what do you think will be the bike you dump, (the most)? Your sixth bike, after riding for years, or the first one? Even if you have the dough to spend on a new bike, I recommend that you wait ’til you know what you are doing. New bikes with fiberglass, and really shiny chrome parts that get really expensive when you accidentally “customize” them.

Questions or suggestions?

[email protected]


I’ve gotten a few emails wondering what parameters to look for when choosing a beginner bike. Well, I’m new to this myself, but I’d be glad to pass along some things that made me look at the bikes I did.

I would tend to look at things in this order

$ For Repairs to get it into great shape
Price of the Bike

That’s just me, and I guess it’s easy to say now, because I have a bike.

I found this post on the ‘net that seemed to give perspectives from a lot of people. Opinions on things that I have stated previously as well, but you can NEVER have too much information.


I’ve heard people talking about the great deal they can get on some bike, that ran when the guy put it into storage. I called and went and saw a ton of these so called “treasures” last summer. Like the old saying “If it’s too good to be true. It probably is.” What I found when I went to see these bikes is that the seller, usually someone who believes Camaro’s never go out of style, and apparently does his laundry on the lawn, due to the amount of household appliances. All jokes aside, take a look around where the bike is stored. Tool set there? Another bike? Look like the garage gets used for repairs? Seems pretty obvious when you read it, but I admit, took me a few minutes when you are caught up in bike fever.

Amazingly enough these people tell you what they think is wrong with it! If they really knew,……..or told you the truth,……think about it…….for the price of cleaning it up and rebuilding the carbs or whatever, if you were them would you do it to sell the bike for a lot more money?

I also found it handy to take a buddy along who has ridden before, whether or not they know a lot about the mechanics of the bike. It distracts the seller from his selling pitch long enough for you to actually look at the bike closely for dents scratches, shitty frame work/repairs, leaks, wiring and other stuff.

One thing I learned from my Dad years ago, was before taking anything for a test drive/ride. Make sure there is enough oil in the engine! It also makes the seller show you how to check it, and the condition of the oil. Never happened, but I wonder what happens when the engine seizes on the test ride, and the seller has the keys to your car! COVER YOUR ASS!!!!!!!

Keep the questions coming,

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