Women and Motorcycles: New Riders Guide to Getting on Your First Bike

by on March 8th, 2011
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There are few experiences that can be compared to getting on your own motorcycle and riding through the mountains either on the street or in the dirt. As a woman, riding may have always been a dream of yours but you may have never really considered it as a reality. Hopefully this article will give you the final push and motivation to get out there and ride your own motorcycle!

The first four steps any new rider should consider before getting on your own bike:
1. Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundations (MSF) course. Before you do anything else, the MSF course should be the first thing you do if you have made the decision to ride. These courses are invaluable and in my opinion should be required for anyone to ride a motorcycle. Regardless of whether you are an experienced rider or have never sat on a bike, you are going to learn something in this course. In a weekend, they will get you comfortable handling a bike and provide you with tips that will probably save your life.

2. Get the right bike for you. You’ve passed the MSF course and you are still excited about getting out on a motorcycle but now you need a bike! My advice is to get a bike that fits you properly and does what you want it to do. Get a professional or someone with experience to help you find the bike that fits you best. Next, decide what type of riding you want to do! Do you want a street bike that you are only going to ride on the road? If you ride only on the street, do you want a crotch rocket that speeds around corners or do you want to sit back and enjoy cruising? Do you want a dirt bike and never consider the road? Or do you want a dual sport bike so you can ride on the road or in the dirt? Do you even know what type of riding you want? There are so many types of bikes – you will find something. The dual sport bike is my new love. In my opinion, you can’t beat the joy of riding on back dirt roads and climbing mountains.

3. Choose your gear wisely. You’ve finally gotten the bike you love, now you want to ride and you can’t wait another minute! Hold on. The right gear is going to make or break your enjoyment and safety of riding. If you don’t have the right gear, you could end up getting hurt and/or hating riding. You have to do your homework based on the style of riding you chose in step 2 so you can protect your hands, eyes, body and stay warm or cool. If you are going to ride all street, the gear is completely different than all dirt, and yet again different if you are going to ride dual sport. I have tried to use gear across the riding styles and it just doesn’t work. On the street you can ride wearing your leather chaps and jacket, but in the dirt you need a completely different style helmet and armor.

4. Find someone to ride with! Alright, now you have the training, you have the bike, and you have the gear, now you can ride! Or can you? Where are you going to ride and with whom? If you are reading this article, you are probably not an experienced rider and you might not have a buddy already to ride with. It’s okay and even enjoyable to get out and ride alone, but I recommend you find a buddy or join a group then ride with someone until you feel more comfortable to get out on your own. It’s worth it to be safe! Usually the place you buy your bike is going to give you information on clubs and events that you can join and attend so you can meet other people who ride – just ask them for recommendations. You can also find online help by joining Meetup or ADV Rider and find local riders. As a woman, please use common sense about who you are meeting, who they are and what their experience level is.

A few women-specific rider issues to consider as you start riding your first motorcycle:
1. Men. Riding is male dominated so being a woman in these groups can be intimidating. Don’t worry – you’ll find your comfort zone and you may even find that the men are part of the best part of riding. I can even attest to the fact that the majority of the men are more than happy to welcome you into their group and help you. Many of the biggest supporters are the men in my life. Plus, there are many women like myself who are always looking forward to encourage other women to ride and make them feel welcome and more comfortable at group events. The biggest challenge really is just to take that first step out the door, get on your bike and show up to an event alone. Once you do it, you will be so glad you did and probably even make new lifelong friends and new experiences.

2. Helmet hair! Whether you are a woman with short or long hair, chances are you are more concerned about your hair than the majority of men, but there is no way to avoid flattening your hair under that helmet. There are all kinds of products on the market that you can try depending on your personal preference. I have tried absolutely everything and finally decided that for my long hair that easiest thing to do is roll it into a ponytail holder behind my head so none of it is flying in the wind, then every time I take my helmet off for a longer period of time, I undo it and shake my hair out a bit. If it’s real bad, I like the advice I once heard another girl say – she just unzips her jacket a bit to detract from her hair ;)

3. Women’s Specific Gear. If you are riding in dirt, riding gear can be very difficult to find for women. On the street it is relatively easy to find gear. My theory is that dirt bike / dual sport riding attracts fewer women riders than street riding; thus, fewer choices for women’s gear exists since the women’s market is not highly profitable. I have searched every store across the country and all over the internet for my gear and have found it scattered on the internet in private sales on ADV Rider , craigslist and I’ve been successful when I Google what I am looking for and find it at the popular motorcycle stores. I cannot recommend one stop shopping anywhere for women. The basics like helmet, gloves and goggles are hard to find if you want a specific color. I finally bought a flat black helmet so I could paint it myself, and the actual clothing is even harder to find women’s specific styles that fit a women’s body even if you are not picky about color! For example, I have yet to find a decent women’s specific armor system that doesn’t cost an arm and leg and actually fits a women’s body

My final piece of advice is simple … HAVE FUN! For women, riding can be very empowering in addition to enjoyable. I still love riding the back of my man’s bike, but there is something super exciting about riding my own bike. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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