6 Common Sense Mistakes New Riders Make
Some mistakes new riders make are understandable. They have happened to almost all of us. If we see a new kid make them, we shake our heads nostalgically and remember when we did the same thing. Don't kick yourself if you make these new rider mistakes, just work through them and soon you'll be riding like a pro.
When you're just learning, it's easy to stall when taking off. That's because new riders aren't yet familiar with the friction zone, that magic area of clutch lever movement where the clutch just starts to send power to the rear wheel. You probably talked about it in your motorcycle training course, but for some new riders it takes practice to really "get" it.
Don't panic or get frustrated. If it happens for the first time at a light, take a breath and start over. Go slowly and feel for the friction zone as you gradually roll on the throttle. Pull into an empty parking lot and take some time practicing starts and stops like you did during training, and you'll get it pretty quickly.
Taking Turns too Fast
When people go too fast around a curve, there's a temptation to put their foot down or wobble to catch themselves. Approach turns slower than you think you should and gradually speed up as you learn how your bike responds and your skill improves.
Running Out of Gas
If your bike doesn't have a fuel gauge, you have to pay extra attention. When you're used to driving a car, you rely on it to tell you when you're almost out of gas. With a bike, you don't always have that luxury.
Some people figure their range by riding until they have to switch to their reserve tank. Others look up the average for their bike and always try to fill up before they reach that number. Either way, the trip meter is your friend. If you don't have a fuel gauge, reset it every time you fill up so you know when you're getting close to empty.
Going Without Looking
When passing through an intersection at a green light behind moving traffic, riders assume other riders see them. Just because the light is green doesn't make you as visible as a car.
Don't just look at the light and the vehicle in front of you. Be hyper-aware of other vehicles approaching the intersection and have an escape plan.
Same thing pulling out of a parking space. Drivers register parked vehicles, but sometimes your much smaller motorcycle isn't even a blip on their radar. Make sure they see you before you exit your space, and stay alert as you move across the parking lot.
People are less vigilant when moving at slow speeds. They're also distracted by pedestrians and looking for a parking space of their own. Protect yourself by assuming they don't see you and won't stop.
Just Using One Brake
When you're transitioning from a car, you're used to using your right foot to hit the brake pedal. Your body thinks "stomp right foot to stop." It's a common newbie mistake.
From the beginning, train your brain and your body to use both front and rear brake together. Then you'll stop safely and without skidding.
Thinking They Can't Afford a Harley®
Lately Harley-Davidson® has gotten a ton of bad press, and a lot of what's going around isn't based on truth. One of the things we hear most frequently is that the company is basically going down the tubes because bikes cost too much for people in their 20's and 30's. Let's take a minute to think that through.
The main Harley-Davidson® website has starting MSRP for all of its bikes. If you click that link, right at the top you'll see you can get a brand new Harley® starting at less than $7,000. That negates the idea Harleys® are just for rich old people.
It's not just the entry-level bikes that are affordable. Maybe you don't want to buy a new Sportster because you're afraid you'll grow out of it (another common misconception, but we'll tackle that in another post.) Right now you can finance a Softail® for as little as $245 a month.
When you're learning, you may not want a new bike. If Harley® is selling fewer new motorcycles, what's really hurting new bike sales is the reliability of used bikes. You won't believe some of the used Harleys® for sale in Dallas right now at our motorcycle dealership. If you're a new rider without a lot of cash in your pocket, we guarantee we can help you find (and afford) a bike you'll love.
4 Just Plain Dumb Mistakes
All of the above are understandable. The rest of these fall under the heading of "should have known better."
Riding After Drinking
When you drink, it alters your judgement. You think you're fine, you're overconfident about your reflexes, so you take stupid chances.
Your skills aren't as sharp after you drink, no matter how long you've been riding. If you ride your bike there and you want to drink, plan an alternate ride home before you start.
Riding on Bald Tires
You have two points of contact with the road. You're going to be on uneven surfaces, loose gravel and wet pavement. Sometimes new riders buy a used motorcycle, and by the time they've paid for all their gear, they don't feel like they have any money left for tires. The bike seems to be doing fine, and they're excited about riding. Tires that weren't great to begin with get thousands more miles, and they end up completely bald.
This mistake is common, but it's avoidable. Sure, new tires cost money, but not nearly as much as a hospital stay, time off work and a totaled bike. If you need tires, we have the lowest tire prices in the state. Schedule your motorcycle service and we'll fix you up.
Riding Without Protective Gear
If you want to see seasoned riders shake their head and roll their eyes, ride in shorts and flip flops. That's not bravery, that's being an idiot. Invest in proper riding gear like a jacket, helmet, gloves, goggles and boots, and wear them every time.
Riding is an expensive hobby. The right gear costs a lot because it's designed to save your life. Plus, most items are a once-in-a-decade purchase.
Sure, performance riding jeans cost more than Levi's. But they last forever. If you get a good helmet, unless you're in an impact you probably won't need to replace it for a decade. Shoei is great, and we sell a ton of them, but we also have helmets that cost less and still keep your melon intact. If you don't have the change to invest in the most expensive, you should still plan to dress for the slide, not the ride.
Copying Dumb Things Their Friends Do
We've all seen that impossibly cool rider who makes skillful handling look effortless. If you ride with more experienced friends, they might be able to do things you're not ready for yet. They know their abilities and what their bike is capable of. If you're just starting out, you don't.
Don't ride or turn faster than you would otherwise because the guy ahead of you does it. Plenty of new rides have tried to impress their buddies and ended up with a crumpled bike and a lot more injured than their pride.
So what did we miss? If you've been riding a while, what are some of the most common and cringe-worthy mistakes you see new riders make?