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Beginner's Guide: Common Obstacles & How to Overcome them

Taking the first steps and overcoming hurdles


Jumping right into the sport of motorcycling isn't always simple. Maybe your heart and soul are telling you to become a motorcycle rider, but your mind keeps interfering. For some reason, you can't find the emotional firepower to jumpstart the learning process and make your dream a reality. You're not alone.            
 
Thousands of women dream about riding a motorcycle, but many are held back by barriers ranging from fear of the unknown to financial worries. Below is a list of common barriers to riding a motorcycle—and why you shouldn’t let any of them stop you from becoming a woman in the wind.  

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Sound Familiar?
 
You just had a baby, changed
a career, bought a new home, etc. Motorcycling will have to wait.


Your family and friends might view you as irrational and irresponsible if you buy a motorcycle.

Your husband or significant
other likes you on the back of the bike. Why should you
mess things up by getting
your own?


   You're haunted by old stereotypes
of women who ride motorcycles as wild and irresponsible.

   
Visit Just Do It! to read how other women riders tackled issues like these. Then be sure to read the WRN Reader Stories for even more inspiration.
Obstacle 1: Confidence   
Some women are intimidated by the thought of controlling a big machine
like a motorcycle. "What if I can't handle it on my own?" "What if I drop
the bike?" It's natural for women to question these things. After all,
motorcycling is a male-dominated activity, and despite changes in the
industry, many people still think it takes a big man to maneuver a big bike. 
           
Lucky for women (and many men, too!), it’s no longer true that a rider
must be of a larger size to handle a motorcycle. A person’s size does not
have to be a limitation—in fact, there are many small women who have
no trouble at all when it comes to maneuvering a bigger bike.          
             
Over the last 10 years, motorcycle manufacturers have broadened their
model lineups to include machines of many different sizes (to see a few,
visit the Bikes to Get Started On page of the WRN Beginner's Guide).
The aftermarket industry has responded by offering plenty of parts for
modifying a motorcycle to fit a rider better. There are ways to bring the
handlebars closer to the rider, lower the seat, adjust the footpegs—nearly
any part of a motorcycle can be altered to accommodate a rider of any
size. Size and strength need not be limitations, and as with any sport or
activity, there is a learning curve. As a rider gradually increases in skill,
confidence builds right along with it. 

Obstacle 2: Where to Start?       
For some women, the biggest barrier to pursuing the sport of motorcycling
is simply not knowing where to start. If this is your dilemma, here’s
the solution: start with a training class. There are training classes available
in nearly every state in the US. Most of these use a curriculum developed
by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), the industry standard for
teaching motorcycle-riding safety and skills. Visit MSF-USA.org to find a
class near you. These classes are very popular with women, and
approximately one-third of all graduates are female. Another reason to take
an MSF course: In some states, passing the class's riding test satisfies the
state motor vehicle licensing requirements. Taking the beginner class is also
a good way to gauge if motorcycling is something you'll truly enjoy.
                     

Obstacle 3: Product Knowledge      
If a woman has never been exposed to motorcycling, she may be intimidated by her lack of knowledge on the basics of operating a motorcycle, such as using the controls. But when it comes to riding, remember that everyone starts at the beginning—men and women alike. Proper training, such as the MSF courses, will take you through all the steps necessary to learn, starting with the basics. As with any activity, the more you practice, the more proficient you'll become. No one can expect to be an expert rider just after graduating from the training class, and it’s perfectly normal to practice your newfound skills in a parking lot or on a quiet neighborhood street before hitting the main roads. All riders learns at their own pace—the important thing is to take that initial leap, realizing you’ll acquire the knowledge and skills you need as you go.   

Obstacle 4: Cost
Many people consider motorcycles to be out of their reach because of the high price tag. True, a motorcycle is a luxury item, but like most luxury items, a quality motorcycle can be bought used at an inexpensive price. To see for yourself, check out the WRN Classifieds to view numerous listings for pre-owned motorcycles at a wide range of price points. Craigslist.org and your local paper's classified listings are also great places to look for used motorcycles. Many riders start out with an inexpensive “beginner” motorcycle (visit the Choosing Your First Motorcycle section of the WRN Beginner's Guide), then move up to a larger and possibly (but not necessarily) more expensive bike. This allows you to get started without breaking the bank. Motorcycle loans are also available for those who may not have the cash on hand.
Whether you're interested in cruisers or sportbikes, the cost to get started likely isn't as high as you think. Pre-owned motorcycles are available for a wide range of prices.
Whether you're interested in cruisers or sportbikes, the cost to get started likely isn't as high as you think. Pre-owned motorcycles are available for a wide range of prices.

Obstacle 5: Fears About Safety
A common reason people avoid riding a motorcycle is the belief that the activity is inherently unsafe. This is a myth. In fact, it's very possible for a motorcyclist to never have an accident. As with anything else, knowledge is power when it comes to riding a motorcycle, and that knowledge comes with experience and with education. Taking a certified motorcycle course is the first step toward gaining experience and knowledge, followed by knowing how to wear proper gear at all times and how to avoid pushing yourself past the limits of your experience. As skills develop, it's a good idea to continue to educate yourself on proper riding techniques that will help you calmly and safely handle sticky situations on the road. There are many courses available for intermediate and advanced riders—just check with your nearest riding school. And be sure to check out our Riding Right section for useful lessons and techniques for all levels of riders.

Obstacle 6: Life Stage
Some women claim they’ll learn to ride a motorcycle once they’re not so busy doing something else, like raising a family or building a career. Seems people can always find an excuse not to ride—the question is, how bad do you want to ride? For too many women, “someday” turns into “never.” Of those women who do learn to ride a motorcycle, many say they wish they’d started earlier—and they would have, had they known how much joy it would bring into their lives.

For a woman, motorcycling is an expression of herself. Many say riding is empowering, that the confidence a woman gets from sitting in the saddle of her own bike spills over into other areas of her life. It's that "you don't know what you're missing until you do it" kind of thing.
   
Motorcycles don't discriminate based on age or life experience. No matter if you're 20 or 60, just starting a career or newly retired—<i>now</i> is the time to get started!
Motorcycles don't discriminate based on age or life experience. No matter if you're 20 or 60, just starting a career or newly retired—now is the time to get started!

So if you've ever thought of donning a leather jacket and cruising down the open road in search of adventure, now is the time. Riding a motorcycle is the stuff of dreams—and many women are living their dream right now. Isn't it time you did, too? 
----------------------
Looking for more information on how to get started? Return to the Where Do I Start? section of the WRN Beginner's GuideRelated Articles
Beginner's Guide: 10 Steps to Becoming a Motorcycle Rider
Beginner's Guide: Just Do It: Getting Over Your Fears and In On the Fun

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