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New Rider Primer

10 steps to your first ride

So you're thinking about buying your first motorcycle and going for a ride. For a variety of reasons motorcycle sales keep booming. Whether it's dealing with lousy downtown parking, watching all those motorcycle TV shows that are on now, the ridiculous price of fuel these days or you're just ready to release your passion � finally after all these years of it being pent up inside.

There are few things better in the world than riding a motorcycle. But getting off on the right foot is the way to go. Just going to your dealer, buying a bike and attempting to ride it will cause you nothing but trouble. A lot of newbies ask me what's the right way to get started � so here it is folks � 10 steps to taking your first ride.

  1. Sign up for a Motorcycle Safety Class NOW! � Taking the Motorcycle Safety Class will teach you how to properly operate a motorcycle and can essentially save your life � especially within the first few years of riding. It's all the basics you need taught in the correct order so your skills are in place when you take to the road. There is not a friend or relative in the world who can teach you how to safely operate a motorcycle as well as a certified instructor, unless that person happens to be a certified instructor. Would you let children selling lemonade on the street do your taxes for you? Wait times can be several weeks to several months, so don't delay � sign up today. Don't get antsy if the wait is several months � your health and safety are worth the wait. In Washington you can get a list of who teaches the state-approved courses at: http://www.dol.wa.gov/ds/mtrcycle.htm .
     
  2. Get ahold of Dave Preston's Motorcycle 101 � Mr. Preston's book was written with you in mind. He takes you through all the situations you'll encounter getting ready to ride. Things like proper gear selection, purchasing the right bike, insurance and planning your travel are all included in this primer that's right for first time riders of all ages. It's $20 well spent. Click here to buy it .
     
  3. Get a copy of your state's Motorcycle Operators Manual � Don't even think about getting on a bike until you've gotten a motorcycle endorsement which is required in all 50 states. Most states require you to take both a written and moving test. Reading the manual thoroughly will provide the information you need to know to pass the written test. For Washington riders, visit the DOL website for a PDF version
     
  4. Take the written test at the Department of Licensing � It's time to take the written test. Head over to your local Department of Licensing office and take a number.
     
  5. Learn about what the right bike is for you � There are several styles of motorcycles available in the market. Read our buyers primer . Here you will find the information about the various types of bikes available that will satisfy both your body and your ego.
     
  6. Get the right riding apparel � Mr. Preston's book does a good job outlining apparel. I'm sure you've seen the occasional sport rider or cruiser in a tank top and tennis shoes. That's not proper riding gear and don't get the idea that it is. At the minimum, get a quality protective jacket, helmet, gloves and boots. When you show up for your first Motorcycle Safety Class you'll be set to go.
     
  7. Check out the clubs � As long as we're on the subject of what kind of bike is right for you, there's probably a club to go right along with it. We encourage new riders to join clubs because it puts them together with more seasoned riders who can help answer questions as you head out on your new adventure.  You'll find an extensive club directory here.
     
  8. Study the Sound RIDER! archive � The Sound RIDER! archive is loaded with tips and tricks for riders of all kinds. If you live in the Northwest you'll also be privy to many of the area's best rides, who the dealers are and details about clubs and organizations.
     
  9. Take the Motorcycle Safety Class � You've been signed up for a while. Now it's time to hit the classroom and get on the field and begin your training. In Washington, if you pass the moving test provided during the course, you will not need to take it at the Department of Licensing later. Just stroll in with your certificate and get your endorsement added to your license. It's that easy. During this course, your mind may change about what the right bike is for you. That's why it's best not to actually purchase a bike until you've had the class.
     
  10. Purchase your first bike and ride � There's a whole world of riding waiting for you now and you have all the skills and apparel to enjoy the ride. It's best to start off with a small to mid-sized bike, say 250 to 500 cc's. If you need a bigger bike, get it later and trade in your starter then.

See you on the road!

PT/Summer 04


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