There’s nothing like the thrill of riding down the road with the wind in your hair, the sun on your back, and a powerful machine propelling you forward with grace, class, and solid momentum. In fact, few experiences can match riding a motorcycle on a nice day.

But for the individual who doesn’t have any such experience, a bit of a learning curve is involved.

Five Tips for New Bikers

On any given day, thousands of bikers are traveling on American roads and highways. If you want to join their number and become the next motorcycle rider, you’ll need to keep the following tips in mind.

  • Motorcycles Can be Dangerous

It doesn’t matter if you love motorcycles or staunchly oppose them, we can all agree that to ride on the open road where you’re exposed to the unpredictability of cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, and unknown road conditions isn’t exactly safe.

“The reality is that too many car and truck drivers do not know how to safely share the road with motorcycles,” Tate Law Offices P.C. explains. “Many crashes are caused by vehicle drivers who either fail to recognize motorcyclists or refuse to respect their rights.”

Being aware of this reality should make you a more proactive biker. It won’t prevent every accident from happening, but it will help you see more of them coming so you can make smarter and faster choices.

  • Complete an MSF Course

In order to obtain a license to operate your motorcycle on the road, you’ll probably be required to complete some kind of motorcycle safety course. Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses are among the best.

When you take an MSF course, you’ll be required to complete assignments, attend classes, pass a written exam, and take an on-bike test. But don’t let all this discourage you.

These courses do an exceptional job of teaching you everything you need to know. As long as you pay attention and do the required work, you’ll be fine. (You’ll also be far more confident in your skills and abilities once you finally get out on the open road.)

  • Get a Bike That Fits

There are so many different kinds of bikes. From the way they look to how they perform, dozens of makes, models, and brands offer themselves to you.

When you choose one, you’ll need to go beyond looks. What bike actually fits you?

For beginners, a heavy bike typically isn’t a good fit. You want something that’s light enough to maneuver easily and large/small enough to accommodate your size.

Buy something that’s pre-owned and affordable to see if it’s something you actually enjoy. If it is, you can upgrade to a nicer newer option at a later time.

  • Wear the Right Gear

“There’s an old saying in motorcycling: if you’ve got a ten dollar head, wear a ten dollar helmet. It’s as true today as it ever was. Buying the bike is just one aspect of riding; choosing the correct gear is another,” experienced biker Bill Roberson explains.

At the very least, you’ll need a full-face helmet, jacket with armor, riding pants, riding boots, and reinforced gloves. You may even want additional upper body armor and neck protection.

Remember: You don’t want to skimp here. Buy quality gear that will fully do the job.

  • Learn in a Safe Environment

When you learned to drive a car all those years ago, did your parents start by taking you out on the interstate? One would hope not.

More likely, you started learning in an empty parking lot, on a dirt road, or along a quiet neighborhood street. When you learn to ride a motorcycle, the same approach should be taken.

Learn in a safe environment and then gradually move up until you’re comfortable on a busy road. When you finally take to the open road, it’s best if you ride with another biker (or group of bikers). This will provide you with greater protection and assistance.

Putting it All Together

Riding motorcycles isn’t for everyone. It’s a fun yet challenging “hobby” that requires you to relearn the rules of the road.

But if it’s something you want to try, then by all means, go ahead and do it! You’ll enjoy the experience and — perhaps — discover a new passion.