Getting on a motorcycle for the first time is a humbling experience. It looks so effortless, like riding a bicycle, but it actually takes a lot of skill. Learning to ride shows most people just how much they don’t know. Smart people ask questions to learn faster and avoid mistakes.
As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of people asking about what type of oil to use and what types of tires are the best. We’re going to skip those because the discussions usually go on forever based on each “expert’s” opinion.
Once you get past those, the questions deal with actually learning to ride, or about buying a first bike. When you’re new to riding it’s less important to know who makes the best cruiser than it is to know how to stop a bike safely when someone pulls out in front of you. Here are some of the most frequent questions new motorcycle riders ask in 2021.
How Do I Get Over My Fear of Dropping My Motorcycle at Low Speeds?
Riding down the highway is easy. Once you get your bike going, there’s not much effort involved in controlling it. Most new riders have the most trouble in parking lots or other situations where they have to be very precise in their positioning at low speeds. It’s pretty crazy how easy it is to drop a bike when you’re new. And it’s like there’s a tipping point, once it goes past a certain angle, there’s no stopping it.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix. It really is a matter of practice and experience. However, you’ll get there faster with expert help. Consider taking one of the follow-up classes to the basic course. Also, find a group that practices riding skills. It can feel uncomfortable to spend big chunks of time practicing the most difficult things to learn, but that concentrated effort will translate into faster learning.
What's the Best Used Harley® for a New Rider?
If you’re reading this, you probably just passed your test and obtained your Texas motorcycle license or you’re signed up to take the Basic Rider Course in Dallas, Allen, Carrollton or McKinney soon. You may want to buy a used motorcycle for the same reason parents give teenagers a new car – you don’t want to ding an expensive bike, so you want to learn on something that costs less to purchase and repair. You may also have a limited budget or not be sure how much you’ll ride.
They’re all valid reasons. But the best bike for you depends on how you're built and the type of riding you intend to do. This brings us to our next question.
What's the Right Harley® for My Body Type?
If you took a basic riding course, you already know how awkward a bike can be when you’re trying to back it up or maneuver it in a parking space. If you aren’t very tall, some bikes aren’t going to feel comfortable.
The DMV recommends new riders choose a bike that lets them put both feet on the ground when they stop. As you gain experience and confidence, you’ll probably find yourself touching with just one foot, but your first bike should allow you to have both feet firmly planted.
What Used Harley® Fits the Type of Riding I'll Do?
When you decided to learn to ride, what did you picture yourself doing? Were you shredding the Dallas streets or riding across the nation with a tent and a passenger? Do you need a bike for your daily commute or will you just ride for pleasure?
For riding in town, many new riders start with a Sportster Iron 883® or Softail®. A Dyna Lowrider® has a low center of gravity and isn’t much heavier than a Sportster® for riders with a larger frame.
You also have to ask yourself tough questions about how much bike you can handle. Heavier bikes are harder for newbies to maneuver. The most powerful Harley motors might whisper your name, but do you have the self-restraint to use that power only for good?
Do I Still Have to Wear Full Gear During Summer?
Everybody knows Dallas is hot in the summertime. But there’s probably no hot like sitting on the back of a bike in a full-face helmet, leather jacket, jeans and boots in stopped traffic in August. Once the summer weather kicks in, just the thought of piling on layers makes most people break into a sweat.
You still need to wear safety gear. Anything you do in the Texas heat and humidity is going to be tougher some months out of the year. It’s better to arrive hot and sweaty than to not arrive at all. We sell helmets and jackets that offer maximum ventilation so you can stay cool(ish) and still be safe.
How Much Bike Can I (Comfortably) Afford?
It sucks to drop your bike. Almost everyone who rides has a story of when it happened to them. They tell it with a look on their face that shows the memory makes them sick in their gut, no matter how long ago it happened. No one wants to drop their bike, and new riders are more likely to drop their bike than experienced ones.
If you drop it, it might get dings and scratches. Taillights and levers pop off and have to be replaced. Sometimes handlebars dent the gas tank, and you either have an expensive fix or a huge crater that makes you want to hide your face.
Make sure when you buy your first used motorcycle, you factor in extra for maintenance and repair costs. You’ll need motorcycle insurance as well. Check out our calculator to shop by bike payment.
Should You Downshift to Slow Down
Part of learning to ride involves matching your gear to your speed. If you’re on the highway riding around Dallas at 70 mph, the correct gear is going to be the highest. Most owner’s manuals have a chart that gives you the basics of what gear you should be in at each speed, but it’s more to use as a starting point.
You’ll develop a feel for how your bike responds as you get more miles under your belt. Concentrate on the sound and feel of your bike. If it begins to lug as you slow down you’ll need to downshift a gear, maybe even two. Next time try to downshift before you get to that point.
Sometimes you don’t need to downshift at all. For example, if you’re traveling 65 and you approach a curve, you’ll probably just use your brakes to slow down to an appropriate speed, then roll on the throttle as you go through.
Do You Have to Hold in the Clutch to Brake?
Not always. In the above example, you would just apply your brakes smoothly to reduce your speed. You don’t need to pull in the clutch because you’re not changing gears. However, when you come to a stop, you’re going to be reducing your speed a lot, so you will be downshifting as well.
By the time you reach the stop sign or stoplight, you should be in first gear, holding in the clutch at stop, ready to take off again. New riders complain all that clutch holding makes their hands cramp. Seasoned riders will say you get used to it.
How Do I Choose The Perfect First Bike?
Come to Black Gold Harley-Davidson in Allen TX and talk to one of our staff. We’ll point you in the right direction and help you find a good fit. Then comes the fun part. We’ll set you up with a test drive so you can feel the way the engine roars and the bike responds. Check out our used motorcycles online or set up a test ride today.