Open Letter to Beginner Riders: My Best Advice

written by David Mixson

My first piece of advice for want-to-be-riders is to think twice before making the plunge. In other words, if you can get away with riding in a car for the rest of your life, you’ll probably be wealthier and safer for it.

Some think that’s strange for me to say, but it’s the only way I can sleep at night. After all, my parents said no when I begged them for a motorcycle when I was twelve, which was a wise decision.

My second (and most important) piece of advice for beginner riders is to buy a motorcycle with ABS and ESC. I explain why in my books and articles below. Here, I’ll make the point that ABS and ESC prevent most rider-induced lowside and highside crashes.

› Lowside and Highside Crashes: The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Most Rider-Induced Crashes

Mandatory ABS: Why Every Street Motorcycle Needs an Anti-Lock Braking System

My third piece of advice for beginner riders is not to feel pressured into riding just because someone else wants you to. I cover this topic in more detail in Motorcycle Smarts. Here, I’ll make the point that I’ve heard from riders who’ve ridden two-up for decades with their spouse, and all of a sudden, their partner starts pressuring them to get their own bike.

If that’s what you want, there’s nothing wrong with riding your own bike. But feeling like you’re letting someone down if you don’t is a big red flag.

Rider Fear

And then there’s rider fear. I should probably warn you about this. I go into more detail in my books and the article below. Here, I’ll make the point that rider fear is amazing because it tells you what to do next. Sometimes, it even whispers to you that it’s time to choose a different craft.

Rider Fear: The Beginner’s Guide to Deciphering the Voice Inside You

I felt completely overwhelmed after my first ride in traffic. So much so that I made a promise to myself that I would sell my motorcycle if the fear didn’t subside. As my riding skills improved, the fear became more manageable, and I kept riding for two more decades.

One More Thing

If you’re just starting out, my best advice is to enjoy the journey.

Just like you remember your college days as your best years, you’ll look back on the journey of selecting, buying, and outfitting your first motorcycle as a special time in your life. Trust me, I remember.

Relax and enjoy every moment.

You’ll never take your first ride in the rain again. You’ll never ride on an interstate for the first time again. You’ll never ride to Alaska and back for the first time ever again.

So what if you don’t like the bike you just purchased in six months? So what if you wished you’d bought a different riding jacket?

My first motorcycle had an engine noise that concerned me. I obsessed over it, trying to figure out what it was, thinking the guy had sold it to me with a known problem. I later discovered it was a normal characteristic of that particular overhead cam engine.

I regret wasting all that energy and emotion.

Open Letter to ALL Riders

From here, my best advice is the same for all riders. I cover that below:

Open Letter to Experienced Riders: My Best Advice

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About the Author

David Mixson writes about the topics other motorcycle books gloss over. He worked as a NASA engineer for over thirty years and is the author of three books.

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