8 Steps To Start Riding a Motorcycle
So you live in Florida where the weather is sunny and clear most of the time. Even when it gets cold, it’s only like 50 degrees, maybe.
Ever since you moved here, or ever since you became an adult, you’ve had this burning desire to ride a motorcycle. You see that young guy whip by on his street bike, and think: “That looks exhilarating!” You see that cool chick ride by on her cruiser and wonder: “I bet that’s relaxing.” Maybe you even see a moped zip by—or you zip by it—and proclaim: “That seems convenient.”
It’s no coincidence that you see so many people riding motorcycles in Florida. According to MotorcycleRoads.com, a popular information website for biking enthusiasts, Florida is second only to California in registered motorcycle riders. That is: 574,176 people have a registered motorcycle in the state. The area also attracts riders from out-of-state, since the same website lists Florida as the #4 state in the country with the most “Top 100 Motorcycle Roads.” 
Not to mention the World’s Most Famous Beach is host to Bike Week and Biketoberfest every year in March and October respectively. Those events attract hundreds of thousands of participants each year .
So, what do you need to do make sure you are ready for the upcoming event, to save money on gas, or just to cruise around town looking super cool? Here is a list we compiled to get you on the road.
- Take a safety course. Despite what people who have been riding motorcycles for a long time will tell you, it’s not ‘just like driving a car’ or ‘like riding a really heavy bicycle.’ In fact, it’s a whole other beast. They turn different, stop different, and have much different safety concerns. In order to address this issue, you can take all kinds of safety courses provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for a small fee. You can go here to find a course near you. Mastering the basic safety skills will prove invaluable in protecting your life. Motorcycles are a lot of fun, but they can be dangerous.
- Buy an inexpensive motorcycle. Although part of the allure to riding a motorcycle can be cruising around on a shiny new bike, for the first timer, this is not a great idea. First time riders are inexperienced and more likely to damage or ding-up their bikes. According to InsuranceJournal.com, between 2003 and 2007, 22% of all motorcycle insurance claims occurred in the first 30 days . Most bikers like to upgrade after their first year or so anyway, as they learn their preferred style and more about the industry, starting with a bike that costs between $1000 and $2000 will make this transition a lot easier, and a lot less costly. Plus, if you wreck a brand new bike—or even put a huge dent or scratch in it—you will be disappointed and out thousands of dollars. According to popular motorcycle blogs, experienced riders recommend getting what’s called a cruiser (think small Harley) for your first bike. That way you are up-right and sitting in a comfortable, easy to control position. Also, make sure the engine size is between 250cc and 500cc. This number measures the cubic centimeters of you cylinder’s volume, but all you really need to know for now is that the bigger the number, the more power it will produce. Too much power, too early, can be disastrous since you aren’t ready to control all those horses between your legs.
- Buy safety gear. Riding a motorcycle is a high-risk activity by its very nature. Fun, but high-risk. Getting yourself all the proper safety gear can help minimize your risk dramatically. Quality equipment is not cheap, so make sure to include it in your “Getting Started Budget.” This website is a good place to find the basics on motorcycle safety gear.
- Helmet- Buying a cheap helmet will give you cheap protection. This is one place that you shouldn’t be cheap. Getting a DOT-approved helmet can go a long way towards protecting your brain, and all of that precious information in it. Plus, it will help to block out wind and noise.
- Eye Protection- Having something to keep the wind, debris, and bugs out of your eyes is a must. In fact, in Florida it is a required piece of gear to ride. It will only take one cruise around the block, eye protection-free, to realize the value of this tidbit.
- Ear Protection- Riding can be a noisy ordeal. Between the sounds of the wind and the motor, your hearing could be damaged without it. Check local laws to be sure what is and isn’t allowed. Ear protection could make hearing things like traffic and emergency vehicles more difficult.
- Protective Clothing- You always see bikers in leather, and it’s not just to look cool. Leather is extremely durable and will provide untold protection from road rash in the event you lay your bike down while moving. Similarly, a good quality pair of boots will help protect your feet and spare you from any burns caused by the hot engine. Gloves, and other protective clothing, is a good idea too. Refer to the site above for more detailed information.
- Get your license. Before you can get licensed to operate a motorcycle in the state of Florida, you must first take a class to learn the basics of riding. Learning to ride a motorcycle is not something you want to do as you go your first time on the road. The course won’t make you an expert, but you will be much more prepared for the road by time it is finished. There are different requirements for FL motorcycle licenses, depending on your age and what license(s) you already hold. For example, if you already have a Class E license—the one you need to drive a regular car—you only need to complete the Florida Rider Program. If you are starting from scratch, and you’re over 18 years of age, you must pass the same test as a Class E and pass the Basic Riders Course. For more information, you can visit the Florida DMV Motorcycle license page here.
- Get insured. Riding a motorcycle, as mentioned previously, can be dangerous. So getting the proper insurance coverage is a must. Although it can be inexpensive, with lots of companies offering rates around a few hundred dollars a year, the injury protection it gives you can be super helpful. Wrecking your inexpensive bike (which is the type you will buy first because of #2) is not that big of a deal. Hurting yourself and having no injury protection is. Using a website like this one can help you to find a good deal.
- Register your bike. Just like registering your car, you must register your motorcycle. Some newbies think that a motorcycle doesn’t need to be registered, but it does. Plus, you’d have a hard time explaining your ignorance to an officer. All you have to do is take your title proving ownership down to the local Tax, Tag, and Title office, wait in line (it’s a government building, after all) and pay for your new plate. And bam, you’re legal.
- Take it slow. As a new motorcycle rider, you will have to get comfortable with the bike, and the fact that you aren’t a professional yet. Taking it slow will be critical in the first few weeks and months. Find some back roads, drive through places with low speed limits, and be extra careful stopping and taking turns. Your first few days—or even weeks—is no time to be hopping on the interstate. On a paved road, a motorcycle will stop faster than most cars, but it won’t at first because you’ll be timid to stop too fast. Go find an empty parking lot and practice a series of stops from varying speeds. Start with low speed stops and a slow squeeze of the brake, working your way up. Also, as any first-timer can tell you, learning to use that front brake will take time to get used to. While we are on this topic, don’t take your partner out for a cruise on the back until you are completely ready and comfortable. If you do, you might both walk away hating the idea.
- Have fun. After all, you got into this ordeal to get out on the road and enjoy the Florida weather. Now that all the boring stuff is out of the way, you can relax and enjoy the ride. Just remember to wear your gear and obey traffic laws, and the ride should go smoothly. You’ll find that it will become your new favorite hobby rather quickly; leaving you wondering why you didn’t get started years ago.
One last tip: In the motorcycle world there is a saying: “Ride like you’re invisible and like everybody else is drunk.” You are on a motorcycle after all, and do not have the protection of an enclosed car. With all the distracted drivers on the road, your safety is up to you. Most drivers, at least the ones who are paying full attention, do not register a motorcycle in their mind as easily as they do something large like a car or truck. Drive defensively. Always assume someone is going to pull out, change lanes, or just do something stupid to endanger your life. Be safe out there.
Dolman Law Group
If you are involved in a motorcycle crash, seek medical attention regardless of how you may feel and what style of motorcycle helmet you were wearing. Serious brain injuries may show no symptoms for hours, days or even weeks. Only a trained medical professional can determine through observation and testing the extent and severity of a traumatic brain injury.
After receiving proper examination and care, contact an experienced motorcycle accident law firm like Dolman Law Group who has successfully represented thousands of victims of Florida motorcycle accidents. In Florida, no-fault insurance laws do not apply to motorcycles. Your medical expenses could far exceed you medical insurance. You could lose income for years or even a lifetime, experience pain and suffering, and miss out on activities you once loved. You need a lawyer that is willing to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call Dolman Law today for a free consultation at 727-451-6900.
- Statistics are estimated by the official website and city of Daytona Beach, FL