Reader Emily wrote me recently about a back protector issue she’s having while riding 2-up. Check out what she had to say along with my reply:
So you’re shopping for a sexy leather jacket. But you HAVE to have a white one. I know you’re out there, even though there aren’t many of you. White isn’t as common, although I have found that riding in my white leather jacket in 90+ degree temps that it works *really* well. There may not be 10 to choose from, but here are a the ones that you should check out!
“So I have been thinking a lot about riding, i don’t know many that ride so it would primarily just be me by myself. But this leaves me with no one to get answers from.. I read all about the gear things, I just ordered these riding sneakers but the more I read the more I think i need actual boots… anyway what about bikes themselves, i’m pretty short, what happens when i go buy a bike new/used what if i feel like I’m too high off the ground? is there anyway to fix that or am I kind of left with being uncomfortable.”
First, I want you to know that you are Not alone! There are so many resources online, women’s motorcycle groups and more to help you get started. A few resources:
- Clubs: Motor Maids, Women on Wheels. Both of these groups are national, and have chapters all over the country. I’m sure there is a chapter in your area.
- Meetup.com: Depending where you live, you may be able to find riding groups in your area. It’s free to join, it only costs money to create a group.
- Try googling for “women’s motorcycle groups <yourcity>” There are lots of women’s motorcycle clubs/groups all over the country, many of them welcome new riders with open arms. If you’re anywhere near Philly, please join my Facebook Group.
- Moterrific.com: I have to recommend my podcast show since we talk a lot about new riders and things that every rider wants to know about including gear, used bike shopping and more. There are lots of other podcasts that you can learn from as well including The Pace and Wheel Nerds.
If you can tell me where you live, I’m sure we can find a group / club near you.
To answer your first question, yes, I would definitely recommend riding boots. Not just sneakers. Especially one of these to give you the most traction, stability and protection that you can get as you start out. Starting with a really good pair of boots helps you gain better control over your braking, shifting and stopping so you have lots of stability when you come to a stop. I like to tell people that when you put your feet down when you’re seated on a motorcycle, it sends a very strong message to your brain. Either “This is Great! I feel fantastic.” or “Oh Shit, what have I gotten myself into?” Of course, this will only feel good if you’re on a lighter bike that’s a good match for you (think under 300lbs).
I also recommend taking the motorcycle safety class (if you haven’t already), so that you get proper instruction and you’ll get to ride a few small beginner bikes to get a feel for the whole experience. You may Love or Hate it after that. I think that will ease a lot of your anxieties right there. You’ll also meet lots of fellow new riders in your class, and will probably make friends with some of them as well. If you’ve already taken your class, you’ve taken the first step.
Here are a few beginner bikes that I recommend looking at:
- Ninja 250R (old or new, I had a 2003 and it was fantastic)
- Yamaha TW200
- Honda CBR250R
- Honda Rebel 250
- Suzuki DR200 (although it’s a bit taller than the others, it’s SO light it doesn’t matter)
- Suzuki Tu250
- Older standards like a Honda CB350
Since you’re a new rider, everything will feel uncomfortable if it isn’t short enough to let you flat foot with both feet. That’s why I recommend the safety class because almost all the bikes will be short! But you will also learn lots of good techniques like smooth braking and stopping which helps you manage taller motorcycles. I know it’s not easy to be patient, but if you start on the right bike for your experience level, I know you’ll find it to be much easier than you expected. I think you run into trouble when you start on bikes that are way too heavy, tall or powerful to learn on.
And there are things you can do to alter your motorcycle if it’s a bit too tall. I’m not a fan of lowering motorcycles but if you need to always consult a shop that specializes in motorcycle suspension, because they will know *exactly* how to lower it properly. Most dealerships don’t have suspension mechanics on site. Before you do that, look into lowered seats! You can get an aftermarket low seat, depending on your bike, or you can have one custom made too.
Generally speaking, being shorter means having to struggle a bit to ride bigger bikes. There’s no way around it. So it helps if we start out small and just get used to riding to work our way up. I spent more time doing this than most folks, and I know not everyone has the patience to do so but I highly recommend it. As a result I’ve been able to ride a lot of bikes that I never, ever thought I’d be able to ride because my inseam is so much shorter than these bikes.
As you ride more, you get better. The better you get at perfecting your riding techniques, the easier it gets to ride bigger bikes. There are so many people out there who ride tall motorcycles, it’s not impossible!
As far as buying a used bike, here are a couple resources for you to read with regards to used motorcycles:
- AMA Used Bike Checklist
- Article about Shopping for Used Motorcycles
- Moterrific Podcast Episode about Used Motorcycles
Our first road trip through Pennsylvania. Having just moved from CA, I knew that finding worthy twisty roads was going to be a challenge. Continue reading…
To prepare for our first ride across PA, the man wanted something smaller than a tank bag, but not a tank bag. He found this on Revzilla.com (there’s always SO much stuff on that website :P) by Giant Loop, the Zigzag handlebar bag. I love their description at the bottom:
FITS THESE MOTORCYCLE MAKES & MODELS
• BMW, KTM, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati, Husqvarna, Triumph
• JUST ABOUT ANY MOTORBIKE
Indeed, it fit his S3 perfectly. It doesn’t take up much space, you can barely see it here on his bike (right):
My friend Allan is the founder of Sportbikes Inc Magazine (SBI) here in Philly. You’ll never see a half naked woman on the cover of this magazine, but real women who actually ride! All the issues are free and online. Click here to take a look at the latest issue.
Where do you get your motorcycle maps? What do you use? On my quest to discover PA roads, I recently acquired these MadMaps with recommended routes, scenic attractions and places to eat along the way! Continue reading…
After spending a few months on my new ride, I thought I would share my experiences riding almost the same bike. Continue reading…