Choosing a two-wheeled life partner is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, impacting your safety and enjoyment of the sport, as well as influencing the diversity and breadth of your overall experience. Get it right and you’ll get more out of motorcycles. Get it wrong and it could spoil your fun, or worse. Here’s what to look for in a riding buddy.
How To Meet One
As a bunch of antisocial miscreants, us motorcyclists can have a hard time connecting. If you are currently riding alone, we’d strongly recommend that you don’t simply run up to the first biker you see and ask if you can be BFFs. Not only is that approach likely to result in catastrophic rejection, but you don’t want to rush into this whole riding buddy thing. How do you know they’ll be good for you?
Many bikers connect on forums, facebook groups or similar online communities focused around a specific interest. Live in Los Angeles and ride a Ducati? The guys in the SoCal Ducati group are particularly active and most are totally the kind you could introduce to your mother, after a long ride in matching leather onesies.
To remove the pressure of a one-on-one riding date, we’d suggest looking for a group ride you can tag along on. There, try to put your best face forward, focusing on safe riding, nice gear and a friendly demeanor. Remember to ask other people questions about themselves and pay attention as they respond. Someone in the group ride at a similar pace to your own? Maybe that could be your buddy.
What To Look For
The strongest riding buddy relationships are those where the two (or more, we’re not judging) friends can learn and grow as motorcyclists together. A partner more experienced than the other is a recipe for frustration and an unequal relationship. If one is always waiting or sandbagging for the other, then the other is always trying too hard to keep up. Instead, look for a buddy in a similar period of his riding career to your own, with similar goals and interests.
How do you figure out if a riding buddy is for you? Don’t be afraid to stalk them on social media. Is their Instagram feed full of t-shirt wheelies or shots of them riding in full gear? Do they like the same racers you do? Does their level of riding ability look like your own or are they already dragging elbow on The Snake?
Also think about your mutual goals and ambitions. If you dream of one day dual sporting through Mexico, your ideal riding buddy probably isn’t someone who just wants to cruise the strip in South Beach on a chromed ‘Busa.
Your First Ride
Once you’ve decided to plan a ride together, don’t try and bite off more than you can chew. The last thing you want is to find you’re not a suitable match two hours into a five-day getaway up the coast. Is there a nice, easy loop where you’re likely to encounter a few other friendly faces at a watering hole? Head there first. You’ll both be more comfortable on roads you know and it’ll be easier to interact over a coffee or lunch if there are other bikers around to get the conversation started.
The Right Riding Buddy
The right riding buddy is someone whose skills complement your own, who you can learn and grow with as a motorcyclist and who shares similar goals and ambitions.
Do you know how to fix a tire? Then maybe your buddy gets a discount at the D-Store. Can you read a map? Maybe your buddy knows how to install an aftermarket exhaust. Doing your first track day together will make it easier and less intimidating for both of you. Planning that epic summer trip as a pair will help defray costs and encourage you to get out there and try something new.
Lastly, the right riding buddy is someone you can rely on. A million miles from nowhere when your bike breaks down? Your riding buddy should be the person who always has your back.
What has worked for you? What methods do you advise that other riders stay away from?