What To Look For In A Riding Buddy

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What To Look For In A Riding Buddy

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.

What To Look For In A Riding Buddy

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?

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    Hey wes, me and my rider buddy have been together for a while now. How do i tell him im just not that into highway 1?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Ooh, that can be a hard one. I’d start by suggesting an alternative you can both enjoy. Resolution, not conflict.

      • Fantomas

        I’ll be your Huckleberry..

        • Reid

          Poor soul, you were just too high-strung.

      • CaptainPlatypus

        You should start a riding buddy relationship advice column. “Dear Wes…”

      • Bones Over Metal

        Hey Wes, Did you guys recently do a death valley ride on a bunch of DR650′s?? Can we expect a DR review and ride report soon??

        Keep up the awesome work!

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Hondas, not Suzukis. You’ll read about it later this week.

          • Bones Over Metal

            XR’s even better! look forward to it.

        • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

          Check back on Thursday Bones

    • Solarservant

      Highway 1. Is that what they’re calling it now?

      • Piglet2010

        Let’s not go there, eh?

      • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

        It smells a lot better than highway 5.

  • Kimberly

    LOL, I love this. Finding the perfect riding buddy really IS like dating! And the breakups…ouch. It can get ugly. Perhaps a riding buddy online matching algorithm is on the horizon??

    • SteveNextDoor

      eWheelie.com?

      “When I met Steve, he’d just dropped his bike in a parking lot and was spewing cusswords that would make a sailor blush…”

  • William Connor

    I have no riding buddies. Most riders I know either ride from bar to bar, or have so much vacation time they are gone for a week. Since I don’t have that kind of vacation time and I don’t drink and ride that leaves me riding with just my passenger. While she is pretty awesome she doesn’t quite get my addiction. Sometimes I think it was easier meeting her on Match than finding a suitable riding buddy. Wanted similar minded motorcycle rider who likes long rides in the sun, or rain. Can handle long miles on twisty roads, must have iron lined stomach for road side food at questionable establishments, and brings their own beer for after the ride.

    • susannaschick

      where do you live that nobody rides except to the bar? Or is it just that you need to reach out to non-Harley riders?

      • William Connor

        I need to find non-Harley riders. So many people here in MD talk the talk about riding but then don’t ever actually get on their bike. I admit to being lazy this morning and not wanting to deal with the fog and rain of riding to work but I know quite a few people who won’t ride in anything but pristine weather.

        • IRS4

          Funny. I’m NOT an HD guy, but my wife and I rented one from Eagle Rider for kicks once to ride L.A. to S.F. and back on a long weekend. Stopped in Morro Bay for lunch, and a few gruff looking HD guys and gals in full uniform were at the local watering hole. Told them what we were doing, and to a man they all said “You’re crazy, I’d never ride that far.”

    • Luke

      Business Idea: Match.com for riding buddies. Someone make this happen and give me get 5% for the idea… :)

  • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

    If you’ve got a great local cycle shop, that can be another place to make riding friends. Go to events at their shop and meet people. Don’t underestimate the power of strategic loitering. Especially if you live somewhere that has a real winter. Go connect with the other people going crazy waiting for the snow to melt.

    • Khali

      I met my first riders group by asking on the riding school where I took lessons for my motorcycle license. Maybe asking to your MSF instructors can be a nice way too :)

  • Aaron

    MWM Seeking riding buddy in Southern Maryland. Interests include long rides, mountain roads, historic road trips. 2007 GSX-R 600, non-douche preferred.

    • IRS4

      Must like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain

    • DC

      Considering half of my SoMD riding buddies moved away last year, I’d take you up on that!

  • A P

    If possible, marry one… makes everything SO much easier! LOL!!

    • Piglet2010

      But then you cannot get away from your spouse by riding. :(

    • Khali

      Thats easy if youre a woman. But if you arent…

  • CaptainPlatypus

    I’m twenty-something and would totally make Nixon references if they were applicable. I think I might need help.

  • Piglet2010

    And for the first ride together, make sure to bring your Mr. Happy hand puppet.

  • STRTRRR

    Meetup has an absolute slew of possibilities. http://motorcycle-riding.meetup.com/
    Go to Yahoo Groups and there’s even more, there, too.
    Or, just google ‘where can I find (type of bike) riders near (city)’.

  • SniperSmitty

    I just joined a sport bike group on meetup.com and judging from the pics I’ve seen everyone is in full gear and about my age. First ride is in ten days. I’m really looking forward to it. I have been riding solo since I just moved here.
    Smitty

  • Kruz B Oliver

    I look for a riding partner that is 1. Experienced enough that I can trust sharing a lane with him, 2. Is mature enough to realize that a ride doesn’t have to turn into a street race competition 3. Has a bike large enough to keep up if we’re riding on the Freeway and 4. Someone that doesn’t mind a long ride (very similar to what you’ve already touched on — have similar goals and interest) . Great write up guys! Please check out my blog, http://www.RevCorner.com

  • susannaschick

    Even though he rides that stupid Repsol replica Honda, I still love riding with Chris Torres. Although chasing ‘Busa boys is fun too… This is a great post, and I’m so glad it’s not a list. I always recommend the East Side Moto Babes Tuesday night ride to ladies in LA, particularly if they’re just starting out. It’s a chill pace, and nobody gets left behind. I’m too much of a squid to handle the pace, but it’s great for new riders, and a great group of women. Bike nights, race tracks, and just asking strangers about their bike/gear/etc at places like the Rock Store are also great ways to make new friends.

  • susannaschick

    I’m the opposite. Most of my friends are 10+ years younger than me. Keeps me young. ;-)

  • atomicalex

    I HAD a riding buddy, but at one point, they (he) decided that riding motorcycles was not enough. Um, no, not interested. Then I met and started riding with a nice chick who is a bit extroverted for me, but we ride at similar paces and we survived a 9-day trip together without resorting to weaponry. It helps us a lot that we share similar riding goals, and we got very good at egging each other on and knowing when to push and when to back off. I’m going to miss her when I move home! I have to go through the process again this season due to the move. The buddy I would like to ride with more lives too far (3K miles) away, so that is out.
    Detroit area, GS-y type rides, not afraid of gravel or the track. No serious dirt skills (yet).

  • V Twin

    The most important question is: What to look for in a dangerouse rider!
    As this article points out, you look for safety on the road as much as friendship off.

    Never ride with someone who doesn’t make clear their intentions when close manoeuvring.
    Never ride with someone who will cause an incident, then blame the other rider.
    Never ride with someone who has an ego problem.
    Never ride with someone who’s ambition out-weighs their ability.
    Never ride with someone who isn’t syncronised and flowing at speed.

    Remember Buddy:
    You are never lost on a bike, you just find new roads.
    You are never in a rush to get back home, the Wife/Dog can wait.
    You are never too vaine to get your hands dirty in helping each other out.
    You are fully aware that riding motorcycles has its risks, but with concideration and a genuine respect for each other, these risks are massively reduced.
    There can be few greater pleasures, than riding your motorcycle with good friends on sunny days and long summer nights.

    Ride Safe!

  • Geert Willem van der Horst

    I just keep on trying to convince existing friends that they should start riding. One down!

  • Jeffrey Behiels

    I made my best friend take up riding. Took him with me on the bike once or twice since I’ve a lot of spare gear, he’s been hooked ever since. Easypeasy there :D

  • Khali

    There is this free App which is a simple motorcyclists social network: http://www.werideapp.com/

    Our group had it installed for some time for routes and meetings organization (one of its features), but many people didnt install it and we had to kept using our Facebook group.

    Maybe it can be of use for those looking for riding buddies :)

  • chris ordanez

    “Ah, man! Remember that part we we rode in a straight line and then we stopped at a stop sign and then we took a 90° turn and rode in a straight line some more? That was awesome,” said one Chicago motorcyclist to the other.