Next up, it was gearshifts. As you can see, this parking lot was pretty tiny so doing so wasn’t strictly necessary, but Lara was doing so well and having so much fun that I wanted her to pick up as much as possible during that short session. All we had room for was 1st and 2nd gear, but going up and down through those got her confident with the gearbox. The Grom’s is positive, but not Suzuki-slick, providing good feedback for a learner while allowing them to make some mistakes and see that doing so isn’t the end of the world.
Lara riding around the parking lot on the 2014 Honda Grom
We also made time to practice hill starts on what little incline the parking lot had (mostly on a gentle ramp). I showed Lara how to hold the bike using the front brake, then modulate its pressure along with the clutch to pull away smoothly. Again, the Grom’s lightweight and small size made it such a good learning tool that she nailed it on the second try.
Lara was so confident, in fact, that she opted to ride the bike the block back to my house rather than have me push it. Yeah, there’s no traffic on that little side road, but the very idea of potentially riding around cars is enough to scare most people off, so I was pretty proud that she suggested doing so.
You may be thinking to yourself that the Grom looks awfully small here. It’s actually larger than it looks in photos, and is much more of real bike than it may appear to be at first glance. Why? Because Lara is six-feet tall, which means my Aerostich Roadcrafter just about fits her. Next step is to zip her into its head-to-toe protection (we need to order one of her own), put her in real riding boots and go practice on some quiet neighborhood roads.
The next day, I told Sean MacDonald that Lara was learning to ride. His response? An excited, “That means she can comes on trips with us now!” The single nicest thing that’s ever come out of that guy’s mouth.