How To Teach A New Rider The Ropes

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Category: How To

Start With The Clutch

This is going to be the hardest thing to learn, regardless of stickshift experience. What I did was stick Lara in a corner of my yard, show her how the clutch worked, then had her practice finding its friction zone until she was able to pull away smoothly. Basically, I pointed out the parts, told her what she needed to do, then walked away until she’d figured it out. It took about half an hour. And, after that, everything else was pretty easy, it’s literally like riding a bicycle.

Learn to use the motorcycle clutch
Lara using the clutch

Set Achievable Goals, Then Exceed Them

During Lara’s first lesson, I told her we’d just be riding around my yard. We ended up circumnavigating the Chik-Fil-A parking lot, then letting her ride home on her own. How much of a sense of accomplishment do you think that gave her? Keeping your learner motivated is the most important thing you can do.

Sharing her accomplishment via social media, along with the encouraging comments by friends the multitude of likes also validated her experience. Adey — the fast guy — didn’t make fun of her, he called her a natural. Don’t devalue that stuff, it adds up.

Motorcycle countersteer
Countersteer

Photo by Bok Choy

Compare Things To Bicycles

You know what’s an awful lot like riding a motorcycle? Riding a bicycle. The comparison not only makes motorized bicycles appear more accessible, but it works too. Separate brakes, balance, countersteering, your trainee likely already knows about all that stuff from riding his/her Huffy. While yeah, motorcycle brakes are vastly different, the comparison makes them seem simple and helps explain why the front brake is to be treated with respect.

Use The System

Lara’s next step is to go get her permit from the DMV. After that, I’m going to book her time at Honda’s Rider Education Center in Colton, California. They’ll teach her how to ride dirt bikes. After that, it’s the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and her license, then we’ll spend time working on her skills on quiet roads. As soon as she’s ready, it’s off to SoCal Supermoto.

You don’t have to be the be-all and end-all of training; you just have to help the new rider navigate the maze that is being new to motorcycling. You may not have the same organizations in your area, but the theme here is progressive learning taught by professionals in safe environments.

At the end of Lara’s training, I’ll have had very little first person input on her actual training, but by sowing the seeds, getting her off the ground and guiding her along the way, my girlfriend’s going to be faster than you by year’s end. Who wouldn’t want that?

Have you ever got anyone into riding? How did you convince them to give it a go?

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