New to the Scene

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Dean Foster
February 21 2023

Over these past three years, the bike industry has seen an influx of new motorcycle riders, but it’s hard to put it in perspective until you see it in person. Recently, at the International Motorcycle Supershow in Toronto, I was elated to meet so many new riders who were experiencing firsthand what riding gear is offered and meeting others in the bike community. I had a few people ask various questions about gear, riding schools and safety. And while I can’t tell you what the best jacket or helmet is or tell you what bike you’re going to have the best time on, and there’s no real way to determine what school will make you the absolute best rider, I can give you a few tips to help you make the best decisions for yourself.

First, when looking at gear, I would call upon the words of John Lewis from our January/February issue, who wrote about budgeting for your bike. He decided to buy gear first and then the bike. Spend money on quality gear, but don’t be fooled by marketing campaigns that boast the best on the market. Fit above all is most important: you could buy the best and highest rated gear, but if it doesn’t fit, you won’t wear it.

Bike shows exist for many reasons, but one of the most valuable factors of a bike show is that you can take the time to try on different types of gear. Always remember to look for quality armour in the elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and, most importantly, spinal protection. Many are unable to attend bike shows this year, if that’s the case, head to local bike shops. Understand the pros and cons of each piece of gear. If you hope to do multi-day trips, look for gear that offers good waterproofness. Look for boots that go above the ankle and have support in case of a fall.

Second, don’t get hung up on your dream bike. I wouldn’t even consider it for a first bike. Instead, look for something that doesn’t break the bank, will be reliable, and has a smaller displacement. Many people focus on having the biggest and best bikes, but it’s more fun to have a small displacement bike that you can ride to its full potential and gain skills on instead of having a bike that outrides you every time you get on it. It’s good to grow out of a bike. If you’re looking for a used motorcycle, ask a friend to help you look, especially if they have mechanical knowledge and know about the reliability of various makes and models. Motorcycle shows and dealerships are also valuable, as they give you the chance to sit on multiple bikes and gain an understanding of what type of riding you may like to pursue.

Next, take a course, then take another course. Ask questions and call on those who are more experienced riders. Instructors are there to help you have the safest and best time on a machine. They are also there to help answer those hard questions that you may be too afraid to ask a fellow rider.

Take the time to learn how to ride on a dirtbike if there is a course nearby. Clinton Smout, myself, and countless others know the value of learning dirt skills and how they transfer to the road. Learning how to ride on unstable terrain, learning to look ahead through the trails and understanding how to approach obstacles are incredibly important in many aspects of road riding. On top of that, learning how to fall and doing it with a machine that is forgiving and doesn’t easily break can offer invaluable skills and will help you gain confidence as a rider.

Above all, protect your head. Try on multiple helmets and don’t cheap out on one because they all look the same. Make sure it is comfortable and squeezes your cheeks enough so that, when it does pack out, it will still fit you. Also remember that ear plugs will help you in the long run, sunscreen is always a must, a neck buff is handy, and eye protection should always be worn. And of utmost importance, learning to keep track of your energy and focus levels will do more to help you stay safe on the road than any piece of tech ever can.

Lastly, listen to the advice that people are willing to give, but assess the information for yourself. Everyone is different, has different needs and different goals with riding. Take your time and progress with riding on your own timeline. Take in what people offer to you and assess the knowledge for yourself. Our riding community is very close-knit and always willing to help. That’s why many of us who started motorcycling will never leave the sport.


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