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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I been interested in riding my entire life, but could never afford it. Now I have a good enough job I can buy a bike. For for starters...where do I start?

1. Which bike? I always had interest in sport bikes, primarily Kawasaki Ninja's. But now I'm hearing they aren't very good for beginners, or semi-long trips. I considered a Grom, but realized it would be terrible for semi-long trips. So now I don't know what to go for. Basically my town is small, boring, nothing here. Mostly anything worth going to is an hour or more away. So I'd want a bike that I can ride around town on, ride to work, and ride to these hour+ locations regularly, but is also good for beginners. Any recommendations?

2. What do I do first? Do I get a bike first, or get a license first? I don't have a way to transport a bike from any of the hour+ locations I've seen on Facebook Marketplace, so I'd have to drive it. But I don't know if I need to own a bike to take to one of those safety training courses in order to get a license first. Kind of like before when I couldn't get a car without a job, but couldn't get a job without a car. For that matter, are do those safety classes teach you how to actually RIDE a bike, or just how to drive around cones safely and such? If now, how and where do I learn how to actually ride a motorcycle? I don't know anyone who owns one, so I can't ask them to teach me, or where to learn. And the only MSF course I can find in my state is 3 hours away from me. Another MSF course appears to be an hour away from me, but crosses state lines. Would that matter, or do I HAVE to go to the one that's 3 hours away from me? And again, do they provide and actually TEACH me how to ride? Or do I need to bring one and be expected to already know how to move and turn it?

3. Should I start at the DMV and do a written test or something like with regular drivers licenses? Again, 100% fresh here.

I don't remember if I have other questions. Thought of these at work, and typed whatever I could remember here on my lunch break.

Thanks in advance.
 

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You'll need to get your permit first. Even if it's pain in the rear, taking riders course is the best option, particularly if you have little experience. It'll give you a safe place to start riding and assess you skills. Most of the time if you pass, they give you your license. A lot of insurance companies offer a discount if you do the course. The younger you are, the more this probably helps. If it's too far to commute, perhaps staying with a friend/relative is or a hotel room is an option. The courses are usually two or three days, so if you can find a two day course, you'd only need to stay one night. I presume you can't get a motorcycle endorsement from another state, but your local DMV can answer this.

Typically in the course, they give you a bike to ride in the course. It'll be a small 250ccish bike that'll be easy to ride and forgiving of the mistakes you'll make. A lot depends on your state, but here you can take the test on your own bike at the local DMV office, but you'll need to spend $1,000s to get a decent enough bike to do so whereas the riders course is probably under $200 and some states offer it for free. Personally, I'd rather spend $200 than $1,000s because if you decide you don't like riding, which is not uncommon, you'll probably lose more than $200 selling the bike you just bought.

I don't think sports bikes are bad per se. Even a Grom is fast enough to get you killed, but your first bike should be about learning skills that will save your bacon on the road. A bike that's more powerful and/or heavier is less conducive to this task than a lighter more docile bike, though some can do it. I think most riders would advise going used for a first bike as the chances you'll drop it are fairly high, which will hurt less financially and emotionally with a used bike than a new one. I went new for my first bike just because I don't know much about wrenching, outside of changing the oil and cleaning the chain, so a bike that I knew was good, was important to me, so there is a case for going new. Generally speaking, the more upright you are the more comfortable the bike will be. You'll be leaned over on a sport bike, which can cause wrist pain. I found my first bike, a 250cc 15HP machine, to be a lot of run to ride, but that me. Good luck whatever you decide and keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
taking riders course is the best option, particularly if you have little experience. It'll give you a safe place to start riding and assess you skills.
I knew that. I'm asking if it was REQUIRED because it's impossible to do in my state due to distance.

So I assume this means they would actually teach you how to ride, and not just a beginners course for people who already know how to ride a little?

I ONLY planned to get used because I'm not rich, and can't afford new bikes anyway ^^; so used is all I could afford ever anyway.

Yeah I'm more worried about my back for leaned over ones. Still, don't know what to get as I don't know what to get to meet my mentioned needs. But my main and first concern is to find out if MSF courses are required. If they are, I know to just give up on everything early.
 

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I really don't know if a safety class is required for your state or not. Your best off contacting the motor vehicle department to get the current answer. But I can tell you without one your insurance rates will be higher. Sometimes much higher. As far as going used goes, most people start off used and many stay that way. I actually prefer used because very few people come close to wearing out a bike and they usually add accessories so you get much more for much less.
 

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Basically, off-road motorcycles are by far the best way to learn how to ride a motorcycle. The smaller and lighter that machine is the quicker you will learn to operate it and the less injuries you will experience in the process. The best place to ride for the first time ever is at the bottom of an abandoned sand pit or on a grassy field with no fences, somewhere you can attempt to ride with limited control and not hit something or fall over and no chance of being run over by cars behind you. Pavement is Not the nicest thing to fall on and it tends to damage motorcycles very very easy. Falling on hard top bends handlebars, snaps off levers and will rip the turn signals off a motorcycle with ease.

They are not teaching you to just drive around cones, you will never need to do that in real life riding, they are training you to balance, turn, brake, signal and safely control the motion of a motorcycle on public roads covered with cars and trucks. Long ago we had no option of taking training courses, we obtained a permit to ride to the motorcycle test site on the day of your rider test and if you failed you had to push your motorcycle home. Compared to that, training is a great experience and well worth the money, but I would not recommend the course to learn how to ride from scratch, the course is largely about road safety and preparing you for the rider testing. There are always students that will show up at the training courses with considerable previous dirt bike experience and they are the individuals who will ace the motorcycle handling and maneuvers with ease. For others the course is their first ever time throwing a leg over a motorcycle and that occasionally ends short with their first ever fall-over. ymmv.

250cc has always been the most popular full sized motorcycle for learning and for off-road riding with good reason.
&btw: Vast majority of 'sport bikes' in the consumer market such as a 250 or 300cc Ninja, do Not have aggressive lean forward jockey like riding positions. They barely make you fold up enough to even get wind slippery at speed. The egos on those bikes are far closer to a standard riding position motorcycle then the sport fairing body work eludes to. The pegs are further forward and the bars much taller and wider then a serious crotch rocket type sportbike.

Insurance is the cost that can prevent more people from riding street bikes then anything else. If you are concerned about the affordability of the training course, you definitely need to investigate your cost to plate a motorcycle for the road first. All those questions you have about rules and laws are very different depending on where you live and so are the costs.

Best luck with your motorcycle experience (y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Again, it's not that I DON'T want to take a safety class, or that it's expensive at all, it's that it's too far away and I only get two days off from my job. And honestly the city it's in is terrifying to drive in, and are booked til September I think.

I would assume riding in a grass field would make it more difficult considering how bumpy it is in fields. I understand the softer ground to fall in, but I also assume it would hinder steering and steady balance. Though if anything, I am considering a grom more now from what you told me. I was already worried I would drop and ruin an expensive Kawasaki, and not sure how I would be able to lift it back up. I just won't be able to take a grom to nice places due to not being able to take it on highways. Or ride it to work without it being stolen. Or leave it at home without it being stolen. So it's a bit of a major and expensive downer, but oh well. As long as it helps me learn to ride BEFORE it's stolen it should be fine. Or if there's some sort of accessory I can buy that's heavy and can leave in my driveway to lock my grom in place when at home so it can't be easily stolen. And as much as I'll have to spend extra for it, I can spend the time it takes to save back up for a bike I actually want learning to ride with the grom, unless it gets stolen early. Hell I might just have to buy a security camera for my driveway or something. I heard those are pretty cheap these days.

My main problems with riding would be:

Leaning: I don't understand if leaning is a required movement, or if it's something people do for style like wheelies. If I have to do it, how do I get back up after leaning in the first place? How do I not lean too far? How would I even practice that without my knee catching the ground and making me do some awkward and painful split?

Steering: This counter steering thing confuses me and worries me almost as much as leaning. I heard in different 'how to ride a motorcycle' videos this works in several different ways so I don't know which way it ACTUALLY works. Some seem to say for example to go left, you turn right. Others say to go left, you press the left handle down towards the road which seems fine to me. Some say to go left, you press the right handlebar forward, which isn't as good to me as the last one, but still better to me than the first one. It's that first part that worries me since instinct would always make me turn left to go left, especially in a bind.

Clutch/Shifting: I just never understood clutches. I could never learn to drive a stick shift for that reason. As for shifting gears, I watched enough videos to know how to do it, just don't know when or why to do it, and if I have to redo it when I get to a stop sign or a turn or something. None of these videos clarify that since they were all in empty parking lots. Even now I don't know anyone with a stick shift to try to reteach me. I used to know someone with a Kawasaki who was willing to teach me to ride, but unfortunately by the time I got a job so I could afford something like that, he moved 13 hours away from me, so now I know no one nearby with a bike.

Braking: I've learned this in some videos, but didn't memorize it. I know which brake goes to which tire, but which do I use when pulling up to a stop sign, or just to slow down a little. Front wheel brake seems scarier to me, like it might flip me over, but I seem to recall it was the one the videos told me.
 

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@BAZININJA is a rider coach. Where abouts are you in Missouri? Baz might be able to steer you in the right direction.

As for requirements, call your DMV and ask what is required to get your license.
 

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A motorcycle traveling at speed turns by leaning, counter-steering is the preferred method to initiate the lean, the turn requires the rider following through with their body (lean into it not fighting it)
... you are basically falling into the corner and riding the centrifugal forces of you and the motorcycle pushing against your front and rear rubber patch. Which is a lot more fun then it sounds.

Think of it this way, running is the process of falling forward and catching yourself at the last possible moment. Similar concept except now you are on a motorcycle.
 

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and yes if you learn to ride a motorcycle over rough terrain real good, riding any street bike will be easy if not boring.

Store your Grom in a locking steel storage container that looks like a trash bin. Out of sight is out of mind.
 

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So I been interested in riding my entire life, but could never afford it. Now I have a good enough job I can buy a bike. For for starters...where do I start?
Start with some youtube videos to get acclimated to what you should expect. I like MCRider

Next, get very familiar with your state's online DMV information. With Covid, DMVs around the country aren't operating like usual. The rules might be different than somebody advises--ultimately it is your responsibility to know them. If you get pulled over, "I heard it from some guy on the internet" isn't usually an accepted excuse. There seems to be a lot of waiting lists for MSF training and DMV appointments to take the motorcycle test. Accept that it might take several months to get licensed. But maybe you could hire a private instructor? In this case, you'd probably need to get a permit first.

Make a shopping list for the gear you will need and want. Pretty damn expensive! Then the insurance, as somebody else suggested. Mine was only $99 for the year plus another $8 for my second bike. I bet it costs a lot more for a younger man. Gear and insurance is probably going to run at least $500 for the first year.

In my state, you don't need a permit to take the MSF course and they provide the bikes. The MSF course was the first time I ever rode a motorcycle, but I have many years experience driving with a clutch and among some of the world's most insane drivers. I didn't ace the course, but I passed. Upon successful completion of the course, I had to take a computerized test at DMV. Initially, appointments were booked 2 months out at DMVs over an hour from my location. I was persistent and booked a cancellation closer to home. As soon as I got my license, I committed to riding everyday so I would really establish the good riding habits I learned.

Since it might be awhile before you can ride, use that as a chance to save up to buy your bike. Avoid financing the purchase if at all possible. If you need to finance, get a loan from a bank before you go to the dealer. (If the bank won't finance you then DO NOT finance at the dealer. It'll cost you dearly.) Please share your experiences with the forum as you progress. Best of luck to you, it will be worth the wait!
 

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and yes if you learn to ride a motorcycle over rough terrain real good, riding any street bike will be easy if not boring.

Store your Grom in a locking steel storage container that looks like a trash bin. Out of sight is out of mind.
I've got several roads around here that look smooth, then you get on them and they are rough as hell! Very disconcerting for a new rider. I practice relaxing so the bike can do all the work. I can see how starting out with an offroad bike is a good way to learn to ride.
 

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I've got several roads around here that look smooth, then you get on them and they are rough as hell! Very disconcerting for a new rider. I practice relaxing so the bike can do all the work. I can see how starting out with an offroad bike is a good way to learn to ride.
Also highly addictive, careful with that.
 

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They don't offer vacation where you work? I took the riders course while on vacation. I don't know what the laws are where you live. Your local DMV should be able to answer those questions. If you can't take the riders course I suppose you could get your permit, which should allow you to legally operate a motorcycle with some restrictions like must wear a helmet, no riding at night or passengers as examples. This will vary by state. Then buy a bike and try to find someone to help you figure out how to ride or find a safe spot to figure out for yourself.

It can be done, but given that you seem to struggle with basic motorcycling concepts, if you learn to do things the wrong way, bad habits are hard to break and can have serious consequences on the road. There are aspects of motorcycling that are counterintuitive. This is why the riders course, a guided start to riding, is highly advantageous for for riders with limited experience, even if you have to wait until September, which is't that far off really. The benefit of waiting until then is it's going into the season when dealers won't be selling near as many bikes, so that'll give you an edge in negotiating a price with a dealer. That's hard to come by these days as dealers are moving anything they can get their hands on due to the pandemic.

If you want to learn how to ride without shifting, perhaps a 150cc scooter makes sense. Most will top out in the 60sMPH, so that'll get you on the highway, though not the freeway. The gas tank and engine sit low in the frame that gives them a low center of gravity and makes them super easy to ride. It's twist and go. Plus the smaller 12" tires allow them to turn on a dime.
 

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Again, it's not that I DON'T want to take a safety class, or that it's expensive at all, it's that it's too far away and I only get two days off from my job. And honestly the city it's in is terrifying to drive in, and are booked til September I think.

I would assume riding in a grass field would make it more difficult considering how bumpy it is in fields. I understand the softer ground to fall in, but I also assume it would hinder steering and steady balance. Though if anything, I am considering a grom more now from what you told me. I was already worried I would drop and ruin an expensive Kawasaki, and not sure how I would be able to lift it back up. I just won't be able to take a grom to nice places due to not being able to take it on highways. Or ride it to work without it being stolen. Or leave it at home without it being stolen. So it's a bit of a major and expensive downer, but oh well. As long as it helps me learn to ride BEFORE it's stolen it should be fine. Or if there's some sort of accessory I can buy that's heavy and can leave in my driveway to lock my grom in place when at home so it can't be easily stolen. And as much as I'll have to spend extra for it, I can spend the time it takes to save back up for a bike I actually want learning to ride with the grom, unless it gets stolen early. Hell I might just have to buy a security camera for my driveway or something. I heard those are pretty cheap these days.

My main problems with riding would be:

Leaning: I don't understand if leaning is a required movement, or if it's something people do for style like wheelies. If I have to do it, how do I get back up after leaning in the first place? How do I not lean too far? How would I even practice that without my knee catching the ground and making me do some awkward and painful split?

Steering: This counter steering thing confuses me and worries me almost as much as leaning. I heard in different 'how to ride a motorcycle' videos this works in several different ways so I don't know which way it ACTUALLY works. Some seem to say for example to go left, you turn right. Others say to go left, you press the left handle down towards the road which seems fine to me. Some say to go left, you press the right handlebar forward, which isn't as good to me as the last one, but still better to me than the first one. It's that first part that worries me since instinct would always make me turn left to go left, especially in a bind.

Clutch/Shifting: I just never understood clutches. I could never learn to drive a stick shift for that reason. As for shifting gears, I watched enough videos to know how to do it, just don't know when or why to do it, and if I have to redo it when I get to a stop sign or a turn or something. None of these videos clarify that since they were all in empty parking lots. Even now I don't know anyone with a stick shift to try to reteach me. I used to know someone with a Kawasaki who was willing to teach me to ride, but unfortunately by the time I got a job so I could afford something like that, he moved 13 hours away from me, so now I know no one nearby with a bike.

Braking: I've learned this in some videos, but didn't memorize it. I know which brake goes to which tire, but which do I use when pulling up to a stop sign, or just to slow down a little. Front wheel brake seems scarier to me, like it might flip me over, but I seem to recall it was the one the videos told me.
@BAZININJA is a rider coach. Where abouts are you in Missouri? Baz might be able to steer you in the right direction.

As for requirements, call your DMV and ask what is required to get your license.

AAAAHHHHH!!!!! 😱 😱 😱 Where do live so we can get you into a class???

You're in information overload!! If you serious about learning to ride, it's worth the effort to come to class with trained instructors whom you can trust. We start everyone out from scratch. You ride our beginner-friendly bikes. In the classroom, we talk about safety strategies for the street, risk management, bike types, gear, and more! In Missouri, it's not necessary to have a motorcycle permit; our written test, as well as the skills test, suffices for the DMV. If you're looking at taking class in a neighboring state, I know we have reciprocity with Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; I don't know about Iowa or Illinois, but the DMV can tell you.

Feel free to send me a private message if you'd like to discuss details there.(y)
 

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Can't go wrong taking the course, and if you choose could always rent a uhaul(or similar) to get a bike from point to point.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@BAZININJA is a rider coach. Where abouts are you in Missouri? Baz might be able to steer you in the right direction.

As for requirements, call your DMV and ask what is required to get your license.
The very southeast tip, where the closest MSF or any training course is 300 miles away. Everything in Missouri is in the northwest.

They don't offer vacation where you work?
No. And yes, that very much ticks me off. My job is screwing me (and ONLY me according to my co-workers) over repeatedly on multiple things.

If you want to learn how to ride without shifting, perhaps a 150cc scooter makes sense.
Problem is most bikes I want have shifters, so I need to learn them anyway. Hell if the grom doesn't have them, then I'm sunk.

If you're looking at taking class in a neighboring state, I know we have reciprocity with Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; I don't know about Iowa or Illinois, but the DMV can tell you.
Closest one to me is in Tenessee, about 40 miles away. But the MSF website for Missouri tells me I can ONLY take one in Missouri, and DMV's supposedly won't accept them from other states. Which again, closest one in Missouri is 300 miles, so pretty unfair right off the bat for anyone who lives in southeast Missouri.
 

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Wow, you are clear over there around Tyler, Cottonwood Point or Cooter? I'm a little surprised you can't find a class in Blytheville or Gosnell Arkansas. Lori??? @BAZININJA
 
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