I know people who are afraid of riding a motorbike. I am not talking about the ones who don’t have driving license for a motorcycle. I am talking about the ones who have.
Yes, there are such people. They are genuinely afraid of starting riding or even scared shitless most of the time while they are riding. And that’s a really bad and frustrating thing not only because riding is supposed to be joyful and being scared doesn’t particularly feel like joy in this situation, but because it’s dangerous for both you and the ones around you (including your passenger if, for some weird reason, you decided to take someone aboard).
I believe there are at least three reasons why people are scared and I can advise on how to potentially lessen this fear.
Confidence in your riding skills
Some countries like Russia has very simple riding test that you’ll have to pass in order to get a license. There are a lot of schools out there that will teach you just how to pass this test in the most easy way without actually teaching you how to ride properly. In Moscow I’ve seen a lot of people who literally pass the test just riding around using only the clutch and front brake. Yes, no throttle at all and no back brake usage at all. When you look at this guys, you can only pity them. They are shaking and slowly going through the test. These guys are not ready to ride on streets and they’ll never be until they take proper training.
So, the general advice here is to choose a good riding school. If, for whatever reason, you didn’t do it and got a license, take a training course afterwards. That’s a necessity. You’ll learn how to handle your bike properly and it will tremendously boost your confidence. Don’t rely on “super cool” motorbikers advices who may already developed wrong habits instead of taking a good learning course themselves. There are a lot of these individuals out there on the streets and in your internets.
Remember — it’s easy to ride fast on the street or highway. It’s much harder to ride slowly and (contrary to popular belief) most accidents and stupid bike drops occur at low speed. And riding slowly requires skill.
If you want to go further and improve your skill of bike handling, you may also be interested in local moto gymkhana events — it’s a sport in which riders compete to maneuver in the shortest time through a paved course restricted by traffic cones or other obstacles.
Confidence in your predicting abilities
Knowing how to operate your bike correctly is not the only thing that contributes in your confidence and riding ability. Understanding the road/traffic situation and constantly predicting what will happen next around you is what makes you a better rider.
I was never afraid to start riding and I suppose two things are the reasons why.
First of all, I have a driving license (the one that allows you to drive a car). I’ve driven a car for about four years nearly every day after getting a license, rarely taking a break for a day or two, which was not a very good idea since it affected my physical shape, though it gave me an important skill — predicting what happens on the road. Seeing if people are going to change lanes without indicating or cut into your trajectory. It’s fairly easy in many cases if you have a lot of driving experience. For sure, it won’t make you an oracle who can magically predict everything, though it will help you a lot.
Once you’ve spent some time in a cage, you’ll understand how a cager thinks and you’ll have a safer position to observe bad driver’s fuck ups.
I personally think it’s a great idea to spend couple of years driving a car before getting a motorcycle license to know your enemy.
Confidence in positioning yourself in traffic
Another skill that I think helped me a lot is riding a bicycle at city streets. At first it’s very hard to face the fact that you’ll ride out there in the open without any kind of protection (except a helmet). You start riding in parks, on sidewalks, but sooner or later you start using the road. After sometime you start splitting traffic at lights and naturally your confidence will grow.
I remember how I thought about my first time riding a motorbike in the city. “I don’t want my first ride to be out of a dealership”. I was not sure if I would be confident enough to do it. But, as it turned out, I was.
My first ride on the streets was out of a dealership where I’ve picked up my bike. I was not afraid. The only things that bothered my were getting lost in the city, because I didn’t exactly know that part of it and that I was low on fuel. I was never afraid to start riding, though, of course there were some scary moments when I made mistakes out there in the wild, but that’s a whole another story.
Build your skills, ride safely and take care. Fear is something all of us experience, but it’s there only to let you know that you can become a better person.