How Did You Learn To Ride?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by DR Donk, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

    Feb 16, 2012
    Da frozen tundra eh? 1.5 mile west of Lambeau
    Learned the basics from my dad in late 73, on a Yammy TwinJet 100. Then lots of miles on the seat of four different bikes. Took my 1st MSF course in 90, became an instructor in 93. Kept putting on miles and miles and miles, 215,000 miles just since 1990. Ride street, ride dirt, ride an ice bike, all to learn more techniques.

    My first track day is coming up next season. 56 is never to late to take it to the track.
  2. duck

    duck Banned

    Mar 19, 2004
    Seattle (Berkeley with rain)
    About two years in college on a 49cc Yamahopper scoot. Just rode it.

    Fast forward four years. Friend of a friend commuter was moving up to a Yamaha something or other. Dealer offered him $500 trade-in on his 79 KZ750. Said he'd sell it to me for that. I'd "always wanted a motorcycle" so took him up on it.

    Went to his house, gave him a $500 check. Had him explain the controls to me. I'd ridden MCs once or twice before and knew how to drive a clutch before so, with the scoot experience, it wasn't totally foreign to me. Hopped on the bike, got on the freeway and rode it about 10 miles home. I don't remember it being particularly scary or anything but my shifting probably wasn't that smooth.

    Got home and got off it to put the side stand down. (Habit from doing that to put the scoot on the center stand.) It promptly fell over on the left side. Me: "Damn. these things sure are HEAVY." :lol3

    Got a learners permit that requires you to ride with someone else but didn't know anybody who rode so just rode it illegally for a few weeks. Practiced some slow stuff in the Park-n-Ride across the street and riding around the hood.

    Went to take license test. The thing had some miles on it from being a multi-year commuter and didn't idle so well. Stalled during the test, examiner got pissed at me for wasting his time. Told me to get it fixed before I came back.

    Didn't do anything to it. Practiced some more slow test type stuff in the Park-n-Ride. Went back a couple of weeks later. Different examiner. Stalled on me several times so I had to put my foot down to keep it upright. Examiner: "Well, technically I should fail you but it looks like you know what you're doing so I'm going to pass you.":clap

    I had the basics down, never took any training (didn't know it existed) and just learned from riding. For the first 25k, as they say, I did learn some things seat of the pants but essentially rode "the first 1,000 miles 25 times" so not a heck of a lot of skill improvement.

    At that point I got around to reading Proficient Motorcycling. I learned a couple of things but most of it I'd already figured out for myself. (I knew what countersteering was long before I even rode the scoot.)

    Around 2004 or 2005, I started watching YouTube videos and finding stuff on The Internet and devoted myself to trying lots of different things and working on my riding skills. Started employing a mentality that had worked very well for me to improve my downhill skiing - every turn is a practice turn that you can learn something from. Made a HUGE difference in my riding skills and made riding a lot more fun.

    I am certainly nowhere near being a totally awesome rider but these days I am confident that I can "ride my way out of a wet paper bag."
  3. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    Friends got bicycles, so I had a go when we visited; I was seven when I started back in about '61. There was no instruction; the adults did their thing and we did ours. In due course we got bicycles too.

    My father was among the first in the district to get a farm motorcycle (a Honda CT 90) in '66. He showed me most of the the controls, and told me to ride. He came back a few minutes later and chided me for not having got out of first gear. I complained that he had not shown me how to. Got that sorted in a minute, and that was the end of any instruction.

    From then on it was just the School of Hard Knocks, softened by the odd bog or bramble bush.

    In '69, I read up the Road Code, then did the written and oral test for my provisional licence a week or two after my fifteenth birthday. A week later I did my full licence test on the CT90..... up the road 100 metres, do a feet up U-turn, and back to the testing officer.

    Had one accident on the road and got a couple of speeding tickets as a cocky youth in the mid '70s. Clean record since then.
  4. rbrsddn

    rbrsddn 3banger

    Oct 31, 2006
    I bought a mini bike from a classmate at age 12, and was lucky enough to have a large area of undeveloped land/water company property across the street. We rode there through the 70's on our DT 175's and 250's, and it was great. I think everyone should have some seat time on a dirt bike, to learn obstacle avoidance, and to look where you want to go.
  5. joexr

    joexr Banned

    Jan 4, 2011
    And learning controlled sliding.
  6. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

    Jun 18, 2009
    the hills
    At the age of 4 Dad pissed Mom off and bought me a Rupp mini bike for my birthday. Damn that thing was dangerous.
  7. majorhavoc

    majorhavoc Adventurer

    May 13, 2013
    Southern Maine
    Me: 19 year old, snotty-nosed spoiled college brat who in the mid 1980's found himself volunteering for Lutheran World Relief on a rural development project in northern Kenya.

    Project manager: We got 400 square miles of grassland, kid. We need you to do a livestock census and tell us how many sheep, goats and camels are grazing this highland reserve. Here's a map, a compass, a pair of binoculars and an off-road motorcycle. Stay away from the ravines around dusk because that's when the lions come out to hunt.

    Me: Great! Just one problem; I don't know how to ride a motorcycle.

    PM: Do you know how to ride a bike, kid?

    Me: Yeah, well sure ......

    PM: Same damn thing. Here's your throttle, that's your clutch and the brakes are here and here. See that little foot lever? That's your shifter. One down is 1st, then one click up is 2nd, then 3rd, 4th and 5th. Neutral is between 1st and 2nd.

    Me: Yeah, but -

    PM: We got a 4000' dirt airstrip out back. Why don't you run through the gears for a few minutes and then get started; you're gonna be at this for at least a week. Oh yeah, if you're in tall grass, stay on the bike, because that's where the puff adders are. The cobras will get out of your way if you're walkin' but the puff adders will just lay there and strike.

    Me: But the whole 400 square miles is all grassland.....

    PM: Try to be back before it gets dark!
  8. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    By the Great Lakes
    I learned on bicycles, friends' mini-bikes, mopeds, ATVs, scooters, and the occasional dirtbike. I then got my first streetbike and took the very basic DMV test to get a license when I got out of vocational school in the Marines. I rode many different streetbikes for several years, then hung it up for a decade. When I got an old streetbike again, my GF decided she wanted to ride too, so we enrolled her in a BRC and I decided to join her. I'm still learning things, several years later.
  9. Gonzoso

    Gonzoso Been here awhile

    Sep 2, 2012
    Pocono Mt.s PA
    The first time I rode a bike was an old Honda Fat cat my buddies had, I was probably 13 or so.

    Then my friend had a ttr 225 when I was 18 or so, and I rode that on trails with him. Then I bought it, traded an sks for it. Sold it after a few months as it had bad rings and burned more oil than gas and I was an idiot.

    At 23 I got a Suzuki Marauder 800cc cruiser. I tooled around our local roads in my neighborhood for an hour or two, then took it on a real road. I remember driving at 45 and seeing all the stuff on the side of the road and imagining what it would do to me if I crashed.

    Well I put 15k miles on that and now I have a KLR 650.

    I never took the MSF, but have read Proficient Cycling and study motorcycling to become a good rider. I loved the marauder at the time, but once I got the KLR I rode it and the damn things is a pig. Crappy handling, brakes, and too low. I sold it asap.
  10. VentureJunkie

    VentureJunkie Adventurer

    Jul 11, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    Friend had an automatic bike back when we were sixteen. Rode that a few times. Not too shabby.. Fast forward 7 years and I buy my first bike. Started riding it around my neighborhood streets while waiting for the registration to go thru and studying for my permit test! :wink:
  11. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Oct 25, 2004
    India Wharf summers - Boulders winters

    Great story. Pretty much the same for me except for the critters part.
  12. One Fat Roach

    One Fat Roach honey badger

    Mar 23, 2013
    I wanted a scooter for a long time. But being a fat kid I gave a second thought and went with a motorcycle. I just bought one after saving up. Rode it from the guys house to a near y parking lot, practicing clutching, braking, turning. Headed to my house and it died halfway there. Had to rent a uhaul to get it home hahah. Spent a few days around my neighborhood practicing before it finally crapped out on me for good. 85 750 Vulcan. Ended up getting an 1980 XL250 later on, practiced some more and then took the Intermediate Riders Course from MSF. Gained a TON of confidence after that.

    Then I got hit riding home one night. Learned about riding gear and its advantages after the fact. Walked away sore and with skim missing from my hands and elbow. Didn't scare me from riding but I got VERY lucky and changed everything after that.
  13. Jacl-Kampuchea

    Jacl-Kampuchea Booze Merchant

    Sep 27, 2010
    I see Drunk People.
    In the 1990's.

    I was 12 and a friend had a yamaha 50 frame and another friends uncle had a Honda 50 engine.

    Jimmyrigged the engine in. Connected the throttle cable to the front brake as it had no throttle twister on it. Didn't bother with the front brake, it had a back one after all.

    Exhaust pipe was held near the exhaust port by string and baling wife and one chain tensioner was missing so there was a small vice grip holding the axle straight on the chain side.

    We used to take turns blasting around country roads on that heap, and stretch cable on the blind side of bends to catch the unwary and lift them off the bike as they went. . .

    No helmets and I can't remember anybody even getting a decent scratch!
  14. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

    Jan 26, 2011
    Richmond, Ohio
    For my 14th birthday dad bought me a new rm125. He rode it for about 5 minutes then stopped and let me on. Zero instruction, just have at it.

    When I was 16 he let me take his sportster for a few rides. No permit, no instructions, no helmet. Jeans, t shirt, and sunglasses.

    At 17 he co-signed for my first bike. I made just enough money to afford the payment and gas, I think it was another year at least before I bought my first helmet. Used to ride with just sunglasses, and when it was cold I'd throw on a carhartt I bought from goodwill. Rode home many nights freezing cold and half blind because I didn't have clear glasses or proper warm gear.

    I think I'm pretty lucky to have made it through my first few years of riding. Wear full gear now at least.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk 2
  15. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore The Real Deal

    Dec 24, 2001
    Jax, FL
    Great story!:clap
  16. _Magoo_

    _Magoo_ master of disaster....

    Feb 25, 2009
    nuevo mexico
    bought a Honda XL-100 and rode it to high school as a sophomore, my dad helped with some basic training, bought my first dirt bike, a Yamaha YZ-125 back in the late 70s and raced motocross with my brother in South Texas.
  17. Sp4rks

    Sp4rks Been here awhile

    Aug 2, 2013
    When I was about 3 my dad would take me out on his KLR650, put me on the gas tank and had me hold onto the handlebars, he didn't go any faster than 10 miles per hour, but would gas it a bit over the speed bumps. I learned how to ride a bicycle when I was 7. I got an electric mini bike a few years later(sold it), 110cc put bike(My mom bought a set for my nephew and I) when I was 13, then my dad taught me how to ride on a crf230l he bought, he had me doubling him for a decent section of it until I got the hang of it. Then, my and my nephew's pit bikes were stolen. So, I used the insurance to buy a beat up(Fork seals blown, air filter all rotted out, tires dry rotted out, plastics were faded, then re-painted, they didn't even use the right color of orange) 2002 KTM 125 from a pawn shop. Fixed it up, and that's were I am now.
  18. jpr

    jpr Been here awhile

    Dec 18, 2012
    Margate, FL
    Dad has owned motorcycles since I was born and I would ride with him all the time.

    First something with engine that I had was a go-ped at the age of 12 and then worked my way up riding small dirt bikes in a farm that we had outside the city. Dad would not let me actually own a motorcycle to drive on the street but when I turned 18 and came to the U.S for college I bought myself a KTM 400 EXC which I rode in both trail and to go to class. Then I switched to a Triumph speed four which I still own and wanting to buy and adventure bike for long trips and light off-road.
  19. Petzl

    Petzl Been here awhile

    Jul 31, 2012
    Long Island NY
    I never learned to ride, I just started getting better at not crashing...
  20. DPelletier

    DPelletier Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2013
    my first bike was a briggs and stratton powered minibike when I was 6. Then when I was 9 my dad bought me a Honda Z50, then an XR75, then an XR80 and XR100. I bought my first bike when I was 13 with money that I made washing dishes at a local restaurant; a new 1982 Honda CR80R. A couple years later that was traded off on a used 1982 RM250Z and 36 bikes later, here I am. I've raced offroad since 1984 on and off with a 15 year stint from about 1995 - 2010.

    I recently purchased a touring bike and was thinking that ignorance is bliss; there is no way I'd start out on the street today without all those years of dirtbiking experience...