| || |
From time to time we all run into or meet new people that are eager to get into the sport, and because most of us are thrilled to share the joys of the sport we all know and love, we are more than happy to introduce and teach the “new blood” all there is to know about riding motorcycles. Problem is we as the unofficial mentor of this new rider tend to get overzealous and over-estimate the new riders abilities. This stems from our own excitement about motorcycling. Over estimating the new rider's abilities can sometimes lead to a less than desirable outcome, in some cases results in a dangerous situation for this “newb”. Below are some considerations to keep in mind when introducing a new rider to the sport for the very first time.
The RIGHT machine
The right machine is somewhat subjective, as in the right machine for one person could be the wrong machine for someone else. This topic is too broad to explain in detail here, but a good rule of thumb is to put the “newb” on a small (size/weight) lower performance machine with easy and light handling or operation. Discourage the new rider to start out on a pure high performance or heavy big bore motorcycle, even though the new rider may have the idea that “I can handle so-and-so” without proper technique the new rider could end up over his/her head and not know what to do.
Get the Gear
Proper safety gear seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly most new riders fail to remember or know this at the time of purchasing a machine or when they hop on a machine for the first time. The mentality is usually that “I am just going to putz around and get used to the machine”. This is when most accidents with injuries happen. The new rider feels over confident and pushes the limits of their ability. As the mentor for the new rider, set a good example by ALWAYS wearing your safety gear (especially a helmet, eye protection, gloves, and boots) and encourage the new rider to do the same ANY time they throw a leg over the machine.
Proper Riding Positions and Techniques
This is an often overlooked part of teaching that new rider on your first outing. Most riders just take them to their favorite trail or area. This is all well in good if the area or trail is not too difficult (usually not the case with seasoned riders) Remember what seems easy to you, may be so intimidating to a new rider that it will hurt confidence and retard their learning curve. One of the best places to get a new rider familiar with the machine and technique is a motor sports complex or any area that has a variety of terrain. I like to use beginner-intermediate motocross tracks as a training ground for new riders. Why a motocross track? Motocross tracks have a lot of common obstacles found on most trails all combined into a small controlled area. Think about it Jump faces are like small hill inclines, some are steep some are not, some have different break over angles. All this is great for teaching body position and weight distribution going up and down hills. Motocross tracks also have different types of corners, some are flat, some are bowls, some are off camber. Teaching proper line choice and body position around corners in controlled environments like this can make a trip to the trails more confidence inspiring. Do not force the new rider to ride above their abilities, if they say “No” take a different route or choose a different area. Confidence is key so don’t push too early. Pushing usually results in in injuries or can turn off the rider from a future in the sport.
How to Fail
Seems kind of funny to teach a rider how to “fail” but as we all know you don’t always succeed at making a hill or obstacle and you need an exit strategy, especially on very steep hills, slippery slopes, or off camber situations. Veteran riders instinctively know how to deal with the situation at hand, but to a new rider it is all new to them. Pick an area that had a moderate obstacle and have the rider practice things like turning around on a hill, backing down a hill, or dismounting from the machine should the situation get that extreme. Knowing some basic exit strategy’s in controlled environment can lessen the chances of injury or broken parts in a “real” situation on the trail.
Prepare for the worst
Bring some basic first-aid supplies. You never know what could happen so it goes without saying that you should have some basic supplies to take care of minor scrapes, blisters, bruises, or sprains. Extra water and some non-perishable food is always a good idea just in case.
Hold off on group rides
Hold off on group rides for a while until the new rider is comfortable with the machine, terrain or their abilities on the machine. Group riding too soon can be a major step back wards as they might feel anxious or feel like they are holding up the group. Peer pressure can also fog the new riders judgment of their abilities, thus making them attempt something a little over their head and causing a crash or injury.
Don’t get frustrated
As the “teacher” it is important not to get frustrated with the riders progress. Doing so shakes the confidence of the rider. Never show any feelings of frustration, always reinforce the good attributes of their performance. Highlighting the negatives is not necessary as the rider already knows they made a mistake they don’t need you pointing it out, especially if your in a group.
One last thing: GO OUT AND RIDE!
Jon "the junk man" helping to promote responsible riding and recreation whether it be at the track or at the trail. Your source for motorcycle how to videos and much more!