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Five Things I learned During my Motorcycle Endorsement Journey

by Brian Pehrson about a year ago in how to
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Learning to Ride a Motorcycle

Five Things I learned During my Motorcycle Endorsement Journey
Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

I started my journey into the world of motorcycle riding! I, probably like some of you, had believed some stereotypes about motorcycle culture. I worried that I was not going to like it or even be good enough to get my endorsement on my license. I was wrong about both luckily. I want to share with you five key things I have learned in my journey so far.

Disclaimer: Now I won't give you a smokescreen here or tell you that riding a motorcycle is the second-best thing to ever happen to humanity since the wheel. Be prepared for honesty here folks. I do not work for any companies named herein either.

1.) All riders are A-holes, right? No…just no. The notion that all motorcyclists, specifically people who ride Harley’s, are these badass, rude, smelly, biker gang initiated, gun-toting (ok that part may be true), no safety gear riding A-holes who will laugh at you and take your lunch money. That stereotype my friends is not even close to the truth. The people I have dealt with so far (licensed riders, sales reps, mechanics, instructors, etc.…) were the nicest and friendliest people I have met in a long time. I have known riders in my family my entire life, riders in the Army for the past 20 years, and riders in my wife’s family for the past 8 years. Not a single one of them was a rude, smelly, A-hole who took people's lunch money. If anything, they were the complete opposite. They were all the kind people who regardless of where they were from or what bike they rode they were friendly; they were kind and they always encouraged the proper safety gear (not just because it is the law either).

Every. Single. One. Was a good person…ok maybe there was one guy who was smelly though? My point is THEY WILL NOT JUDGE YOU OR THE BIKE YOU RIDE AND THEY ARE NOT A-HOLES. What I am getting at is don’t stereotype them as many have in the past.

2. Dealerships only care about money: Here is what happened to me in a local Harley Dealership.

Are the sales reps there to make money yes of course! But check this out. My wife and I were in the local Harley store looking at bikes. We looked at and sat on some beautiful bikes…some 2021 Iron 883, 2019 forty-eights, 2020 Street bobs, and even a couple of custom soft tails. All absolutely beautiful bikes with some not so beautifully high price tags.

Speaking of the sales reps I told them about the Honda Rebel 500 and they told me to go to a Honda Dealer to sit on one. That way I will know if it feels right or not. Never had a used car salesman tell me to go to another dealership to sit in a different car….

Pppsstt…. I even sat on a Honda Rebel 500…Don’t tell my father-in-law. For me, the bike did not feel right. It was too tall for my short legs

The sales reps at this dealership pushed me away from the larger and more powerful bikes although they would have made more commission off me. For a bit, I was confused, what sales reps’ steers people away from a larger commission? I learned why of course because I asked the gentlemen. His answer shocked me. He said “Experienced riders, don’t want new riders to get on a bike they are not ready for and get injured or cause an accident. Plain and simple. We care about new riders. We try to guide you and mentor you even at a loss to our income.”

3. The classroom is not as hard as I thought: Time to be legal and sign up for a state-recognized motorcycle safety course! To easy! The Harley dealership had one in the house! Boom to easy!

Well, Let me tell you…. not the easiest school I have done. The classroom portion is broken down into two days of three hours of instruction from 6 PM to 9 PM. In this class, they cover everything from controls to braking and then how to ride safely on the course. To be honest they cover safety and theory the most. Once all this learning is done (with plenty of handouts) you take the exam…closed book….and you must pass with an 80 or above. These classes give you a basic understanding of how a motorcycle works, how to be safe, and how to watch out for other drivers.

It was a great atmosphere with a bunch of hopeful riders asking a ton of questions while being guided by a very experienced and state-certified instructor. These classes clear up a ton of nerves about riding while arming you with the basic information needed.

4. The riding range is challenging: This is the fun stuff, challenging but fun. This is when you know if you want and have the skill to do this in your life. The range is two days of all-day riding exercises. Don't worry they don't throw things at you (least not in Virginia). They do have a ton of great building block exercises which make you more confident and comfortable with the bike and its capabilities. Turns out riding a motorcycle is basically like driving a manual vehicle…. on two wheels.

For me, it was amazing! I slowly grew in skill and confidence while continuing to learn. I loved it! For two people in my class…not so much. One thing you need to understand is that these practice motorcycles have a ton of extra safety bars and equipment since at this point everyone has NO clue what they are doing. Well even with the extra safety equipment one person dumped (crashed/laid it down) the bike a few times. The other person never went above 10mph. Riding a motorcycle is not for them and they both did not graduate the rider’s course. The good news there is that now they know. The better news is that now I know the instructors will fail you and not just let you pass because you paid for the course.

5. Once you graduate, YOU ARE NOT READY! The classroom and the riding range are designed to give you the bare minimum skills and comfort to operate the bike safely. But by no means are you ready to go for a ride on the freeway, busy streets of a major city, or a long ride. You need more skill; you need to increase your baseline by a ton. Riding a motorcycle is just like any other skill or sport. You always need to practice the basics. Stay fresh as we used to say in the '90s

How do you do that? Practice, then practice some more. Find a massive parking lot and practice stopping, shifting into different gears, stopping, turning…. did I mention stopping? You should also know that motorcycle riding courses have many levels of classes you can take to increase your riding skill.

These are my five takeaways from my motorcycle journey so far. You are interested in riding go to a local dealership and just ask questions, ask about anything you can think of, take a class, Give it a try. You know you want to 😊.

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About the author

Brian Pehrson

I am a 38 year old retired Army Military Police Officer. I am married to my absolute best friend and the most amazing, supportive and intelligent woman I know. We have three children and currently live in Virginia.

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