How old is too old to start riding a motorcycle? This week on MCrider we will discuss it and look at some different ways people learn and some challenges they may have.
Answering the question of how old is too old to learn to ride, is like answering the question of, how big is a building? Well, they are all different sizes so it is impossible to answer. As far as riding, are you in good shape, healthy, are you still open to learning, the list is endless and only you know if this is something you are still up for. Just like my WWII buddy, he saw it was too much for him and off he went into the sunset.
So, there is no easy answer to that question. But I feel pretty confident in saying if you have been on patrol looking for Hitler, you might have passed your prime riding days.
I have seen both younger people and more experienced people be very successful in learning to ride a motorcycle.
There are some differences in the way a younger person learns a new skill than an older person and the first is frustration level. As a young child, you are bluntly not very good at anything. A child is glad to be able to tie their own shoes and pour their own milk without spilling it all over the counter. Small improvements are noticed and celebrated.
As an adult, you have hopefully accomplished a few things in life. You have a job that you are good at, you know how to run a household, you can drive a car, and you can make your own dinner. But, when it comes to learning a totally new skill in a lot of ways you are like that young child.
There is some coordination when it comes to riding a motorcycle and no matter how good you are at daily life it is a brand new skill set. Your clutch hand has to do one thing while your throttle hand does another and all at the same time your left foot has to select the proper gear. You have to get used to using the brakes without throwing yourself over the handlebars.
Add to that you have fallen down a few times in life and you realize you don’t get up as quick as you used to so you understand the potential risk and that affects your ability to grow as a rider.
So not being able to master riding quickly is frustrating for many experienced learners. You have accomplished other things and you carry that into learning to ride a motorcycle. My word of advice is to give yourself room to make mistakes and to grow as a rider. Realize that you will not master this in one riding session, it will take time.
If you see an experienced rider riding doing u-turns or figure 8’s in a parking lot realize that they built up to that skill. It takes a lot of hours and dedicated practice to become a highly proficient rider. But every rider started somewhere and developed those skills along the way.
Good riders are developed, they are not born.
As a new rider, you are developing two separate systems at the same time.
You are developing your mental capacity. Where are all of the controls located, how does that transmission work again? Why is there a front brake and a rear brake on a motorcycle when my car just has the brakes? And, how do I move this two-wheeled machine through traffic without getting myself in a bad situation?
And at the same time, you are developing your physical capacity. Manipulating the clutch, throttle, brakes, and handlebars to get the motorcycle to go where you want it to go. You are understanding balance and how your input has a direct effect on what the motorcycle does.
Over time, what requires mental capacity as a new rider to accomplish like shifting through the gears can eventually be accomplished without much direct thought, but it takes time. Give yourself that time.
Understand that you will not learn to ride a motorcycle by watching MCrider or any other video trainer out there. You will only learn by doing and the best place to begin that learning is with a new rider class.
I don’t care if you have ridden in the past and you are getting back into it, take a new rider class. Just know, especially if you are self-taught to ride that you have some bad habits or you have some things that can be improved upon. So start with a class and then build from there.
One of the misconceptions I see all the time is a rider takes a new rider class and does OK and says to themselves, man I got this thing figured out…I am a good rider.
At the end of a new rider class, I always told my students, congratulations, you are now qualified to ride a 250cc motorcycle on a closed parking lot with absolutely no threat of traffic at speeds up to but not to exceed about 20 MPH. Now show me a road between here and your home that is 20 MPH.
The point being a new rider class is just the beginning. There is still so much to learn on a motorcycle. I am still trying to learn things on a motorcycle and get better riding on two wheels. Even Valentino Rossi has a riding coach.
That is part of the reason why MCrider exists because I saw the hole that many riders with a license still had in their riding abilities. This is true for American riders and our European friends as well. It doesn’t matter what the standards are to get your license, you can still grow as a rider.
Don’t take pride in the fact that you have your license to ride a motorcycle. Take pride that you are now free to continue to learn and develop as a rider.
The forums and field guide offers an excellent resource for the new rider and experienced rider alike. The forums are an encyclopedia of rider knowledge with some of the most experienced riders in the world who are willing to share their knowledge.
So, if you are looking in the mirror and asking the question am I too old to do this. Only you can really answer that question for yourself.
I can tell you I have seen older learners become excellent riders and even though they were late to the party they were at the party nonetheless.
Give yourself time to learn a new skill
Continue growing as a rider
And welcome to one of the greatest modes of transportation ever invented by mankind….riding a motorcycle.
Till next week this is Kevin with MCrider and I will see you on the road.