Many people get the itch to ride when they're young, but unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way and makes it impossible. Kids, work, travel and budget constraints among other things can keep you from getting on a motorcycle, but some people find that later in life they have the time and money to ride like they always wanted to. Don't let age keep you from something you really want to do.
Age Doesn't Matter
Your age is just a number. It's easy for me to say this because I'm still young, but I've talked with numerous older riders and they've all told me that riding later in life is one of the most rewarding experiences they've ever had. Some guys (and gals) say they have more fun riding now than they did when they were young. They're out there purely for the enjoyment of riding. It's not about ego. It's not about going fast. Just riding down a two lane road and listening to the sound of the motor and the wind.
So, if you're reaching those golden years and have always wanted to ride, now is the time. Don't let an arbitrary number hold you back!
Being Healthy Matters
Now, while I encourage riding at any age, I have to issue a warning: If you're not physically fit to ride, don't. You'll only hurt yourself or others. How do you know if you're healthy enough to ride? Easy, ask your doc. Most doctors (at least in my experience) discourage motorcycle riding because of the inherent risks that come with the activity. However, if you make it clear to them that this is an important thing for you, they should be able to give you an honest answer as to if you're truly physically ready and able to ride.
If you are healthy, then you're ready to start the process.
Where to Start
As an avid reader, I recommend starting with a book. Pick up a copy of your state's motorcycle operators manual and read through it. While a bit dry, this book (really more like a booklet) will give you a good base of knowledge for riding and will prepare you to take your written test. Want something a little more robust? Consider a book from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The foundation has several informative books that go well beyond what your state's motorcycle operator's manual will tell you. These books will prepare you for the written test and give you a basis for what to expect moving forward.
Once you've read up a bit, go and take the written test. Upon passing the test, the next stage is to either pass the riding portion of the licensing process or take a basic motorcycle riding course at a local facility. In many cases, completion of the motorcycle riding course counts as the riding proficiency portion of the licensing process.
Even if your state won't honor the completion of a basic rider's course in the place of a riding test, I highly recommend you take a course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. You can sign up at a local facility on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's website.
Choosing a Bike
For someone who is getting into motorcycles a little later in life, there can be some concerns with choosing the right motorcycle. Controlling and operating a bike is a physical activity and it is smart to find a bike that's easy to control and operate.
Most starter bikes are designed to be lightweight and easy to use. I would recommend a bike that is a designated starter bike. Don't start on a Harley Sportster. You'll have trouble, and if you don't kill yourself, you'll probably at least embarrass yourself a few times. Go with something smaller like a Honda Rebel or Yamaha V-Star 250. These motorcycles have a classic look and are easy for beginners to maneuver and operate.
Another option for riding at a more mature age is a trike. While trikes can be a wonderful option for older riders, I would recommend learning how to ride on a standard two-wheel bike before opting for three wheels. Trikes are large, expensive and a bit of a different experience overall. If you're considering a trike, you need to go out and ride one a few times. The best way to do this is to find a friend with a trike and ask him or her if you can ride it.
Another way is to rent a trike. A simple google search will yield several results for renting a trike. Usually, you'll have to have your motorcycle license before you can rent a trike, so make sure to go through the process of getting legal before you try to rent.
Need more information on three wheels versus two? In an upcoming post I'll take a closer look at these two vehicles and go over the pros and cons.
Thanks for reading. Please leave any comments you have for people looking to get involved in motorcycles later in life in the box below.