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Motorcycle Enthusiast

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Motorcycle enthusiasts are people who ride motorcycles and see their two-wheeled vehicles as more than just transportation.

"To be honest, I ride my bike mostly for its entertainment value. Sure, it's convenient to park at work, but I ride it there because it gives me something to look forward to every morning," says Virginia motorcycle enthusiast Juliana Holm.

Along off-road trails, long stretches of highway or city streets, you can find bikers of all ages blazing a trail. In fact, statistics show motorcycles are among the top 50 forms of recreation in North America!

Courtesy of: Susan Hoff

Those who are into the sport really enjoy it. "Motorcycles can become all-consuming, not only in terms of time, but in terms of resources," says John Campbell, editor of a motorcycle magazine. Some people have four to five bikes. One acquaintance of Campbell's has nine!

What it is about motorcycling that makes it so popular? Motorcycle enthusiasts say the appeal can't be narrowed down to just one thing.

"Take the joy of riding in a convertible and multiply that by 10 and that's the joy I have riding my motorcycle," says California's Jonathan Gardner. "There's a sense of connection when riding a bike. I mean, how often do you see strangers in cars waving to each other? Never. But motorcycle riders often wave to each other."

"You are very connected to the environment, to the road and the wind and the sunshine and the rain," says Holm. "You are in tune with the other vehicles on the road, very focused, and living entirely in the present. All the other things that go on in your head are gone. In some ways, riding a motorcycle is like a very active form of meditation."

Motorcycles are almost as diverse as people's reasons for riding them. Like cars, motorcycles differ greatly in size and power. Here are a few of the different kinds of motorized, two-wheeled bikes:

  • Scooters and mopeds are small motorized bikes.
  • Dirt bikes are off-road bikes meant to handle well on rugged terrain. These bikes have high seats (saddles) and lots of shocks to make for a smoother ride. Some dirt bikes, called dual-purpose bikes, can be used for both city and off-road riding.
  • Economy bikes are a type of street bike often used by first-time bikers. They are smaller and less powerful than most street bikes, and less expensive.
  • Cruisers are another form of street bike designed for power and comfort. A low seat, wide handlebars and forward foot pegs are typical of this type of bike. If you still can't picture it, think about the Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the movies.
  • Sports bikes are fast, fast, fast! In fact, experts say this bike is too fast for a new motorcycle rider. Riders on these bikes sit in a forward position, leaning towards the handlebars of the streamlined bike.
  • Touring bikes are designed for comfort and long-distance travel. These bikes are usually much bigger and more expensive than other street bikes, and they have perks -- like places to store luggage.

There's no doubt about it: motorcycling can be dangerous. Yet there are ways to cut down on the risks. More than one in three accidents happen to people who are still in their first year of riding, reports the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. A good way to keep this from happening to you is by taking precautions before you hit the streets.

"There is no doubt in my mind that motorcycles have the potential to be very dangerous," says Holm. "However, much of that has to do with the rider. If you don't accept a high level of risk, you can reduce the level of risk you take."

Taking a motorcycle safety course, buying a small, low-powered economy bike, wearing protective clothing, riding only in good weather conditions and staying off the highway or freeway are all good ways to stay accident-free.

"Motorcycles aren't the death machines they're made out to be. They just require better training and more attention," says Gardner.

There are plenty of good reasons for being a motorcycle enthusiast, not the least of which is the excitement of riding. Motorcycles are usually less expensive than cars. They use less gas. And they're easier to park in the city.

If you're sold on buying a motorcycle, you'd better check your wallet. Motorcycles are less expensive than cars, but they're not exactly cheap. Here's what you can expect to pay to get started in this hobby:

  • Motorcycle: A beginner's bike in good condition with a 440 to 600 cc (size) engine can run between $750 and $2,500, depending on whether it's new or used.
  • Helmet: A good helmet should cost between $150 and $400 new. Experts recommend avoiding second-hand helmets since they might have been damaged and they could have structural flaws you can't see.
  • Protective clothing: Motorcycle leathers (jacket, chaps or pants, boots and gloves) offer good protection against "road rash" -- which results from dragging bare skin across rough pavement -- and can be picked up for around $500. Special suits (such as the Aerostitch suit) designed for motorcycle riders are also available for between $500 and $1,500.
  • Motorcycle training course: Experts say this is a must for anyone taking up motorcycling. In the United States, courses can vary from $50 to $250.
  • Other expenses include insurance (which varies, depending on where you live), maintenance and gasoline. Most motorcycles are very fuel efficient, and can go far on a gallon of gas.

How much you spend for a bike depends on the machine you're interested in. Campbell says you won't find a bike for less than a few hundred dollars, and that bike may be more than 10 years old. The price for a new Harley or BMW might be as much as that of a new car.

When you're budgeting, don't forget the other necessities, advises Campbell. Maintenance on an older bike might be a problem, since it can be difficult to find parts. Then there's the gear. How much you spend depends on what look you want. "It depends how high-end or stylish you want to be," notes Campbell.

If you really enjoy riding your motorcycle, you might want to have a career related to motorcycles. Motorcycle instructors teach beginner, intermediate and advanced motorcycle riders how to sharpen their skills and ride safely.

Motorcycle mechanics benefit career-wise from their enjoyment of motorcycles because it helps to know how a vehicle is supposed to ride. In police work, knowing how to ride a motorcycle is an asset, since many police departments have motorcycle units.

Getting Started

Why not get involved in the motorcycle scene before you get your first bike? Many motorcycle club stage events where youth volunteers are welcome. For example, you could be a course marshal at an off-road event.

Joining a club will also let you meet fellow motorcycle buffs. "Often this is the way people get started," says Campbell. Some people get started through a relative with a bike. The thing is, once you have a friend with a bike, you can spend some time with them and their bike!

Unlike your first two-wheeler, mastering a motorbike is a little more involved than taking off the training wheels. You will likely have to get a motorcycle driver's license before you can get out on the road. Regulations vary from state to state, but generally licensing requires you to pass both a written and practical test.

Motorcycle enthusiasts say these tests aren't usually difficult to pass, but it's better to pass with flying colors than just squeak by.

"Having an accident on a bike is not like having one in a car. In a car, more than likely, the most unpleasant thing will be that your parents get mad. On a bike, if you get into an accident, odds are you'll be badly hurt. So you need to do all you can in your power to avoid an accident," says Holm.

Experienced riders say your local motorcycle safety association course is the best way to arm yourself against accidents.

"I'd suggest taking a Motorcycle Safety Federation course and then after that, it would be smooth sailing to get your license," says Daniel Kreuger.

Once you've got your license, you're going to need something to ride. Experts say a used motorcycle is the way to go for new riders.


American Motorcyclist Association
13515 Yarmouth Dr.
Pickerington , OH   43147
Toll-free :  800-AMA-JOIN
E-mail :

Motorcycle Safety Foundation
2 Jenner St., Ste. 150
Irvine , CA   92618-3806
Toll-free :  800-446-9227

AJS and Matchless Owners Club
North American Section
7401 South Blvd.
Charlotte , NC   28273


Motorcycle Guide to Route 66,
by  Kirk Woodward
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,
by  Robert M. Pirsig


National Motorcycle Museum
Check out this British museum

Motorcycle Memories Literature
News and an online directory for lots of bikes

Motorcycles Home Page

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