As part of an upcoming series for my column at Wheels.ca, I am about to learn how to ride a motorcycle. That’s right, a dyed in the wool automotive fanatic is going to ride. I fit the demographic perfectly: A forty something guy who feels the need to get out on the open road. Except for one thing: I am no particular fan of bikes. Sure, I appreciate the mechanical aspect of them and I LOVE shooting them trackside, but I have never really had any interest in riding them. So why am I going through this?
Traditionally, the age group that was most likely to be killed or injured on a bike was a male in his twenties. These days, as the bike hobby explodes with an influx of middle aged men and women, that number has changed. These days, the group that is most likely to damage themselves is…well, me. I am planning to get my M license as a complete newbie and will post my adventure for all to see.
The first step to doing this right was to enroll in a motorcycle training course. Remember, I know very little about bikes. I am set up to take a riding school with the Rider Training Institute in a couple of weeks. RTI is one of the most respected riding schools in Southern Ontario, so I feel comfortable placing my future in their hands.
After training (well, before really) the most important part of staying safe on a bike is to be wearing the correct gear. That means, at the very least, a proper helmet, riding jacket, gloves and boots. A friend in the motorcycle industry introduced me to Tom Whitson at GP Bikes, just down the road from me in Whitby, knowing that the GP team would steer me in the right direction. Tom set me up with seasoned rider Maureen to show me around the store and teach me a bit about rider safety equipment. That was a good thing, because I had no idea just how many choices were available in gear. While safety is of the utmost importance, this stuff has to fit both the body and the attitude or nobody is going to wear it. That means the myriads of colours and styles of every piece of personal gear also come in a wide range of sizes, even big enough to fit a guy like me!
After ended up with a jacket from Canadian company Joe Rocket, that does double duty for Spring & Summer thanks to a zip out liner. In orange and black, I can be sure that drivers won’t miss me on the road and my friends will be able to make jokes about The Great Pumpkin. A pair of Five gloves look mean and are super comfy. For my feet, I chose a mid-height boot from Alpinestars. To protect my brains, I grabbed a Scorpion Exo full-face helmet with a super cool skull motif.
Now that I’m all geared up, I’m ready to get schooled by RTI. Check back soon for more on that in a couple of weeks.