Have you always dreamed of owning a motorcycle and covering miles of open road like Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider? Riding a motorcycle can be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can ever have, but there are some factors to keep in mind before making this huge commitment. Before you buy that chopper, check out these basic considerations:
Safety Gear — Before heading out on the road, you need to have the necessary safety gear to protect yourself while sharing the road with other drivers. Safety equipment is one of the most crucial and sometimes overlooked aspects of riding. Going from head to toe, here is a list of essential safety equipment: helmet, protective eyewear, earplugs, jacket, gloves, pants, and boots. North Carolina requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. South Carolina only requires wearing a helmet until the age of 21, although it is always a good idea to wear head protection while operating your motorcycle. If you want to do some off-road riding, consider neck protection, a chest guard, and elbow, shin, and knee guards.
Learn How to Ride — Just because you know how to drive a car doesn't mean you have the skill set to drive a two-wheeled machine. Motorcycling can be so enjoyable, but you must approach learning how to ride with safety and caution. If you want to learn on your own, take as much time as you need at the dealership or with the bike's former owner to acquaint yourself with your particular bike's functions. Also, enlist the help of an experienced friend who can go with you on rides. If you want professional help in learning to ride your bike, check out the National Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which offers online and in-person courses on safety, training, and skills to make you a safer and more knowledgeable driver. Additionally, the MSF class gives you a wavier upon completion to get your motorcycle license. You only have to take the written portion and pay the fees and you'll be road ready!
Motorcycle Buying Tips — While there are lots of options when choosing your type of motorcycle, the biggest distinction is between on-road, off-road, and a dual-purpose or mixed-use bike. Once you have figured out which genre suits your biking interests, then you can delve into the sub-specialties from there. Once you have narrowed it down to a particular type of bike, spend some time making sure the bike is ergonomically agreeable to your body. Head to the dealership and straddle the bike you are considering and try to take it for a few test rides. Imagine yourself on the particular bike for long stretches, paying attention to your wrists, knees, back, and feet. If you are shorter or taller than average, make sure the seat height accommodates your size. Consider whether you need other accessories, like wind deflectors or saddlebags for storing personal items, and whether the bike is aesthetically pleasing to you. Like a new car, also look at fuel economy, anti-lock brakes, and any other safety features that are important to you.
Insurance — Chances are, your current auto insurance doesn't cover you as a motorcyclist. Motorcycle insurance and car insurance are similar, but the insurer will take into account all factors when looking at insurance rates for your bike, including how expensive the bike is, how much experience you have, and your driving record. AAA understands the hazards only a cyclist faces and can recommend insurance designed with motorcyclists in mind.
Motorcycle License — Once you've purchased the vehicle, you have to make sure you can legally drive it. The law in North and South Carolina requires the operator of any bike to have a motorcycle endorsement shown on their driver's license or possess a motorcycle learner's permit. To get your motorcycle endorsement, you must first have your full provisional license (for first-time drivers), your regular driver's license, or your commercial license. Once you have satisfied those requirements, you have to pass the motorcycle driver's test (both knowledge and road test) and pay the appropriate fees.
As with any new life endeavor, AAA is here to help. In addition to individual insurance for motorcycles, we also offer Plus RV and Premier RV memberships that cover emergency roadside assistance for your bike. Our Plus RV and Premier RV options extend your AAA coverage to include travel trailers with sleeping accommodations as well as motorcycles and dual-wheel pickup trucks. Check out our comprehensive membership guide to get a better idea of the available benefits. You can always call us at 1-866-315-1252, or reach out to your local agent, who can answer any questions you may have about making your new adventure a reality.