THE SAFETY COURSE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN DECIDING THE SIZE OF YOUR FIRST MOTORCYCLE.
Yes, it’s in caps. It’s important. Am I screaming? Maybe… We’ve gone over a bunch of different decision making factors to help you figure out what bike to buy. BUT, this is the most important:
Before you even start really looking too hard at motorcycles you need to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course (MSF). I don’t care if your friend’s cousin baby daddy rides and wants to teach you. No. Don’t be cheap, don’t be lazy. It’s like 350 bucks for the Basic Rider Course (BRC) and they provide the bike. Also, you take your motorcycle MVA written and road test directly at the testing facility so all you do is go to the MVA with your completion certificate and they issue you a Motorcycle License/M endorsement on the spot. That’s it- you learn to ride and you are legal. Win/win. This saves you the trouble of learning to ride from someone who may or may not know what they are doing and also saves you the hassle of scheduling your motorcycle test at the MVA. Their test is actually a bit harder and you have to get your bike there legally (in a trailer or a friend who rides) and the bike must be registered and tagged correctly. It’s a super strict and painful process that could all be avoided by taking the class. They will literally teach you everything without any previous motorcycle experience. Most Harley Dealerships offer the course as well as every community college and the Glen Burnie MVA also offers a course. Also, most insurance companies will give you a discount on your insurance once you take the class.
Edit: I live in the state of MD- licensing requirements vary from state to state.
What to expect in the course: There is usually about 4-6 hours of informational videos and reading safety booklets. Not the most glamorous thing, but it is very helpful. You will go over the different controls on the bike like the start switch, where the clutch and brakes are located, etc. They break it down for you extremely well. Then you go onto the range and pick a bike. Most places are using Honda Rebel 250s or Honda Nighthawks (or similar 250cc bikes). The dealership I used to work for actually sold a Honda Grom (125cc) recently to the Montgomery Community College MSF program. I personally own a Grom and I think that’s the coolest idea ever. However if you are taller than 5 ft 8 a Grom won’t be particularly comfy for you. Harley Davidson just recently changed heir course bikes over from the Buell Blast 500cc to the Harley Street 500. Both bikes are beginner friendly, but the Street 500 is a bit heavier for smaller riders (489 lbs instead of 400). Since the seat height is very low, the weight doesn’t usually bother people, but if you are worried about the weight I would go to a dealership and sit on a few bikes and see what you are comfortable with.
Taking the MSF class is the best determining step in seeing what bike will be good for you to start on. You will have an honest and first hand experience on a bike
Fun fact: None of the people in my class had experience on motorcycles except 3 of us. Half passed the test on the first try. The others failed, but not by much and went back the next week to retake the test. Everyone passed the written test. One dude failed out and it was because he was too scared to give the bike throttle and dropped it multiple times. Now don’t let this scare you! This was a big strong dude. So why was he not able to hold these light motorcycles up? Physics. If you are too scared to twist the throttle, you won’t be going fast enough to balance the bike. The best piece of advice I can give you is don’t let your fear and adrenaline rule you. Listen close to your instructor and once you get the hang of it PRACTICE!