Whether you are sixteen or sixty, if you are new to the biking scene, this page is specially for you. The other pages and topics on this site will also give you more insight into the biking world, but none will offer advice on how to start out.
Let's paint the picture about who this page applies to. You have just bought your first big bike. A "big bike" is usually anything above 599cc, normally the minimum accepted specification required for you to qualify to join a club. You are not a member of a bike club yet. You want to be a biker and wear a patch like all those other guys out there. How do you start out?
These are not rules, simply some advice from us old hands. In our day we found out the hard way. It was a case of getting a snot klap if you did it wrong, or otherwise you accepted it was right. We learned by trial and error, with the emphasis on 'error'. Today, if you know where (like right here) you can get advice and guidance and don't need to blunder into the biking scene with zero knowledge about it.
Whatever perception you have about biking and bikers is most probably wrong, so get that out of your head and start with a clean and open mind. Whatever you do, don't try putting anything resembling a patch on your back. You are an independent biker (known as a "black jacket") and ride with no markings or affiliations on your gear. Do NOT buy and wear those "Lone Wolf" patches you can get at the rallies. Patched bikers will regard this as disrespectful and you may end up in trouble you could do without. By listening to this advice you will stay out of immediate trouble.
RESPECT. Read and remember. Everything in biking revolves around this small word. You will need to learn how it is applied. Read the Bikers Code and apply as much of it as you can understand. Accept that you have a hell of a lot to learn. Refrain from calling other bikers 'brother', 'bro' or 'bra'. You have no idea when or how to use these terms.
Bikers have ways of doing things. We call them protocols. Accept that there are biking protocols you know nothing about. Reading all the protocols pages on this site will help. You may not understand everything fully at first, but you are expected to know the protocols and live by them.
Your most important task is to find a mentor, and herein lies the biggest pitfall. How many good guys have messed up their lives simply by hanging out with the wrong crowd? Same in biking. Maybe you hang around genuine 'old school' bikers, and receive good advice, or maybe you end up hanging out with a group of wannabee's and get corrupted. It's a 50/50 gamble. We can only hope. You'll need to apply all your upbringing and common sense regarding this issue. Walk this road catfoot. We know you'll feel exhilarated the first time a group accepts you into their circle, but don't be fooled by their bravado and tough talk. Listen and be alert. Move around to other groups. Try to find out who they are and something about them before you approach them. If you do approach them, do so with respect and you will receive respect. Some sound advice - avoid the serious lifestyle clubbers at this stage. You don't want to get involved with them yet. How will you know who the serious lifestyle clubbers are? We can't tell you, but you need to find out! Don't be fooled by age. Don't assume that the older bikers are better mentors, as this is not always correct. 'Old school' bikers can be any age. Our twenty four year old prospect knows more about biking and biking protocols than many old timers. When you find that elusive mentor, start asking your questions. We can only hope you will choose correctly.
Refrain from making hasty decisions, and commitments, especially regarding joining a club. You'll need to know a lot more about biking before such a decision can be made. Know your place. As an independent and inexperienced non clubber you should stay out of the limelight and concentrate on looking and learning instead. Ride your bike the same way. Accept that there is more to riding a bike than twisting the throttle. If you do you'll probably live to become old enough to become a mentor for some other new biker.
Us older bikers have made our mistakes along the way, but we've learnt from them and the knowledge so gained has helped us get to where we are today. We can only pass on the knowledge, lead by example, and hope that the younger generation is willing to observe, listen and learn.
However, it is like the old saying goes: "You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink". At the end of the day it is up to the individual himself to decide which way he is going to go and that again is dependant on his strength of character and his upbringing.