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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I'm new to the forum and not even a rider yet. I need some advice, hoping you all can help since you are experienced. I've ridden before, but never operated/drove the motorcycle. I'm in my fifties now, female, 5'1 and 108 pounds soaking wet. I have no experience at all, no dirt bikes, sports bikes, nothing. All I've ever done is ride on the back of the bike. So, this spring I get this itch to learn myself and buy a bike. I registered for a "new" rider course, MSF course, at the Harley dealership here. Anyway. I had to leave the riding portion of the class without finishing. It was really embarrassing. I left on my own because I felt like I was in over my head. I was having trouble holding the bike up at times. And, one of the field exercises was having to power walk the bike, while on it, up an incline with the bike in neutral. I couldn't do it; i tried my best. But i was on tiptoe while everyone else was flat footed, taller and outweighed me. I'm not trying to make excuses, but they did it easily and I couldn't do it. I also felt like the class was moving way too fast. They repeated nothing and there was no practice in between; just one thing then they moved to next. My question is this. Should I give up? (I don't want to). And if I don't give up, what's the best way for me to learn to ride? Should I take another course? On a sport type bike that is lighter and smaller? Buy a trike? Would rather not but if that's the only way I can ride, i would. Should I see if someone will do one on one's with me rather than learn in a group? Thanks in advance and please be kind. Just wanting to learn.
 

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Welcome from New York. First you should go to the "new to the community" section and introduce yourself like you did here. Then go to YouTube and check out "ride like a pro" videos. There is one video in particular where a young woman about your size is riding a touring bike. You will find a lot of video info there to think about. You WILL ride.
 

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Was Briefly First
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See if there is another MSF course in your area. Community colleges often have them. The official MSF courses are usually taught on 250 Hondas, which are about the smallest bike you'll find.
 

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Welcome to the forum. Don't give up. There is a bike to fit everybody. I have seen ladies your size who are very skilled riders. A few questions for you: what motorcycle were they using for the class? If it was too tall for you, I think you should look for classes elsewhere. If I were you I would go talk to the training coordinator at your dealership. Ask if there are shorter bikes that you could train on. You can also ask about one on one training.

Don't feel bad or embarrassed that you had difficulty at your first course.

As far as bikes go you just need to find one that fits your body. Ask about a low models and reduced reach seat. The motor company has thought of it all. The best advise I can give you is to be patient. I am sure you are going to get some more great help from the members of this forum.

-Matt
 

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Fla Cajun
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Welcome aboard young lady, i thought H-D was useing the 500's for the course now. Maybe learning on something like a honda 250, which is smaller an lighter is the way to go. If you have a friend who rides, maybe they could help you before you take a riding course. Good luck, you can do it....i've got confidence in you...:thumb
 

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NevRL8
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187 Posts
not sure if you have ABATE in your area, but their course was a slower pace and they spent all the time it took to graduate everybody. they had 250s also but even that might be to tall for you (i'm 5'8 and i wasn't flat-footed). you need a lighter bike lower to the ground, just not sure what that would be.
don't give up! there is a way, you just have to find it.
 

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Lost in Space
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Don't give up. The class I took was done by the state they matched people up with various sizes bikes. Once you pass the class then you can find a bike that suits you. Best of luck.
 

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It isn't about strength, it is about balance.

There are things that can be done to a bike to make it fit you,
Narrower, thinner seat, lowering suspension etc.
 

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Don't give up! At your height and weight, you may never be comfortable on a Harley, but all motorcycles give you the same joy riding. There's many smaller bikes that you can handle.
Remember when you first got your hands on a keyboard? It seemed hopeless that you'd ever remember where all the keys were, but little by little you (probably) became proficient with it. Same with a bike.
Good lucki, and come back and let us know how you are doing.
 

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2007 Ultra Classic
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I have been riding for over 50 years and so I have forgotten some of those initial jitters.

But I will jump right in with some advice.

Take a course. Look around for the right one for you. As has been said, almost all dealers offer the course and most seem to do it on smaller bikes. If not, call around and find a one on one instructor. It won't be that much more expensive and it will pay off in the long run.

Buy a bike. But -- and there is always a but. Do not buy the bike based on looks or that you think you ultimately want. Most riders will fall a few times in the first six months. Maybe they will forget to put the kickstand down. (Don't ask me how I know about that one.) You need to buy a smaller bike that you can learn on. Sell it the next riding season and move up to a bigger bike. The inexpensive first bike can take on a few more scratches without breaking your heart and will be the easiest bike to sell. Or keep it to help a friend learn how to ride.

I am a die hard Harley rider but I recommend an inexpensive, used Honda for a first bike. A Honda might end up your favorite in the end and you end up on a Shadow 750 for several years. That's okay. You can still ride with me. Knees in the breeze is what it is all about.

I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from you. I am approaching 70 and my legs are not what they used to be. At highway speeds, all bikes weigh the same. It is the slow speed, parking lot types of riding that get me (and you). I have elected to put a sidecar on my HD Ultra for a little stability. Friends have gone the trike route. That becomes a lifestyle issue.

There is nothing wrong with a trike. There is nothing wrong with a sidecar. There is nothing wrong about a smaller bike. Make some smart decisions and hit the road. It is where we all are.
 

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my wife just took hers last fall she's 4'10" and small she had hard time with the then new 500 Harleys but did get though the course dropped it twice I think she had clocked many miles behind me and wanted her own ride (because I cant drive for ###) any way she got a sportster with trike kit not as many $$ to lay out as the triglides even those were two wide for her to feel comfortable on here is few pictures of her trike


 

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If you have any access to a smaller dirt bike and can get some trail time in addition to the MSF course it will pay off huge. The balance is tough to master and it is harder if it is your first vehicle with a clutch. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the backwoods around many bikes and trails and honestly it is the best place to learn.
 

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Standup Philosopher
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As far as not getting it all the first time and going over the material too fast, I would recommend a book:

Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide To Riding Well

David L. Hough
 

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Flat Land *******
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Welcome from New York. First you should go to the "new to the community" section and introduce yourself like you did here. Then go to YouTube and check out "ride like a pro" videos. There is one video in particular where a young woman about your size is riding a touring bike. You will find a lot of video info there to think about. You WILL ride.
+1 on the RLAP video. Depending on your confidence and skill. Maybe it would be best to start with something small. Until you get the hang of it and you feel more comfortable, a smaller bike may be more fun. It would be easy to get in over your head with a big bike. What ever you choose, I wish you the best. Ride safe and enjoy.
 

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I admire your determination. Start out on a smaller 250 cc bike. Most of them are slung pretty low. A lot of your control comfort comes with practice, not necessarily the size of the bike. I have been riding a while and still find myself grabbing the bars and trying to keep it vertical. Slow speeds and turning the bars as you are stopping is a no no that I can't seems to break myself of every now and then. If you decide to move up later to a bigger bike, those small starter 250's are always easy to re-sell. Try to find a used one, it probably wont be your last bike. Hang in there...
 
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