The Steering Column

For thrill-seeking individuals, a motorcycle is the coolest thing your mum doesn’t want you to have since sex.

The appeal is obvious; they’re extremely fast, cool looking and inexpensive.

With these people, I sympathize. After reading that a new Ferrari beating a 10 year old Kawasaki was considered impressive I was sold, and became a licensed motorcyclist (along with my father) three years ago.

Riding a motorcycle gives you a great feeling of speed and freedom. With nothing between you and the wind, it’s a unique experience that I highly recommend.

Almost as good, idly cruising is an activity that you can enjoy guilt-free on a motorcycle, as many of them achieve well over 50 miles per gallon of gas.

The sensation of being in fast-moving traffic on what feels like a huge bicycle is disconcerting at first.

It requires a heightened sense of awareness and balance, and of course you’re much harder to see as you make your way down the road than in a car.

The “open air” liberty comes with inherent danger, which I’m sure you don’t have to read here to figure out.

For that reason, it’s important to have safety at the forefront of your mind when you’re on any motorcycle, be it a little moped or a 1000cc sport bike.

Just like cars, there are many styles of motorcycles out there. It would be wise to shop around a little bit before you buy anything, as each rider will have their own preferences and the riding experience is altered more than you might think by what kind of bike you’re on.

If you’re interested in trying a motorcycle, the process of getting a permit, at least in most states, is almost frighteningly easy.

Assuming you’ve already got a driver’s license, all you have to do is pass a quick multiple-choice test and you’re issued a “permit” something like the one you got when you turned 16.

A permit allows you to ride only before dark and only without a passenger. It’s valid for six months, after which you’ll have to take a practice test to become fully licensed, again, just like with a car.

But if you’re serious about getting into motorcycling and want to buy your own, I highly recommend taking a safety course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

These are two-day courses that include both classroom time and actual rider training. If you perform satisfactorily on the course, you can skip the licensing test from the DMV. In addition to that, your insurance provider will give you a discount on your new bike.

Search for the MSF online to find locations. I took the “RiderCourse” to get my license at a motorcycle dealer near my hometown.

The experience was invaluable and I feel much more confident in my abilities on the road having had professional instruction.

Get educated, get your permit and you could be hanging out with Hell’s Angels in no time.