Motorcycle riders fear all kinds of things like crashing, getting injured or hurt, or dropping the motorcycle. Some riders will even be scared when they see another car or get fast on their motorcycle.
This is not so uncommon—a lot of people do feel like that. So how do you get over your fear of riding a motorcycle?
To get over the fear of riding a motorcycle, you need to get yourself gradually introduced to motorcycling. A motorcycle riding course is the best way to learn about the proper techniques of riding, which, followed by plenty of practice, is essential to get over your fear of riding.
Not every person will be afraid of riding a motorcycle. Often it boils down to how they were introduced into motorcycling. Below, I will go over the best things you can do to get rid of your fear of riding a motorcycle.
Take motorcycle riding courses
It all starts by taking a basic motorcycle riding course. This is a great investment, and you will learn the basics of operating and moving on a motorcycle. You will learn the proper techniques, and get the needed understanding and insights, which will make riding a motorcycle a lot less stressful.
Arm yourself with as much information and knowledge as possible. Don’t forget to ask plenty of questions.
There are also other advanced motorcycle courses that are more specialized and can cover various aspects of riding different motorcycles and more advanced riding skills.
During the courses, you are placed in a closed environment, which makes you feel a lot safer, which will eventually allow you to face and manage some of your fears.
I have written more about these courses in my article about whether MSF courses are worth it here.
Then you can retake the same courses. In fact, this is recommended to do every once in a while to brush up on your skills.
However, learning does not stop here because there are also other ways to learn. There are plenty of excellent motorcycle riding books that you can read and tons of helpful video courses. All of these can be a good addition to your overall knowledge and give you vital insights into everything you need to know.
Get yourself proper motorcycle gear
Gear is mandatory. I know that you have seen plenty of people wearing flip-flops, sneakers, shorts, and t-shirts on motorcycles, but this is just irresponsible.
Wearing proper motorcycle gear will not only protect you from the elements, but it can also save your life. This is what it has been designed to do after all.
Knowing that your gear can save and protect you will eventually make you feel safer and help you overcome your fear of falling and crashing
Practice, practice, practice
All the theory in the world will do you no good if you do not put it into practice.
In the early days, parking lots and other big open, ideally paved, spaces, where there is little to no traffic, will be your best friends.
Practice everything you have learned in the motorcycle riding courses.
You want to learn how to operate the different controls on your motorcycle until it just feels like second nature. And the more you practice, the better you get, which will help you gain more confidence and manage your fears.
Getting used to the changing of gears, signaling, braking, accelerating, etc., may seem like a lot in the beginning. Many beginners usually will feel overwhelmed at first.
And let’s not forget that there are other things that you need to be paying attention to on top of that. Like paying attention to your surroundings and staying focused, weaving through the traffic, road condition, traffic lights, and signs, other vehicles, being careful about potential hazards, etc.
However, once you get used to the motorcycle controls, you will not really have to think about it anymore. This allows a lot of free brain space, so to speak, which can be occupied with dealing with your surroundings and safety.
At first, you may feel scared of even slow-moving cars in the parking lot, but eventually, you will get used to that and not feel afraid at all.
Then you can move to riding in your neighborhood—this is very useful, especially if there is not much traffic where you live, ideally you want to find some low-traffic areas. Just get used to riding on a public road. Don’t go too fast—riding at no more than 30 to 35 miles per hour is more than enough in the beginning.
At first, you will feel very scared, but eventually, you will start to calm down and feel more comfortable riding your motorcycle.
Don’t push or force yourself. Take your time.
Then when you are comfortable, you can move on to getting on the highway. You can do that early in the morning, at first, when the traffic is low just to get gradually used to it.
Plenty of practice will make you more prepared and reduce the odds of crashing or getting into trouble on public roads.
However, you also need consistency. Ensure that you are riding often enough so that you do not get rusty. Although people don’t really forget how to ride a motorcycle, they can lose some of their reaction times, which can put them at worse odds.
Learn how to deal with fear
Even experienced riders will be afraid every now and then. Doing all the things we have gone through in this article will help you improve your confidence and reduce fear. However, you have to learn how to deal with fear, as well.
Managing your breathing is one of the simplest ways to calm down. If you get anxious and worried, stop your motorcycle and take five slow and really deep breaths—you will be surprised how well this can work in calming yourself down.
One of the things that raise anxiety and fear is focusing on the negatives. Constantly thinking about the bad things that can happen is a good way to sabotage yourself. So try to focus on the positives instead.
Don’t focus on the mistakes, as well. Everybody makes mistakes—learn how to embrace them, learn from them, and stay positive. This will keep you from negative thoughts that can keep you down.
Stay focused on using the right technique. This engages and uses parts of your brain that are different from the parts that deal with fear—and to a point, you can only use one or the other.
Learn the good habits early on
This is simple—obey the rules, the traffic signs, and traffic lights. Do not trust other vehicles on the road and be prepared for anything. Some cars may not use blinkers correctly or at all. They can make sharp, unexpected turns, lane switches, or other dangerous maneuvers.
If you are a beginner, it is not recommended to do group riding. In the beginning, you may not be able to tell who is having good riding habits and who doesn’t.
Be careful who you get your information and help from because not everyone is a good instructor or a rider.
You want to learn and ingrain the good habits early on and learn to ride defensively and stay concentrated on your surroundings.
It is a lot harder to unlearn a bad habit than to learn a good one from the beginning.
This is why a riding course is so vital.
Have the right attitude
Never think that riding a motorcycle is not for you. This is a bad attitude that will affect your learning ability, motivation, and patience.
Riding a motorcycle should be considered a non-stop learning process. Every time you are on your motorcycle, you will be learning something new. And you should be prepared and willing to learn. Even people that have been riding for more than 40 years will say that they are still constantly learning new things.
Acquiring this attitude will give you peace of mind. It keeps complacency away, and it keeps trouble and injuries away, too. And as a result, this can make you more confident.
Avoiding crashes and injuries and knowing that you are riding responsibly, may not keep you from the occasional frustrating situation or class call, but it will keep you on the road for longer, and you will be able to build more confidence in your abilities.
On the other hand, you do not want to be completely fearless and ignore or overlook some of the common road and traffic hazards. In a way, fear is a good thing because it will keep you grounded in reality. However, it should never go to the point of neuroticism.
Accept the reality
I am not going to go all philosophical on you here, but there are things that you can do something about and change them and some that you just have to accept and live with.
Many new riders are afraid of the cross traffic, or traffic in general, they do not trust the other vehicles (and quite rightfully so). They are also afraid of the potential injuries and the plenty of life-threatening situations a motorcyclist can get into.
However, this is the reality of motorcycling. You just have to accept that there will always be risks, and you need to do your best to prepare for them.
My instructor said to me something a long time ago that I always pass on to other riders. I was at a cross-section and waiting for the green light.
However, when the green light came, I was very slow to get going, waiting to see if the other vehicles to the right and left of me would stop at their red lights. This was when my instructor said, “If they are going to hit you, they will hit you anyway, you cannot account for everything.”
So be aware of the dangers but accept them as normal things of life. Even when walking down the street or staying at your home, you can get injured.
What I am trying to say is that you need to face your fears. Running away from your fears will only solidify them and make them appear even scarier.
However, there is nothing wrong with being smart about it and avoiding maneuvers and things that make you nervous because you still do not feel comfortable doing them.
There are plenty of different aspects of motorcycling that may seem easy at first until you get to do them for the first time like getting on the highway, getting on busy streets during peak hours, or doing tight turns.
There is nothing bad in avoiding some, or all, of these if you do not feel comfortable doing them yet.
Don’t overdo it
During your training sessions and in general, remember to take breaks.
Practicing for several hours non-stop can do more harm than good as you will get extremely tired, which can lead to more mistakes. This can make you less confident and leave you with the feeling that you are not progressing at all.
If you have been practicing for 10 or 15 minutes, give yourself 10 or 15 minutes break.
This also applies to riding on highways and other public roads. If you have been riding for a while and see a gas station or another place where you can park and take a few minutes off, do it. This really helps in staying fresh and positive.
When you accomplish something that you have feared doing up until this point, celebrate, give yourself a pat on the back, so to speak.
This can be achieved in many different ways, but don’t be afraid to praise yourself for doing something that seemed scary or impossible until recently.
This small act will allow you to stay in the right mind frame, and you will be more willing to tackle your fears and overcome them.