Being a Returning Rider after taking more than ten years off from Motorcycles, I like to explore potential training options. These options range from the Free Courses offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to paid classes from outfits such as Ride Like a Pro PA. My objective is to do whatever I can in an effort to make me a safer rider – reducing the likelihood of getting into a panic situation that results in injury.
As I researched more and more training options, I noticed a common thread. Many of the courses designed for Intermediate and Advanced Riders had a stipulation that all participants completed at least one thousand miles of riding. Initially, I thought that this was a great indicator of proficiency – surely anyone having ridden at least a thousand miles will have the basics down and be ready for more advanced skills and drills.
Over time, miles began to turn over on my odometer and I started to second-guess myself. Perhaps mileage alone isn’t a good indicator of proficiency on a motorcycle. How does an epic weekend trip down the highway prepare me for taking tight turns on a back country road? How does riding twisty county roads prepare me for dense city traffic? Perhaps all miles aren’t created equal?
I decided to take this question to my small YouTube Community and ask – Do Miles Make You Proficient on a Motorcycle?
I was blown away by the responses that began to come in. The consensus was that the one-thousand-mile stipulation was mostly just an arbitrary number and that miles are part of the whole. As I suspected, too many miles in one type of riding scenario don’t necessarily prepare you for other types of riding. Ideally, if you were only going to ride one thousand miles before a class, those miles should be spread out in a way that provides exposure to a variety of conditions.
In simple terms, Miles alone does not make you proficient on a motorcycle. Miles, Exposure to Various Conditions, Seat Time, and Practice are what make you a well-rounded rider and thus proficient.
If you are a New Motorcycle Rider (or a Returning Rider, such as myself) it is critical to get out of your comfort zone. There will come a time when a challenge presents itself and not allowing yourself the opportunity to experience those conditions will ultimately set you up for failure.
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This is a question that’s really broad, and will without question provide some great discussion!
Proficiency, but in what regards? There are a lot of different aspects that go into making someone a good and safe rider. In general terms, our answer is no. The reason for the no is that in reality, it doesn’t take any skill to get on the highway and log miles. Physics does all the work for you! The wheel benefits from gyroscopic effect and rigidity in space. There are plenty of videos where the rider gets tossed and the bike keeps on truckin’! But it’s also physics that help you in low speed riding and handling. Time and experience does help shape an individual; however, it is also important to get good critique and be always pushing to improve your skill set. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of experience all at the same level. Why it’s important to get honest and constructive feedback is that without it, you can just get really good at doing something really wrong! The old quote…”Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent, so make practice perfect.” Mindset and decision making is also a huge factor. You don’t want to have to rely on your expert handling skills to get you out of a situation that your poor decision making skills got you in to. Also, more miles and time will make you more comfortable; however, comfortability breeds complacency, and that will get you every time. Sorry for the long post…….but what a really great discussion to have!
I think miles should give you more experience at reading the road, but not necessarily make you a better rider. One thing that is very true is that the more experience you get the more complacent you become regarding your skills at riding. Doing 10,000 on a bike without an incident means you’ve never been in the situation where you have to account for other peoples roadcraft. If you have to make several adjustment to account for this every day then you would probably be a more alert rider, and possible a better rider.
I’ve been riding bikes on the road for 20 years now. Various different countries and terrains and many on here are probably the same. Every day is a new day on a bike for me, you learn and adapt. You make mistakes, you get target fixation, drop the bike, slide down the road. The main thing is you learn from these situations on how to either avoid them or better yet how to handle it better because as riders it is inevitable these situations will happen again. It doesn’t matter if you’re a city cruiser or a countryside curve destroying machine like me (🤣🤣🤣) we are all doing the same 👍🏻
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