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Grandson confidential


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So Adam, my grandson just called me from Redmond, WA. He wanted to know what I'd think about him getting a MC for him to commute to and from High School, and a bit extra. He is 16 1/2, a big boy with more energy then he knows what to do with and maybe just a tad too competitive for his own good.


My first impulse was to steer him away from it but then I thought how much fun I had riding a bike when I was his age. Only thing, back then traffic was different, bikes were a lot less powerful and we had opportunities to ride were we could let off some steam and be a little more daring.


So here is what I suggested to him. For this summer, just to see if he really likes riding, and to see if he has the coordination etc to do it, join a motocross club in the Redmond area and learn how to handle a bike from the ground up. With the proper gear, which a reputable club would insist on, he should get thru that alright and if at the end of this summer he still feels like he wants to pursue riding, sign up for a recognised MC training course to prepare him for riding in city traffic and Highways.


Once that is accomplished, I suggested for him to join a local MC Riding Club that stresses safe riding and introduces him to touring amongst other things (he said such club actually exist not far from where he lives….guess he‘s been doing some scouting already).


For his first bike , and that may well be next year, I suggested something in the 350 to 500 cc range, something he is comfortable and capable of handling.


He seemed to think that this progression made sense and I believe he would be very disciplined in it’s pursuit. His Dad has similar views with respect to training and does not seem to be outright against him learning to ride.


So what’s your experience, how did you prepare your youngster to this rewarding activity?

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Boy, that is a tough one.

I completely steered my son away from riding after I watched him driving and riding a bicycle.

Just doesn't have it.


If your grandson is driving now I would want to watch to see how he handles that first.


I am not a big fan of kids learning on the motocross track. Am acquainted with several friends sons who did that and they are scary riders on the road. Too much bravado and a feeling of invincibility.

One is pretty busted up from multiple dirt crashes and although he can technically ride well he just hasn't developed any road sense.


I think IF he shows coordination and spacial facility that will be evident at a good MC safety course and his driving skills in 4 wheels.

Then a 250cc and a couple long cross country rides with either an instructor or an experienced rider to get real world skills and experience. Then it would either be a go or a no go. If he still wants to ride after being 'failed' on the road he could get into trials or off road riding.


My concern would be riding as a primary commuting method is of all situations the most dangerous and least forgiving.

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The biggest improvement to my (Now 32 year old) son's driving was a product of his taking up MC riding. He still puts me on edge when I ride as a passenger when he drives......But he puts much more thought into the consequences of his actions. Just sayin'.


I have given some thought to what bike I should have had back then......I think the best learning bike for a big kid that age is a KLR 650. They are not overly powerful, as proven and simple as they come, and capable of taking one anyplace you should reasonably go.

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What's the situation with his immediate family? Any riders there to mentor him?


I have a 2 year old now and have been putting a goodly amount of thought into, if he's interested, how to go about introducing him to riding. I had been thinking that a lot of it would depend on how he handled driving...but...4wheeldog makes an interesting point.


I got my driving license on my 16th birthday and already had one speeding ticket behind me. I had a pretty slow car, but I drove it, and anything else I could, as fast as it would go. No crashes, but lots of tickets and stupid choices. I can't imagine letting my son on a bike if he did what I did with a car, especially if I wouldn't be there to ride with him. But for some reason, I never rode like that (even while I was still driving that way). I may have driven my first bike at top speed once or twice, but it was a pretty slow to begin with out of tune Yamaha (dad's divorce bike that had been sitting in the garage ten years) so I could actually do that and not exceed the freeway limit.


Of course, a lot of it depends on your grandson's decision making process. Points in his favor in that he's soliciting opinions and doing research.


sidenote: I just spent the weekend attending/presenting at a traffic safety conference. Our keynote speaker was a guy who makes a million bucks a year talking to people about risk management, in addition to his other jobs - I think we all know what he had to say about motorcycling and those we love.



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I'd counsel him against it, as I have several young men (they generally ignore the advice, except for one,) for two reasons.


First, the brain is not fully developed in risk analysis in young people. They just don't have the imagination to see themselves on a gurney or casket.


Second, they have not had enough exposure to all the stupidity on the road. I've always said to young 'uns, "Drive a car for five years first. If you avoid mayhem during that period you might survive the first six months on a bike."


This goes back ten years or more, but once I saw a statistic from a major insurance company that said, more or less, a new rider (of almost any age) stands a 50/50 of being hospitalized or killed in the first six months or six thousand miles. That sounds high and perhaps I misremember, but I'd bet it's not way high.



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Wow, yeah lots to think about.

As I said my first impulse was to just steer him away from MCs. My son had a talk with him (prior to my talk) and just flat out told him 'that's the stupidest thing he ever heard coming out of his mouth'. Guess Adam wanted a second opinion!

Truth be told, I would be a lot happier if he simply abondend the idea and opted for a cage.

ON THE OTHER HAND, look at how much fun we all have (had) riding, and why shouldn't he be able to do the same?

Maybe later in his life when he has developed a little more judgement and risk assessement?

Final decision rests with his Dad and needless to say he is equally flumaxed, he never rode.


Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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I can only imagine how stressful it would/will be knowing my son was/is out riding, and I can't imagine how much worse that stress would be if I weren't a rider myself. (Trying to look at this from your son's perspective...tough.)


I almost feel that a parent would be remiss, looking at things from a non-rider's statistical/anecdotal perspective, to let their child ride. I teach a lot of teenagers to drive, and a handfull of the guys and a few of the girls are interested in learning to ride (though very, very few actually are); usually at some point in the conversation about it, the "there's no way my mom would ever let me," ultimatum comes out. (My mom, on the other hand, loves being pillion {she's tried the front seat at a few points in her life with less than pleasant outcomes} and was very supportive of my riding - much more so than my dad.)


How does your daughter-in-law feel about it?

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How does your daughter-in-law feel about it?


She is definately against it. But you know, it's all kind of academic and whatever arguments we/they bring forward can and will easily be countered by him saying 'look at Opa (grandfather), he rode when he was 16/17 and the old geezer with slow(er) reaction time still rides'


He's got a point, and all that 'traffic is different now' talk etc falls on deaf ears. I guess while there is an opportunity, they will have to put their foot down and simply say no, not 'til you .....eh what?? :(


Hope he comes to his senses



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I can understand how ya feel.


If my brother wanted to ride I would do everything I could to talk him out of it.


My bidness partner has been threatening to ride for awhile. He is a great driver of vehicles with a bit of road rage in him.


I don't think he would react well to the way we are some treated by preoccupied drivers.


I have lost a manager from a helmetless slow speed get off. He started riding without me knowing. When I found out I talked to him a bunch, but obviously....



Another close friend/employee has taken up riding and he was doing fine till he got to Torrey last year.....



...on the other hand, riding is one of the greatest experiences a person can have. Do I have the right to decide whether someone else is "as skilled as I am."






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Paul Mihalka

Would all of you worriers and parents hold to a absolute NO if the kid would want to Scuba dive or mountain climb? Probably not. At least the motorcycle would have a useful purpose of commuting him to school..

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Jerry Johnston

I would recommend you buying him a dirt bike and having him ride fire-roads for a year or two before riding in traffic. AT least he would have a better feel for riding and in a slightly safer location.

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