I first rode a moped as a teenager riding around in a mates back garden. Fast forward 20 years and I found myself renting a ped in Thailand for the first time since I was 14. I was a little nervous at first, but it’s the best way to get around as it gives you so much more freedom to explore. It only took around 5 minutes to pretty much get the jist of it, but I’ve jotted down 10 tips that I think will help any newby riders no matter where you are in the World.
- Always, ALWAYS, WEAR A HELMET!
- Learn to go slow! Riding fast is actually pretty easy – but to master moving slow while holding your balance is the key to making motorbike riding in traffic enjoyable.
- Get a bike that is light rather than heavy with a big engine. While the vintage motorbikes may look cool, they may not be the safest option for someone who has never ridden a motorbike. Scooters are easy and also petrol efficient, and a typical engine size in Asia, suitable for a first time rider is 110cc. Just make sure the bike you rent is fairly new and in good condition (breaks, horn, and all lights work, mirrors on both side, tires are in great shape..)
- If you ever lose control of your bike when moving slowly, just let the bike fall and jump off! You are more important than the bike, and trying to protect the bike will often lead into you hurting yourself.
- Exhaust pipe gets extremely hot after riding! It is a common mistake for the rider or one sitting on the back of the bike to burn their calf on to the exhaust pipe of the motorbike. This will result in a painful, serious burn, and in most cases also a trip to the nearest hospital. Avoid touching the exhaust pipe!
- Find a friend or local who knows how to ride a bike to teach you how to use the controls. Automatic bikes are easy to learn on, and if you know how to ride a bicycle, you will most likely learn to ride a scooter on your first try.
- It’s recommended to wear longer clothing while learning to ride a bike. Long sleeve shirts, proper shoes, and jeans provide good protection against very annoying and infection-prone asphalt rash.
- Avoid riding during the rush hour at first, if possible.
- At first it is a good idea to only stay on paved roads you already know. Driving on gravel or sand is harder, and it’s easy to lose grip when trying to break. No off-roading until you know how to ride the bike properly!
- Keep your bag under your seat. Especially for girls with purses and handbags,; there are criminals in Asia who ride a bike past you and will grab your bag. Often this will also lead to the victim crashing their bike. Avoid this from happening by keeping your bag in the space under the motorbike seat.
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