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Is it a certain number of miles? Certain amount of time? Is it a mental thing?

I have maybe 900 miles so far under my belt with a 900. I rode for several years as a high schooler but that was like 40 years ago. I do not consider myself experienced at all but was wondering that question last night while riding. Took my wife for about an hour ride around our small town and felt comfortable doing it. Was my first time with a passenger but we live around a small town and not much traffic to worry about.
 

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Good question, think it varies from one person to another. Most states I believe, that allow you to ride without a helmet, require you to have your endorsement for 1-2 years, think all say no highway riding or passengers while on a permit.
 

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Experience is a continuous process. Complacency is dangerous. I don’t think that you can put a number on it. In the training course that I took the instructor said that there were two high risk times statistically for riders, within a few months of learning to ride and again later on when riders felt that they were experienced on their bike.
 

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I see riders who are just as smooth and supple on their machines as poetry in motion - who never wobble at any speed, never misjudge their speed or angle on a sweeping curve, or hesitate one second making tight u-turns, they certainly appear to be the picture of confidence and control. I don't feel like one of those riders after 18k miles experience over the last 3 years. Are they born with that skill? Are they the biking equivalent of the so-called "naturals" we see in athletic sports? I'm getting better and pretty sure I could get there after a few more years. I'll let you know.
 

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I started riding again last year and have about 7500 miles in. I've taken the advanced MSF training, read a couple books, gotten fairly good at smooth shifting, controlling the front brake and throttle at the same time, using the fiction zone and the rear brake in slow turns, and generally I feel pretty confident on my 900 classic. That said, I think I'm right in the high risk zone of 12 - 24 months (I think) where folks get too confident and screw up. I'm trying not to do that but I often find my self riding much more aggressively now than when I started. I don't know if I'm "experienced" or not, probably more likely a "motorcycle adolescent".
 

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Experience?

30 years of riding, over 400,000 miles on a wide variety of bikes, and I still have those "duh huh" moments... You might be comfortable on your current ride but you can never be complacent...
Ride safe and ride often.
rick fisher
 

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I grew up on dirt bikes so the mechanics of riding a cruiser (except for the weight) stayed the same. It's getting used to everybody else around you. You may get used to riding but the experience is getting back in your driveway in one piece.
 

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I grew up on dirt bikes so the mechanics of riding a cruiser (except for the weight) stayed the same. It's getting used to everybody else around you. You may get used to riding but the experience is getting back in your driveway in one piece.
+1 on that! Every time I leave the driveway I wonder if I'll come back. I tend to be a worrier in general, which may be a good thing if you ride motorcycles. I still have fun, but try to always be aware. That said, I have to admit that on long empty roads I sometimes drift off, daydream, and when I come out of it I think I'm really lucky nothing bad happened while I was away.

On the up side my driving habits have improved a lot since getting back on a bike. I turn my head a lot more, watch other drivers a lot more, especially at intersections. All the new habits on the bike seem to transfer to the truck.
 

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Experience is a continuous process. Complacency is dangerous. I don’t think that you can put a number on it. In the training course that I took the instructor said that there were two high risk times statistically for riders, within a few months of learning to ride and again later on when riders felt that they were experienced on their bike.
^ Right answer
 

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Each time you ride you gain experience. Whether you are riding your 1st mile or your 200,000th. If you are just practicing your skills, the practice builds better skills, which is experience. Never stop learning, the next lesson you hear - see - do may be the one you reach for when there is that OH CRAP moment.
I have been riding for over 20 years (and that is hard to write, much less believe - I'm not that damn old!!) and I try to learn from anyone I can, either the right way or unfortunately the wrong way to do things.
 

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There is not a "magic" number of miles or "time spent riding". As stated above personal and situational awareness and remembering that each time on your bike could be your last. Then one day you will realize you have been riding and are very comfortable with your bike and the changing conditions, traffic, road surface, etc. That still does not mean you can relax completely, but your rides will be more relaxed and enjoyable. (sounds like an oxymoron I know, but it makes sense to me).
 

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I started considering myself an experienced rider when I could

1) ride without a death grip on the handlebars, and instead keep a relaxed grip
2) when my heart rate didn't increase from stress when riding
3) when I could execute a u-turn on a two lane street without putting my foot down
4) when all my pre-ride checks became automatic
5) when I automatically plan my escape route when pulling up to an intersection or stopping in traffic
6) when I noticed I use my back an front brakes together automatically
7) when I started packing rain gear and warm clothing on the bike for anything other than a short ride to the store
8) When I stopped riding without a helmet, long pants, boots or gloves, especially "just around town", where most of the accidents are likely to occur.
9) when I can relax and enjoy the ride and be constantly keeping my head on a swivel out of habit, and internalize the maxim that "I am invisible. No one can see me."
10) When riding two-up felt natural.
11) when I learned that the crown of the road near the center line has the best pavement and is the least wetn when it rains, and the center of the lane is the most slick from oil. And stay off the white painted arrows and crosswalk lines on turns when wet.
12) when I realized that even with 60,000 miles under my belt since I returned to riding after 35 years off, I have not arrived and there is always something to learn and to challenge my abilities.
 

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IMO, an experience rider is someone who has gotten over the fear and insecurity of riding a bike for the first time. Who rides smart ALL THE TIME. Follows the rules of the road, and respects everyone he/she shares it with. Most of all, they've ridden long enough to know how to deal with almost all common contingencies. That it is just reflex to them.

I've always believed that if you think too much about NOT crashing or falling, you'll probably crash or fall. These aren't experienced riders. SpinDog sums it up pretty good. Don't worry about miles or years, don't even think about how safe you always are. Just be smart whenever you ride. Concentrate on what you are doing. Trust your skills riding. You can't always anticipate what others on the road are going to do. But you can always control what you do and think. Sometimes, the smartest things to do to avoid a collision, is to do things that aren't considered "safe". Like splitting a lane between two cars to avoid getting rear ended. Always giving yourself "out" options is a smart habit. These are some of the experiences one should learn by hands on, not word of mouth.

I've been riding for over 20 years, and I still practice avoidance, and quick braking every so often, and when it's safe to do so. Empty parking lots, or empty roads. Can't get complacent. That is one of a rider's worse enemy.
 

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I'm a young guy compared to some, at 30 years old. But I've been around the world and seen a thousand wonders. One thing I've learned, that applies to everything in life, no matter whether it be parenting, loving a woman, work, riding a bike or driving a car, "the more I learn, the more I learn how much I have to learn."



Coming live, from West, by God, Funroe Louisiana.
 

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I read a statistic somewhere, interestingly enough. It said that the two most dangerous times for a rider was when they had less than 6 months of experience; and more than 2 but less than 3 years of experience.

Confidence kills, in other words. A rider with 2 years experience is probably confident in their skill but maybe hasn't encountered anything serious. We've all had cars pull out but maybe a rider with two years hasn't experience a car pull out so close they had to hit the brakes hard and pray. So they may become a little laissez-faire when it comes to their riding.

Just thought it was interesting! I think one becomes an experienced rider when they've become proficient in their skill, have done it for a few years (doing some serious riding. I met a guy once who said he has been riding for 30 years. Digging deeper I found that 30 years ago he had a 50cc motorcycle for a year, then a few years after that he had a sportster for 6 months and then he wrecked it, and then he just recently bought a Yamaha V-Star. That's not 30 years of riding experience. That's a 30 year span of briefly owning 3 motorcycles), ridden in a variety of conditions, experienced various emergency situations (road debris, cars pulling out, mechanical failures, etc.) In other words, maybe when they've seen it all, we could badge them 'experienced'.

I would also venture to say that an experienced motorcyclist is also experienced enough to understand the need to continue to practice and learn! And understands the importance of a safe, well maintained motorcycle.
 

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My riding experience has been like that. On and off of borrowed bikes ranging from a minibike to Harleys for occasional joy rides. I've owned my vulcan since February, and have put more miles on it since then, than I've ridden since I was 8, first time I got on a minibike. He'd call it 22 years of experience I guess. I call it 5 months and some operational knowledge.

A little more than 5 months. I got a Honda FT500 around the beginning of September last year.
Coming live, from West, by God, Funroe Louisiana.
 

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Some riders have a lot of natural ability, and for others it's harder work.

If I have learnt anything in my 30 years of motorcycling, and training others, it's that no one has nothing left to learn, including me.

Ride defensively, and with confidence, trust in your ability, and never ever think, 'It won't happen to me'.
 

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Ride defensively, and with confidence, trust in your ability, and never ever think, 'It won't happen to me'.
Bam! Exactly. For everyone that's ever fallen, crashed, and sadly met their demise, they too have said "it won't happen to me". I ride of the "offensive-defensive" mentality. Sometimes you will notice stuff going on ahead of you, instinct and experience nudges you to not be around when stuff goes down. So when you see an opening, you have to gun it to pass idiot riders, or drivers. Better in your rear view, than ahead of you. That's not saying, keep gunning it though. ;-)

And yes, (I'm sure the older generation can attest to this) as you get older, you realize you are still learning, or re-learning things. What's easier for us (hopefully most of us), because we have gone through many things in life, that learning comes easier. We no longer have that "I know everything" attitude when we were younger that keeps us from learning as much as we can. We are far more accepting of learning, and humility. Pride is not a friend when you are riding. Neither is cockiness, arrogance, and being a show off. My days of impressing the ladies, and being the envy of guys who don't ride are long gone. It's all about the ride. Me, my bike, and the road. And everything in between from getting on, and getting off my bike.
 

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My days of impressing the ladies, and being the envy of guys who don't ride are long gone.
Mostly because you find out that ladies who would be impressed and guys who would be envious already have bikes or are around folks who do! Kinda like the guy in the cage who sits at the stoplight with the stereo cranked and the windows open, showing you how cool he is with his favorite song, when you think it's just annoying and it sucks.
 

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My bike's already gotten me a piece or two. And one dumb broad from a one night stand that followed me home. I'm not complaining though. YET. At least she was smart enough to walk back out my door when I showed it to her.

Coming live, from West, by God, Funroe Louisiana.
 
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