I first learned about motorcycles when I was a youngster. My next door neighbor had bought an Indian motorcycle. I would look at it with amazement. My father quickly instructed me that I was to “never get on one of those things.” Soon, my neighbor had purchased his wife and son a bike. Raymond was my age and had a Honda 80cc bike. They took off on weekends and did family rides. At that time in Tennessee people didn’t seem to care much about age and the vehicle laws when it came to motorcycles. Timmy Ward was riding a motorcycle to school in the sixth grade.     Timmy is the guy who taught me how to ride. I still remember the bike — a purple Yamaha DT 100. Oh happy days!
     Today, riding is still a family affair. One of the guys at work told me that he and his son have 15 motorcycles in the shed and spend the weeks competing at the track. John Glebus is 14 and has been riding for six years. He started off with a Honda 80cc motorcycle and has now progressed to a Yamaha YZ250. His sister Johanna rides as well. I enjoy watching them pack up their bikes on the weekend as the family heads over to Wide Open motor cross track in Raeford.{mosimage}
    Like John, most young riders learned how to ride off-road from a family member or friend. For riding on the road, things are not that easy. In North Carolina you must be at least 16 to operate a bike on the road. You must have a full provisional driver’s license, a regular or commercial license issued by the DMV. If you are younger than 18, you must have your parents or legal guardian sign for you. Not only do you need a motor-vehicle license but you must also pass four additional tests: vision, traffic signs, motorcycle knowledge and a road test.
    Somewhere along the way you need one additional thing. A motorcycle! This is one of those subjects I get a lot questions about: What would be a good first bike for my kid. I tell the questioner there is no right answer because everyone has a different vision of what they need or want their child to operate. Some will want something that will get them around town or to school. Some want something that is street legal but will also go off-road. It just depends on what bike best meets your child’s needs, so take some time to analyze your situation.
    Size matters. I personally don’t think a Yamaha R1 is a good idea for a new rider regardless of his/her age. One slight twist on the throttle and you’re airborne or off the road. There is simply too much power for a new rider.
New or used? Used is good because it is his or her first bike. Chances are it’s going to hit the ground. There are additional costs to remember, including maintenance, taxes and insurance.
    If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, please send your comments and suggestions to motorcycle4fun@aol.com.

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