Learning To Ride a Motorcycle and Trip Preparation

‘Well-done Bren, you actually quit your job but sure you’ve never rode a motorcycle in your life, do you even know what the f*ck your doing?’ -I said to myself. I would need to learn how to ride and after a bit of research, I found out about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. They are an excellent and very highly regarded US-wide organisation who run many different skill courses for all types of riders. I booked the two-day Basic Rider Course ($350) up in the Bronx, targeted at complete beginners to those who haven’t rode in a while and would like to get back up on the saddle. The course was split up into a morning theory session and a afternoon skills riding session for each day. It gave a very good grounding in everything from how to ride safe and avoid potential hazards on the road, right down to the actual parts of the bike and the best way to brake effectively. The practical riding sessions were on 250cc Suzukis. The first time I threw my leg over her and twisted that throttle, a childish grin spread across my face and I don’t think it’s left. I knew I was on to something. 

At the end of the second day of skills practice, they tested us individually to make sure we were competent enough. On completion of this, you received a waiver which when brought to the DMV is exchanged for a full motorcycle endorsement on your NY driving license(thus avoiding having to do the road test). It was an excellent course and I would recommend it to anybody in the US to do if they’re ever considering riding. I didn’t have a NY driving license however so ended up having to do the motorcycle road test which was done a scooter and was a breeze.

Next I would need the gear. After a lot of research, I settled on buying most of my riding gear through Revzilla who I would highly recommend as their customer service is top notch. I decided to opt for 4-season pants and jackets which had removable thermal and waterproof liners, thus preparing me for most weather.

The below is a list of my bike, luggage and gear I purchased before setting off:

Bike:
New Kawasaki KLR650 2014 New Edition -$6200

Riding Gear:
-Shoei Hornet DS-Matte Black-$349
-Rev’It Outback Jacket-~$250
-Rev’It Tornado Pants-~$200
-Rev’It Sand 2 Gloves-~$100
-Alpine Stars WP Scout Boots-~$200
-Extra hip and back armor-$50

Luggage:
-Wolfman Dry Expedition Saddlebags-~$279
-Wolfman Large Duffel (37L)-~$150
-Wolfman Rainier Tankbag-~$150
-Happy Trails SU rack  -$200

Other:

Sena Bluetooth Module-~$279 (for set of two)

I purchased the bike in February and had planned on taking some day/weekend trips away to get some experience on bike however bad weather hampered these plans. In fact the snow and ice was so bad, the next time I took my bike out for a spin after I rode it home from the dealerships was the day I started my trip on March the 12th. Trial by fire right?         
 

The Bike: KLR650

I decided on the KLR650 because for several reasons. Firstly, there were more KLR650s around the tri-state area than any other dual sport bike. This meant I could shop around and have multiple options before pulling the trigger. Secondly, at $5500-6000 new, the KLR650 was exceptionally good value, cheap to maintain and incredibly reliable. Considering I had little mechanical know-how, I wanted to encounter as few problems as possible. It didn't take long for me to lock down this beauty, a Kawasaki-green KLR650 2014 New Edition :).