Posted by Renee Schmidt

A ‘how to’ become a biker girl story. I bought a Kawasaki Ninja beginners bike; how the trials of dating led me to it, and why this motorcycle woman inspires authenticity.

A Sexy Foreign Encounter

Last November I began dating a positively delicious man; let’s call him ‘Don.’ To this day, I am unsure as to what it was that made Don so delicious: yes, he was hot, yes, he lived in a TriBeCa loft, yes, he had a high profile job, yes, he had a sexy foreign accent, and even a motorcycle to boot. Whatever it was about Don, the concoction was pretty spot-on. Being quite the charmer, when Don offered me a motorcycle ride around Manhattan during our second date, I –a woman that had never desired to mount a bike—excitedly said, “ok!”

Motorcycles had, up until that point, been pretty terrifying. But I guess oxytocin will make you do crazy things (more on that in another post), and so lo and behold, one Saturday in late November, I took a ride around Manhattan on the back of a Red Ducati. As it turned out, it was one of the most lyrical days of my life.

Mantox Leads to Epiphany

Don and I dated a few more weeks until realizing we wanted different things; we graciously went our separate ways just before the New Year and I decided to take a dating hiatus: a ‘mantox,’ if you will. Months passed, yet I still found myself longingly thinking back to that warm fall day in November. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what I longed for was not the foreign hottie –no. It wasn’t his cooking, his brilliant mathematical mind, or his TriBeCa pad. I didn’t long for him at all. What I longed for was the thrill I felt on that bike!

7 months later, I realized: I love motorcycles. Whoa! OK! But now what? I can’t exactly date men just because they have a bike –or can I? No!

While there are but a handful of women on motorcycles, it was clear: I needed to give this motorcycle thing a try.

Doing the Illogical

It was late June at this point and we were already 3 months into the riding season. I knew if I didn’t get on a bike within a few weeks, the season would end and I’d be left to daydream about motorcycles a full year until the next riding season. I made up my mind; I wanted to see what motorcycling was all about! So here’s what I did:

  1. It was a Sunday night when I went online and found the Motorcycle Permit Learner’s Manual. I studied.
  2. I went to the DMV bright and early Monday morning for my motorcycle permit. I took the 20 question test. As it turns out, in New York, you need to study both the Motorcycle Manual and the Driver’s Manual. It seems that I had forgotten everything in the Driver’s Manual over my 10 years of driving. I failed the exam. Oops! I regrouped, studied both manuals and went back for exam round 2. This time I passed!
  3. To test the waters of biking, I registered for a private 2 hour motorcycle lesson. Within the first 30 minutes, I was in first gear! Yes, I dropped the loaner bike (a Susuki GZ 250 cruiser), but it was to be expected, I was learning! After the lesson, I was pretty sure this motorcycle business was an art I wanted to master.
  4. I registered for Motorcycle Safety School, a 2-day course and all-in-one alternative to the DMV road-test. The class was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever endured (both physically and mentally). Did you know there are something like 2500 maneuvers needed to successfully operate a motorcycle? There are only about 200 with driving a car. And that was just the beginning. The 2 day course was from 7am – 5pm all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Better suited for April than July, the class had us spend most of the weekend outside, in 100 degree weather, roasting in full gear (riding gloves, helmet, long sleeve shirt, riding pants and riding boots!). I’d driven a manual car before, but I was by no means proficient. Couple learning how to shift a bike with balance, coordination, and 100+ degree heat –it was no joke!
  5. At the end of the 2-day course, there was a Road Test. I passed!
  6. Now that I had added an M to my D license, it was time to find a bike. I knew I wanted a sport bike, something with a small engine (250) and light weight to start (<400 lbs.). I also wanted a used bike, perhaps dropped a time or two, so I wouldn’t feel so bad if I beat it up a bit. I found a 2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250 with low mileage. 3 days after passing the Road Test, I bought my first bike (courtesy of Craigslist.org).
  7. Next came Insurance. I reached out to my friends at the Small Business Authority for a quote (The SBA designed this site, by the way). Motorcycle insurance is surprisingly cheap (only $500 a year or so). The SBA returned quotes from a bunch of carriers, making the entire process a breeze. I had my insurance card that same day! I was ready to register the bike and pick up my plates from the NYSDMV the following morning.
  8. It was time to ride! My cousins both have motorcycles and they helped me not only purchase the right bike, but also get some much needed practice on the NYC roads (learning for 2 days in an empty parking lot is WAY different than cruising the city streets). Within just a few days of practice, I had established a solid relationship with my bike (there’s loads of trust involved, especially for cornering). A few rides with family and friends and pretty soon, I felt comfortable riding on my own.

My Ninja is the best in the class of motorcycles for women and a great starter bike for many reasons:

  1. It’s light weight at only 375 lbs.;
  2. It’s used but has low mileage;
  3. It’s a bright visible red color (great for safety);
  4. It’s perky –the engine is small, but the bike is light enough to give it lots of quirk, so it’s great for learning technique. The perfect beginner motorcycle.

Everything was grand, but there was one thing missing: noise. When it comes to bikes, a silent motorcycle is a big no, no (especially in NYC). On a motorcycle, you’re generally invisible. Cars simply don’t see you. You are always in someone’s blind spot, and with the level of traffic in New York City, that’s an unavoidable fact. Ask any Harley Davidson rider, and they will tell you, the one thing that saves them time and time again is the level of noise a Harley bike produces.

Throughout this process, safety has been my foremost concern. That’s why I quickly realized I needed to replace my Ninja exhaust and make my Ninja super loud. This way, even if cars don’t see me in their mirrors, they’ll be sure to hear me (even from around the block). My new Carbon Fiber Two Brothers exhaust that I purchased and had installed by my new friend Sean at Prospect Cycles is awesome :)

Breaking Down Barriers

I’ve been riding for just about three months now. At first it was scary –I’m not going to lie. On a motorcycle, 15 mph feels more like 50; so needless to say, my first highway ride was a major rush! But with each passing day, I’ve found more joy and less fear in the endeavor (albeit, as it relates to motorcycles, a remnant of fear is a good thing).

Sure, I could have called Don for a ride (some pun intended), or found another man to take me on his bike. I could have become a motorcycle groupie or started dating only guys that own bikes. But all of those routes would have been cop-outs. And that’s really the point of this entire post: don’t look for a cop-out. Listen to what your inner self –what your soul– is asking for; then run and do it… quickly! True up!

Not many women motorcycle. In fact, women on motorcycles is generally an oxymoron. But if I can ride a motorcycle, then you can do, well, –anything. Break down your barriers! On the other side of your fears lives your greatest life.

PS: I’m a grown woman but if you’re wondering what my family had to say about all this, they were against it at first. They’d rather I get married and have children than gallivant around Manhattan on a motorcycle. But my folks relaxed when they saw my methodical approach to learning, all the safety precautions I was taking and how much I truly enjoy it. Ironically enough, the motorcycle is likely to get me wed sooner than not, since nearly all bikers are men and they tend to travel in packs. Amen to that.

If you liked my story, click here to connect with me on Facebook.

 

 
  • Mario Raia

    Great choice in bikes. Kudos to your courage and spirit. One suggestion: Get the right gear so you will be safe. Your jacket should have CE rated armor in the shoulders and elbows, made of leather (or mesh for hot days). Your gloves should have protection in the knuckles and lower palms (to protect you from slides). Your pants should be leather or heavy mesh material with CE rated armor in the knees (or at least wear heavy jeans).

    My point is we want to protect you from slides and nasty scrapes so you can keep on blogging.

    And if you really want to learn some excellent technique, check out Sport Riding Techniques by Nick Ienatsch. It’s an very practical how to book on how to ride more safely and enthusiastically at the same time. It good for novice to advanced riders.

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      All great feedback. I have all the recommended and approved gear :) Got to ride safe or not at all! Will check out the site. Thanks Mario!

  • http://www.mwd.com @JoeHobot

    Great bike and bike rider :) cool story!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      :) Thanks, Joe!

  • Toon

    Hi. from Bangkok City Thailand, I am also female Ninja 250R Rider : ) You have a very wonderful story ^^

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Very nice, thank you! :)

  • Lillian

    Love your story! I did the same thing when I was 19- two years later I’m still in love with my ninja and have never looked back. Living life to the fullest! 

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Wow! That’s incredible, glad you enjoyed reading…keep coming back

  • http://twitter.com/sczitdamn spirukas goblinono

    Oh yeah……..intelligent, brave, honest and well written. And a woman – pretty as well. More females should read this and remember : 4 wheels move the body, 2 wheels move the soul !

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thanks…That’s an awesome quote!

  • Jeannie Pham

    I was linked to your story from MotoLady’s blog. THANK YOU for your super inspiring story :) I’m a small (5’1″ >100lbs) woman just getting into riding myself, which began with my boyfriend wanting to ride haha We haven’t bought our bikes yet, but I have the same fears you had when first starting so it’s good to hear how much you love it! Fortunately, as I live in CA, I have a bit of a longer riding season. Happy riding to you, and thank you again for being a kickass woman rider role model! 

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thank you so much! Always amazing to get love from other female riders! Best of luck to you on this incredible journey!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thank you so much! Always amazing to get love from other female riders! Best of luck to you on this incredible journey. Stay safe!

  • Zach Vrooman

    Awesome. I finally went and took the MSF class last spring. I do NOT regret it. I wish I’d have gotten off my duff and done it sooner. I put 2500 miles on my old CX500, and hope to put lots more on next summer! Good for you!

  • Melinda Jordan

    My second and third bikes were 750 Ninjas (started on a Yamaha FZ600 in 1986).  Loved those bikes into the tens, twenties and thirty thousands of miles!  I’ve been riding 26 years, creamed a deer on a speed limitless highway in Montana, gotten a fair number of citations, and do every possible thing I can on my 8th bike, a Buell XB12 Firebolt.  Ride on Girlfriend!  As the lovely MotoLady says, “Because ladies were born to ride.  And motorcycles were made for riding.”  

    Amen!

    P.S.  I have six children and my parents didn’t take it well when I started riding either.  It helped them get over the fact that I was doing a lot of skydiving though.  ; )

  • Amy

    Renee, I love your story! I almost felt as if I was reading my own story. On 09/10/11, I met the man who began my love affair with motorcycles (sport bikes). And like you, I had never really cared much about them before. He too, wanted to take me for a ride on his bike (Hayabusa) on one of our first dates but I wasn’t quite ready yet so we waited and he didn’t push me. But after a few short months (just before Valentine’s Day), I went out and purchased my gear because I now felt the desire to ride! We went on that ride and it was awesome…I was instantly in love with the experience and feeling.His response to me was that I had been bitten hard…and how right he was! Two weeks later was my 40th birthday and we purchased my first motorcycle via Craigslist. It is a 2007 Ninja 250R with very, very low miles. I have since taken my motorcycle safety course (passed) and my written exam at the DMV so I officially have a “M” on my license now too! I dropped the loaner bike in the safety couse also AND dropped my Ninja during my first hour of practice in a parking lot while making a slow, tight turn but no problems since then…I’ve been told that I just had to get the “gremlins” out of it. So far, I’ve ridden on side roads alone but haven’t taken to the highway yet so that will be my next challenge.

    Your story is such an inspiration and you are beautiful!

    Amy

    P.S. I love the quote that someone said below about “4 wheels move your body; 2 wheels move your soul!” I just recently married the man who showed me what truly living my life is all about and I couldn’t be happier! I am definitely looking forward to my next 40 years!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thanks for sharing! Your story is inspiring; and so many similarities! Love it!

  • Ashleigh Campbell11

    I just got started with my permit on a ninja 500.  My husband has been great with supporting me to get my license and happily taught me.  It’s such a freedom to be able to ride on my own or along side him rather than hitch a ride on the bike of his bike.  Very liberating!  I wish there were more women riders out there!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      It is SO liberating! Really excited for you; good luck Ashleigh!

  • Bob

    Renee,

    You are a beautiful woman and a serious motorcycling enthusiast – that is a great combination.  I enjoyed reading your story.  As an avid motorcyclist since I was 16 (going on 40 years ago) and as a Nationally Certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation  Instructor, I only take issue with one misconception which appeared in your story – loud pipes do nothing to increase your safety and they alienate people against motorcycles.  Increasingly, communities and states have active legislation against excessive vehicle noise.  Wear full safety gear, including high visibility colors – have conspicuous lighting, clothing, and horns, but to get any false sense of security out of a loud exhaust that you hope a car will hear right before impact – it does not make sense and is not generally accepted in motorcycle training circles.

    Ride safe and enjoy the great riding in the warm months ahead!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thanks for the awesome advice Bob!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.majewski Ken Majewski

    Congratulations… it sounds like you’re doing everything right.  I’ve only been riding for 3 years myself, but the best advice I can offer is to assume that nobody sees you… actually, assume that they do see you and that they are trying to kill you.  Always look for a way out of any situation and think ahead.

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Totally! Great advice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001159869130 J.a. Méndez

    Great story, I never ride a bike, it’s time to get one, o.O

    P.S.- Geek + Biker + Goregous women!!! Look out!!! Killer combo!!! u-uu-aaaauuu (as Blanka from Street Fighter used to yell)

  • Louise

    I am a 38 year old Mom of 4 daughters and I just started riding a sportbike. It was my divorce gift to me and feels like freedom. ) I ride the streets for now but sooo looking forward to the track. And a pearl white Ducati 848 in the future. ;)

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Amazing story! Pearl white anything is even better… :)

  • Aa3tld12

    omgosh!! you are amazing i have always loved motorcycles .. especially the red ones so i love your bike .. I’m 17 but hell i going to ride one day . you’ve been a true inspiration 

  • http://twitter.com/KatyLaFea K@

    Your story sounds just like mine! Almost word for word! Except I’m at the part where you picked out a bike.  I just picked out mine.  I have a friend who just got hers and helped me.  I pick up my Ninja 250 red/black this weekend and I can’t wait!!  :) I’m 32 and thought, it’s now or never.  Now seems like a better choice!  

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Amazing! Good luck and please be safe!!!

  • Meetmeatthecell

    I have a bobber an enjoy the fresh air and gliding over rolling country roads in Wisconsin.  Would love to have you join me sometime.

  • Missamym1972

    I started riding in early March (about 3 months ago) on a 2007 Ninja 250. It was my 40th birthday present from my husband. I took my MSF course and got my license soon after. Then I was a woman on a mission…lol. I began riding a lot, every chance that I got, just to get experience and become comfortable with my bike, the road, traffic…everything. I recently upgraded to a 2008 Suzuki GSX-R 600 and I LOVE IT! I do not regret starting out on a 250 because I think it definitely helped to build my comfort level and get me to where I am now. I ride side by side with my husband often (he rides a GSX-R750 and a Hayabusa) and we have so much fun doing that together. I also joined a group of ladies who all ride sport bikes and it so such an amazing feeling to share the love of riding with so many beautiful women that aren’t afraid to stand up for what they love and who refuse to be just another passenger.

    The female riding world is growing rapidly (especially with sport bikes) and it is definitely a beautiful thing! =)

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Definitely a beautiful thing!  Great story!  Best of luck to you :)

  • gilby 1524

    Hi Renee, just finished watching you on Fox News Live with Jonathan Hunt. You sure have that dressing down. I almost didn’t recognize you but enjoyed listiening in on the conversation.

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thanks! :)

  • Rachael

    so glad i came across this!! very helpful! thank you!

  • Cristie

    I feel like I’m writing this post! Even down to the ducati riding boy! Just bought my own little Ninja 250 except I’m in California. So happy for you!

  • Ninja rider from Athens, GA

    OMG! I thought I wrote it! haha! except the hot ducati guy with foreign accent! I did exactly what you did; took safety course, and add ‘M’ on my license recently, and bought red ninja 250 R, 2010, used, with low mileage on, found on the craiglist! and with help of my friends, I am warming it up! Took first road trip this Sat, and still struggling with cornering (I guess still need to build the trust between me and my bike ‘Nina’).
    I am glad to see your post, and it definitely motivating me!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Thank you so much! Good luck and be safe :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/guadalupe.wells Guadalupe Torres Wells

    I purchased my Kawasaki Ninja 250 at the age of 38. I love it! Had always wanted one and got the go-ahead from my husband who had known of my motorcycle obsession for years. I don’t do the casual weekend rides: I go to work, the library, grocery store, drop off my daughter at school, etc. on my Ninja. I am currently 27 weeks pregnant and am not riding (because of the weather, not my gestational period) and can’t wait until I heal up enough to get back on!

    • http://shebytes.com Renee Schmidt

      Amazing! Good luck and be safe!

  • Charity Barnes

    I am a 35 yr. old mom of 4 and I just bought a Kawasaki Nina 500. There’s no law that says women can’t ride. How does the saying go….Anything a man can do, a woman can do better?

  • sheila

    Im a 47 yr old women with 4 grown kids and 2 younger kids. Im a registered nurse and started riding a ninja 1 yr ago