There are those who like to see and feel the road beneath them.
Those who ride against the wind.
There are those who ride motorcycles.
“You’re out there on your own, but if you’re riding through the country in an open field, you’re flying,” said Oliver Shokuh, the manager of Harley Davidson Santa Clarita, who says that, in addition to selling the motorcycles he’s been riding them for decades.
While there’s a lot of misinformation out there about motorcycles, according to the experts, there are some correct stereotypes about living a life riding two wheels that people should hear are valid.
“There’s something adventurous about motorcycles. Its flirting with being a rebel; flirting with danger,” said Shokuh. “Because motorcycles are dangerous when you’re out in the open and it’s not like you’re in a car.”
And right here in Santa Clarita, for those who have always been curious or wanting to start up again, there are a couple places available to go and people to speak with in order to get yourself onto a motorcycle.
Where to start
In order to know where to start with your motorcycle there are a number of questions you have to ask yourself, with the first being: “Is motorcycle riding right for you?”
“You know that from just seeing motorcycles out there, and if they look attractive to you,” said Shokuh. “There’s all these different kinds of things you’re exposed to, but only 2(%) or 3% of the general population ride motorcycles.”
There’s also licensing that needs to be taken care of, which can be done either before or after you purchase your bike.
“You got to get certified, go through the proper instructions and courses,” said Shokuh. “You have to go through the course if you’re under 21 years old.”
Shokuh said those over 21 can provide the Department of Motor Vehicles a completion certificate from a motorcycle rider training course, or schedule a DMV appointment for a motorcycle driving test.
Once you’ve decided to ride, the next stop is a dealership to find out what kind of motorcycle works for you.
“First off, you need to be talking to someone who has been involved in motorcycles for a long time, describe your level of experience, how much riding have you done,” said David Denman, sales manager at Ken and Joe’s, an off-road vehicle dealership on Golden Triangle Road. “And then the intended use: Are you going to commute on it? Are you going to take it on long trips? Are you going to use it for recreation only, (or) recreation and racetrack? It’s up to the person you’re speaking with to tell you what to do.”
There are options out there available for every type of motorcycle rider, it’s simply determining what you want out of each ride, according to Shokuh.
“Well, a two-wheeler requires being able to balance the bike and you got to remember that when you stop you need to put your foot down,” said Shokuh.When your riding a trike (or a three-wheeler) it’s kind of like being in a convertible, and it steers like a car too.”
Its dependent on your size, weight and experience, Shokuh said.
“Something that you should know about is if you want to be able to straddle the bike, and be able to put both your feet down,” said Shokuh. “Weight will be a factor because if you’re more scrawny then you might want to consider a smaller, lighter bike.”
Denman and Shokuh both said that the courses you take, whether it’s through Harley Davidson or on the roof of College of the Canyons, will tell you what type of gear you need. Denman noted that California is a helmet-law state, and although gloves, pants, boots and a jacket are recommended, protection for your head is required.
“Most of this will be to protect you in case you do have a mishap,” said Shokuh. “If you’re going to fall down, you’d rather it be scraping your leather jacket than you.”
Price and Safety
Two fairly common reasons people have cold feet about motorcycle riding are money and safety. And those are valid concerns, according to both Denman and Shokuh — but manageable ones.
“Motorcycles are far less expensive than a car,” said David Denman, sales manager and Ken and Joe’s, an off-road vehicle dealership on Golden Triangle Road. “We have brand new street bikes for as little as $3,999. And that’s a bike that might get you 50 to 60 miles per gallon of gas, and the insurance is less money than a car. Parking is easier too.” At both Ken and Joes and Harley Davidson, there are financing plans available.
As for safety concerns, Shokuh doesn’t deny the inherent dangers in riding motorcycles — the best riders are those who can keep themselves and others safe on the road.
“There’s an inherent danger in riding a motorcycle,” said Shokuh. “You wear a helmet, the appropriate gloves, eye protection, riding boots and, most importantly, the proper training, and you can ride and operate that motorcycle in a safe manner,” said Shokuh.
All concerns aside however, according to these Santa Clarita experts, motorcycle riding, for the people who need it in their lives, it’s more than just jumping on a machine and enjoying the scenery.
“I like it when it’s just me, the motorcycle and the road,” said Shokuh. “It’s like a religion … a therapy.”