Learning to ride a bike: Part 2


It’s been a fair while since I wrote anything proper on here except my little blog about motorcycle gear this morning… I suppose the recent pandemic hasn’t helped. That has led to the cancellation of the 2020 TT, the 2020 Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix. NW200 cancelled, MotoGP cancelled, BSB cancelled, WSB cancelled. (Fortunately, it looks like some of those may be re-starting very soon though!) Everyone in lockdown. What an absolute mare for everyone, but I hope you’re all still doing well and hopefully getting back out on your bikes now… like me!

I always said I’d be open and honest about my little journey towards passing my bike test. I’m sure most of you would’ve thought I’d have done it by now, but no, I haven’t. I hate practical tests. I get stressy over sit-down exams too, but practical exams really tip me over the edge. I’m not sure why, but it does and henceforth I’m still yet to even attempt a test. I’ve been putting it off for the best part of seven, no, eight years. I first passed my CBT at 18, but at that point, annoyingly my Dad had hung up his boots as had my Mom. My Mom had an unwritten rule that I wasn’t allowed to go out on my own so it was either they follow me round in the car or I just don’t bother… luckily for them, the KTM Duke 125 was just too tall for my little legs so I basically didn’t progress from there. Anyway, that’s in my other blog here.


Fast forward a fair few years and here we are with little Nelli – the Benelli TNT 125. What a bike. I will be forever grateful to this little machine giving me back my confidence to ride again. I will be truly devastated when I sell her, but I hope when I do she goes to a loving home to give someone else the confidence to ride. I bought her in 2018 brand new. The OTR price is £2,200 and for the bike you get, I think that’s a bargain. In comparison to the Honda MSX 125’s, it’s very similar except there price… You are looking at an OTR price of circa £1,500 more than the Benelli. If you’re learning to ride and looking to get a bigger cc bike after you pass, then I think the Benelli is definitely worthwhile. If you’re content riding around on a 125, or you want it for the fun of it, maybe opt for the Honda, but all I know is I love my Benelli.


Next up for me is lessons as apparently I corner like a racer and that’s not acceptable for your test… I guess I should stop following my husband and the lines he takes on his Kawasaki ZX7R. Oops. My instructor is very lovely and he’s definitely someone who isn’t too harsh about how I ride, but rather tries to understand why I do the things I do. His job now is to help me pass my test, not necessarily how to ride a bike. There’s a huge difference. When you did your car test, how long did it take you before you crossed your hands on the steering wheel? Well, riding a bike is no different except don’t cross your hands that would get messy.  I definitely feel like I’m now ready to start aiming towards taking my test. I’m quite content riding around on my own now. I don’t panic when I stop anymore. I don’t mind about being left behind. I just think I’m finally ready. So whilst lessons are going on, I have to prepare for my theory test. This really bugs me… I did one for my car test approx. 10 years ago, but you have to do another one for your bike. If I’m honest, there isn’t too much of a difference and considering I already know the general rules of the road from driving for almost 10 years, it’s just annoying. There are a couple of new questions about pillions, loading a bike, etc. but apart from that, it’s very similar. Anyway, it had to be done, so that’s up next.

So this is where we’re at. I’m pretty much ready to start learning how to ride for my test and mainly looking behind me more than in front, but I’m ready nonetheless so that brings me onto my next little bit of exciting news…

Here on the IOM, once you pass your test you can ride absolutely anything. If I really wanted to I could go and buy a BMW S1000RR and race around… at 50mph obvs as you’re on R plates for 12 months after passing. I’m not going to do anything crazy like that instead I went to go and see another bike for size (since I’m only 5’4”, short leg issues, blah blah), and well, we ended up buying it. My husband always said he’d buy me my first “big bike” and he definitely came through on that promise! I’m ridiculously giddy about it, looking on eBay constantly at all the things I can buy for it, looking on Instagram and Twitter at other people’s and I seem to have become a little obsessed. Realistically once I passed my test it was inevitable that I’d want a “bigger bike” despite having to stick to 50mph for 12 months, and when we saw it, I fell in love as soon as I realised I could touch the floor and reach the handlebars…

Introducing BABY NINJA.

She’s a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400, barely turned a wheel and isn’t she beaut! Has anyone else got one of these or ridden one? Would love to know what you think!

We were talking about getting another little bike either like mine or a Honda Grom for Chris so he didn’t have to potter around on his ZX7R at 50mph, but realistically if I’m hoping to get my test done soon that wasn’t the best way to go. We saw this come up for sale and thought it’s an ideal for ‘big bike’ for me and Chris could even ride it if he didn’t want to take the 7R out. I secretly think Chris is more excited then he’s letting on as he’s finally convinced me to get a ninja just like him. I’m literally over the moon with it and for me, I think it’s a perfect first ‘big bike’. I’ve always wanted a sportsbike, but I had realised that realistically the chances of me reaching the floor on a sportsbike were next to none. In my head I’d ‘settled’ for something less sporty and if I’m honest, I was too happy about settling on that.

I did say 2020 was going to be the year I passed my test, so let’s keep aiming for that!

Learning To Ride A Motorcycle


This is something a little different from the race reports I usually waffle about so hang in there…

I am currently learning to ride… a motorbike. Having always been around motorbikes, whether it’s racing or travelling as pillion, learning to ride is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve had a few obstacles in the way, but I’m ready to tick this off my bucket list. Let’s face it, I live on the Isle of Man… there’s no excuse not to get it done!


I’m yet to attempt the beautiful Mountain road… there’s a time and a place…

I passed my car test at 16 and yes, that is legal on the Isle of Man. I think everyone believes that because you are aware of the rules of the road that side of things shouldn’t be difficult. Okay, in some respects I believe that, but in others… not so much! I honestly think it makes you believe you should pass your motorbike test in a blink of an eye because you’ve practically done it before. Nope, wrong, false. It’s completely different and sometimes I envy those who did their bike test before learning to drive a car. I’m already thinking I should have done it that way round!

Let’s start from the beginning. Your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training.) I passed my first CBT when I was 19. Loved every minute of it even though it lashed it down. I then didn’t take my test. At 24 I decided to do my CBT again. When I did my re-CBT, the instructor said in the car park ‘are you sure you’ve done your CBT before?’ Oh eff off, yes I am sure! I’d never felt so embarrassed or put down. Yes, it had been a while since I’d been on two wheels. I’d been open and honest about that as well as the fact I’d lost all my confidence. It probably also didn’t help it was SO fucking hot the sweat was running into my eyes. It was madness, but the moment I started to ride on an actual road rather than a bloody playground, it all came flooding back. The life savers, mirror and head check…. I felt like I was spending more time looking backwards just as I did before. And, before anyone says it, yes I’m fully aware they are very necessary thank you. They take you over part of the TT course, through estates, along the prom and them dreaded horse tram lines. Potentially you pass the grandstand at a phenomenal 30mph (because that’s the speed limit folks…!) and then it’s done and dusted. You can ride legally on the road on your own on your own motorcycle as long as it’s no more than 125cc. Let the panic begin.

It is terrifying. The first time I put my gear on and sat on Nelli ready to go out on her I was nervous… of course. I was on a brand new bike for the very first time and I’d only just passed my CBT. Now, yes I’m a woman, maybe a man or another woman may find learning to ride a motorbike differently to how I did, but there are reasons why. Fortunately, riding a motorcycle kind of came easy to me, but I can see how it doesn’t for so many people. The amount of times I’ve sat there about to set off and I’m constantly thinking ‘shit, I’ve forgotten how to do this,’ ‘1 down 4 up,’ ‘fuck where’s my brakes.’ As soon as you get going it’s absolutely fine and you forget about all the crap you were thinking 5 seconds before you let the clutch out. As much as I enjoyed being on two-wheels, the fear of falling off or whatever else could happen ruined it for me at the beginning. I have now, however, found the reason why I was so worried!


I currently have a Benelli TNT 125

Being only 5’2″, it’s been a slight struggle finding a motorbike I can actually reach the floor on as long as trousers that fit, etc, etc. (Thankfully I found MotoGirl who’s kevlar legging type trousers are DIVINE. I will do a little gear list eventually on here.) After I passed my CBT the first time my Dad helped me buy a KTM Duke 125. She was a bloody beauty and I loved her, but I’m pretty sure I rode that bike on pure adrenaline. I couldn’t reach the floor very well at all and without the experience and confidence behind you, there is just no way you can deal with that as a learner. I lost all my confidence. I didn’t want to go out on it and instead she sat dormant in the garage for 2 years. I loved the idea of a Honda Grom, but didn’t like them to look at… They look fun-sized, but without looking too ridiculous. The amount of grown 6’4” men riding round on them at TT last year was obscene, but they all looked like they were having the time of their life! Anyway, my partner had spotted a different motorbike which was similar looking to the Grom… that’s when we took a drive up to Dedman’s Performance in Ramsey. Little Nelli was sat outside and I fell in love. Probably two weeks later I’d ordered my brand new Benelli TNT 125 and booked my CBT. I part-exed my KTM for Nelli, Paul Dedman came to drop it off and pick the KTM up and that was that. Don’t buy a bike that you don’t feel comfortable with. I learnt the hard way and now I’m starting all over again!

My little Benelli TNT 125 – I absolutely love her. The OTR prices are considerably lower (potentially £2k less) than a Honda MSX 125 and in my opinion I think the Benelli have got the design of it on point. I’ve had a few comments now asking what it is, how smart it looks, how fast does it go and they all end with ‘I want one!’ If you are looking for a little 125 to bob around on, I can highly recommend this:


Benelli TNT 125 in white


As you have probably guessed, I did pass my re-CBT and here we are. Riding on the roads solo. Well, not technically. I think my mother would probably kill me if I decided to go out on my own, but also my little comfort is having Chris ride with me. Trust me, that poor ZX-7 is fed up of my 50mph riding and Chris is too…



You’ve got to start somewhere to join in with the big boys…

Talking of 50mph, that’s the learner limit here in derestricted zones. If you’re not familiar with derestricted zones, it basically means if in doubt flat about because there is no limit. If I’m honest, I’m quite content at that speed right now. The thought of going any faster currently makes me want to vomit, but I’m sure in time that will pass. Now, in a car, I’d happily do *insert high number here* mph, but I probably wasn’t happy doing that when I was learning to drive or just passed. It’s come with time, practice and experience. After all, that was almost 10 years ago. *feeling old*

The other week I got overtaken by some crazy woman in a clapped out Nissan Micra. Was I upset? A little. Chris was even more infuriated because she then persisted on tailgating him allllllll the way through Ballaugh’s 30mph zone. Prick. Anyway, let not forget I am riding on the Isle of Man TT course and I am most definitely not a TT racer. Usually they’re in the range of 150mph+, not under 50mph, so I’ll keep motoring along at my own speed for now. I got frustrated, but there was no point because Nelli probably only does a max of 60mph bless. Also, legally 50mph is my limit and in all honesty it is where I’m comfortable at the minute. Yeah, yeah, take the piss. Everyone has to start somewhere. Whatever, overtake me. See what I care. I’m learning to ride a motorbike and that’s not something everyone does in their life, so give me an effing break. 

This little blog was inspired by that shitty Nissan Micra woman, so thanks to her you got this little insight into my brain whilst learning to ride a motorbike. 10% of the time I’m shitting myself. 85% of the time I’m loving life and probably ‘whoop whooping’ in my helmet, and the other 5% I’m raging at a shitty car driver for not understanding that I’m a learner and people have to learn.

I am currently loving and living for every minute on two wheels. It rained the other morning, the sun shined at lunchtime and I’m asking work colleagues ‘IS THE ROAD DRY?! DID YOU NOTICE?!’ Going out in the wet isn’t at the top of my list just yet, but I’ll do it eventually. Aside from letting Chris take the ZX-7 out for a blast, I’m trying to sieze every little moment on Nelli because quite honestly, at the moment, it’s the best little stress reliever going. I would 100% recommend to a friend. Just do it.

I’ve still got a lot of learning to do, lots to experience and a test to pass, but I’m enjoying being back on two wheels especially on such a beautiful island where motorcycles are a way of life.



17 days and counting…

Updates to follow…