One thing that's stopping many girls from that very first step of going to register for their Class 2B lessons, is self-consciousness. I know because it was what put me off wanting to learn riding when I was 18 and my driving instructor asked me to also take up riding. You see, in driving practicals, it's ALWAYS 1-on-1 with ONE instructor, usually middle-aged or old, so if you're a young girl, you will almost always just see the instructor as an uncle of sorts, or a senior, BETTER still if the instructor's female, plus you don't need to really go near any other trainees (who, chances are, are young like you too) so you will never feel self-conscious, right? HOWEVER, for riding, many of the instructors are young chaps, hardly above 45. Quite a few are in their 20s-30s. Plus, MAJORITY of the 2B trainees are guys. I tell you, this was the main factor stopping me many years ago. Because I WILL be stared and ogled at or whispered about like a zoo animal of sorts. Among the trainees. And instructors. Just because we're female. And you know the male species..(not all....but some..)
But no one's going to look at you like that...
So yes, that first step is very unnerving, though the above picture should have put you at ease.
But let me tell you this - you WILL get used to it. And when you do, you won't really give a shit about who's watching you. Come on, these are not big-shot CEOs, Mediacorp directors, or their sons (not likely, anyway, cos they'll be so rich they probably own a Beemer or Benz or VW or Mini or something...), so it's absolutely unnecessary to fret. You're not going there to model or impress people or do an interview. Everyone's there to learn. Yes, even the Malay Mats and Chinese Ah Bengs. Most of them look sutt and like they know what they're doing, but in actual fact, every single trainee is equally blur. Those who look like they know what's going on? Chances are they are repeating the subject for the 3rd or 4th time. And they start off blur anyway.
Everyone will have their fair share of falling, guys and girls alike, experienced or not. Trust me, even instructors have bad falls. And no one has died from falling at a training centre, or broken a limb. If you follow instructions you won't kill yourself. The most you get are orh-chehs and minor scratches. And orh-chehs are part of learning, no? Remember when you learnt how to walk? The first 12 years of your life? You fall too, yeah? Even though you started walking at 2, you still fell when you were 8. And you get a large orh cheh or knee abrasion. Heck, some people even fall when they're in their 20s. Or ever tried your hand at ice-skating? Sure fall one right?
So girls, don't be afraid to fall, okay? You won't be in a miniskirt so don't worry about zao-genging if you fall. Long pants AND long sleeves, together with gloves, are COMPULSORY. And you will have your helmet on. They require you to wear elbow and knee guards on your first few lessons. And the lessons which they anticipate you will fall, like the E-brakes. So hey~ Fall fall la! The more you fall the better you get at riding! Not your bike anyway so you don't have to worry about spoiling it. You're covered under insurance as well. (It's part of the school fees! =D)
They do teach the techniques to picking up a fallen bike, so don't worry about "What if I fall?"s. That's very important cos it's the same for a Class 2A, or Class 2 bike. Those are huge and VERY heavy, and I've seen a girl smaller than myself pick one up successfully.
Instructors will be all over the circuit, so should anything happen, like if you fall and don't have the strength to pick up your bike, they will run to your aid. I personally picked up my fallen bikes by myself like, less than 5 times. And mind you, I have fallen and crashed countless times and broken many of their bikes' side mirrors. But I'm still running around and looking good! And they have not made anyone pay for damages cos they understand it's part of learning. ^.^ (Can't say the same for driving though. If you crash their car, chances are the instructor's pay - more likely, or your pocket, will suffer.)
This should put you at ease: there are 2 very nice female instructors - Koreen and Jocelyn, whom you can approach if you have male-species-phobia. They are just as competent as the guys, if not more than some, so post them any questions if you have doubts! ;) Also, more and more girls are signing up for Class 2B, so you will almost always see a few other girls in that same time slot you're taking~ 女生们加油！
Also, like I addressed in my earlier post, the bikes do come in shorter and smaller models so don't be afraid to ask for them if you are not vertically-inclined and all the bikes given to you are the standard ones. For optimum learning purposes, the bike should always cater to you, not you to the bike. I myself preferred the standard model cos the lower ones made me feel like I'm sinking into the bike and it just felt weird. But tip-toeing while braking puts you at a disadvantage cos should the balance go off, your leg will not not have the strength to 顶住 the weight of the bike which has gone sideways instead of upright, and you end up t~o~p~p~l~i~n~g....which I did, a lot.
Each practical lesson costs just $20*, $23* if it's peak hours (weekends and evenings), 1/3 of the cost of a driving practical*.
A sports bike, if it's brand new, with your P-plate licence and under 26 years-old insurance will set you back abt $8k. (That's my bike by the way.) A scooter (insurance is slightly cheaper, about $500 less?) will cost you about $5-6k? Not sure about a Vespa. Vespas cost slightly higher. They are the 2-wheel equivalents of your VW Beetle or Mini Cooper. Just plain classic.
I googled around and found a few models.
This one's been revamped. A 1982 Vespa
Sprint. And it's going for $5k. Oooooch~
vintage Vespa Sprint. Going for $2900. Feel the difference?
2005 LX 150 - $5000
This one's quite nice. A classic 1983 Made in Italy 150cc Vespa. Going for $3500.
As you can see, Vespas don't come cheap. Even the second hand ones. A brand new one will set you back $7-9k OTR (On-The-Road, meaning all-in price, with COE + Insurance + IU). But notice that the nicer you revamp it to be, the higher its resale value. Aesthetics matter. So note that if you want to sell your bikes in the future.
For those with shallower pockets, you might consider a Fino. It's modelled similar to the Vespa, but priced cheaper. It has gained quite a following in Singapore, with even a Finotics Club with over 400 members!
This is how the classic one looks like
Good news is, they come in many bright colours, with the prime choice of Singapore lady riders being....
The new 2010 model
With flower prints! I saw this one in turquoise when I was choosing my bike. The turqoise one was quite chio~
I went through some of the Finotics' pictures and found that many of the Finotics like to "zeng" their bikes.
The seat had been changed.
So has the box! Nice!!! Gives a girly touch to an otherwise thought-of-as-manly vehicle.
Take time to explore your options. You're sure to find one you like. Google images of them. An otherwise sporty bike, when given a new colour, gives out a very different feel altogether.
The VERY popular Kawasaki Ninja. Otherwise known as the KR. Sporty.
The pink one is an actual bike okay, I didn't photoshop it or anything.
One thing's for sure, having a 2-wheel ride keeps the 'tryers' (you know, those who keep trying on you?) at bay. Cos when they ask "can I send you home?", you can coolly flutter your eyelids and say "Oh, but I have my own ride," and they can only watch in awe and admiration as you don your helmet, gracefully swing your leg across the seat, wink at them, and ride off. Unless they are losers, they will never dare ask you to send them home. Tadah~! Sutt sutt or what~~~ Weee-oooo---weeet!!!!! Independent women! You go girls!
I'll post up the Class 2B syllabus sometime later kays?
Meanwhile, I'm lagging behind on topics I wanted to blog about but haven't found the time to do!
You'll come back for them right? Cos I know you love me~ =D