Ninja Learning

Ninja Learning

A young, female law graduate, Veronica Manning exemplifies a new cohort of riders taking up motorcycling. So what can others learn from her path to a full licence?

Veronica Manning

When the lights for the pedestrian crossing ahead went orange then red, Veronica smoothly braked her CB300F to a halt to let people cross. Moments later, she watched the Honda rocket off on its own down the road while she sprawled across the bonnet of the car that hit her from behind. The driver hadn’t seen her, hadn’t seen the lights go red and likely didn’t brake until the impact had already happened.

Shaken but apparently uninjured, she went to North Shore hospital to be checked over and was diagnosed with mild concussion. Clearly, even though her helmet like all her gear looked untouched, the back of her head had made some contact with the car. The lid, along with the CB, was a write-off, but Veronica could thank her lucky stars that she had invested in quality protective riding gear.

It’s a lesson in how a rider can be involved in a crash not of their own making and in what would seem quite straightforward circumstances. And in how important wearing all the gear, all the time, really is. But Veronica already knew this, thanks to sound advice from her father, an experienced rider, and from the staff at specialist gear dealership MotoMail. “I knew someone there from University,” she says. “So I went in and would chat to him about what to get for the price and what I needed it for.”

Bike choice

According to Veronica, when it comes to choosing a bike having a dad who rides can be something of a double-edged sword. “I wouldn’t say he was in complete control,” she says. “But I couldn’t go and buy a bike without his approval. My dad didn’t want me to get anything too big, he wanted something that would be good for a learner and it was really important to have something where I could get both feet on the ground.” Deflecting dad’s suggestion of a GN250, Veronica managed to reach decent compromise in the shape of a VTR250. “It was carbureted, so that was a learning curve for me–having to use a choke. It was a neat little bike but unfortunately it had engine problems”, recounts Victoria. “So I moved up to the CB300.”

The CB was a dream bike, and both Veronica and her father were very happy that it came with ABS. “I go in to work every day on the bike, even through winter, so my dad was very keen that I have a bike with ABS. He says he’d never go back to one without.” Unfortunately, after the nightmare of the crash, Veronica ended up doing just that. “I’ve now got a 2015 Ninja 300, just before they fitted ABS. I couldn’t be without a bike, no way, and it was a good buy. It’s a fantastic bike but I do wish it had ABS and whatever I have next will have it for sure.”

Easy pathway

Veronica took full advantage of the CBTA shortcuts in the licensing system, taking Ride Forever Bronze and Silver courses that eased her pathway to a full licence. She found the whole process taught her great skills while being reassuringly simple. “I even had the same instructor for my Basic Handling Skills course, my Silver course and my full licence assessment!”

She’s now looking forward to taking her Gold course. “They like you to get a couple of years riding experience in before taking it, which is understandable."

Advice to others

As someone who’s very recently learned to ride and gone through the licensing process, it’s good to hear what Veronica has to say to others thinking about doing the same. “I would just say do it at a pace you’re comfortable at,” she says. “I think I felt a bit of pressure to be a really good rider straight away. But I think it’s alright to have that learning curve and stay within your comfort zone. I’m still on a 300 and I think it’s great to learn to ride well rather than get ahead of yourself. But one day I will have that ZX6R!”