Though we still have questionable gems of wisdom like "loud pipes save lives" (the research indicates just the opposite) to confuse matters, there are a lot more sources of reliable information to turn to these days. Better still, new riders can actually get expert information and training before they have to venture out into the streets. Thanks to the efforts of motorcycle-safety advocates across the country, almost all states now have motorcycle safety programs, which involve some sort of formal training based on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum. These courses don't pretend to turn first-timers in veteran riders. However, they do provide a systematic approach to learning motorcycle control, a trained instructor to show you how you should be doing it, hard facts about motorcycling and myriad related issues, and a safe place to practice. With a real instructor instead of your buddy (who, with four months and one nasty crash under his belt, looks like a grizzled pro), you get proven, tested information about how a motorcycle works and avoid all those bad habits and misinformation. Even if your mom or significant other is an accident-free rider of 20 years, you will do better to start with formal training.