If you’ve decided to buy a motorcycle for the first time, you probably can’t wait to get out on the open road. The sense of freedom and excitement can be second to none. To ensure it’s a positive experience, it’s important to be prepared. Consider these steps to take between deciding to buy a bike and hopping on for your first solo ride.

Choose your bike carefully. You’ll find tons of options—cruisers, sport bikes, touring bikes and more. You’ll want to choose a bike that fits your intended use. In addition, you need to consider engine size, seat height (both feet should touch the ground when you’re stopped) and weight. You have to be able to get your motorcycle upright if you lay it down or it’s knocked over while parked.

Gear up. You’ll need safety gear, including a Department of Transportation-approved helmet, protective eyewear and clothing that will protect you from abrasions, such as a sturdy jacket, pants, boots and gloves. Depending on your other transportation options, you may need rain gear, too.

Get training. Training courses are crucial for new riders, and in some states, they’re required. You need different skills and knowledge to safely ride a motorcycle than you do to drive a car, and classes can help you become a confident and safe rider. Many motorcycle crashes can be attributed to a lack of basic riding skills. So protect your bike and your body by learning how to ride from a pro.

Learn about maintenance. Motorcycles tend to need more regular maintenance than cars do. If you don’t have the time or skills to do it yourself, be sure to budget for regular visits to the shop. A well-maintained motorcycle will help you avoid costly repairs and—worse yet—potential safety issues.

Buy motorcycle insurance. Be sure to ask about any discounts. They may be available for completing an approved safety course, being a member of an approved riding association, storing your bike for the winter or having a GPS-driven locating device.

Get a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. The process varies from state to state, so find out what you need to do by checking with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Your safety training course will likely include a road test at the end to qualify for the endorsement.

Find the right loan. Learn about the competitive rates and other attractive features of new and used motorcycle loans from Navy Federal.