T Nation

Deciding to Buy a Motorcycle?

I was looking over the thread about which motorcycle is the best one to buy for someone who is a newbie to riding. This got me thinking about what drives a person to decide they want to buy a motorcycle for the first time. Just about everyone learns how to drive a car (since it is the most common form of motorized transportation in this country) and it’s easy to get the chance to practice before ever going to get your license to buy the car itself. However, there are not as many motorcycles out there as cars, so most people (i.e. me) have probably not had the chance to try it out.

But for motorcycles, I would love to hear from riders as to why they got into motorcycles in the first place. I am intrigued by them, but I have never actually ridden one, so I would never know if I would want to buy one, outside of I THINK it would be fun and a great sense of freedom… but that does not seem like enough. Do most people who ride now get a chance to try one and fell in love with it? Maybe their dad had a bike and they got involved that way?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Kuz

  • Return with honor.

Kuz,

I ride a bike. Personally, I enjoy the freedom, smoothness and just ass puckering fun they can be. People get bikes for many different reasons. Some want to look good. Some people just enjoy the ?wind in there hair? so to speak. Some enjoy the performance of a bike.

My first bike was a 94 FZR1000 with a ton of engine work done to it. This is a VERY poor first bike. Way too much power. Very easy to get in over your head. Had the bike for 3 years, putting close to 50k miles on it. The only reason I got a 1000cc for a first bike was due to the fact that the prior owner totaled it and it was cheap. Bought it for $1500 and $700 later it looked good as new. Of course it took me 4 months of searching for used parts and body work, but it was worth it. Then she got sold?.

Started riding a friends 2000 Kawasaki Voyager (looks like a gold wing). This is a TOTALLY different kind of riding. Comfortable, stereo, luggage racks, great wind protection? Without a doubt the kind of bike you can take for long rides. But the bike was huge and lacks in handling/power. Not a go out by yourself and have fun kind of bike.

So I did the logical thing, bought a middle of the road bike: Kawasaki Vulcan 800. This bike SUCKED! At least for me. It didn?t really fill any role well enough. Never rode the thing. It didn?t have enough balls to be fun, and wasn?t as comfortable as the Voyager for 2up riding. Sold?.

Now we?re riding a Honda VTR1000F. Definitely more sporty, but not a GSXR kind of sporty. And so far, I love it.

In short, this is the deal. You will most likely drop your first bike. So you may not want new. Start off small (<500cc 4cyl or 650cc Vtwin). The smaller bikes are much more forgiving. Not to mention they kick ass in the corners, just suck a little wind on the straights. If stunting is your thing (wheelies, stoppies, etc?) smaller bikes make it a little easier. For example, my FZR I never could wheelie at will, only out of corners by getting on the gas. Reason being, I was scarred to loop it. My friends 600, no problems. Of course a better rider would find the 1000cc easier. V-twin vs 4cyl: your call. Twins have more torque at lower RPMs than a 4cyl. However 4cyls have more torque up high and higher RPMs, so they have more horsepower. Basically, you need to keep a inline 4 up in RPM?s to have any real usable power, not so with a twin. This can be good or bad. Sometimes its real nice having tons of power at 4k rpms (like when riding some twisty roads) and sometimes its not (stuck in the rain and don?t want that rear tire kicking out all the time).

Either way take the motorcycle safety course. If you enjoy it, great, and you?ll get a discount on your insurance, not to mention learn a lot. If you find out it?s not what you like, it?s cheaper than buying a bike.

Where in CT are you?

PS. This may sound stupid, but riding is as close to flying as you can get. Hard to explain but take a brisk ride threw some twisty roads and see how smooth it is. Best feeling in the world! Err?.one of the best feelings (god, hope my GF isn?t reading this)

i was raised around them, my dad had harley my entire life. i rode with him when i was little and when i was about 10 my dad bought me a dirtbike. now i’m 20 and i’ve always had a motorcycle of some sort around to ride, but nothing insane. right now my brother and i can ride a honda interceptor (250cc) or a yamaha seca 2(600cc i think). someday i’ll buy myself a gixxer and race it, but i gotta get to a point where i have money to spend first.

Hey, in response to what RT45 said… I think riding a bike is better than flying. I fly for a career and I’d much rather be on a bike any day. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it.

Anyways, as far as a first bike, at suzuki katana 600 was my first when I was 18. IT was a great little bike to learn on. Had it for a couple years when a old lady in a car tried to kill me at an intersection. Second bike was a gsxr 600(little sportier) and had it for about the same amount of time when an old man this time tried to kill me in much the same fashion as the old lady… MY ADVICE: Watch out for cars and practice defensive driving. It doesnt matter if you had the right of way if you’re dead! I got lucky and walked away both times, but both bikes were write-offs so could have been alot worse. I’m currently without a ride, but if I were to get another, it would be another GSXR. Good luck

Just go to the showrooms, look at many bikes. You’ll find one that strikes that something in you, you won’t know what it is but it will be there. Then you’ll sit on it, grab the bars and your imagination will come alive. Then you will know, you will just know and know you will.

Anyway that’s how it starts for alot of us.

If you are new to riding, don’t go out and buy the biggest, most powerful bike you can find. Most of the time, that ends up in a serious over-powered wreck. What kind of riding are you looking at? Dirt bikes, street, TT (Tavern to Tavern)? I have been riding most of my life. Mostly Triumphs and Harleys. Get something your comfortable with maybe 500cc or so. Once you get used to riding (dodging in/out of traffic and cars)then get something bigger/better. Remember to watch out for cars turning left, this is the most common of all bike/car accidents.

Cheers,

RW

all of my uncles and family have harleys, i personally got interested when my cousin came home with a CBR900 lowered with an 8inch swing arm. he upgraded to a hayabusa in 01 and lowered it/chromed it/extended it and i pretty much knew i was going to have to get one then. once you buy one you can’t give it up, unless you are forced to.

A need for speed.

I have to ask this since I’ve been wondering ever since I saw “Me, Myself, and Irene”. Do people that ride motorcyles get hit in the face with bugs??

[quote]StevenF wrote:
I have to ask this since I’ve been wondering ever since I saw “Me, Myself, and Irene”. Do people that ride motorcyles get hit in the face with bugs?? [/quote]

You can tell a happy biker by the bugs in his teeth.

[quote]StevenF wrote:
I have to ask this since I’ve been wondering ever since I saw “Me, Myself, and Irene”. Do people that ride motorcyles get hit in the face with bugs?? [/quote]

I would never ride with any less than a full-face helmet. I value my teeth, nose, and chin too much.

So no, I get hit in the face shield with bugs. :slight_smile:

[quote]michaelv wrote:
A need for speed.[/quote]

That almost sums it up. I am an adrenalin junkie. I need to get my heart rate up, whether it be from scary movies, riding really fast or anything else that sparks my interest. I never grew up around bikes, however, they are slowly becoming extremely popular in urban culture. I saw riding a motorcycle as something that I had never done and I hate not having tried something like that. I taught myself, began riding with other people, took a safety class and loved it. It is the ultimate escape. Nothing matters while you are riding. If you are in a group it suddenly becomes a pack mentality so it is almost primal. I hope I am never in an accident because I would like to ride for the rest of my life.

As far as how a newbie should approach it, go to a bike shop and simply look around. Listen to other people talk about them. Watch the races on ESPN. Learn what a stoppie is and why some people think they are cool if they can do one for a quarter mile. All bikes are not the same. Guys who ride cruisers are almost a different culture than guys who ride sports bikes. We all wave at each other, but there are unique differences. Some is based on attitude, age, or overall style. Some of that is even changing though with the chopper shows on tv. Hell, I want one now even though I used to hate cruisers.

X has it.

Carving a perfect back-to-back 45-mile “esses” at 95. It’s a flow thing. It’s literally like flying. Do NOT attempt this until you learn how to do it at lower speeds. But once you get in that flow, and it’s more reflex than effort, then yes, the primal emerges and there is nothing in this world that can equal that kind of high.

[quote]Kuz wrote:
I was looking over the thread about which motorcycle is the best one to buy for someone who is a newbie to riding. This got me thinking about what drives a person to decide they want to buy a motorcycle for the first time. Just about everyone learns how to drive a car (since it is the most common form of motorized transportation in this country) and it’s easy to get the chance to practice before ever going to get your license to buy the car itself. However, there are not as many motorcycles out there as cars, so most people (i.e. me) have probably not had the chance to try it out.

But for motorcycles, I would love to hear from riders as to why they got into motorcycles in the first place. I am intrigued by them, but I have never actually ridden one, so I would never know if I would want to buy one, outside of I THINK it would be fun and a great sense of freedom… but that does not seem like enough. Do most people who ride now get a chance to try one and fell in love with it? Maybe their dad had a bike and they got involved that way?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Kuz

  • Return with honor.[/quote]

I am of the mindset of get the bike you dream about/can afford. I was a newbie to motorcycles 2 years ago…never ridden in my life but my dream bike was a Harley Fat-Boy.

People told me to buy a small bike to get used to then get bigger/faster from there.

I say get the one you want because you will get used to it very quickly. I never road a motorcycle before and when I took the rider safety class we used 125’s…they were like mopeds! I went from that right to a 1500! 2003 Harley Fat-Boy! The first day or so It was awkward because it was so much bigger but I got used to it within days.

You will be bored to death with a smaller bike and you will regret it and want a new one right away! TRUST ME!

But be careful if your fancy is a crotch rocket! There is a huge acceleration difference between say a 750 compared to a 1200! So if you decide to get the biggest/fastest crotch rocket BE SURE TO ACCELERATE SLOWLY TIL YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THE POWER!!!

[quote]John DeVito wrote:
Kuz wrote:
You will be bored to death with a smaller bike and you will regret it and want a new one right away! TRUST ME!

But be careful if your fancy is a crotch rocket! There is a huge acceleration difference between say a 750 compared to a 1200! So if you decide to get the biggest/fastest crotch rocket BE SURE TO ACCELERATE SLOWLY TIL YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THE POWER!!![/quote]

In general, the advice is sound, but keep in mind there is a big difference between cruisers and sportbikes, especially super-sports.

In the sportbike world, bigger isn’t necessarily better. My bike is 599ccs. It weighs 355 pounds. It will do (with a drag-racer, not with me driving!) 0-60 in a little over 3 seconds, and the 1/4 mile in under 10.5. Top speed is around a paltry 165mph. Sure, a ZX12 can flirt with 200mph, but can you honestly say that my bike is too slow? And that ZX12 is going to be a lot more to handle in the really tight, fast corners.

In the cruiser world, things are a little different. Bikes aren’t built so much for maximum performance, so a bigger torquier engine does make a bigger difference. Some big cruisers can weigh three times as much as my bike!

It would be good to get an idea of which direction you want to go before making a size decision.

[quote]michaelv wrote:
John DeVito wrote:
Kuz wrote:
You will be bored to death with a smaller bike and you will regret it and want a new one right away! TRUST ME!

But be careful if your fancy is a crotch rocket! There is a huge acceleration difference between say a 750 compared to a 1200! So if you decide to get the biggest/fastest crotch rocket BE SURE TO ACCELERATE SLOWLY TIL YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THE POWER!!!

In general, the advice is sound, but keep in mind there is a big difference between cruisers and sportbikes, especially super-sports.

In the sportbike world, bigger isn’t necessarily better. My bike is 599ccs. It weighs 355 pounds. It will do (with a drag-racer, not with me driving!) 0-60 in a little over 3 seconds, and the 1/4 mile in under 10.5. Top speed is around a paltry 165mph. Sure, a ZX12 can flirt with 200mph, but can you honestly say that my bike is too slow? And that ZX12 is going to be a lot more to handle in the really tight, fast corners.

In the cruiser world, things are a little different. Bikes aren’t built so much for maximum performance, so a bigger torquier engine does make a bigger difference. Some big cruisers can weigh three times as much as my bike!

It would be good to get an idea of which direction you want to go before making a size decision.[/quote]

Yes and no honestly. On paper your technically right but in the real world this is not the case by far. I have a CBR 1100xx and by bud rides an R6 with the basic power upgrades. His bike is listed as just about the same acceleration my CBR 1100. HP is also similar which is actually suprising given his small engine. So we have this argument all the time. He’s convinced his bike is just as fast and can hang because he’s a by the numbers kinda guy.

So we did several and i mean several acceleration tests from a stop and the R6 was literally just blown away every time. It’s lack of displacement is a severe detriment to a good launch, as is its lack of weight, too much clutch popping send his front wheel up where the CBR1100 just launched with a satisfying “chirp” from the rear tire and the front end torqued up an inch and come right down.
On roll on acceleration on the highway it’s just not even a fair competiotion again, it’s like racing a moped. And he’s crazy enough to do anything to win so he’s not babying his bike. I’ve had the same result with the gixxer, but not the gixxer 1000 or the R1.

As far as twisties go, i had to work much harder to be just as fast due to the bikes weight, but my experience and peg scraping know how made up for it, but when he got crazy and turned into a turn the bike just snapped into a turn so fast i got chill down my spine and would not even think of doing that with a CBR1100. But then again the R6’s specific purpose is to do twisties.

“The bike will never kill you, but your ego will”… very wise words as true as the day they were told to me. I have seen guys wreck a 250cc bike as easily as a 1200cc bike, so it aint the size of the motor.
Try and find a bike that feels good, and try and avoid people who are flat out stupid or reckless as you cant learn anything from them. Rather hook up with some people who participate in track days and go riding with them in the back country on the weekend. Follow their lines into and out of the curves and you will be amazed and what you can learn.
As for bikes, I have a 1974 Honda, cafe Racer style that is as much fun as my 2003 Ducati. Each has their own purpose and style. If you own a cruiser, dont ride it like a crotch rocket. So on the Honda I never really get above 55mph, as its more for trips up to the local diner or around town. Where the Duc is used on the Track or on the back roads.
Best advice, the day you stop being scared on a bike is the day you get to relaxed and FUCK UP. Enjoy the thrill, be thinking about what is around the next corner, anticipate cars reactions, and you will be amazed at how much fun ya have.

what everybody says is true.use caution
when buying a bike. start at a low cc
bike like 400. that way you have enough
power for almost any situation and you can learn about contolling the bike. if you get a low cc bike like less than say
200 you dont have enough power. i did
yrs ago when i was young dumb and fulla
cum! i had a 125 cc bike that i had as a result of a choice between that and
$600 towards a car. tokk the motor cycle
and that was my only regret. and it wasnt fast enough for me on the highway
and was scared shitless when i was on the highway. that was during first yr in college. those cars just flew past me
and reaaly close to me that i was terrified! the top speed for the bike was 50-55 mph! and dont have the bike
anymore and haven’t ridden in over 15 yrs. but been looking recently and making plans to buy one and that engine will be more than 350 cc thats for sure!
so good luck and tell what you got when you get the bike.

Barton

I just picked up a 2005 Triumph Bonneville T100, and it is a sweet ride! I have a 1971 Triumph Daytona, and they are both a blast. Powerful? Nope, just fun! My last bike was a built Suzuki Bandit 1200 with about 120 horsepower, and while the new one is nowhere near that in HP or torque, but I can honestly say it is a lot more fun to ride. It is also the kind of bike I think most people, even a beginner, would be comfortable on. Of course, I am pushing 40 and don’t need to go 120 to be happy anymore, I am just glad I made it through that (idiotic) stage alive…

Oh, and if hasn’t been said already; take the Motorcyle Safety Foundation course. I had been riding for 20 years (started on dirt bikes when I was 13) and I learned from the course.

Look up ABATE in your state. They offer motorcycle training courses for both beginner and advanced riders. Usually it’s a one or two day course and they usually have a variety of bikes on hand for trainee use.

There are other organizations such as American motorcycle safety foundation, etc. but ABATE is the most prominent in the training.

The courses are a bit pricey but well worth it. I’ve been riding since I was eight and went begrudgingly because the NAVY made me in order to ride on base, of course they paid for it. Long story short, I had a great time, learned some things and met some other riders.

Alot of insurance companies offer a discount if you have a safety course completion card.

You can ride hard and ride safe but it’s not automatic. It’s learned skills and experience.

Hope your experience is as great as the rest of have had.