I’m hoping to get a motorcycle license next year, and hopefully save up for a crotch rocket. The most I’ve ridden is a friend’s moped, since my parents were very adamant about the dangers of motorcycles. Got any tips about starting out?[/quote]
Do the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) class before purchasing a bike. Even if you think you “know” how to ride a bike, it’s still useful. Heck, do it even if you don’t get a bike, it’s fun.
In some places, the completion of the MSF class allows you to skip the driving test at the DMV - just show proof of completion. But ask about that at the DMV. Even if they don’t allow you to use the MSF as an excuse, still do the class.
Especially if you get a sportbike (a.k.a. “crotch rocket”), get the best riding gear you can afford.
Helmet is required by law in most places, so get a good full-face helmet. Arai and Shoei are popular brands, but do some research first. I had an Arai which did very well when I hit the ground, the helmet took a beating but my head and its contents remained intact. Please note: if you hit the ground with your helmet once, throw it away and get a new one. Arguably, you should do that even if you only drop the helmet to the ground about 3 feet or so. Be very careful with your helmet, it protects a very important part of your body.
Get good gloves. Not the kind you’d wear on a bicycle, but gloves made specially for motorcycles. Alpinestars is a good start, but there are other brands too. My Alpinestars were used a bit beyond their useful range, so when I hit the ground their surface got shredded but the body of the glove held up well and my hands remained intact.
Get real motorcycle boots. I have very good Sidi boots, but when I crashed and broke my ankle in a zillion pieces, they were sitting in the closet at home because I was wearing sneakers like a moron.
Last but not least, get a 1-piece or a 2-piece leather suit, with padding in all important places (elbows, knees, etc). Alpinestars and Teknic are good brands, but there are many others. Joe Rocket is ok if you don’t go with their low-end stuff. My Teknic Lightning 1piece was hanging in the closet when I crashed - while my flimsy Icon jacket protected my upper body, the jeans did nothing for my legs and I had to deal with road rash which is pretty nasty.
Some people say a back protector (sort of an articulated turtle shell you wear on your back under the suit) is mandatory. The more I think of it, the more I agree. I’ll get one when I will resume riding.
The jacket-jeans-n-sneakers “attire” that’s popular with the crotch rocket kids nowadays is too big of a risk. But it’s up to you, if you think your legs are important to you, then heed my advice. If not, then do as you please.
All the gear I indicated above will set you back $1000 or a bit more. But better get a cheaper bike than skip the protection. There is no way to overemphasize this. You would surely understand if you’d spend many weeks in a wheelchair, and even 10 months later you’d still be limping a little bit, like me.
If you finance your bike, you can put the gear on the same bill with the bike. Think about that.
Now, the bike.
If it’s a sportbike, I have news for you: there is no essential difference between a 600cc and a 1000cc. The bigger bike only gives you 0.2sec faster 0-60mph time (2.9sec instead of 3.1) and 20mph more top speed (180mph instead of 160). But that’s only straight line performance.
Well, in a straight line, any monkey can squeeze a throttle, it takes neither brains nor skills, and it takes about the same amount of courage that can be mustered by a 12 yr old kid. It’s in the twisties, it’s in taking a turn with precision and control that the better rider is identified.
You will not “outgrow a 600cc in two years.” A 600cc is not a “girly bike.” That’s urban legend and macho talk from Starbucks racer wanabees. A sportbike is a sportbike, no matter the engine size.
In fact, the price difference between a 1000cc and a 600cc is pretty much what you would spend on good protection (suit, boots, etc.). It’s a no-brainer, really.
Plus, in the twisties, the lighter 600cc is easier to manage than the heavier 1000cc.
I had a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 636cc when I crashed (and I totalled it). I am looking now at the Triumph Daytona 675 as a replacement, just because I think it’s the most beautiful sportbike currently in production.
But do your own research, put your ass on various bikes and see which one fits you better.
Ideally, you should get a Ninja 250 (yes, that’s a 250cc bike) first, ride it, use it, abuse it, drop it, etc. for about a year or two, then get a sportbike. The learning curve is much more forgiving this way.
But I shouldn’t say that, since I didn’t follow my own advice. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a bike anymore.
There’s a guy living nearby, he’s a former racer, who shows up to the Saturday rides on a Ninja 250cc. Some poor suckers don’t know him and make fun of his bike. And surely, in a straight line he can’t compete. But then the group hits the twisties and this guy is RAILING through the turns, while the “Starbuks racers” on their flashy “big bikes” fall a mile behind. Talk about a bruised ego.
It’s the rider, not the bike.
Damn, it’s my provider messing with me. It should work now. Sorry.