Letter to new riders
I got this from Sportrider.com:
Chris Sedition wrote an open letter to new riders, which I copied and shortened here.
"1. Getting ANY modern 600cc supersport bike for a first ride is a bad idea (far, far, far worse is a 1000cc bike for a first ride.) In fact, it may be nothing more than an expensive form of suicide.
2. In which manner would you rather learn to walk on a circus high-wire A) with a 4x4 board that is 2 feet off the ground B) with a wire that is 20 feet off the ground? Most sensible people would choose “A”. Unfortunately safety concerns with a first motorcycle aren’t as apparent as they are in the example above. However, the wrong choice of what equipment to learn on can be just as deadly, regardless of how safe, careful, and level-headed you intend to be.
3. “But I Will be Safe, Responsible, and Level-Headed While Learning": Sorry, but this line of reasoning doesn’t cut it. To be safe you also need SKILL (throttle control, speed, leaning, etc). Skill comes ONLY with experience. To gain experience you must ride in real traffic, with real cars, and real dangers. Before that experience is developed, you are best suited with a bike that won’t severely punish you for minor mistakes. A cutting edge race bike is not one of these bikes.
Imagine someone saying, "I want to learn to juggle, but I’m going to start by learning with chainsaws. But don’t worry. I intend to go slow, be careful, stay level-headed, and respect the power of the chainsaws while I’m learning". Plain and simple, it’s just better to learn juggling with tennis balls than it is with chainsaws. The same holds true for learning to ride a motorcycle. Start with a solid foundation in the basics, and then move up. Maturity is what you SHOULD use when deciding what kind of bike to buy so that you may learn to ride a motorcycle safely.
4. “I Don’t Want a Bike I’ll Outgrow”: Please. Did your Mother put you in size 9 shoes at age 2? It is far better to maximize the performance of a smaller motorcycle and get “bored" with it than it is to mess-up your really fast bike (and messing your body parts up) and not being able to ride at all.
5. “I Don’t Want to Waste Money on a Bike I’ll Only Have for a Short Period of Time” (i.e. cost): Smaller, used bikes have and retain good resale value. This is because other sane people will want them as learner bikes. You’ll probably be able to sell a used learner bike for as much as you paid for it. If you can't afford to upgrade in a year or two, then you definitely can't afford to wreck the race-style bike you're dreaming about.
Most new riders drop bikes going under 20MPH, when the bike is at its most unstable speed. If you drop your brand new bike, fresh off the showroom floor, while you're learning (and you probably will), you've just broken a directional, perhaps a brake or clutch lever, cracked / scrapped the fairings ($300.00 each to replace), messed up the engine casing, messed-up the bar ends, etc. It's better and cheaper to drop a used bike that you don’t care about than one you just spent $11,000 on. Fortunately, most of these types of accidents do not result in serious physical injury. It’s usually just a big dent in your pride and…
6. EGO. Worried about looking like a chump on a smaller bike? Well, you're gonna look like the biggest idiot ever on your brand new but messed-up bike after you’ve dropped it a few times. You’ll also look really dumb with a badass race bike that you stall 15 times at a red light before you can get into gear. Or even better, how about a new supersport that you can’t ride more than 15mph around a turn because you don’t know how to counter-steer correctly? Yeah, you're gonna be really cool with that bike, huh? Any real rider would give you props for going about learning to ride the *correct* way (i.e. on a learner bike). If you’re stressed about impressing someone with a “cool” bike, or embarrassed about being on smaller bike, then your not “mature enough” to handle the responsibility of ANY motorcycle. Try a bicycle. After you've grown-up (“matured”), revisit the idea of something with an engine.
7. "Don’t Ask for Advice if You Don't Want to Hear a Real Answer". A common pattern:
1. Newbie asks for advice on a 1st bike (Newbie wants to hear certain answers).
2. Experienced riders advise Newbie against a 600cc supersport bike for a first ride (This is not what Newbie wanted to hear).
3. Newbie says and thinks, "Others mess up while learning, but that wont happen to me" (As if Newbie is invincible, holds superpowers, never makes mistakes, has a “level head”, or has a skill set that exceeds the majority of the world, etc).
4. Experienced riders explain why a “level head” isn’t enough. You also need SKILL, which can ONLY be gained via experience. (Newbie thinks he has innate motorcycle skills).
5. Newbie makes up excuses as to why he is “mature” enough to handle a 600cc supersport bike”. (Skill drives motorcycles, not maturity).
6. Newbie, with no knowledge about motorcycles, totally disregards all the advice he asked for in the first place.
7. Newbie goes out and buys a race replica. Newbie is scared of the power. Being scared of your bike is the LAST thing you want. Newbie gets turned-off to motorcycles, because of fear, and never gets to really experience all the fun that they truly can be. Or worse, Newbie gets in a serious accident.
You’ll see veteran after veteran telling new riders NOT to get a 600cc supersport bike for a first ride. You’ll see pro racers saying to start small. Why? Because we hate new riders? Because we don't want others to have cool bikes? Because we want to smash your dreams? Nothing could be further from the truth.
The more riders the better (assuming they're not squids or pirates)! The reason people like me and countless others spend so much time trying to dissuade new riders from 600cc supersport bikes is because we actually care about you. We don't want to see people get hurt. We don't want to see more people die in senseless accidents that could have been totally avoided with a little logic and patience and a few thousand miles with a less powerful bike.
We want the “sport” to grow in a safe, healthy, and sane way. We WANT you to be around to ride that Ninja, R6, CBR600RR, GSXR-1000, Hayabusa, etc that you desire so badly. However, we just want you to be able to ride it in a safe manner that isn’t going to be a threat to yourself or others.
You may also hear bike dealers saying that a 600cc supersport bike is a good starter bike. They are trying to make money off you. Don’t listen.
Speaking of help, this is a great time to plug the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) course. The MSF course is an AMAZING learning opportunity for new riders. In some areas if you pass the course your motorcycle license will then be directly mailed to you. This means that you DON’T HAVE TO GO TO THE DMV, AT ALL!!!). That alone should be enough reason to take the course. Also, in some states you will get a discount on your insurance after you’ve taken the course.
Also, a GREAT book to check out is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles, 3rd edition”. MY ADVICE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO GET INTO MOTORCYCLES WOULD BE TO BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT COVER TO COVER ABOUT 2 OR 3 TIMES. AFTER YOU HAVE DONE THAT, THEN TAKE THE MSF COURSE. At the very least, go hang out at Barnes & Noble for an afternoon and read as much of the book as you can until they kick you out of the store.
I haven’t even mentioned riding gear. Get it. Wear it. People who wear sunglasses instead of full face helmets, tank tops, flip-flops, and shorts while riding don’t look so cool when it comes time for a skin-graft or resetting broken bones. Dress for the crash, not the ride.
Off-road and street riding are totally different worlds. Granted, someone with off-road history knows things like shift patterns, how to use a clutch, etc but the power, weight, and handling of street bikes are a different ball game altogether. They still should not start with a 600cc supersport on the street."