SO YOU WANNA GET A SPORTBIKE?

Posted at 2/1/2012 3:58:05 PM

bunchof6

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SO YOU WANNA GET A SPORTBIKE?

I got this from one of the imageboards. Thought it had some good advice on it, so here it is.

SO YOU WANNA GET A SPORTBIKE?

FIRST THINGS FIRST - BEFORE YOU BUY A BIKE
Before you buy a motorcycle, you need to buy some gear, and you need to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's basic training course. The MSF course will teach you the basics of riding a bike on the road. It's not terribly expensive, it's not hard, and it will give you a huge advantage when you start riding on your own. Plus, in many states the MSF course counts as your driving portion ofthe license test. To find a course, go to http://www.msf-usa.org

As far as gear: at the very minimum, you need to buy a HELMET, JACKET, GLOVES, and BOOTS. Any time you are on the bike you should have all ofthat stuff on. Every time. Riding a motorcycle is DANGEROUS, there is always a risk of an accident, even if you do nothing wrong. Protect yourself.
You don't need to spend a lot, but you will probably spend close to $500 on decent stuff. Make sure the helmet is DOT- or Snell-certified, and everything you buy is motorcycle-specific. You should also really get some kind of leg protection - jeans last about two seconds while sliding across asphalt at 60 mph.

OK, SO WHAT BIKE IS GOOD FOR A BEGINNER?
The best rule of thumb for a starter bike is this: Two or fewer cylinders, 750cc or less. Any bike that follows those guidelines will be an excellent starter bike. But perhaps a list would be more helpful. The most common beginner sportbikes are, in no particular order: Ninja 250, Ninja 500, GS500, Ninja 650, SV650. There are others, but these are by farthe easiest to find and the most reliable. Each bike has its pros and cons, so do some research and find out what fits foryou and your budget.

Unless you have money to burn, buy a used bike. Two reasons for this. One: used beginner bikes hold their value very well, so you'll be able to sell it in a year or so forvery close to the price you paid for it. Two: you will probably drop yourfirst bike. It might be at 50 MPH, it might be at 5, it might be stopped at alight, but it's probably going to happen, and when it does you're going to feel awful about scratching and denting a brand new bike you're still making payments on. Buy a used bike, and it's probably got a few scuffs already, so you can pick it back up and move on.

I WANNA START ON A CBR/ZX-6R/GSXR/YZF R6/ETC. INLINE-4 SUPERSPORT!
Don't. Just don't. Don't even think about it. These bikes are little more than racebikes with lights, designed to instantly and unforgivingly respond to whatever input they get from the rider. These bikes do not tolerate mistakes, and as a new riderYOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES!

It's not simply a matter of speed or horsepower.

1. Four~cylinder motorcycle engines make huge amounts of power by rewing to very high RPMs, and this means they have a very peaky powerband. Twins have linear power delivery, meaning you get the same sort of response from the engine at 3500 RPM and 8000 RPM. are very sluggish at low RPM but extremely powerful at high RPM. Meaning the engine's response to more throttle will be wildy different in different situations.

2. Throttle response is very twitchy, due to a number of design features like lightweight flywheels and how the throttle itself is built. Supersport motors rev extremely fast and respond more quickly to changes in throttle position. Meaning if you hit a bump that upsets your right hand you'll get a huge burst of power, or if you use too much throttle on a downshift and let go ofthe clutch leveryou'll do an unintentional, uncontrolled wheelie. In the middle oftraffic.

3. Riding position on these bikes is extreme. On the track you want to be tucked down and forward, so the grips are set low and forward--so it's hard to ride at street-legal speeds without leaning on the grips, which is not only hard on the wrists, it makes fine control inputs difficult. There's a reason dirt bikers sit upright and have high, wide handlebars--they don't need to tuck down against 200mph headwinds, or crawl over the tank and hang half off the bike to one side at full lean, so they set up their bikes for best control.

4. The brakes are extremely strong. More than strong enough to eitherflip the bike or lock up eitherwheel and make you crash.

Putting all these elements on one motorcycle and puttingthat bike underneath a new rider is a recipe for disaster. A new motorcyclist DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE'S DOING and needs to learn on a bike that will put up with the errors of inexperience. Additionally, insurance on these bikes is much more expensive than on proper starter bikes. Full coverage on a 1999 GSSOO: $300/year. Full coverage on a 2006 GSX-R 600: $1800/year.

Note that older 600s are not any better for a beginner. Bikes like and early cbr 600f4's, early 2000's GSX-R's and ZX-6's may not be quite as powerful as the brand new stuff, but they all share the same design features that make supersports bad for beginners. Any bike that was a top—of-the-line sportbike should be avoided.
But maybe you're still not convinced, and you've got some other reason to start on a supersport.

MY FRIEND STARTED ON AN 600 (OR EVEN A LITERBIKE) AND HE'S STILL ALIVE!
The purpose of your first motorcycle is not 'survival,' it's learning to be a skilled, capable rider. It's idiotic to say that starting on a supersport guarantees your impending doom. But it makes the risk of an accident monstrously higher, and even if you don't wreck you're going to be awful at riding. A skilled rider on a 250 will easily outpace a bad rider on a 600 on a twisty road, because it's so difficult to learn properly when you're concentrating on ‘survival.’ No successful motorcycle racer in the world started riding on a 600cc-class race bike.


BUT THOSE SMALLER BIKES AREN'T AS COOL OR AS PRETTY or MY BUDDIES WILL MAKE FUN OF ME IF I DON'T START ON A 600
If appearances are the reason you want to buy a supersport, you need to seriously ask yourself why you want to start such a dangerous, expensive hobby in the first place. If you want to ride because it looks fun, because it's a unique and exhilerating experience, you need to be willing to put offyour dream bike for a while. It's a tad cliche, but it's true: your first bike is not your last.
If you want a bike because you want too look cool or impress people, then it doesn't really matter what I say, does it? Going fast in a straight line takes no skill, and cruising past the mall in a wifebeater and sandals takes even less. Hopefully you'll get bored and sell your bike before you end up in a situation you're not prepared for and wind up dead.

I WAS TOLD IF YOU HAVE SELF-CONTROL WITH THE THROTTLE, YOU WON'T CRASH
Whoever told you that is a moron. This is usually a justification for starting on a big bike or even for not wearing gear. I've already explained why supersports are bad for beginners and why horsepower isn't the only reason; and the fact is that even the most perfect rider in the world is always at risk of an accident. Traffic is almost as likely to cause an wreck as the rider is. All it takes is someone driving an SUV to not notice your presence fortwo seconds, and all of a sudden you're off your bike. Maybe they didn't look carefully enough when pulling out from a stop sign, or maybe they were too busy on their cell phone to see you before they merged. Rider vigilance will go a long way towards avoiding a wreck with a cager, but it's not a guarantee. Wear all your gear, all the time.

HOW ABOUT A 1000cc TWIN?
The linear powerband of a twin is great for a beginner, but the bigger twins make huge amounts of torque. The big liter twins trade top-end power for enough low-rev grunt to get a new rider in serious trouble. Power wheelies in second gear kind of trouble. They also share similar suspension geometry and brakes with their 4-cylinder cousins. All told, a 1000cc twin is just as bad as a 600cc I4 to start out on.

BUT I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO SELL MY FIRST BIKE IN A YEAR WHEN I GET BORED
1. Motorcycling is not something you do for convenience. You have no cargo room, you get wet if it rains, you've got to carry a helmet around with you, you get hot and you get cold. Why is the mild inconvenience of dealing with a vehicle sale such a concern? 2. You really shouldn't get bored. Many riders who've been riding foryears and years buy Ninja 250s for the sheer simplicity and easy handling, or commute on 650cc twins because they're so much fun in everyday traffic. These people are more than qualified to be riding around on brand-new literbikes but they choose not to. They probably know a few things that you don't. 3. Again, your first bike is not your last. Be patient.

I'M A BIG AND/OR TALL DUDE, THESE SMALLER BIKES AREN'T POWERFUL ENOUGH TO CART ME AROUND
Unless you weigh at least 400 pounds, it just doesn't matter. A Ninja 250 can hit 90+ MPH easily with a 250lb rider, and it has two seats, for crying out loud! If one of the smallest motorcycles available can do highway speeds with two human beings aboard, using your weight to justify a 600cc bike is just bull :poop:.
Height is a different matter. From personal experience I can say that legroom on the new 250R is rather cramped if you're taller than 6'2". Be sure to at least sit on the bike before you buy it. If you're on the tall side, look for a naked bike like the GSSOOE orthe SV650N, or you could look for a dua|-sport/supermoto, basically a road-legal dirtbike. In any case, full-on supersports are going to be even less comfortable, because of the position of the seat, handlebars, and footpegs.

I DRIVE A FAST CAR, SO CAN HANDLE A FAST MOTORCYCLE
This is probably the worst argument for anytning ever. Driving and riding are nothing alike. You're really reaching for excuses now, aren't you?

I'VE READ THIS WHOLE THING BUT I STILL THINK I CAN START ON A 600, I'M CAREFUL/SPECIAL/RESPONSIBLE/AWESOME ENOUGH TO BE OKAY
There comes a point in conversations with wannabe riders, especially on the Internet, when it becomes apparent that the guy only wants to be told what he wants to hear. He's already made up his mind, and the only reason he's asking is to hear people tell him "yeah, go ahead!" Any advice to the contrary just gets ignored. I don't know of anything else to tell you. Starting on a race bike is not a good idea, but in America at least you have the right to purchase whatever motorcycle you like. If you're lucky, you won't crash. If you're not lucky, you could be seriously injured or killed. You've come asking the advice of those with much more experience than you have; ignore it at your peril.


This has been "Sportbikes are not Beginner Bikes" by Matt Pickering of the now defunct BeginnerBikes.com, chopped and screwed by Anonymous people here and there on the internet



I know some have proposed changes. Friend me on mymoto and hit me with a PM, or respond here and I'll make the edit.

In gif format:

http://i.imgur.com/s4wtm.gif




Barry Sheene is in heaven watching us suck.

-http://bonertown.com

Posted at 2/1/2012 5:52:01 PM

Bootman2274

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Good article. I wish someone had given that to me 4 years ago when I started. I'm still learning on my 600 and I'm sure some skilled rider on a 250 could smoke me…thats not to say I don't love my bike, but you definitely have to look in the mirror before going out to look at a bike, buy a bike, ride a bike. I wish I had bought a different bike back then but it's what I have and I do love it. I wont be down sizing my bike at this point but continue to learn on my bike now and take some advanced riding courses and head to maybe the YRS or CSS, but very good article. Hope some newbies check it out.

Posted at 2/1/2012 6:19:35 PM

Bootman2274

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Let me mention this briefly, I don't think I have seen this yet on here…but I have seen it and I think this is a good spot to mention it based on possible traffic thru here. Often people who think they know everything about sportbikes and motorcycles are not as keen riders as they think they are. They may be fast, really fast…and they may be able to quick flip the bike like no other and may be able to knee drag thru Mulholland or Deal's Gap but if you watch some of these guys/girls…no way they can stop if something crosses their path, jumps across the road, or there is an oil patch dead center or in apex of the turn. Just another thought for people passing thru that take the initial post as….if I buy a 250 I can ride it like an @$$hole or a squid because that isn't the message. You'll get hurt and wreck just as quick if thats the case, skillful riding can get you quick lap times on a track, but fast riding on the street can get you hurt before you know it. Risk/Reward.

Posted at 2/1/2012 10:34:47 PM

bunchof6

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You're right Bootman, definitely not the ideal way to get into sportbikes, but I'm glad it worked out for you. You did end up with a nice bike there.

It's also very true that just because a Ninja 250 doesnt have the same number of cubes that a 600 or 1000 has, doesn't mean it can't slam you into a telephone pole or a curb fast enough to have your crapping through a tube for the rest of your life.

Respect the machine, whatever the size or style.

Barry Sheene is in heaven watching us suck.

-http://bonertown.com

Posted at 2/2/2012 12:28:22 PM

GAJ

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Excellent Bunch; where'd you find that?

Should be a sticky.

Bootman, what you are describing is riding within you field of vision; I usually adjust my speed to see at least 4 seconds in front of me which means that on tight right hand turns, where a hill makes it completely blind, I'm going pretty darned slow.

But following that rule has allowed me to stop safely on 4 separate occasions in the past few years where I came around a blind right only to find a car doing a slow 3 point U-turn blocking both lanes and paths of escape.

Current bikes: F800ST, DRZ400SM

Past bikes, starting with the first in 1970: CB50, K75S, Seca 550, Nighthawk 750, TL1000S

Posted at 2/2/2012 6:19:34 PM

bunchof6

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Hey Gaj,

it's a sticky on a forum I visit from time to time. It's probably the only useful info there, mostly the forum is used for trolling and flamewars. This is good stuff though!

Barry Sheene is in heaven watching us suck.

-http://bonertown.com

Posted at 2/3/2012 7:28:47 AM

Drunkula

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Good article. Too bad it is in GIF format. Should have been PDF or even HTML. I may transcribe it later if I get bored (hey I AM at work)...

Posted at 2/3/2012 6:02:15 PM

Kootenanny

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Yeah, that's a pretty good article. Of course, everything in it's been posted up a thousand times on almost any motorcycle forum (certainly was on the old MC-USA forum).

It did sorta gloss over a few things, though. When he talks about how most supersports are unsuitable for beginners, the focus is on engines and powerbands. He mentions chassis design only passingly (and, IMO, his reasoning there is wrong--most supersports WILL change line in the middle of a corner, and handily, if ridden by a rider who knows what he's doing). There is no mention at all of riding position, which IMO is one of the most important aspects of what makes a sportbike poor for learning on.

Then, when talking about having self-control with the throttle, he quickly moves into how an accident can easily be caused by other traffic. Well, duh...and while that's an excellent argument for ATGATT, it has little or nothing to do with the type of bike. Far more important here is the fact that it is just damned hard to ride a sportbike gently, at least for most guys (and especially most young guys); no matter how much you profess that you'll take it easy, the fact is--you wont!

The good points certainly outnumber my criticisms (although that bit about sportbikes not changing line midcorner...:what:)

Posted at 2/3/2012 6:25:33 PM

bunchof6

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Word man that's good input, Koot. There are no copyrights involved with this, written or implied, so maybe a revamped version would be good for a sticky. I like your suggestions. Let me see if I can extract the text without drafting it. (gotta be some site that'll do that...)

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Posted at 2/3/2012 7:48:13 PM

bunchof6

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If you could draft that up I will make the edit, Geoff. I am pretty sure you are a way better writer than me.

Barry Sheene is in heaven watching us suck.

-http://bonertown.com

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