Sport Bikes banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,622 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Not a day goes by at the dealership without someone coming up and asking me if it’s ok to get an R1 as a first bike. Along with the appropriate “What are you high?” look that I give them, it also causes me to wonder why they would think this in the first place?

In my illustrious biking career, I have fallen prey to this mindset occasionally, but have been able to snap myself back to reality easily. This is seemingly harder to do with today’s new rider. With today’s liter bikes outperforming GP bikes of my era, this is a dangerous equation. So why the rush to go big?

I can only think of three reasons, image, lack of education and one I will get to later.

As for the image part, 1000cc+ bikes are featured prominently in today’s media. A literbike is on the front cover of almost every motorcycle rag produced every month. The most attractive bike in a lineup is usually the biggest one. We see ads from Honda touting the connection that a CBR1000RR has to the RCV that Nicky races in MotoGP. We see Suzuki GSXR1000s owning the racetrack and if you don’t win, it’s your fault. Yamaha R1s apparently put you into action movies with beautiful girls kicking each others asses. This is the same issue with cars. We see the sleek Corvettes or Ferraris on magazine covers and top speed tests of a Ford GT vs. a Dodge Viper.

There is one difference, price. Most people can’t afford a Ford GT or a Viper. Most people CAN afford a GSXR1000, they’re well within reach and financing makes them more so. We put the pinnacle of performance in our sport into the hands of the masses. Now this is very cool also, but in some respects, leads to irresponsible behavior. If you were 16 and a Ferrari cost 10Gs, you’d work a summer job eating glass to get one.

Lack of education is an easy one to hit. Americans aren’t the smartest group of people. We have an education system that regularly turns people out on the streets without basic skills. We are notoriously poor financial managers and we don’t do anything we aren’t forced to do when it comes to rider education. If it wasn’t required to make a U-Turn in a licensing test, we would never do that. Often I see kids led into the sport by people who have never had any formal training and give new riders the wrong advice. When a new rider comes into the dealership with a friend, I often find myself arguing with the friend about the merits of going small to start out with. If I piss them off, then fine. I know that I’m right in this situation and I’m only looking out for the guy or girl’s best interests. I’m perfectly happy letting a customer walk if they insist on a GSXR1000 as a first bike. Not because I don’t want to help them out, it because I want them to have a better chance of survival.

There is no formal program for training a rider that’s compulsory, or even well advertised. I’ve often found that people don’t even know that the MSF even exists. I’m not talking new riders, veterans who’ve been riding for years.

The last issue is, of course, peer pressure. I’ve seen too many people come in and tell me how their mentors believe that education or moderation isn’t necessary. Today’s literbike has identical performance to a superbike of fairly recent vintage. I remember reading a test of Scott Russell’s ZX7R that was raced in the AMA and being amazed by its sub 10 sec quarter miles and reading about it’s wicked power hit. A GSXR1000 or ZX10R will equal these numbers and, in some cases, exceed them and you don’t need a racing resume to get one. Yet, we don’t treat them with the reverence or respect we should.

People who’ve never heard of the term high-side are perfectly happy to buy, and then subsequently destroy the pinnacle of street motorcycle performance. Sitting on a literbike and looking tough on the corner of whatever gas station becomes your hangout is not hard. I have sat on an R1 for approximately 1 ½ hours at a dealership. My ass was a little numb, but I still had the scowl going in full force. Giving them a ticket to the gun show doesn’t hurt either. Anyway, enough manliness. The bullshit ideal that we, as motorcyclists, have to be tough outlaws is ridiculous and yet many people are so concerned about their image, that they are willing to put their life in danger.

This is not limited to sport riders. Witness the Harley resurgence and the complimentary rise in 1200cc+ crash rates, although these crashes tend to happen at lower speeds than ours do. The one thing the cruisers guys have all over is that they wear chaps, and let’s face it, chaps are the shit!

Who is to blame? I don’t blame the manufacturers because they do fund safety programs and do also explicitly say that these bikes are for experienced riders. If you’re too ignorant to get the meaning of that statement, no amount of warning stickers in the world will convince you otherwise.

I don’t blame the dealers. It’s perfectly legal to purchase a bike no matter what the size, as long as you are of age.

I do blame the riders who encourage it. Regardless of what most of the opinions I’ve heard from these people have been, they all have one thing in common. They are all woefully uneducated. They all advance the same incorrect theories. The weight of the rider versus engine size, the helmet snapping the neck, the “I learned on a 1000” crap. It’s not about you at this point. What works for you is not what works for someone else. Chances are it hasn’t worked for you either.

What’s the solution?

I think that a tiered licensing system is what we need, similar to the one in Europe, but with a few changes. Age initially should be a factor that restricts motorcycle size. There should be a cooling off period when a 250cc bike is what a young kid rides. We can all twist the loud handle, when younger; we twist a little more often. I know there will be kids that’ll say how mature they are, but the insurance industry has your number for a reason.

Additionally, I think years of experience should come into play, but a rider should not be allowed to retain his license indefinitely without retesting. The rider should retest or perform some compulsory training every 5 years or so.

Returning riders will come back after not having ridden in 20+ years and purchase the biggest bike because they used to ride a 900 back in the 80s. Well, the current crop of 600cc bikes is just as fast as any 900cc was in the 80s and as fast as many of the racing Superbikes were back then. The fact that they haven’t ridden in 20 years has also dulled their bike smarts. The muscle memory that’s involved with riding well is no longer there along with the lack of knowing the limitations of what they are riding.

Motorcycling used to fly under the radar when death rates were dropping. Not anymore. The news media has been all over the story as President Bush is set to sign a bill authorizing a new study of motorcycle accidents. This has been prompted by a large rise in fatalities over the past 5 or so years, which conflicts with the overall drop in highway fatalities experienced by car drivers. The largest cc class represented is 1000cc plus machines, showing the highest increase in fatalities amongst the respective size classes. Returning riders have contributed a fair amount to this rise also.

My biggest fear is that sportbikes will take the brunt of the new report’s findings. This would be a black eye on our sport and result in bikes that are limited, or even an outright ban. We talk often of rights when we talk about helmet laws and gear, but we don’t talk about the right to actually ride a motorcycle itself. Let’s face it, it’s not a right, it’s a privilege. If you’re operating under the ideal that it cannot be taken away, you’re wrong.

Many riders act like 5 year olds in the sense that they think what’s good for them, is ok for their friend who may be the same age. A 5 year old will buy you a toy for your birthday, because they can’t reason that something they want is not what you’d want. I have seen many riders come in with friends to purchase a first bike and had their friend express that the power of a GSXR1000 is not too much to handle as a first bike.

It is too much and it’s your job as a rider to make that clear. If we don’t do it soon, then we may not be able to ride a sportbike in the future. You may think it’s preposterous, but it can and will happen if we continue down this road. Remember, it’s not the size of the bike that matters; its how you use it.


Suggested reading:
USA Today motorcycle fatalities
Government funds motorcycle study
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,893 Posts
I like this ranting business, Im all for what you guys havta say. Honestly what I would give to have one of you in my pocket so when I go to the dealership I could pull you out and sick you on some unsuspecting meathead to save some skin
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
149 Posts
Amen....When I took my MSF course, a girl was there who said that she was gonna get a 750 as her first bike becuase her friends were telling her a 600 is too small. Supposedly, it wouldnt pull her because she was too heavy for it. She couldnt have weighed more than 130lbs. I told her she is crazy if she got a 750....i weigh 200lbs and my 600 has much more power than I really need. She looked at me like I was crazy. We get on the range, and she couldn't ride a 125. At all. She ended up quitting right before the skills test because she didn;t feel comfortable. Imagine the first bike she got on was a 750 instead of a 125....I'm pretty sure she would have ended up under it.
 

·
Apprentice wheelieist
Joined
·
833 Posts
KrayZFrameRate said:
I like this ranting business, Im all for what you guys havta say.
Ranting? That was a very well written article with well thought out, concisely expressed ideas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
We need more people like you working in the dealerships...I hate it when a 18yr old kid goes into a dealer and in1 hour rides off the lot with a new 1000cc sportbike wearing sunglasses and t shirt, jeans and when he gets to the highway he opens it up and flys by the seat of his pants..

Sooner or later the states or government will try/ or ban sportbikes due to inexperienced riders getting killed or killing others when pulling stupid stunts that go wrong.. I have been riding for 37yrs/ 24 of those on the street and have seen many bad things happen to experienced riders...

You never know what the driver of that car is thinking or dreaming about. Watch for the gravel/sand/ road debris/animals/debris flying out of the back of trucks/ there are so many variables it is hard to tell what might happen..

Dont go buy 600-1000ccsportbike for a first bike as they are for more experienced riders ... Ride safe and wear your gear.
 

·
insanity or genius
Joined
·
755 Posts
I agree 100%, why DONT we have the tiered system? We certainly have the crash statistics to back it up.

I weigh 255 pounds, have 37 years of riding experience with 27 years on the road and I ride a 600. Its light, fast and works great in town. The 1000 would be strickly for my ego, how would I use a 9 second quarter mile, 180 mph, 170 hp motorcycle in the burbs?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
45,772 Posts
Agreed on the benefits of a tiered licensing system.

MRCHEN said:
I weigh 255 pounds, have 37 years of riding experience with 27 years on the road and I ride a 600. Its light, fast and works great in town. The 1000 would be strickly for my ego, how would I use a 9 second quarter mile, 180 mph, 170 hp motorcycle in the burbs?

It would increase the perceived length and girth of your penis by 125%. :)



:lao :eek:nfloor
 

·
insanity or genius
Joined
·
755 Posts
lmao!

I miscalculated, had I gotten 125% I gess Id have gone with a 1000!

Seriously folks, the tiered system works and it produces better riders, take a UK trip and you will see what I mean, try to follow your fellow biker thru town whitelining thru tight little lanes between trucks and cars of all shapes and sizes. Im not going to tell you a lie, it was terrifying the first 30 minutes, bout got the mirrors knocked off. I had lived in California and the 405 in the afternoon and sh*t compared to a morning commute thru london.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,304 Posts
welll.we have the same freedom in istanbul,turkey too.if you have the money you can go buy a liter sportbike.and nobody cares how old are you or do you have skills to ride.youcan get one without license and protection.it is a lot easier to get a literbike to learn the skills.
 

·
insanity or genius
Joined
·
755 Posts
I am assuming insurance is an option in Turkey?
Allowing untrained first time riders in the US to purchase and ride litre bikes has caused sportbike riders alot of extra money for insurance.
I dont blame them, many riders are responsible enough to take safety courses and learn the skills, however many do not and the temptation of a 160 horsepower motorcycle is just too great. Plus people have a tendancy to try and ride to the skill level of the rider in front of them, or outpace the rider coming up their backs, many times resulting in accidents from riding over their skill level.
Learning on a smaller bike that you can completely master before moving up, in my opinion creates a better rider.
 

·
at the track
Joined
·
3,121 Posts
I need to get me a 1000 just for that one week in May so I can quit getting shat on at bike week
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top