Beginner Motorcycle Guide
It's a hot summers day, and your hanging out at Starbucks getting an iced double mocha non-fat low-soy grande frappaccinio when you hear something in the distance. Is it the pounding of thunder...? No, it's the high pitched roar of a sport bike revving before it speeds off in the distance. You practically drop your frappaccinio , because it's love at first sight. Not the guy in the leathers and armor, but the machine below him with the crisp paint job, exotic looks, and menacing sound....
Well, I may be exaggerating, but somehow or another you've decided that you like motorcycles and you want to ride them! Congrats on picking one of the best hobbies out there, now you just need to know how to get started! Here are a few basic tips that will help you get your feet wet in the world of motorcycles.
Research, Research, Research!!!
If you're at this website then you are in the right place! Be sure to check out all the reviews of motorcycles on this website, I would recommend some of our more popular motorcycles like the Kawasaki Ninja 250 or the Suzuki GS500.Right now you may be saying "wait a minute, what is all this 500, or 250 nonsense? My friends all have 600's and 1000's!!!" That brings me to my next point.
What does that whole CC thing mean???
Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, when we talk about CC's we are referring to how many cubic centimeters the cylinders in the the engine are. Basically it breaks down to this: The more CC's something has, the more powerful the motorcycle is and the more horsepower it can generate. This isn't always true as it depends on the engine type (Inline-Fours VS V-twins etc...) but that isn't important right now, as a general rule CC = Power. For reference your basic moped is less than 50ccs and an average scooter is 80-150ccs. The Ninja 250 that has about 250cc's (they round it up, I think its really 248cc) will have roughly 5 times the power of a moped, and 2-3 times the power of a scooter.
That being said, don't think that learning to ride will be as easy as eating pancakes, because its not. Almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions so if you don't know how to drive stick in car, I would recommend learning that before you jump onto a motorcycle. Throttle control is also a major issue because to make the motorcycle accelerate you must twist the right handle towards you. This can be a definite problem because if you twist it too much the g-forces pull you back, but you are hanging on to the accelerator and will have a tendency to twist it even MORE as you try and hang on!!! If that same throttle system was transferred to a car, a 250cc motorcycle would be the equivalent to a fairly sporty car like the Subaru WRX or Nissan 350z. A 600cc motorcycle is basically like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, so just a slight twist of the throttle is going to shoot you to the moon! Add into that the balancing act you have to maintain with 2 wheels and you have a recipe for disaster!!
If you want to live, start on a smaller motorcycle!!!
Now I'm being a little facetious, you won't die if you learn to ride on a 600cc motorcycle, but it will make the process of learning everything much harder. I realize that one of the reasons you probably got into motorcycles was because of the image enhancing it will do for you. I have to admit there is a definite 'cool' factor that is present when riding a motorcycle, but nothing says amateur like accelerating too hard and then stopping too quickly resulting in a low speed crash. That type of situation is commonplace for new riders, especially those that start on machines that are too powerful for their skill set.
In a recent study, 5 out of 5 motorcyclists have crashed!!!
Haha, ok ok, there wasn't any formal research done, but it is a well known saying in the motorcycle community that there are riders that have crashed, and riders that haven't crashed yet. Personally I've crashed my motorcycle once at 15 miles per hour, and I've dropped it 3-4 times while at a standstill. At first this may seem like a lot, but drops and low speed crashes can happen if you aren't 100% focused on the task at hand. Even if your mind is in the game, there are forces outside your control (like pedestrians darting across the street!) that will force you to make snap judgments that may result in a crash.
In another study, 9 out of 10 people prefer a hot room to a belt sander across their forearms.
This imagery may be a little graphic, but I hope it gets the point across. When you are in a car you are protected by airbags and steel, on a motorcycle when you crash there is nothing between you and the pavement except your t-shirt and flip flops. Road rash is just like taking a belt sander to large portions of your flesh, and that CAN'T feel good. To hedge the bets in your favor you should wear motorcycle protective gear. This includes things like leather jackets, leather gloves, leather or textile pants, a full face helmet, and motorcycle boots. All this getup may make you a little hot during the summer, but it's better to sweat than to bleed.
Why all the leather??
Leather is great at abrasion resistance, much better than jeans. I can't find the website with the actual statistics, but I believe in a crash jeans will only last about 5-10 feet before your skin meets the pavement. Leather on the other hand lasts around 90 feet if memory serves ( if anyone finds the actual statistics please leave a comment so I can make this article more accurate). Regardless the bare bones of it is you are going to slide more than 5 feet, and would you rather be sliding on your bare ass, or a nice comfy leather padded posterior. I hope I didn't scare you off of wanting to ride a motorcycle, it really is a lot of fun, but like a lot of things it can be dangerous. The trick is to protect yourself with skills, knowledge, and leather.