age-old question – Is it big enough ?:/
August 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm #4208TrialsRiderParticipant
I’m perplexed by the resistance for nearly everyone to learn on dirt. It’s as if they believe they can learn to ride a massive motorcycle on a 4 lane highway, because they are big boys and that is where they want to be.
Have a friend that bought a 250 Ninja earlier this year, young man, very tall and before I even got to see his bike, he lost control entering a roadway off a slightly inclined driveway, wheelied and was T-boned by an SUV. He was extremely fortunate the motorcycle and the SUV took the brunt of the damage and no significant personal injuries resulted, but that’s an expensive way to learn respect for Ninja power and how to operate a clutch and throttle. …should’a learned on the dirt !
Reality is; even a mildly tuned 125cc, improperly applied will come on strong enough to scare the poop out of a beginner. A 125cc 2-stroke motocross bike entering it’s power-band comes on so strong and sudden, if you don’t break loose the rear wheel, that front wheel is going to loft when it hits 5000rpm.
I’m extremely bias toward people learning on the dirt first where a 250cc single provides ample power even for an expert; but if dirt is totally impractical and you must learn on the pavement, the 250 Ninja IS an ideal sportbike motorcycle to start out. Since they are fairly compact motorcycles I can understand her feeling too small for a big fella and there is your dilemma, not that a 250 twin will lack for learner power. Rumor has it Honda will soon release a 250cc sportbike to the North American market and that would be great, because then there will be a second entry level Sportbike to choose from.
I’m not qualified to address the comfort question: ‘is a 250 Ninja big enough for a 200+ lb. 6’+ rider’, but can a 250 engine and suspension handle your weight ? Absolutely ! A 250cc motorcycle has enough performance to get you airborne faster than you can imagine, but it’s not so tiny anybody could muscle one back into control. Will you out-grow it’s size and power faster than a larger motorcycle, If you are lucky.August 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm #28347Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
From the 1981 Hurt Study in California, a scientific study of several hundred motorcycle street crashes:
Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data. More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years.
The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.
Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96%), the female motorcycle riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.
The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.
Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.
Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would over-brake and skid the rear wheel, and under-brake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.August 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm #28348ranetteParticipant
While I can’t disagree with learning to ride on dirt, I don’t think it needs to be a prerequisite for everyone. Certainly MSF classes and parking lot practice until you are familiar with the basic clutch/throttle mechanisms, then riding on roads that are as traffic free as your particular area would allow. However, dirt isn’t practical for all of us, even up here in Vermont I don’t know of many areas that I could easily access.
Not to downplay the power of smaller bikes but if someone isn’t able to master the throttle on a Ninja 250 with a reasonable amount of practice then maybe riding isn’t for them. Actually I can’t comment on a Ninja 250, never having ridden one, but the Suzuki GZ 250 that I took my BRC on, not saying that you couldn’t get yourself hurt on it, because you can get yourself killed on anything, but that bike is not going to take off on you unexpectedly, you really have to coax it to get it going. Again, not saying that learning on dirt is a bad idea, but to put forward that riding cannot be learned on public roads I think is doing a disservice to some.
TR, no disrespect is meant by my disagreement, I realize you probably had more time in the saddle by the time that man walked on the moon than I currently have, I just disagree with you on this point.August 28, 2010 at 4:51 pm #28346WeaponZeroParticipant
The bottom line is that more and more areas are developed now to where there is no dirt to learn on. I grew up in an area where it was nothing but city for miles and miles around and dirtbikes were something only seen in movies. Learning in the dirt is nice when you have dirt, but the bottom line is that it’s simply not feasible for many of us living in an urban area. What would you have them do, buy a dirtbike only to have to trailer it a couple hours away just to ride it? Be realistic here.
Hell, my cub scout troop had to rent a lot at a local park just to do its camp outs because there wasn’t any actual wilderness or REAL parks for HOURS in any direction.
The bottom line here is that you’re the one who’s spoiled by having had the option to learn on dirt, by having nearby wilderness areas to be able to use a dirtbike. Don’t assume everyone else is so fortunate.
I don’t think you realize just how uncommon it is in today’s day and age for someone to have the luxury of being able to learn in the dirt, or having access to areas to ride a dirtbike. I certainly don’t expect any sympathy on this matter from someone who lives in a place known for its wilderness.
What I can say is this: For you to automatically assume everyone, or even most people out there have that same luxury you have, is the very DEFINITION of the word “spoiled.”
79% of America’s population, according to the census link above, lives in urban areas where they likely don’t have access to wilderness. So all you’re doing for the majority of us by spouting off this same lecture we’ve heard time and time again is insulting our intelligence. This is the second time you’ve made a post about this very same thing and you’re accomplishing nothing with it other than showing us just how spoiled you are.
There are a lot more of us than you realize who live in third floor apartments in the middle of the city, on the intersection of two major US highways where the posted speed limit is 45mph but traffic flows steadily at 50-60.
Sorry, this hit a nerve. I’m sick and tired of hearing this same textbook lecture from people who clearly don’t understand what it means to live in an urban environment.August 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm #28352Gary856Participant
My perception is most dirt riders started at a young age either lived in a rural area and/or were introduced to dirt riding by a family member. Most of us urban dwellers didn’t have this opportunity, and when we start riding as an adult we start in an urban setting.
I just came back from a practice ride on a dirt lot next to the county fairground near my house on my DRZ400sm. When riding on dirt/gravel felt easy, I rode up/down some rough dirt mounds and a rock strewn ditch. While there I stopped by a motocross track and watch kids and adults slide and jump on the track. It felt weird knowing everyone of them was a better off pavement rider then me. Riding off pavement was certainly fun, helps my street riding, and I want more. I’m thinking about taking my DRZ to check out a nearby OHV park in the afternoon, but this is still nothing like people living in the Sierras who can go dual-sport riding right in their own backyards.
BTW, “Pro motocross and off-road riding techniques” is an awesome book, filled with insightful tidbits. I kept going, “oh… oh…” Although it’s written for off-road riding, understanding the principles carries over to street riding as well.August 29, 2010 at 3:14 am #28354TrialsRiderParticipant
whether I deserve that or not ! But now get this straight; you ranted all around where I said; ” if dirt is totally impractical and you must learn on the pavement, the 250 Ninja IS an ideal sportbike motorcycle to start out.”
As to my being ‘the definition of spoiled’ or that I don’t know how privileged I am. Bullshit !
Riding dirtbikes was an ‘option’ Get real ! I worked damn hard ever inch of the way to make it happen. I paid for every bike, bolt, fuel and truck to haul em, I do more for sponsoring access to riding areas and encouraging ridership than anyone you ever heard of. I spend my holidays clearing brush in bug infested woods and knee deep in poison ivy, so that others can come for a day or a weekend and ride, then I clean up afterwards. BTW: I was born and raised in Toronto, a little city of 2 or 3 million people, where I’ve ridden parking lots, green belts, gravel pits, hydro cuts, river beds and garbage dumps when I had no place better to ride. Through Trials I’ve made dozens of friends and frequently been offered property access to ride or host events, events numbering nearly 100 since I’ve been riding Trials, half of those on my own property but the rest on borrowed land, you don’t get that kind of cooperation if you are on a motocrosser ! I’ve gone to wrecking yards and building supplies and convinced the proprietors to tow cars or vans or culverts or septic tanks to some fairground or race track, then taxied a truck load of talented riders too young to drive plus their bikes, just so that we could put on a demonstration for the fun of it. It’s not unusual for me to carry spare boots, helmet and a fully fueled Trials Bike, just incase some kid wants to buy it cheap or just trash it for the day. I’ve hauled riders their bike and even their girlfriend, hundreds of miles to accompany me to some distant event. donated parts, tools, fuel, food, camp equipment, coached them to ride and helped fix their bike, just so I had someone to ride with.
Privileged possibly, fortunate to live in Canada, you’re Damn right, but don’t tag me ‘spoiled’, you don’t know me well enough. /response to rantAugust 29, 2010 at 7:34 am #28355Gary856Participant
I had always wanted to take my DRZ400sm to an OHV park to try out dirt trails, and I finally did this afternoon. I didn’t bother reducing the tire pressure (from 25/29 to maybe 18/22) of my Distanzias for the trails; lazy, I guess. Uphills on the beginner/intermediate trails were fun, but right away I felt I was in over my head on the steeper downhills. I’m a total dirt newbie and had no idea how much traction there was in downhill braking. There were quite a few oh-shit moments during the 2+ hrs I was there and I was too scared to explore more than the 2 trails I looped several times, but I didn’t drop the bike until the last run and the last downhill turn. Not much rear brake but still too much; skidded into the turn, locked up the rear and stalled the engine, came to a stop in the steep/banked turn. The bike fell over, and I took a slight tumble. I couldn’t pick up the bike with it lying head-down on a down-slope with loose footing, and had to wait for someone to help.
The DRZsm worked pretty well on the dirt trails and covered up a lot of my skill deficiencies. My lack of dirt skills was by far the limiting factor during the ride.August 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm #28356NoobacycleParticipant
I grew up green with envy watching the young kids with dirt bikes tear up the trails and fields. They taught me some of the basics of riding a motorcycle. Unfortunately, I had parents who felt dirt bikes, motorcycles, and ATVs were worse than the anti-christ so I was unable to obtain one, even with my own money. This was back in the 80’s and up until the mid 90’s. Now, all those trails and fields are developed and if you do find some place to ride, chances are you are trespassing and don’t even know it.
Dirt riding experience does help. But nothing beats real world experience in the streets. Dirt riding and street riding are kinda like apples and oranges. Different hazards, different bikes, different environments.
But I do look back at those kids that had the dirt bikes. They had brand new/like new bikes/quads that were purchased with their parent’s money. I got tired of hearing about their “powerband” and which bike they wanted their parents to buy them next. They were less than grateful for what they had and were spoiled little brats.August 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm #28357eonParticipant
First off, if TR wants to continually bang a drum on a subject he is passionate about, good for him. If you disagree with him then say so but don’t make it personal. You WZ, have used this board to talk about weight loss and personal problems and have received nothing but positive support. I’m disappointed you felt it was acceptable to make personal attacks on TR just because you don’t agree with him. One thing I learned from Elwood whose views were often the polar opposite of my own, was just because someone has a different point of view does not mean they (or you) are wrong.
Second, just because you live in an urban environment does not mean you have no access to dirt. The entire west coast is extremely urban but with amazing off road areas to ride. I have lived in Atlanta (9th largest city in America) and I know I could have found somewhere to ride offroad. I’ve also lived in NJ and even there I’m pretty sure there are places to be found. And no truck/trailer is required if you get a 250 dual sport. They are plenty capable of getting you to the offroad areas all by themselves.
But back on topic, why do more people not learn on dirt? I think it comes down to whatever reason prompted you to buy a bike to begin with. Whether you want look like Valentino Rossi or an extra from Wild Hogs, that desire does not mesh well with riding around a muddy field. I have no doubt the skills are transferable but why would you want to delay getting what you want? When you first started driving a car did you first take up karting? Learn basic skills then before moving onto a racetrack to learn to drive at speed before venturing out into traffic? Hell no, you just jumped in with some awful advice from your father and learned as you went. Why should people do any different with bikes?
So unless you were one of those extremely lucky 10 year old boys who had the opportunity to ride dirt bikes when young, most folks are going to learn on the street as that is where they plan on riding.August 30, 2010 at 3:42 am #28358CBBaronParticipant
TR “is” spoiled, but thats a good thing for him
I do/did have the opportunity to learn on dirt. My parents own a farm about 1hr drive away. I’m considering getting a cheap dual-sport or off-road motorcycle just to hone my skills.
In addition due to Cleveland losing so much population and jobs there are a number of abandoned industrial locations that one can ride off road provided you have a plated bike to get there and you ignore the trespassing. Probably not a great place to learn though.
The point about the Ninja 250 is a good one for someone interested in sport bikes. It is compact and light. It definitely allows for more learning moments than a bigger machine.
Just had another learning moment this evening. Pulled off the road into a rural driveway. The drive was very loose, deep gravel. While turning around before stopping my front wheel locked up and slide. If my Ninja 250 was a larger bike it would have been on its side with me likely under it. However I’m a big guy and the Ninja is a small bike so I just put my foot down and pulled it back upright even before it could drop. Still made me wish for a small dual-sport at that moment.
CraigAugust 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm #28369JackTradeParticipant
I’m not seeing any real “resistance” to learning in the dirt, but if anything a wish that it were more possible/practical. I don’t think there’s anyone here on this board who wouldn’t do it if the opportunity presented itself in a reasonable fashion. I sure would, and in fact am looking at less practical ways to give it a try myself.
But can we go back to TR’s mention of a 250cc Honda sportbike coming soon? Any more details on that?September 4, 2010 at 12:11 am #28467owlieParticipant
+1September 6, 2010 at 3:25 am #28500madjak30Participant
I think the point that Trials was trying to get across was that if dirt riding is available to you, that is the best place to be learning the clutch/throttle/brake relationships…dirt is more forgiving, and you are usually on a smaller bike…but if it is not available to you, start on a smaller/lighter bike…I don’t think he was trying to be all high and mighty…
Eon even made an analogy that given the chance, I think most people would have taken when they were a young teen…learn to drive in a cart, then progress to a track to learn the skills of high speed…well, I would have jumped at than opportunity…but like eon said, most don’t have that option which is where driving school should be the next logical step…most of us learned from dear old dad, and trial and error…I’m pretty sure that I would have been a more aware/better driver had I taken driver training…
I think for the most part all of us in here are saying the same thing (with slight variation)…get the training, start with the smallest bike practicable and don’t rush the learning…stay in your comfort zone and practice…
Just remember that we are all trying to contribute constructively here…sometimes we get a little excited and passionate with our advise, but it is coming from a good place…all of our situations are different, but we are all trying to give the best advice…which will come from all different directions…this way we can get advice for all the newbies that also come from different back grounds and surroundings…
Let’s just play nice…everyones advice will have someone that can relate to it…
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