Respect the bike?
January 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm #3653
[Edit: the context of this thread is when a beginner says, “I want to get a 600cc supersport as my first street bike. I’ll respect the bike. Do you think that’s ok?”]
I go thru the crazy phases of wanting to get a 1000cc supersport now and then and thought about the “respect the bike” argument for a while. I think “respecting a bike” is the wrong concept for many people. To them, “respect” means riding it gently, and not pushing it. It’s often a cover up word for lacking the adequate skills. If you truly “respect” a bike, you wouldn’t be riding it until you’re ready, otherwise what you’re really doing is “insulting” the bike, and the bike will get you one way or another. A bike doesn’t care about your respect. A bike demands that you have the ability to operate it in an efficient, skillful manner.
The main problem I see with having a 600cc supersport as a first bike is not the extra power, but the ergonomics. The clip-ons on a 600cc supersport are low and narrow, designed for positioning the body for sweeping, high speed turns, but that also makes low speed balancing and maneuvering more difficult. Yes, you can be respectful, careful, whatever you want to call it, and learn to ride it well eventually. When you do, it’s really fun, because you really get to feel the dynamics of great handling. But, before you get to the “ride it well eventually” point, you’re exposing yourself to a greater level of danger on every single ride, because a sportbike is more difficult to ride well, and your margin of safety is much smaller. Lastly, when you don’t ride well, you get frustrated, and even scared in some situation, and end up not enjoying the whole experience as much.January 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm #24017XRayHoundParticipant
I think that’s why I survived learning to sport ride on a literbike. I was on my FZ-1 (that I still have) and the upright ergonomics make it a lot more natural to handle at low parking lot learning speeds, and make it easier to learn to finesse the controls since your arms are less stressed. Heck I still bobble my R6 at times at low speeds, especially when I’m being constrained by full gear, or worse still forget to turn my steering damper back downJanuary 14, 2010 at 11:59 pm #24019eternal05Participant
But to discount the throttle/brake/clutch sensitivity is to have forgotten what it was like the very first time you got on a motorcycle. The first time I got a bike into 1st gear on the MSF parking lot, I couldn’t move the throttle subtly enough to not jerk the bike on every acceleration and deceleration. With almost 10 times the horsepower, each one of those jerks could have been a crash. Now that you have good throttle control you don’t judge a bike’s easiness to ride the same way you would have when you were just starting.
That’s why the longer someone has ridden, the worse that person’s advice becomes with respect to a beginner. They forget how hard it was and begin to think they could’ve done it just as well with something bigger. I think it’s important to remember how you felt and what was hard when you first started, and then stick to your guns later, regardless of your changing perspective.
Finally, as silly as it sounds, I know what you mean about the whole literbike thing. In the racing world, the 1000 is the defacto standard. The people on 600s are just on their way to 1000s and haven’t earned it yet. Every once in a while I’ll feel like I should get a literbike at some point, but it’s a stupid feeling. Until you get down within a small margin of the club-level course record at your local track, there’s no point. A 600 is more maneuverable and has the same traction and stability that a 1000 has. Unless you’re not losing any time in the corners (which is unlikely), the tiny fractions of a second you’d gain on straights won’t help you at all. I think you’re right that you shouldn’t get a particular bike until you’re ready for it, but I think that most people who own or want literbikes aren’t, and will never be.January 15, 2010 at 12:27 am #24021JackTradeParticipant
…that I noticed when taking the MSF course (on a 250cc bike moving at low speed in a parking lot) was how quickly I could provoke that peculiar sensation you get when you start to lose control.
For me, it’s a combination of a fleeting mental realization that something’s not right + a queasy feeling in my stomach that there’s trouble coming fast.
In my riding since, I still get it from time to time when I screw something up like get a line in a turn wrong, or jerk the throttle open.
It’s scary, and always soon after I bring things back under positive control (fortunately), I’m flooded with a sensation of being incredibly grateful for having a forgiving bike. And that sensation is WAY stronger for me than any feelings on inadequacy/envy I get when I roll up next to a supersport in traffic.
I agree with Gary…there’s no such thing as respecting a bike. You either have the skill & judgement combination to handle it, or you don’t. When it comes to supersports, I envy those that do, either naturally or through their experience; I’m honest with myself that I don’t, so I stay away…for now anyway!January 15, 2010 at 1:07 am #24024MunchParticipant
“On a motorcycle, when you do one thing wrong, a whole bunch of wrongs follow right behind.”
This is what people mean by respecting the bike. You are never in any way “insulting” the bike by not being skillfully at par with it’s capability. Nor is it a bar to aim for in the term. The phrase has been way over thought.
Respecting the bike is meant to be in terms of respect of what it can and will do to you should you lose your head for a moment and try to lay into it before your skills can accommodate. Or if you are not a fan of that phrasing maybe go old school an ” You need to recognize!” or “Appreciate the amount of power under you and the agile quickness at which it can handle turns and stops lest you be caught unawares and unsaddled” . The phrase/term is just used a general way of saying “Hey , man that bike is big, you been riding how long?…..man be careful”…. or..” What kind of num nut are you? You realize your bike has a bigger displacement then most compact cars…. your gonna kill yourself!” , at which point the conversation swiftly turns to either silence or negative.January 15, 2010 at 4:21 am #24027eonParticipant
Without getting into the semantics of whatever phrase you choose to use, an absolute beginner justifying a super sport as their first bike as they will be “careful/respect/whatever” is a pretty weak argument. The point has been made many times by many people who ride such bikes that they are unforgiving of mistakes. You can be as careful as you like but you simply do not have the finesse to mange the throttle on such a bike without experience. Those who manage to avoid crashing only do so by babying it so much they avoid learning anything.
I do not care if some stranger chooses a super sport as their first bike if they know what they are getting themselves into. But I would hate for someone to come to harm through ignorance.January 15, 2010 at 4:37 am #24026MunchParticipant
:^) I was only giving a better example of the phrase… the rest (which I agree with you btw) is hammered over and over again through out the site.January 15, 2010 at 4:49 am #24023
eternal, you’re right about the difficulty of mastering clutch/throttle control as a beginner, of course. It took some time before I completely stopped stalling the bike on take offs. Even after learning the basics of riding on an “easy” bike (GS500), there was certainly some fear in my heart when I started riding a 600cc (YZF600R); I’m far from riding anywhere close to it’s potentials at this point, I might add. My point was that you have to do everything right all at once to ride a sportbike well, and if I had to pick the number one problem with it, I feel it’s the silly ergonomics for low speed. With the low clip-ons (or a low handlebar), all the extra weight on the arms/wrists (before a beginner learned the need, and the how, to keep the weight off the arms/wrists), and the extra balance required, clutch/throttle control becomes that much more difficult to manipulate.
However, when I say you need to be “ready” for a bike, I didn’t mean to say that you must first completely max out the performance potential of a bike smalller than that. I wasn’t talking about racing where results are measured in absolute terms, so you don’t need to be able to ride a 600cc to the max before moving to a 1000cc for the performance gain. I was talking riding a bike within your ability for general enjoyment on public roads. On public roads, you don’t need to max out the performance potential of a Civic before moving to an Accord. All I’m saying is, don’t jumpt to a Corvette, if you don’t even know how to drive a Civic. When you jump from a beginner’s model to an expert’s model, motorcycles are a lot less forgiving than cars. There’s no crumple zone to save you; you are the crumple zone. When you do one thing wrong, a whole bunch of wrongs follow right behind.January 15, 2010 at 9:13 am #24030RabParticipant
Agree with everything eternal05 said there.January 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm #24032briderdtParticipant
…that gave me a built-in “road radar” such that I didn’t really have to worry about THAT aspect of riding, and that my bike is a 650 V-twin “sport bike” (the SV650s IS considered a sport bike), there were many times I felt overwhelmed just managing the throttle and clutch. A year and some months later, I’m not perfect with them. Can’t imagine trying to do that with the power curve of the super sports. In fact, the whole idea of the I-4 sport bikes just turns me off. I really like the manners of the V-twin.January 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm #24036
If you’re used to the power of an SV650, the more street oriented I4s like my YZF-600R or a Honda F4i don’t really have any evil tendencies in their power delivery. Still, overall my naked SV is simply much easier to ride than my YZF-600R at street pace, due to the SV’s better ergonomics (more upright) for street riding. Easier to ride = bigger margin of safety.
Put aside the ergonomics and the power characteristics (some like I4, some like twins), one big draw of I4 supersports over something like the SV or the Ninja 650R is their sophicated, fully adjustable suspension.January 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm #24037briderdtParticipant
Yup. A lot of the SV-havers go the GSX-R fork swap and replace the rear shock with one from a ZX-10R just to get the adjustability. And there are lots of those around from parted out bikes.January 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm #24038AParticipant
Self control is more appropriate.
Any motorcycle is capable of speed that is fatal, even the 50cc scooters.January 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm #24040
The whole point of this thread is that self control (i.e., the mis-notion of “respecting the bike”) alone is useless for a brand new rider. Lots of people have good self control but can’t ride. Self control does not ensure that you can comfortably make a turn at the speed limit, in traffic, with a good safety margin to handle the unexpected. Adequate skills do. You need skills + self control.January 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm #24041AParticipant
Whatever dude, if you can’t control yourself would you have any skill?
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