Motorcycle Riding for Beginners

Obviously in today’s economy getting around in an inexpensive way is very important and certainly driving a motorcycle in terms of fuel expenditure is one cheaper way to go, not to mention just how much fun and free one feels while riding on a motorcycle. The selection of what type of motorcycle and how big is always a problem for beginners. Dealerships or motorcycle stores will not tell you what you should choose as they are only interested in selling anything they have in stock and just like a car, buyer be ware.

Prior to choosing your motorcycle think about what you will need it for. Are you interested in long trips or do you need to just to get around town? The size engine of the motorcycle is important when considering these two styles of travel. How much money are you wanting to pay is another factor in your decision making and it will also effect the type of traveling you want to do and also the manufacture or the make. Certainly the quality of the motorcycle balanced with the cost is another consideration.

If you are interested in getting down the road fast with a lot of ability to maneuver then the sport bikes are good choices; however, you are generally leaning forward with a portion of your upper body resting on your hands and lower arms. They also have small narrow seats. In other words, sport bikes are not very comfortable and any sport biker will tell you, not real good for the long trip. They are very good about getting you from point A to point B quickly and most of the Japanese models are affordable in price. In terms of quality, affordability, and available parts, you cannot go wrong with any of the Japanese models.

If comfort is your thing start looking at the cruisers and scooters. Almost all of them are more comfortable and comfort increases the larger (engine size) the bike. This is because the large bikes (larger bikes meaning the ones with the big engines) will travel at higher speeds for a longer duration so they are mainly used for long distance traveling where comfort also plays a big part in the traveling experience. So if you are interested in long trips get a bike with a big engine. If you only want a bike for transportation to and from work or just around town, not traveling more that 50 miles round trip, the smaller engine sized cruisers and scooters are good but the small cruisers seats are not made as well and they lack some of the comfort. Of course you can always buy special seats for your cruiser other than factory made but they will be expensive.

Often times the tendency for beginners is it buy a bike that is too small in engine size because when they get use to it and realize some of the smaller bike’s limitations, the first thing they are going to want to do is trade it in for a bigger bike. Do not let a bike overwhelm you. Think bigger that you really need so you will not be disappointed later on. The bike sellers are very happy to re-sell you another bike so they will not tell you if you are buying a bike too small for your needs because you will be back for another one later on.

Let us first discuss riding a bike just for around town purposes, round trip being less that 50 miles per day. There are several types of scooters that will do this as well as smaller cruisers. Think about this. If your top speed for the “around town experience” will be no more that 50 mph you will want a cruiser or scooter that will not only do that comfortably but will also exceed that to around 60 mph when you need the speed. Cruisers that are around 750 to 800 c.c.s are good bikes for this scenario and 60 mph does not push the bikes towards the top end of their abilities.

The Japanese models are all very good for this and reasonably priced. You will pay more for American motorcycles. These smaller cruisers would not be the bikes for interstate highway driving but could do it in a pinch. Sometimes in our driving experience we are not always able to avoid having to drive on interstate highways. By riding on these bikes you could do 75 and 80 mph but I would not advise this for more that about 30 minutes. The speed is just too great for the engine size for any duration of time. Some would argue this with me and have pushed their bikes to 70 mph for several hours which are survivable speeds on the interstates. For me, I would not do that.

The other advantage for a smaller bike is fuel economy and weight. Obviously the smaller the engine size the greater the fuel economy. My favorite advantage for the smaller bikes is maneuverability. Since these bikes weigh almost half of what a big bike weighs and they are also smaller in size, their ability to maneuver in traffic is better. Big bike owners would argue with me by stating that once you practiced enough and knew your bike well enough, maneuverability would not be an issue for the big bikes. For anyone wanting to purchase a big bike I would recommend taking an advanced course in operating a motorcycle, above and beyond just the basics to obtain your motorcycle license. You will work harder at maneuvering a big bike and you will get tired quicker.

The big cruiser is obviously great for going on long trips. Most of them have very comfortable seats and if you want you can purchase a better seat at a bigger price. For me the seat is important because when my butt and legs get to aching I will need to stop and rest. It is always a good idea anyway to stop and rest at least 15 minutes for every two hours of riding. This helps you to not become complacent and increases focus when you resume riding again. Another advantage for the big bikes is that they usually come standard with wind shields and big side bags for carrying stuff. These are important features to have on long trips. You can obtain wind shields and side bags for smaller bikes but they will usually be extra in terms of cash. In fact any accessory beyond the standard will cost you big time so getting all the “goodies” standard on a bike is a cost savings that is usually offered with the bigger bikes. My classification of a big cruiser is 1,300 to 1,800 c.c.s.

In addition to more comfort the bigger cruisers offer road stability and acceleration. At high speeds the big bikes are not as affected by the wind and you definitely have the speed and power to travel on high speed roads like interstate driving, comparable to most cars and in the case of some bikes, far faster than cars.

The disadvantage that big cruisers have is fuel economy and maneuverability. Some will only get the fuel economy of a small car and the bigger the engine the worse the fuel economy. Stability in the wind is nice but being able to get around junk on the highway and making quick moves to avoid things is not as good as the small cruisers. Again these are arguable points that big cruiser owners would challenge me on as I have seen some police officers handle their big cruisers with extreme ease and agility.

For myself I have now settled on the cruisers that are great for down town riding and also big enough to travel on the interstates and go long distances. Cruisers from 900 to 1,100 c.c.s offers me this experience. These bikes are still lighter and more maneuverable than the big boys and yet still have the speed and power to keep up with them. I said keep up not out run. Fuel economy is better than the bigger cruisers too and usually you can purchase these bikes standard with wind shields and side bags. The Japanese models are less expensive than the American models and all have the availability of parts. The seats are comfortable but not quite as comfortable as the bigger cruisers so you may wind up having to go with an after market seat. You are still able to ride with a passenger and get down the road with a bike at the top end of this mid range.

The price on these 900 to 1,100 c.c. bikes is less than the big guys and good deals can be had from used cruisers. Cruisers do not always get driven as much as cars and trucks so the mileage on used bikes tends to be lower. It is nothing for a use bike to be four years old and have only 8,000 miles on it. Consider also that a motorcycle will go for as long as a car or truck so look around for those good deals. The used Japanese bikes are cheaper and do not have the same resale value as the American bikes but to me, are just as durable. A Harley or Victory owner may also argue that point with me so do your own shopping around. Bottom line is to know what you want from the start so that it will not cost you more money with an upgrade in the future.

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