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post #1 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-24-2006, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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So you've decided to buy your first bike

Form Equals Function: Sportbikes are Not Beginner Bikes

Introduction

Well, another riding season is upon us and as it always happens, we get lots of inquiries from potential new riders on how to get into the sport, what's a good first ride, where to take safety classes and so on. One particular type of inquiry that pops up with almost clockwork frequency is from a small number of new riders who wish to buy 600cc and up sportbikes as their first ride.

For the past year and a half, I, along with lots of other BB forum members, have entertained this question of 600cc sportbikes for a first ride with patience and lots and lots of repetition. It seems this small group of newbies keep coming back with the same arguments and questions over and over again. As a result, I am going to take the time in this column to try and put into words, answers that get repeated over and over on the BB forums.

Allow me to state first and foremost that I am a sport rider. My first bike was a Ninja 250R and I put nearly 7000 miles on it in two seasons before selling it. I am presently shopping for my next ride and it will almost certainly be a sportbike or sport tourer in the 600-1000cc range. I am also building a track bike in my garage which I hope to complete this season (a Yamaha FZR600). Although I am not an expert rider by any stretch, I have tinkered enough and done enough research along with talking with other riders to be able to speak with some degree of knowledge on the subject.

This column is split into two parts. First, I would like to address the common arguments we see here as to why a 600cc sportbike simply must be a first ride along with rebuttals. Second, I want to cover the rationale behind why the BB community-at-large steers new riders away from these machines.

False Logic

On about a three month interval, a whole slew of questions pop up on the BB forum from potential riders trying to convince the community that a 600cc sportbike is a suitable first ride and then proceed to explain to us why they are the exception. I can almost set my clock to this pattern of behavior since it is almost swarm-like. I guess the newbies figure by swamping the forum with the same questions in lots of places we might trip up and endorse such a machine. Hasn't happened yet but they keep on trying.

For those of you that come to Beginner Bikes trying to convince us to endorse a 600cc sportbike, I offer you the following responses to your arguments.
I can only afford to get one bike so it might as be the one that I want.

I don't want to go through the hassle of buying and selling a used bike to learn on.

These two lines of reasoning pop up as one of the more common arguments. I am going to offer first a piece of wisdom which is stated with great regularity on the forums:

This is your first bike, not your last.

Motorcycle riders are reputed to change bikes, on average, once every two to three years. If this is the case (and it appears to be based on my observations), the bike you learn to ride on will not be in your garage in a few years time anyway whether you buy it new or used. You're going to sell it regardless to get something different, newer, more powerful, more comfortable, etc.

Yes, buying a bike involves effort and a financial outlay. Most of us simply cannot afford to drop thousands of dollars on a whim every time we want to try something new. Getting into riding is a serious commitment in time and money and we want the best value out it as much as possible.

However, if you can afford to buy outright or finance a 600cc or up sportbike that costs $7000 on average, you can probably afford to spend $2000 or so on a used bike to learn on. Most of the beginner sportbikes we recommend here (Ninja 250/500, Buell Blast, GS500) can all be found used for between $1500-$3000.

Done properly, buying and selling that first bike is a fairly painless process. Buying a used bike is no harder than buying new. I would argue it is a bit easier. No different than buying a used car from a private seller. If you've done that at least once, you'll know what to do in buying a used bike.

Selling a beginner bike is even easier. You want to know why? Because beginner bikes are constantly in demand (especially Ninja 250s). These bikes spend their lives migrating from one new rider to the next to act as a teaching vehicle. It is not uncommon for a beginner bike to see four or five different owners before it is wrecked or junked. There are a lot of people out there looking for inexpensive, reliable bikes and all of our beginner recommendations fit into that category.

If you buy a used Ninja 250R for $1500, ride it for a season or two, you can be almost guaranteed that you will be able to resell that bike for $1300 or so when you are done with it provided you take care of it. And on a bike like the Ninja 250R, the average turnaround on such a sale is two to three days. No joke. I had five offers on my Ninja 250R within FOUR HOURS of my ad going up on Cycle Trader. I put the bike on hold the same day and sold it four days later to a fellow who drove 500 miles to pick it up. My bike never made it into the print edition. Believe me, the demand is there.

And look at it this way: For those one or two seasons of riding using the above example, excluding maintenance costs which you have no matter what, you will have paid a net cost of $200 to ride that Ninja. That is extremely cheap for what is basically a bike rental for a year or two. Considering it can cost $300 or more just to rent a 600cc sportbike for a weekend (not including the $1500-$2000 security deposit), that is economic value that you simply cannot argue with.

Vanity Arguments

The beginner bikes you recommend are dated and ugly looking.

I want something that's modern and stylish.

I want a bike that looks good and that I look good on.

I call these the vanity arguments. These are probably the worst reasons you can have for wanting a particular bike.

I will not disagree that aesthetics plays a huge part in the bikes that appeal to us. Motorcycles are the ultimate expression in personal taste in vehicles. Far more than cars. Bikes are more personal and the connection between rider and machine is far more intimate on a bike than a car. On a bike, you are part of the machine, not just a passive passenger.
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post #2 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-24-2006, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Part 2

However, as entry into world of riding and with the temporarily status that most beginner bikes have in our garages, looks should be the least of your concerns. As long as the bike is in good repair and mechanically sound, that is usually enough for most new riders to be happy. Most riders are happy to ride and they will ride anything given the choice between riding or not riding.

If you are looking at bike mainly because of how it looks and/or how you will look it and how others will perceive you on it, take a good, long, honest look as to why you want to ride. There are lots of people out there who buy things strictly because of how it makes them appear in the eyes of others. It's shallow and vain but it is a fact of life. It shouldn't be a factor in choosing that first ride but it is. I won't deny that.

The difference is: a BMW or Mercedes generally won't leaving you hanging on for dear life if you stomp on the accelerator or throw you into the road if you slam on the brakes a little hard. Virtually ever sportbike made in the past 10-15 years will do both of those things given a chance to do so (for reasons that will be explained later in this column).

The population at large may think you're cool and look great on that brand new sportbike and ohh-and-ahh at you. The ohhs can quickly turn to screams of horror should, in your efforts to impress the masses, you wind up dumping your bike and surfing the asphalt. Will you still look cool with thousands of dollars in damage to that once-beautiful sportbike and with the signatures and well-wishes of your friends on the various casts you'll be wearing months afterwards?

You Be The Judge

I'm a big rider so I need a bigger bike to get me around.

I'm a tall rider and all of those beginner bikes just don't fit me the way the sportbike does.

I'll look huge and foolish riding on such a small bike.

My friends will laugh at me for riding something so small.

These arguments are almost as bad as the vanity arguments. The difference being is they simply show a lack of motorcycle knowledge for the most part.

Unless you are over 6'3" tall or are extremely overweight (meaning well over 300lbs), even the smallest 250cc motorcycle will be able to accommodate you without difficultly. To provide an example, the Ninja 250R has a load limit of 348 pounds. That is more than sufficient to accommodate a heavier rider in full gear and still leave plenty of space for cargo in tank, tail and saddle bags. Or enough to allow two-up riding between two average weight individuals.

The idea that bigger riders need bigger bikes is almost laughable. It's like saying small drivers need Honda Civics but bigger drivers only 100 pounds heavier need to drive Hummers to get around. Or Corvettes with plenty of power to pull their ample frames, as the analogy goes. It is only because of the small physical size of bikes compared to their users that this train of thought even exists. It simply doesn't hold up to scrutiny. A look at any motorcycle owner's manual will confirm that for you.

Tall riders suffer more from fit issues than weight issues. On this, they do have a point. I'm a taller rider (6'1"). I do fold up quite comfortably on the Ninja 250 which is considered a small bike. I found it perfect for my frame. Others haven't. Then again, my knees hit the bars on bikes like the Rebel 250 and Buell Blast. Just different ergonomics that didn't fit me.

For taller riders, a much better beginner fit is a dual-sport machine rather than a sport machine. They offer the high seat heights that make them comfortable rides and their power is well within acceptable limits. We have a small but vocal dual-sport community here and they will tell you, quite rightly, that a dual-sport is just as capable on twisty roads as a sportbike. The same properties that give sportbikes their cornering ability is also possessed by dual sports (high center of gravity).

As to peer pressure, I admit to taking more than my fair share of ribbing from my 600cc riding friends. Some of it good natured, some of it not. In the end, this argument falls into the vanity arena. Which is more important: Your safety and comfort on a bike or what your friends think?

The ways to deal with friends giving you a hard time about a smaller ride is very simple. Tell them to ride their rides and you'll ride yours. It's your ride, after all. Most true riders will accept other riders, no matter what they are on. Only posers and losers care that your ride doesn't measure up to their "standards". And if so, do you really want to be riding with them anyway? It's more fun to stand out than to be a member of a flock anyway. And if they don't buy that line of reasoning, try this one: "Well if you don't like my ride, why don't you go buy me something that you will like?". THAT will shut them up REALLY fast. It works too. Unless their name is on the payment book or the title, it shouldn't be their concern.

If your friends can't deal with your decisions, you're probably better off looking for new friends. And if you can't deal with the peer pressure, then you are putting your own safety at risk solely because of what others think. Revisit the vanity arguments above and think about why you want to ride.

Decision Justification Arguments

I'll take it easy and grow into the bike.

I'm a careful driver so I'll be a careful rider and not get into trouble.

I drive a fast car so I'll be able to handle a fast bike.

Other people have started on a 600cc sportbike and didn't get hurt. So why can't I?

These arguments are the most common ones put forth and the ones that are hardest to deal with. These are the arguments that start flame wars. Because it is on these arguments that you have to convince someone the idea of what a beginner bike is over their preconceived notions.

The arguments also often surface in what I call the "decision justification arguments". Many new riders have their heart set on a specific bike and often come to BB to ask about it not to get real advice but to get confirmation that their decision is right. In cruisers, standards, scooters and dual-sports, more often than not these "pre-decisions" are generally good ones. In sportbikes, more than 3/4 of the posters are trying to get the community to approve their choice of a 600cc machine as a first ride. Their shock is quite real when they are barraged with answers that don't meet their expectations and that is when a flurry of oft-repeated discussion ensues.

Let's take each argument in turn since these are the ones that turn up with regularity.

I'll take it easy and grow into the bike.

The purpose of a first bike is to allow you to master basic riding skills, build confidence and develop street survival strategies. You don't grow into a bike. You develop your skills on it. As your skills develop, so does your confidence and with it, your willingness to explore what the bike is capable of.

But you are also entering in a contract with the bike. It is two-way. You are going to expect the bike to act on your inputs and the bike in turn is going to respond. The problem is, your skills are still developing but the bike doesn't know that. It does what it is told. You want a partner in a contract to treat you fairly. On a bike, you don't want it fighting you every step of the way. And like most contracts, the problems don't start until there is a breakdown in communication or a misunderstanding.


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post #3 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-24-2006, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Part 3

In Part One of this article, we covered a lot of the excuses that new riders give for wanting to start on a 600cc sportbike. This second half finishes off our discussion of this reasoning and discusses why high-powered sport machines are not the ideal beginner machine.

False Logic Completed

Last month, we covered many of the reasons new riders give to justify why they want or should get a 600cc sportbike. Now we finish with the last and most common excuses given.
I'm a careful driver so I'll be a careful rider and not get into trouble.

This is what I call the "I'm responsible and mature" argument. This one is a general excuse and does not apply to sportbikes in particular.

Recent studies have shown that 90% of all drivers feel that they have average to above-driving abilities compared to other drivers on the road. These drivers also said that they think 60% of those on the road are less skilled than they are. It's an interesting perception as it indicates a mentality that everyone else is sub-par, not you. Obviously someone has to be wrong because the percentages just don't add up.

A proper attitude towards driving as well as riding is essential. But these same drivers who see themselves as superior also engage in dangerous driving habits (aggressive weaving, illegal passing, bad merges, following too close, lack of attention to traffic/road conditions, etc). Very few drivers are truly honest with themselves and their ability to handle a vehicle.

The problem is, on a bike, the perception that you are responsible is not enough. On a bike, you must be. You either learn to be or you are going to be in trouble really quick. In talking with other riders I have found that they tend to be much more defensive and thoughtful drivers behind the wheel because riding raises their perception of their surroundings.

Ultimately, responsible and mature does not equate to riding skill. It has nothing to do with it except how you will approach riding in general. You want to know the sign of a responsible rider? Look at their gear. Are they in full safety gear? Watch them ride. If you are seeing them turn their heads to clear their blind spots, making careful and smooth maneuvers, leaving a nice, safe amount space around them and working to maximize your chance of seeing and knowing what they are doing, then you are looking at a responsible rider.

Now do the same exercise and watch the drivers around you. How many turn their heads to check their blind spots, signal lane changes, leaving several car lengths of space in front of them, weave in and out of traffic or dash to the end of a ramp and then attempt to force themselves onto the highway rather than yield like they are supposed to? I'm willing to bet it's not going to be a pretty significant percentage. Now imagine these same individuals on a bike. I'm sure you'll be able to spot more than a few of these types on bikes to (just look for the T-shirts and flip-flops as they blast by you at 100mph on the Interstate on the right).

How you approach the task of driving is how you will approach riding. Attention to the task of riding is the number one way you avoid trouble by not getting into it in the first place. Study your own driving habits. Good habits will definitely keep your chances of getting into trouble but they have little to do with controlling a motorcycle. Any motorcycle. Many lax drivers often become much better drivers as the result of riding a motorcycle. It is far less common for it to go in the other direction.

I drive a fast car so I'll be able to handle a fast bike.

Of all the excuses and justifications, this one is my personal favorite. It is in the top three most common excuses given and it shows a complete and utter lack of motorcycle knowledge. It is a statement made out of naivety rather than ignorance.

Most of the folks who make this statement own fast cars (Corvette, Mustang, Acura, modified Civic, etc) or think they do. The belief is that if you can drive fast in a car you can handle a bike that can go fast. I would argue unless these folks race cars on weekends, driving a car that can go fast does not make them a experienced high-speed driver. And for those that do understand how to handle a car at high speed, it gives you knowledge of braking and traction but even that knowledge is useless for one simple reason:

Bikes are not cars.

Braking, traction control, acceleration and handling are totally different on a motorcycle. Cars do not lean. Bikes do. When bikes lean, it changes the part of the tire contacting the ground (the contact patch/ring) and changes the stability and dynamics of the bike from moment to moment. The physics of motorcycle control are in a league of their own. Even the ability to race cars will not give you instant godhood on a motorcycle.

Are you aware that a racing motorcycle (any 600cc supersport made today basically) when it is turning is touching the ground with an amount of rubber equal to a couple of postage stamps? The same applies to any street bike at deep lean angles except they don't have the advantage of a smooth surface to hold on to or sticky race tires. Now imagine having to control the power and the amount of traction you are getting in that space.

Like being responsible, the ability to handle a car at high speed has nothing to do with handling a fast motorcycle. You are missing two wheels, a cage and a seatbelt on a bike. Turning at 70mph becomes a whole different world on a motorcycle compared to car. Braking is a different experience too. It is fairly hard to stand a car on its front fender if you stomp on the brakes. It can be done with two fingers, a good amount of speed and a moment of panic on a sportbike. The only cars that have brakes equal or better than that of a sportbike built in the last 10 years is a Formula One race car.

The skills to handle the potent combination of acceleration, instant-on power and brakes are best learned on a smaller machine so when you finally get on that ultimate sportbike, you have an idea of what to do and how to handle the machine. Driving a car won't give you that. Only time in the saddle, the more, the better.

Other people have started on a 600cc sportbike and didn't get hurt. So why can't I?

This is probably the number one reason that pops up. However, it isn't so much a reason as an observation. And it is a true one. Every year, lots of new riders go to their local dealerships or scour their local ads and bring home a brand new or used 600cc sportbike. And many of those riders do successfully manage to get through their learning process on these machines.

The purpose of a first ride more than any other is to get the risk of riding for the first year or two as low as possible. You want your margin of forgiveness in the bike to be as wide as possible. A 600cc sportbike gives you very little of that. Yes, a 600cc down low is a tame if sensitive machine. However, it takes very little twist on the throttle to induce a large jump in rpm's. A brief bump on a pothole with a death grip on the throttle can introduce a 4000rpm jump in the blink of an eye (speaking from personal experience). In an experienced rider's hands, this is alarming but recoverable. A gentle rolloff or a little clutch feathering manages the surge nicely. In the hands of a newbie trying to figure out the best reaction to such a scare, a rapid closeoff or a panic brake is often the result and can get you into trouble very, very quickly.

Yes, a new rider can start on a 600cc sportbike. It is NOT RECOMMENDED! The reason this line of reasoning pops up so often is because everyone feels they are the exception rather than just another new rider. It makes sense. It's hard to think of oneself as just another face in the crowd. As a rider, I know I am just another average rider. Although I have track aspirations, I have no doubt as to where my skill level is and it is definitely not in (or ever was) in the "start on a 600cc exceptional group".

In the end, to deal with this line of reasoning is going to involve the new rider, not the one giving the advice. No one can stop that person from going out and buying a 600cc sportbike as a first ride. And maybe they will succeed and crow about all the bad advice they received on starting small. Great! They were the exception.

What you don't hear about are the non-exceptional people. Very, very few new riders who start on 600s come back to talk about their experiences if they aren't in the "I've had no problems." group. On the forums recently, there have been a couple folks who admitted they got 600cc sportbikes to start on and indicated that it had been a less-than-ideal choice. This type of honesty is refreshing and it is very, very rare. I am grateful these riders stepped up.

Most of the time, we never learn the fate of those riders who start on 600s. Some make it and simply never bother to tell their tales except to friends. Some wind up scaring themselves so badly (by getting out of control or by actually dumping the bike and injuring themselves) that they sell off and never ride again. These types can be found. Just troll the ads for new supersports with one owner and low miles. The worst of this class of riders are the ones who become "born again safety advocates". These riders who scare themselves out of riding occasionally become preachers that tell anyone who will listen that "motorcycles are dangerous and should be banned". What they don't tell those they are preaching to is how they got that way. It's bad enough having to deal with the general public (who are at least honestly unaware of what riding is about) but a lot worse to be sabotaged from within by someone who did it to themselves and got in over their head.


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post #4 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-24-2006, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Part 4

Then there is the last group of these "started on a 600cc sportbike" riders that never tell us their tales. They never do because they can't. Instead, they enjoying peaceful surroundings and occasional visits by bereaved family and friends. They made that one mistake, that one error that compounded into a tragedy of inexperience. They can never tell us what that error was so we can learn from it and maybe also tell us that they should have started on something smaller. They were successful right until the point their skills and luck ran out. This can happen to any of us on any bike. But, in the end, new riders on a powerful sportbike can be a recipe for disaster.

Be honest with yourself. Very honest. Take the advice and wisdom of others more experienced than you and consider what they are saying. They may have a point. But if you opt for that 600cc sportbike, be assured you will still be accepted as a rider and still encouraged to act as safely as possible at all times.

The Final Equation

We've covered the reasons why people justify or want to get a 600cc sportbike. But we have one more thing to answer and it is simple: What makes these bad bikes to start on?

Sportbikes are built as racing machines, pure and simple. They are built in response to guidelines laid down by racing bodies for a particular class and made to win races in that class. Ducati, for example, spends most of their existence building bikes to win races. Since 1950, Ducati was always a racing bike manufacturer first and their products reflected that philosophy. A by-product of winning races is the fact that people see those winning machines and want to ride them (if you're going to ride, you might as well ride the best as it goes). It didn't take the motorcycle manufacturers long to figure out that there was a market demand for these machines and reacted accordingly.

Sportbikes represent a technological arms race. This has really become apparent in the past 5-10 years where new models eclipse last years models with better performance and capability with each passing year. To compare a 1989 Honda CBR600F Hurricane (the original CBR) to a 2003 CBR600RR is pointless. There is no comparison except in the model designation showing a distant family relation. The new CBR is lighter by at least 50 pounds and packs 30 percent more power, handling and braking ability that makes the original CBR look like a ponderous dinosaur. But just because that original CBR dinosaur has been eclipsed doesn't make it any more tamable. If anything, older sportbikes are far more temperamental than the descendants.

Consider the fact that this year a privateer (independent racer) bought a Yamaha YZF-R1 off the showroom floor, took off the lights and mirrors, added a race belly pan, exhaust and tires and placed in the top ten at the AMA Superbike race at Daytona. The bike was two weeks off the floor and basically stock (the modifications with the exception of the pipe are required). Since factory sponsored teams tend to take the top slots, any privateer that can break in the top ten is doing well by anyone's definition.

Because sportbikes (and especially 600s since they compete in the most populous racing class out there) are designed first as racing machines, they are built with handling, acceleration and speed in mind. Not just one quality at the expense of others but all of them in abundance! Centralizing the mass of the bike at the center of gravity (CoG) gives the bike neutral stability. The high riding position and the perching of the rider over the CoG gives the bike the ability to flick over rapidly.

The steering geometry and short wheelbase of these bikes is designed to provide short and rapid directional changes. Combined with the higher CoG and mass centralization, the steering setup is what gives sportbikes their amazing turning ability.

Engine designs vary but have settled on V-twins and inline fours as the preferred choices. The sportbike V-twins are liquid-cooled, high-rpm engines designed to generate massive torque (hence acceleration) and power in the mid-range of their design limits. Witness the success of Nicky Hayden and Miquel Duhamel on the Honda RC51 in AMA Superbike as testament to the massive grunt these engines put out. So potent in fact that the AMA changed the rules for the following season to even the odds between the V-twins and inline fours. The inline four equipped bikes simply couldn't outpower the twins on curvy portions of the race circuit.

The inline four is by far the most common engine layout in sportbikes including all 600cc sport designs (the Ducati 620SS has a V-twin but is air-cooled and the bike is not a racing machine). All of the sportbikes that new riders lust after are equipped with this engine design. High-rpm capability (redlines vary between 11K and 16K rpm), liquid cooled and designed to produce peak power at very high rpms. The inline four delivers smooth and increasing power as the throttle is opened. Power tends to build to the peak point, at which power the engine will tend to surge to peak power and fall off as the peak point is crossed. Although nowhere near as bad as a race-tuned two-stroke (which literally double their horsepower as the engine transitions to peak power), the engine displays its roots as a racing thoroughbred.

A 1mm or 1/16 of an inch twist of the throttle can easily result in a 2000-4000rpm jump. You can be cruising along at a sedate 4000rpm, hit a pothole and suddenly find the bike surging forward with the front end getting light at 7000rpm. Definitely unnerving the first time you experience it.

And then there are the brakes. Braking technology has gotten progressively more potent over the past ten years. Even older sportbikes sport twin disc setups with two or four piston calipers designed to get these bikes down from 150mph to 60mph as quickly as possible. Current generation bikes are unreal. These brakes have grown to six piston calipers with massive discs whose sole job is to slow a 180mph missile down to corner speed in the shortest distance possible. If you ever watch racers, notice that they tend to only use two fingers to brake. They don't need anymore than that. The brakes are almost too powerful. And accidents happen on the track a lot due to bad or late braking.

All of these qualities produce an exquisite riding machine. The problem is, all of these qualities are designed to operate at extremes since it is under extreme conditions that these bikes are intended to operate. For the street, these capabilities are overkill. A hard squeeze of the front brake on the street can easily get a sportbike to lock its front wheel. Same applies to an over-aggressive stomp on the rear brake. No matter which way you slice it, highsides hurt.

The powerful engine can literally get you from 0 to 45mph in the blink of an eye in first gear. Come up one gear and you can be at 70mph with the slightest drop of your wrist. Add in one bump at speed without knowing what the throttle is going to do and suddenly you aren't at 70mph anymore. You're at 90+ mph and the bike is tickling its "sweet spot". At this speed, you better not panic. If you botch the slowdown from this error (either by a rapid rolloff or a shift), you can find yourself in serious trouble.

The handling capabilities of sportbikes actually make them wonderful machines to ride once you are used to thinking where you want to go. This actually gives them great beginner qualities (if on the extreme end). The downside is this perfect handling is slaved to amazing power on tap and the brakes that can back it off just as quickly.

In the final equation, a 600cc sportbike is little more than a racing machine with street parts bolted on. They aren't designed for street use; they are adapted to it. But no compromises are made in that transition. The same R6, GSX-R600, ZX-6RR or CBR600RR you can buy off the showroom floor can be converted in an afternoon, be at the track the next day and wind up winning races. And the sportbikes from 10 years ago were the R6s, Gixxers, Ninjas and CBRs of their day. They possessed the same qualities that their modern descendants do just not with the same maximums. Even today on the street, a 15 year old sportbike is little different than its 2003 cousin. The 2003 might accelerate quicker, stop shorter and lean farther but at the speeds us mortals ride at, there will be little difference.

Sportbike technology has gone an amazing distance in twenty years. Performance and ability has almost doubled in that time. But rider ability has not and a new rider from 20 years ago would still have the same challenges then as a new rider would today on an R6.

Sportbike form evolved to meets its function: to win races. Always has, always will. And riders will lust after these technological marvels for that reason. Can you start out on one? Yes. But you can also pretend to be a GP racer on a smaller sportbike that gives up nothing to its bigger brothers where most of us spend our riding days. It is always more satisfying to smoke a 600cc or 1000cc sportbike in the twisties on a Ninja 250 or GS500 than a bigger bike.

But when you are ready to answer the call of the Supersport, they will be waiting for you and you'll be better off having honed your skills on the smaller sportbike. Supersports are not beginner bikes. But they make great second and third bikes.

The choice is yours.


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post #5 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-24-2006, 09:29 PM
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Where did you find that? It was awesome. Definitely "stickie" material.

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post #6 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 12:00 AM
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I tend to somewhat disagree with the sweeping generalizations above about squids and their choices of 600's. I know about 15 people right now that have gone straight to 600's right out of their noob shells and have all had wonderful, fruitful and safe riding experiences. Maybe some can't handle the power and abilities a 600 offers, it is indeed impressive and can quickly get you in trouble if you are not careful, but that has to do with self control and realizing your abilities.

I'm (obviously) new to street bikes. But I have been blasting through the Baja California desert at well over 100mph with no trails or dotted lines to tell me where to go. I think many desert riders benefit from the obstacle and terrain scanning skills that riding through the desert affords you. No joke, you can be travelling at well over 100mph and all of a sudden a cliff, rabbit, boulder, cow, mexican, etc. can appear out of nowhere, and dirt bikes breaks are about 1/10th as powerful as my gixxer 600. But to say that all people new to street bikes should shun away from 600's is preposertous. My 600 is a great bike to learn on, its stable, nimble, quick to get out of trouble and conversely INTO trouble, but I ride more comfortably knowing that its there if I truly need it.

The advice is spot on if you've never thrown your leg over a motorcycle, and I can see how the vets around here would get jadded and rather fed up with the constant barrage of noob bombs landing here every summer. But my contention here is that if you are comfortable on a dirt bike and truly understand how motorcycles operate, dont be afraid to purchase that shiney new 600 you've been lusting after. Be careful, always enter a turn slower than you THINK you can, and be honest with yourself in your riding abilities and you should remain a happy, attentive rider for many years to come.
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post #7 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 06:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tahoe916
The advice is spot on if you've never thrown your leg over a motorcycle, and I can see how the vets around here would get jadded and rather fed up with the constant barrage of noob bombs landing here every summer. But my contention here is that if you are comfortable on a dirt bike and truly understand how motorcycles operate, dont be afraid to purchase that shiney new 600 you've been lusting after.
I agree with that 100%, a experianced dirt biker can jump strait up to a 600 no prob. But someone that has never been on a bike before should be really carefull, i was one of those people. I almost baught a 500 and there was times that i thought wow if i had less power i probably would not of almost rear ended that car, but a season later i thought wow i need a faster bike.
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post #8 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 08:06 AM
 
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i bet ten bucks that the people who need to read that, never will.
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post #9 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 09:07 AM
 
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That was an amazing post.

I was one of those fools that jumped on a 600 with 0 experience. I actually fell the first day my brother bought the bike. Then a few weeks later, my brother said he didn't want the bike and I took it off his hands. After that I practiced and got better. Now I can see I will be a rider for life.

I will agree that a 600 isn't a beginners bike.
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post #10 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 10:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilbologna
i bet ten bucks that the people who need to read that, never will.
yeah thats right....i ride a CBR250RR and didnt need to read this.... i can see from all the riders that crash on this site after only 1 or 2 miles or less need that article...

im from Australia we have restrictions on what we can ride (when learning) up to 660cc but it cant have a power to weight ratio of more than 150kw per tonne so this means u can ride single cylinder and also twin cylinders.... now my CBR250rr has four cylinders (four stroke) is liquid cooled revs to 19,000 rpm makes around 45hp.....now u cant ride a 250cc 2 stroke as they make to much power for their weight....these restrictions are mandatory u can buy any bike u want without being licensed but if u get caught u face fines guys over here have died because they bought a 600cc supersport and didnt know what they were doing....

my bike will run as quick as 14.5 1/4 mile (theres a ninja 250 that runs 13.9) this is quite fast for a learner bike and has no trouble beating our homegrown performance cars including LS1 Gen3 Commodores....
i have had fast cars in my life but i knew that no matter what a bike is very different when i rode my bike for the first time and really pulled that throttle it scared me the sensation of speed is so much greater than that of a car even after 9 months of riding i still get a thrill when i crank my bike up.....

in 5 months i can upgrade to whatever size bike i want my mates (who dont ride) said go straight to the 1000cc sportsbike but i know that is not a smart move even a 600cc will be almost triple my current bikes power and a 1000cc will be almost 5 times they dont ride and dont understand the sheer power these things have and how easliy they can bite not even i do as i havent ridden 1.

i cant believe that in the USA there are states that let people ride without helmets i think that and also the fact newbies can ride 600cc bikes legally is very dangerous and expalins why i see so many crashes on this site from newbies.
we have to wear helmets no matter what in aus but other gear is not 100% compulsory maybe a better system needs to be out into use to stop newbies getting straight on these weapons(legally) in the USA.

thats just my 2c
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post #11 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 10:08 AM
 
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Here in ri we don't have a helmet law. Only the passanger needs a lid. The driver needs only eye protection.
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post #12 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-25-2006, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phat_stak_tipa
yeah thats right....i ride a CBR250RR
Part of the problem here is that we don't have that CBR250RR available here in the USA. The manufacturers won't bother bringing them here because very few people will buy them when they can buy a GSX-R1000 instead. Now, if we did have licensing restrictions, then we would get those tasty small bikes, which I would love. I would love to have that CBR250RR as a trackbike, then I could ditch the GSXR and get something reasonable for my streetbike. Or possibly keep the GSXR for the track and have the 250 for streetwork, where having 110 bhp or more at the back wheel is useless and stupid.

I would have loved to have had a modern 250 for my first bike. Here we have the Ninja 250, designed in roughly 1984, and a couple of cruisers. Then we have the Ninja 500 and GS500, also designed around 1984 (much much earlier for the GS) and a couple of cruisers. Then we have a plethora of 600s in various forms. I really liked my Bandit 600, but I would have preferred something lighter as a first bike.

Chango

Wow. That got random toward the end.


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post #13 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 01:43 PM
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My first ride was a '87 Ninja 750R. I rode it for two seasons and put 6,000 miles on it. I had no previous experience on a motorcyle. No dirtbikes, quads, nothing. I just made sure i was respondsible and controlled myself until i knew the bike inside and out and could handle it properly. Then i got my Gixxer


'99 Suzuki GSX-R 750

Last edited by Shoein; 04-26-2006 at 01:45 PM.
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post #14 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango
Where did you find that? It was awesome. Definitely "stickie" material.

Chango
I found on a website that I found many months ago

Quote:
Originally Posted by evilbologna
I bet ten bucks that the people who need to read that, never will.
Thats a bet I would never take, You are So right!!


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post #15 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 03:41 PM
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Best starter bike ever was my 1992 CBR600 F2. You could throw that bike any which way you wanted. Older 600's are nothing compared to the newer ones.
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post #16 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 04:15 PM
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Great one Boss! Its what everyone should read, and I agree on it 100%. Its fucking true.

Riding is a commitment. A lot of people need to stop and ask themselves a lot of those questions, like why exactly do you want to ride? Whats in it for you?

I started on my 02 gsxr 600, and now I do wish I started on something smaller, not do the the fact I hurt myself or something but wondering how much faster I woulda learned and the level I woulda been at now? This is coming from a "high-speed driver" who was a "weekend warrior" (or everyday ) with cars.
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post #17 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilbologna
i bet ten bucks that the people who need to read that, never will.
your wrong... thanks to BallHawk i read it..

i bought a 89 zx6 and totalled it within 2 hours... didn't know to ride, just change gears..

now a year later i'm looking for a bike but i'm trying to be smart, because that lesson was hard learned!!!

i understand completely the dangers, but for some reason I still want a 600cc

i went to riding school and learned to ride properly, and i saw my mistakes. I will also definatelly be taking some more lessons before I take whatever bike i buy out on the public roads.
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post #18 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-26-2006, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_cox
your wrong... thanks to BallHawk i read it..

i bought a 89 zx6 and totalled it within 2 hours... didn't know to ride, just change gears..

now a year later i'm looking for a bike but i'm trying to be smart, because that lesson was hard learned!!!

i understand completely the dangers, but for some reason I still want a 600cc

i went to riding school and learned to ride properly, and i saw my mistakes. I will also definatelly be taking some more lessons before I take whatever bike i buy out on the public roads.

Well Mr.Cox our job is done..... You are one of the few that used his head and not his ego when deciding on which bike to buy......A little late mind you... but at least you came around..

This is the website I got it from.

http://www.msgroup.org/forums/mtt/default.asp


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Last edited by Boss; 04-26-2006 at 07:30 PM.
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post #19 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-27-2006, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boss358
Well Mr.Cox our job is done..... You are one of the few that used his head and not his ego when deciding on which bike to buy......A little late mind you... but at least you came around..

This is the website I got it from.

http://www.msgroup.org/forums/mtt/default.asp

i think evilbologna owes somone 10 dollars.. wanna split it and buy some chinese food?
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post #20 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-27-2006, 02:11 AM
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my first bike is a 05 gsxr 600 and i agree that it is not the best bike to start with even though i havent been down yet...i bought the bike had it delivered and start riding the next day...i didnt hit the streets just around the corner now i have over 4700 miles on it.....when i let a friend of mine ride it (who has taken the class) and he crashed it within 5mins of riding now i'll probably miss the summer rides but he is paying for it to get fixed

05 GSXR XX0 (ready for paint)
00 ESCORT ZX2 S/R
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post #21 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-27-2006, 08:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_cox
i think evilbologna owes somone 10 dollars.. wanna split it and buy some chinese food?
i owe no one anything. it was assisted (via ballhawk), therefore not legit

all in all, you cant blame people completely for doing what they do, the american society plays a huge role in it. the american market for "beginner bikes" is extrememly limited. there is too much concentration on having more power, more bling, best of the best, whatever. which is why im stuck on the idea of alot of riders riding purely for the image, not the sport. if they were about the sport, they wouldnt think twice about rocking a 250, work on building corner speed and proper braking skills.

america is not a motorcycle country (besides harley), we miss out on many models of bikes, and its really not quite a part of our society. not yet anyways, its on the rise, with moto ads on websites that arent even moto related, tv commercials, mainstream media support, etc etc.

overseas, motorcycling is a way of life. here, its about the image (not all, just speaking about majority).
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post #22 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-27-2006, 01:04 PM
 
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Great post and I agree with you about most of it... Here is my argument:

Now maybe I'm just thinking of the "Dual Sport" here but the katana 600 was my first bike I had ever ridden and it taught me ALOT! Its taller so it fits the taller person very well, although, I'm only 5'10". It does not have as much torque or power as an SS bike does but has PLENTY of power for a newbie. Whenever someone asks me what they should get for a first bike, I can't say enough good things about the katana. I would shy away from the katana if you are a really small person just because of its weight and if you do drop it, it can be a PITA to get it back on its tires. But, for any that are taller or even average build I think the katana is the perfect starter bike. It will also get someone used to the 600cc class of power without getting into the 600cc SS class of power.

I had my 2001 katana 600 for 2 1/2 years, bought it used for $3500 with only 2900 miles. I sold it middle - end of last summer with 13000 miles and a new paint job (because I had two very low speed drops and the fairing was scratched up), for $3900. So, for those saying "I can only afford to get one bike so it might as be the one that I want." or "I don't want to go through the hassle of buying and selling a used bike to learn on.". Like you said, there is the market out there! And, I build/sell bikes now, specializing in Suzuki Katana's, mainly for the fact that I've had more experience with them than anything else but also because there is such a high demand for beginner bikes.

As for the "vanity" arguments...

This is just the dumbest thing that I've ever heard, I can't believe people are so into the "what will others think of me" or "what will i look like on this bike". But, hey, I know its said ALOT, so I offer this... The katana once again...



Now, I personally like the looks of that bike
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post #23 of 209 (permalink) Old 04-28-2006, 12:06 AM
 
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It looks like a riced Katana to me.
I prefer them stock, excellent motorcycle to learn on.
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post #24 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 09:25 AM
 
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riced katana? how is that?
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post #25 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 09:31 AM
 
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dude thats a HOT katana !!! see i was given my gixxer750 so thats my started bike .. if i could get a katana or something smaller so to speak to become more effiecent on but i kinda dont have that disposable cash . so for me i have to use my head , stay with in my skills and not try to extend past them , and most importantly review the MSF course when i get the chances to so i can react with in that instant and not have to think about it ... but i agree that here its more about looks and getting girls than a life style and it kinda blows because we do miss out on ALOT of neat things
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post #26 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 11:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99gixxer750
dude thats a HOT katana !!! see i was given my gixxer750 so thats my started bike .. if i could get a katana or something smaller so to speak to become more effiecent on but i kinda dont have that disposable cash . so for me i have to use my head , stay with in my skills and not try to extend past them , and most importantly review the MSF course when i get the chances to so i can react with in that instant and not have to think about it ... but i agree that here its more about looks and getting girls than a life style and it kinda blows because we do miss out on ALOT of neat things
Where do you live? I know where one is for sale
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post #27 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 12:04 PM
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Damn that litle solo cowl thingy really works wonders for the KAt...
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post #28 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 01:18 PM
 
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Yea, the solo cowl really does do wonders for the looks of the kat. the guy that makes them http://www.braada.com is also a part owner of http://www.katriders.com he is a great guy and we ride together as much as possible. awesome rider! its amazing how good he can run the twisties with his wife on the back of the bike none the less! really cool guy and a one man operation on making those things but very nice quality work! AND they fit right over top of the back of the seat so no need to get a new seat or anything.
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post #29 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-02-2006, 03:54 PM
 
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this is one of the first things i read before i even signed up and i have to say it is very informative and it makes you think twice. i have to admit my 600 is my first bike and yes i have taken the msf course and i do have my license. i think that class can teach people a lot more than just learning on your own.
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post #30 of 209 (permalink) Old 05-06-2006, 11:02 AM
 
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First Bike

Totally agree with Boss. I have been riding for about 8 years started on a 1988 Katana 600. It served its purpose taught me the ropes. Bought it for $600 with a Yoshi pipe. Put some work into it about $500 then rode it for a couple and sold it for $1200. A few bike later I'm on a 03 GSXR 750 and lovin it. When all else fails just be safe. Its not only you that you have to worry about its everyone else.
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post #31 of 209 (permalink) Old 06-11-2006, 04:57 PM
 
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I love this thread. I'm kinda upset it took me so long to find it.

I'd like to add a few analogies though, as it tends to be my forte.

Think of a bike like a horse. First time you ride a horse do you want that magnificent black stallion thats bucking around the pen and eye fucking anyone who gets near it? Or the friendlier horse that is still fun to ride, can give you new thrills, and who may not have the same super human stamina and speed of the stallion, but won't have you so scared that you don't enjoy the ride? Because thats what its about is fun.

One more.
Think of a bike like a plane. No one jumps right into an F-18 fighter jet. You start out with lots of schooling, and small prop planes. When you're able to handle those and know the basics, the SOLID FOUNDATION, you move up accordingly from there.

Going through the MSF and then jumping on a SuperSport is much like taking the first day of flight school and then hopping in a fighter jet. Might be exciting, but there's a reason it doesn't happen in real life. Because its too much machine for new people.

With all of this in mind, you CAN move up to supersport bikes. You CAN ride the black stallion, and fly the fighter plane, you just gotta learn the basics first.

Last edited by Mael; 06-11-2006 at 04:59 PM.
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post #32 of 209 (permalink) Old 06-29-2006, 02:33 PM
 
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Im a NEWBIE just bought a GSX_R600, as a matter of fact my entire crew just bought 600, all brand new riders. I had the bike for about 1 month, 650 miles with the rain. I'm doing just fine considering I've never road a street bike dirt bike, just a quad (SUZUKI OF COURSE). But I love the BIKE thinking about upgrading...CT
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post #33 of 209 (permalink) Old 06-29-2006, 02:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrap42206
Im a NEWBIE just bought a GSX_R600, as a matter of fact my entire crew just bought 600, all brand new riders. I had the bike for about 1 month, 650 miles with the rain. I'm doing just fine considering I've never road a street bike dirt bike, just a quad (SUZUKI OF COURSE). But I love the BIKE thinking about upgrading...CT
I will meet U there!!
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post #34 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-15-2006, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilbologna
i bet ten bucks that the people who need to read that, never will.

I read it!
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post #35 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-15-2006, 06:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrap42206
But I love the BIKE thinking about upgrading...CT

Upgrading to what?


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post #36 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-15-2006, 04:04 PM
 
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New rider, just completed MSF course, I appreciate the advice.
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post #37 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-15-2006, 05:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lolaids
New rider, just completed MSF course, I appreciate the advice.
Word! Thanks vets for giving the advice, now if only more people would actually take it seriously!
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post #38 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-17-2006, 08:52 AM
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I plan on taking the MSF next spring/summer. Do they have fall courses at all?
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post #39 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-17-2006, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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If you have never ridden a bike you need to read this!, It might save your life and your wallet for serious damage.


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post #40 of 209 (permalink) Old 07-30-2006, 04:10 PM
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Good thread.....im new to bikes and have never rode a sport bike, dirt bike but i have rode a quad. Im currently looking around for a begginers bike and also reading up a lot on safety tips and other stuff. Thanks for the great thread guys.....it will help me.
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