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Saturday, March 17, 2007


What makes a great starter motorcycle?

This was originally something I wrote on Yahoo Answers, but I thought I'd repost it here. I'd done a fair amount of research - online, talking to motorcycle instructors, etc. - into what makes a good first bike before I bought my first bike. While this isn't written by a guy who's ridden everything, this is my opinion on where to start.

A starter bike is one that you'll buy to learn on, and it should be one that's easy to ride and less likely to do something dangerous if you make a mistake. Remember that it's your first bike, not your last; motorcyclists often buy new bikes as often as car drivers buy different cars. Motorcycles come in a lot of differnt types, and you can find a good first bike whether you like sport bikes, cruisers, or several other categories. I have four rules for what makes a good first bike.

1. It should have 50 hp or less. More powerful bikes can easily get out of hand - not only do they have more power, but often they have touchier brakes and handling too. With sport bikes, it's usually best to stay at 500 cc's or less; you can go bigger with cruisers or dual sports (dual sports are basically street legal dirt bikes, although they may be a bit larger).

2. A good starter bike needs to be light enough that you can easily pick it up if it falls over. Beyond the obvious problem that you might have it fall over (more likely in your garage or at a stop sign than while in motion, at least), a lighter bike will be easier to handle and you'll be less likely to need to pick it up.

3. When you sit on the bike's saddle, you should be able to put both feet flat on the ground. This will again help you avoid having to actually put rule #2 to the test.

4. It needs to fit you. You should feel comfortable sitting on it with your hands on the grips and your feet on the pegs. Any discomfort you feel in the couple minutes they'll let you sit on one in the showroom will seriously hurt after an hour of riding. And you'll want to pick one that matches your plans for riding and your sense of style, too. There's plenty of good choices for first bikes out there, so you don't need to settle for one that just seems wrong for you.


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