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Don`t buy the biggest bike you can afford!

I’m often asked ‘what bike should I buy?’ There are lots of considerations of course, like the rider’s experience, size, money available, etc. And then there’s what type of bike they like (regardless of whether it makes sense!), and the manufacturers they prefer. In the end, it’s the size that becomes the hardest decision. From meeting so many people through racing, riding, and Pacific Riding School, one of the most common mistakes I see and hear is buying a bike that is simply too big. Or one that becomes too big as your riding, age and needs changes.
One of the worst emails to get is from a former student that has quit riding because they have dropped their bike too many times. Or that they hardly ride because they aren’t comfortable due to the bike being intimidating. Well 100 extra kilograms can do that to you! You shouldn’t get sucked into buying a bigger bike because it’s cool, because your friends have them, or you just figure (or hope) that you’ll grow into it eventually. It’s simply a bad idea.
It’s true that all bikes weigh nothing while you’re moving in a straight line. That changes fast when you lose your footing on some sand, have to stop quickly, or encounter awkward corners that require quick changes in direction. Smaller bikes are easier to flick around. Twins or singles are great fun in the turns. Most 650 twins have more than enough power to take you where you want to go at highway speed. In fact, the dual sports can go anywhere, and have an added bonus of keeping your driving licence clean ;-)
When I tried the Suzuki VStrom a few years ago, I took out the 650 first, and then the 1000. Of course the 1000cc power was nice on big highway hills, but I also found myself speeding unintentionally. In the turns, the back roads, the 650 was the better bike by far. And guess where I try and do most of my riding? Small roads, fire roads, twisty roads. I believe any vehicle you buy should represent the bulk of your riding. Unless you’re rich and can have 3 bikes and 4 cars, you need to purchase for your 90-95% usage. I like lots of different bikes, but I selected the one that satisfied the biggest list of requirements.
Do I wish my bike had more power? Occasionally I do, I won’t lie. But my insurance is cheap, my licence is clean, and I really enjoy riding the bike. It might not be the greatest bike ever, but I’m not sure what bike that is anyway ;-) I find the bike effortless, and it does everything well, and that’s what I ask of it most of all. After 30 years of riding, and a little racing, my regular ride is a Suzuki VStrom 650.
It’s great to see manufacturers bringing back smaller bikes, but ones that are also cool! Almost all of them have a 300cc and 500cc bike that looks good, handles and stops well, and is reasonably competent on the highway. For the gifted, the experienced, there is an awesome selection of 650cc motorcycles to fit almost any needs. Don’t be afraid to start with a smaller bike, or trade down in size, you might be trading up in enjoyment!
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Email Bernie: PRSMechanic(at)hotmail(dot)com

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