Progression, Peer Pressure and The Need for Speed ~ Part 3Posted: November 29, 2010
So, you’ve thought about it. Been honest with yourself. Tried to really figure out what it is about that dream bike of yours that makes it your dream bike. You (hopefully) did some more research, read more professional reviews or at least have talked to some grumpy old farts to hear their opinions. Why the old farts? Simple. They’re still alive, still riding, and have heaps more experience than you, your buddies and their buddies combined. Next time you see a 60-some year-old geezer power a wheelie out of a corner exit, smoothly set it down and be on their merry way, you think about that. =D Those are the people with the skill, those are the people who’s opinion you should seriously consider. But I digress.
You, by now, have figured out that you can afford the loan payments (and not just the minimums if you’re looking at a revolving account aka credit card financing). You can afford the insurance premiums, since you’ve shopped around for the best deal; and you even have money left over for the inevitable maintenance and can even afford a tire or two and maybe a chain and some sprockets when the time comes. You even have scoped out a dealer within a reasonable driving distance that’ll give you a fantastic deal OTD (out the door). You have a buddy lined up to drive the thing home for you (that right there should give you pause, especially if we’re talking a $14,000+ MSRP bike). You are ready to rock the rocket. Here are a few more items that might be of importance:
- The throttle goes both ways. Manageable power in mature (and we are not talking age here) hands and used with a somewhat intelligent brain is just that: manageable. An idiot can manage to kill himself on anything. If it has two wheels and an engine, they’ll find a way.
- A motorcycle is a very stable machine, if you keep the rider off of it. 😉
- Start reading now. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. And power demands knowledge. Take (at the bare minimum) the MSF Basic Rider Course before you pick up your scoot. Hell, if you do that, you can even drive it home your-damned-self. Which is way more awesome than having somebody else put the first miles on the clock. Don’t be the douche who wrecks it in the dealer’s parking lot either. Go out and buy a book or two. Good choices: Total Control by Lee Parks and A Twist of The Wrist II by Keith Code. READ them! Practice what they teach!
- What you don’t know can kill you. If you ever think you know it all, go back to learning. You’re on dangerous ground.
- Motorcycling is 90% mental. Think when the key is in the ignition. That means turn your brain on before you put the bike in gear! Always, always, always give the ride your full concentration. When your head isn’t in the game anymore get your ass out of the saddle. As you progress, riding will take less and less of your brain power. But when you are beginning, you better have your A-Game on. Always!
- Instead of practicing wheelies with your buddies, how about practicing quick stops? Or counter-steering? What about cornering lines? You instead could be educating yourself on what to do when your rear wheel loses traction or when the front wheel does. Still wanna do wheelies, eh? Fine. But if you can’t even manage to control the inevitable slide due to the inevitable screwup (we’re all human you know), you don’t have the throttle/clutch/brake control it takes to do a wheelie and set it down properly. Learn to crawl before you fly.
- Know that the learning curve is increasingly steep with the increase of the bike’s power delivery and how manageable it is; some bikes are more forgiving than others. For example: The torquier the bike is, the more unforgiving it is to ham-fisted throttle inputs.
- Plastics are expensive. And I mean that in every sense of the $$$. Drop a naked bike, be pissed off over a few scratches, maybe a broken off lever. Drop a fully faired bike, be pissed off over a broken off lever and hundreds of dollars in repairs AND you get to ride around looking like an idiot with your plastics rashed up while you wait for the Color Rite touch-up paint to arrive in the mail. There’s always duct tape…
- Remember those Gixxer-riding buddies I mentioned earlier? Don’t try and keep up. Guaranteed you’ll be riding over your head in no time and that will end very poorly for you. I’ve seen it happen to several people. One of them pops wheelies like there’s no tomorrow, but he can’t take a corner to save his ass, literally. Learn at your own pace, or that brand-new S1000RR, 1198S, or F4 is going to be sitting in a shop somewhere waiting on replacement bits to come in from overseas. And you’re out of a ride, an insurance deductible and into a rate increase and a bruised ego.
Oh, and buy some decent gear and wear it, too.
In closing, may I add: There is a reason why in so many countries peeps can’t go out and throw their leg over just anything they desire. They have graduated licensing programs. Meaning, before your ass gets to look cool on that Hayabusa, you’re gonna have to scoot around on a 125cc for a while, then a 250cc, etc… and work up to “looking badass”. I’m not a proponent of that system. I believe, as Americans, we have the fundamental right to go ahead and try killing ourselves on whatever damn bike we choose. However, you better have the skill to not get me involved in your suicidal plans. Which brings me to group riding:
Don’t. Not until you have at least the basics down. And if you must, insist on being in the front of the pack, that at least gives the more experienced riders a chance to stay out of your trouble. 🙂
Take the peer pressure out of your progression. Take your progression seriously and the speed to satisfy the need will inevitably follow. All in its time and at your individual pace. It is up to you how hard you make the journey on yourself. Buy your own ride. Ride your own ride.