Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Joys of Learning to Ride - Part 2
A huge part of riding motorcycles is how awesome you look doing it.
It's almost as if in any conversation about motorcycles just add "the best" to any sentence and you've got an instant debate. It's no different with the question of "what bike is the best for a new rider?" You would think that it would be an easy question; after all, everyone was a new rider at some point, right? People must have a lot of experience tackling this issue. And as someone who is new to the motorcycle world, I have no idea what it means for a bike to be the best so I turn to other people's experience. But when I start to dig into research or ask around, I only get more confused at the never ending options and opinions about them.
When listening to a conversation that a few coworkers (let's call them Bob and Joe) were having about what kind of bike Bob should buy for his first motorcycle, an instant debate was started which would drag on for half an hour and never actually came to a decided consensus. The issue: Bob wants something that will be easy for him to learn on and has just the right amount of power. Joe seems to think that there is no such thing as too much power and when he suggested his idea for the perfect bike, it became perfectly clear that he thinks the best bike for a new rider is the one with the most oomph. After all, why would you want to buy a bike that limits you on power regardless of your skill level? But Bob's response was less than accepting of this idea. "I don't really want spinal nerve damage," he said to which Joe replied, "that's the price you pay for being awesome."
So is this why we ride motorcycles? It's certainly not to try to get from point A to point B in the safest way. And while it may be great to feel the wind whipping past your face on the open road, driving with your windows down or buying a convertible can give you a similar effect without making your chances of being road kill become illogically high. Do we ride just to be awesome?
There's no denying that many, if not most, people learn to ride in order to be part of the motorcycle community and the image that comes with it. Otherwise, no one would care what their bike looked like, how well their helmet matched or how cool they looked riding. Of course there are those economical perks of motorcycle riding. Maybe you joined the ranks of the motorcycle community because gas prices were starting to make you contemplate selling your first born just to fill your tank. But the money you save on gas mileage is only going to end up going straight to your motorcycle insurance, which isn't cheap no matter where you get it from. You can make as many excuses as you would like, but riding really all comes down to just being flat out awesome.
So if riding is just about being cool, where does a new rider fit in to the scheme of things? There's a sort of balancing act between being freaking rad and learning to ride safely. Not everyone can (or should) hop right on to the most powerful bike around. But the safest bike isn't really the coolest. If safety were the coolness gauge, riding motorcycles wouldn't even be on the list of cool things to do.
But as a new rider, I do care about my safety (as everyone should). So what bike do I get? The one with just enough power to get me around without getting me in too much trouble that isn't too terribly cool or the most awesome and powerful bike I can afford? According to Joe, my coworker, the answer is simple: it's all about being awesome. But Bob and I share the same dilemma: are the risks worth it when you're just starting out?