Updated: May 27
“Selling my 250, 400, 600 because I’ve outgrown it.”
This might be the silliest comment in the world of motorcycles. To experienced and skilled motorcycle riders, this comment says, “I don’t really know how to ride, so I want something more powerful to feel like I do”. Bigger motorcycles don’t make you a better rider. They let you be a bad rider for longer.
To be fair, you aren’t going to be lonely in this company. The first time you get on your Ninja 250, everything that happens is intoxicating. EVERYTHING is happening fast! You point it straight down the road and you feel the adrenaline peak! But, after you’ve been out a few times, the hit isn’t as hard because you’re learning THIS part of the experience. You’ve reset your threshold for the high. When it happens for a while, maybe a few months, you hit the wall. Your Minja or WeeBR isn’t ringing your bell anymore. You’ve “outgrown” it. But really… have you?
Sorry, that question was rhetorical. The short answer is no.
The longer answer is nnnnooooooo.
If you took a beginner rider course and got your license, then spent a few months and a few thousand kilometres on your motorcycle, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve maxed out on your “starter bike”. The truth is, you’ve reached the point to add actual skills to your game.
Novice riding courses are brilliant but understand their purpose. They introduce you to motorcycles and teach you what you need to become a licensed motorcycle rider. They take you from having to count tires to tell a motorcycle from a school bus to being able to safely operate a motorcycle to get from point A to point B. That’s important and anyone who wants to ride a motorcycle should take that training! You’ll be safer on the road, for yourself AND others. But once you get comfortable, it’s time to start adding the next level of knowledge.
When you first ride down a road on your motorcycle, the scariest thing in the world is a corner. And for you, right now, it should be. Motorcycles moving at a reasonable speed in a straight line are most likely going to keep doing that. Physics insists on it! Corners are much trickier, and all you’ve been taught so far is to look where you want to go, lean the bike, and trust your tires. The natural state of a motorcycle is lying on its side. Anything that’s not that feels like it’s against the motorcycle’s inherent nature. You worry that when you lean over in a corner, you’re practically begging it to fall down! The trick is to learn what the bike is telling you and remove the mystery of cornering.
It’s much more fun to ride a small bike fast than a big bike slow. It’s a simple truth. Last summer, there was an endurance event at the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit. The top step owned by a 400. So was the 2nd step. The 3rd place bike was pretty small too. In 4th, with about the same horsepower as the first 3 motorcycles combined was the first “big bike”, a 750. You know what? That 750 KILLED on the straight parts of the circuits, but the smaller bikes ate its lunch in the corners. The nine riders on the podium teams were all very skilled and NONE of them outgrew their small bikes!
You haven’t outgrown your small bike, either. You’ve outgrown your small skills. It’s time you upgraded to bigger, safer, abilities.