Powerful sportbikes & friends

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How do I convince a friend not to start on a Super Sport?

My friend and I have always talked about getting bikes. Well, I finally got one, and now he's been really wanting one lately. I bought a Ninja 250 to start on and plan on keeping it for a long time. If I ever decided to get something different, I'd probably go with a new style 250 or the 650.

He told me the other night he wants a "gixxer." I told him that almost everyone that starts out on 600+ bikes drops them within the first 6 months. I feel there's no hope, as he is into the looks of the bike more than anything really. I've shown him the new 250s, and he hasn't really said anything bad about them. I think another reason that he doesn't want a 250 is he wants something that will top out higher than 110. This is what really scares me. I'm afraid there's no hope. What to do?

  • Your friend might be misinterpreting motorcycling.
Maybe he thinks it's all about the bike. Reading David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling" (and "More Proficient Motorcycling," too) will open his eyes to the challenges of acquiring road sense and becoming a competent rider. It's a whole world of experience he might not even know exists. If he accepts this idea, he may reason that his first steps on this lifelong journey are best taken on a bike that will work with him.
That would be a major reorientation, but you may be able to help him understand that the road less travelled leads to being a motorcyclist, not a bike owner.
  • The problem with the GSX-R and all others of that ilk is that it's REAL easy to make a foolish mistake. Big bikes with bigger torque are not as forgiving. My first year on the 250, I couldn't TELL you the number of sketchy throttle/brake moves I made around hairpin turns. I gave that bike so much bad input it's embarrassing to admit.
What's neat about the 250 is that it would complain, but never so much to throw me off. Just enough so that I knew I messed up. More torque could have been my demise. You don't just learn how to ride on the 250. The 250 TEACHES you.
If your friend hasn't already, he should take the MSF course. One thing I really liked about the course is that it convinced me that I had a lot to learn and that riding wasn't something to take lightly. That's something that comes with maturity. But the experience is pretty eye opening in general.
Take the course with your friend. If that doesn't work, then be firm and honest.
  • How sensible is this friend?
It's not fair to say immediately that they are a squid or a poser. I had a close friend decide after years of me biking that he wanted to try it. Like most people, he looked at bikes online/offline and was immediately drawn to just how sexy the bigger bikes are, and how they get talked up as suitable beginner bikes.
So, we talked about it. I explained just how fast a 600cc bike is. Another friend then said, "Hop on the back of my bike." He took it to the speed limit quickly, but not squid fast, and then said "This is a 1995 VFR. It weighs 100 lbs more than the 600 you like, has less power than that 600, and I didn't crack the throttle... Think about it." My friend did think about it. He chose a smaller bike. So, don't write off your supersport-lusting friend right away.
In another instance, I put a fella up on my bike in the shed. I told him to start it. Ease onto the throttle. He instantaneously saw the light, so to speak. He had no idea that a small/old sportbike could be that violent.
If the friend has any common sense (not so common, of course) and you present the facts in an unbiased way, he should listen. Important things to remember:
  • It's your first bike, not your last.
  • Get something cheaper/older better-sized as a first bike. You didn't put much into it, so you can't possibly lose much when the time goes to "move up", if that time comes.
  • A smaller (cc) bike is cheaper to insure and feed.
  • If you drop an expensive bike you lose a lot of money. You're more likely to drop a bike in the first week, first month, and first year than in the next 2 years (based on observation). Personally, on a first bike I'd gamble as little as possible in terms of value.
  • Instead of sinking $5000 into a bike, sink 1000 into gear, and less than four into the bike. You'll have good gear for a long time.

This article gets a little more assertive from here on out.

  • How good of a friend is he?
Meaning that if you tell him "Plain and simple, I will not ride with you if you pick up something like that", will he care? I guess that's the litmus test... Someone who doesn't care, let them make their own decision. Someone who DOES care, then point out a better path. They don't Have to buy the EX250... There are other good bikes to start on, though nearly all of them will make learning to ride more difficult (riding meaning the ability to go around corners and enjoy everything, and not just blast down the straights).
If they're on the fence after the first statement, then you can follow up with "I don't want to have to be the one who calls for an ambulance when you crash, much less see you hurt." That will usually help pull them off the fence.
Past that, you have to realize that they are their own keeper, and will make their own decisions. The most you can do is make your decisions and stick by them.
  • A good friend of mine bought a Busa as his first bike. He had ridden cruisers for maybe a couple years (very sporadically, never owned a bike) but it was a while ago. I recommended against the Busa; he bought it anyway. I recommended proper gear. I think he took my advice. I recommended he ride safely and cautiously; he bragged about drag racing cars/other bikes and doing his first wheelie. I told him I didn't ever want to hear about his antics again, and that I wouldn't go to his funeral. We left it at that.
You can only control how you react to their decision and actions. Decide how you want to deal with the situation and stick with it. As for me, my friend is stubborn, and he'll do what he wants (as frustrating as it is for me) so I told him I don't want to hear a damn thing about him and the bike anymore.
  • Have your friend take a look at the Ride2Die website. It does have some semi-graphic photos, but is mainly a safety-oriented space that promotes intelligent riding. It's what got my mind settled on starting with a tried-and-true Ninja 250, instead of something crazy~
  • If all else fails, tell him to write you into his will and let him ride.