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Wealthy Capitalist

Attn Crimmy Sun; See latest post

Welcome to 'The Motorcycle Thread II

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Hello, hello, and welcome to a revised and significantly cleaned up version of "The Motorcycle Thread". I'm your host, The Industrialist, and I'm thrilled to present to you this much-more-organized-than-the-original guide to getting on two wheels and riding off in to the sunset. Maybe you live somewhere that the weather is good year round or maybe you're looking to get on to a bike once the weather breaks in your area. Either way, this thread is going to give a few pointers on where to start to get your motorcycle endorsement (For the US, at least) as well as helping decide what kind of bike is right for you.

Thread Rules

- This thread is meant to both entertain and inform. Some of this will be fact, some of it will be opinion. I have enough real world experience but I have no real credentials, so don't take my word as law.

- This thread is also an open discussion about motorcycles, so first timers and beginners are welcome to ask questions.

- Experienced riders are encouraged to chime in if they have something relevant to contribute.

- Do some reading and check some facts before you post things in order to keep things simple for novice riders. Example: If you think a bike sucks but have no actual data that proves a bike sucks just say you don't like it and why.

- Ball busting is fine, but stupid s**t being posted repeatedly won't be tolerated. So please be civil.

Table of Contents

I. Welcome / Table of Contents (You are here)
II. Introduction for the Novice Rider
III. Proper Riding Gear and Learning / Endorsement Opportunities
IV. Your First Bike
V. Variety in Motorcycles
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

Introduction for the Novice Rider

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A forward from the thread author...

I notice that every so often a thread pops up with questions about where someone should start, now that they've decided that two wheels is right for them. I also see people giving advice, some good, some kinda... eh. And while I try not to come off as a know it all, motorcycles are all I've ever known. I've spent time at shows, spent time at the track, spent time in workshops, spent time in the saddle and even spent time in and out of medically induced comas at a hospital after one particularly astounding ******** up. I've seen the good parts of riding, I've seen the shitty. I've watched friends go down, bikes tumble end over end, people sprawled out on the pavement after introducing their GSX-R to the side of a minivan at 55 miles an hour. I've also seen friends discover a hobby that they truly love, seen some people with amazing bikes they've put their heart and soul in to, and have had some of the best times of my life on two wheels.

Is this the right hobby for me?

So first, ask yourself this. Are you a total moron? No? On to question two. Are you a total coward? Still no? Well you might be in the right place.. Look, I'm not saying that this is a macho thing or that it's rocket science, because it's not. As simple as riding is (And it is) there's a lot more to owning a motorcycle then there is to owning a car. This is because, first and foremost, motorcycles are recreational vehicles.

Motorcycles are not ideal as an only mode of transportation

News flash: Riding in cold, wet, or icy conditions is not fun. Unless you're one of those crazy adventure riders with your big BMW dual sports and a heated waterproof suit, you really have no business riding when it's pouring rain and 35 degrees out. When it comes time to load up all your friends for a road trip, good luck fitting all of them in... or on, rather, your R6. Also, I don't know about where you live, but last summer some dickheads kicked over my dad's bike for Ha-ha's in a restaurant parking lot while he was inside, eating. Trust me, you DON'T want to leave your bike unattended while you walk around the mall with friends, are sitting in class for six hours, etc. etc.

I'd like to note that there are a few exceptions to the above paragraph. Many developing nations use motorcycles as an individual form of transportation. There are also mopeds and scooters... of which I don't really know much about... that are designed specifically with the commuter in mind. Now, two wheeled vehicles can very easily be a nicer, cheaper alternative to owning a car but it takes some serious option-weighing before committing to one.

Motorcycles require more attention than cars.

I don't mean that from a functional standpoint. An engine is an engine. But for the most part, everyone has a car. Cars get you to work. To school. To your friends house. To the grocery store. To GameStop. Whatever. Even people who aren't gearheads own cars because they have to. A typical car owner doesn't check their tire pressure every time they have to run an errand, or before they head off to work. They don't check the oil or coolant levels unless there's a reason to. They don't scrutinize small details on their car before they drive it. And when things go wrong on a car, the average person just brings it to a mechanic. You REALLY should be paying attention to your bike, doing some checks on it every before you hop on it and go. Something failing on your motorcycle could be disastrous at highway speeds.

You are more vulnerable on a motorcycle than in a car.

Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. AND going back to the average person, they are stupid. Which is why accidents happen. Accidents on bikes usually do more damage to you than an accident while you're in a car. And you know what? I'm really wondering why I had to type that. You know that. But, accidents don't just happen from people being stupid. Let's go back to scrutinizing your vehicle. Remember that? This is why bikes require more attention than cars. You need to be able to spot problems with your bike and rectify them before they go from being a small problem to a 65 mile an hour front tire failure.

Riding is something that you really have to WANT to do.

Every time someone says to me, and this isn't just Gaia, it's an everywhere thing, that they want a motorcycle to commute because 'It's cheaper on gas', I die a little bit on the inside. And you know something, it's not just one of those "OH UR A POSER!!1!!" type of things, it's just... let's see... How many times have you been forced in to doing something, like a chore, or errand, or something at work, and because you just don't feel like doing it you start to slow down or space out? Yeah, that might just cause a little hiccup in your productivity or whatever, but if you're just riding to 'save gas' and decide to space out, then chances are you're not giving 100% to the road ahead of you. Which brings me to my next point.

Attentiveness is PARAMOUNT on a bike

Back in the early 80's when my father got his Trident, his first day out on the road he was stopped at a 4 way intersection, at a red light. There was a car beside him, that when the light turned green was in such a hurry that the guy decided to briskly leave the stop line, only to get t-boned by some moron who was trying to beat the red light. My pop saw the car hauling a** down the road and decided to wait, which saved his life. All because he payed attention to his surroundings. One of the things any rider will tell you is that you should ride defensively, and ride as if you're invisible. And this is true. I've almost been killed so many times by merging traffic... Point here is that you definitely need to be aware of what's going on around you.

Basic Skills Needed to Ride A Motorcycle

- Knowing how to ride a bicycle:

As silly as that sounds, bicycles and motorcycles are identical, save for the mechanical bits. If you can ride a bike, you can ride a motorcycle. All the fundamentals are there.

- Knowing how to operate a manual transmission

I've met so many girls who give me that "I WANNA LERN2RYD" bullshit and have no idea how to drive stick in a car. Kind of important, considering most motorcycles (With a few goofy exceptions) are manual transmission. If you have no concept of how the clutch, engine, gearbox, throttle, shifter, etc. work in tandem then that's one more obstacle to overcome. But it's really, really not that big of an obstacle.
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

Proper Riding Gear and Learning / Endorsement Opportunities

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What is riding gear?

The stuff you wear when riding to make sure you're as protected as can be in the worst case scenario. This is real important since there's very little separating you from a world of hurt should you and your machine become separate entities while in motion. Riding gear consists of jackets, boots, helmets, pants, gloves, and even full body suits. Depending on preference, needs and costs gear can offer different levels of function and protection. Here I'll talk a little bit about gear as well as proper riding attire should the fancier stuff be unobtainable.

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Helmets: Helmets come in several different varieties and are mandatory in most states to ride a bike on the street. Some helmets cover your entire head and face, including an eye shield, and they go all the way down to a simple cap that covers the top of your head. All helmets with a DOT rating are safe to use on the street, and all helmets with a SNELL rating are useable on the track. It's worth noting that SNELL standards are much higher than DOT standards. SNELL rated helmets can get pricey but are certainly worth the added protection.

*In the US, the DOT sponsored courses require you to have a full face DOT approved helmet.

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Jackets: These aren't mandatory in order to ride, but it's nice to have something to keep you warm on cooler days. Most motorcycle jackets are made out of leather or mesh with impact absorbing padding or additional coshing and layers of material. That way if you get taken off your bike and slide along pavement, the jacket sheers off instead of your flesh.

*In the US, the DOT sponsored courses require you to have some sort of jacket, as long as it's something durable like leather.

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Pants: A pet peeve of mine and many other cyclists: Don't. Wear. Shorts. Wear pants, jeans preferably, at the very least. This gives added protection against engine heat as well as (again) something in between your skin and the asphalt should bad things happen. Actual riding pants usually have extra padding in the knees and a** area for the whole 'sliding across the pavement' thing. Or, for the sport riders out there, sport riding pants are usually made with thick leather as well as 'soaps' on the knees for when you drag them through the corners.

*In the US, the DOT sponsored courses require you to wear jeans at the bare minimum.

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Gloves: Once again, protection against pebbles and s**t that periodically get launched up by the cars in front of you. Also keeps your hands warm, and keeps your hands from getting etc etc etc off the bike. Riding gloves can also help some people manage the controls a little better. Sometimes pulling on the clutch a lot can tire your hand out and cause some blistering and s**t.

*In the US, the DOT sponsored courses require you to wear some sort of hand protection, usually like the jacket they like to see leather. Or actual riding gloves.

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Boots: Just like everything else, added protection. Sometimes it's as simple as an ankle boot, some racing boots can reach the top of your shin. Working a shift lever can cause a little stress on your foot sometimes if you have thin shoes. It's also start to make a wear mark if you happen to be wearing nice shoes.

*In the US, the DOT sponsored courses require you to wear boots of some kind. Work boots will get you by.

Other gear: Since it's not too relevant for beginners, I'd like to note a few other bits of riding gear people wear. One, is waterproof riding suits. These are usually reserved for the adventure bike and touring bike crowd who take massive rides often, or are inclined to ride even during bad weather. There are also heated suits that use a small outlet that can be installed on a bike's battery to power heated accessories. Lastly there are racing suits which are full body leather suits used by motorcycle racers for track duty.

Getting your Motorcycle Permit and M Class Endorsement

How do I get a permit?

Getting a Learner's Permit is pretty easy and it's required in order to enroll in a DOT approved safety course. Permits allow you to operate a motorcycle in daylight hours without a passenger so if you want to ride, whether you're taking the safety course or not, you need one.

While it may differ from state to state, in Massachusetts all you have to do is pass a written test to get a permit. On your state's DMV website you should be able to find a downloadable copy of their New Rider's Handbook which explains all the rules and local laws that apply to riding a motorcycle in your area. Even if you know a thing or two about bikes it's never a bad idea to thumb through it and give it a once over. Then go to your local RMV branch, pay the fee, pass the test and off you go.

Here's where it got tricky for me and many others. The permit test assumes that a 16 year old is taking it so it asks a lot of junior operator questions. A lot of questions that don't apply to you if you're already a licensed driver or are over the age of 18. So make sure you study that part of the handbook no matter how goofy it sounds... taking the permit test over and over again can get pricey.

Permit get. What do I do next?

Well if you got a helmet, a permit, and a bike to ride then you're good to go, really. If you already know how to ride then get out, get some practice and have fun. You'll eventually have to go for an actual license, which the test can vary in difficulty / annoyance depending on where you are and how cool / uptight the person giving the test is. And if that is you? Bike, permit, gear, know how to ride? You can stop reading now, nothing new for you to learn here.

If you're completely green to riding? Two choices:

DOT approved or State Sponsored riding courses are one option, and it's a really good one. They usually cost a couple hundred dollars and they give you bikes to learn on, which are often Ninja 250's or Rebel 250's. It's a course that runs a day or two teaching you how to ride and the rules of the road. More often than not, the class puts you on one of their bikes and has you perform a road test which, upon completing successfully, you're given a license right then and there. And it nets you a break on your insurance. Now the only thing I have against these courses is that there's no real world riding done here, just some drills in an empty lot. And some courses are expensive, upwards of 500 bucks or so.

Getting a learners permit and borrowing someone's bike is an option too, and it's, uh... well, there it is. You won't get a break on insurance this way, and you might get stuck taking a license test on a big, cumbersome bike (Assuming you use aforementioned borrowed bike for your test and it happens to be a big, cumbersome one). It's the cheaper alternative, really, and if the person you borrow the bike from is a good teacher you might learn an extra thing or two along the way.
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

Your First Bike

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Reserved for Part IV
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

Reserved for part V
Crimmy Sun's avatar

Lonely Millionaire

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I hear the Agusta F3 is the best performing bike in it's class and superior to the Triumph it was built to compete with in every way, how do you feel about that?

Amazing bike right, I mean look at it, I wish Triumph could come up with something close to being nearly as awesome, if only triumph could keep up with Agusta and their superior race engineering, maybe one day they'll make a Daytona on par with the F3, unlikely, but ya never know.

Do you know where there's an Agusta dealer around? I know this guy a few minutes up north that loves them, I wanna get one, show it to him a bit, let him admire its superiority over the Daytona
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

ANYWAY, the F3 on paper is super cool. And by the numbers it does outperform the only other bike in it's "class" which is the Triumph Daytona 675. Both the F3 as well as the Brutale (The F3's naked counterpart, meant to compete with the Triumph Street Triple) are viable counterpoints to the 675 and the Street Triple. On one hand, MV Agusta is just biting off of Triumph's style since the inline triple has always kind of been their niche. On the other hand it's easy to be at the head of your class if you're the only thing in it. So it's nice to see Triumph have some real competition. Here is what MV Agusta has to overcome in order for either bike to be successful:

Pricing: MV Agusta's are exotic and always err on the high side when it comes to price. Currently, both the F3 and Brutale 675 are set to be priced "competitively" and if MV follows through with that, then it'll be a step in the right direction. Triumphs tend to be a little more expensive than any of the Japanese four, but not outrageously.

Market: Who is MV going after? MV has always been an exclusive, rich guy bike that draws fire for being stupid expensive for something that isn't as spectacular as something that costs so damn much. Plus MV Agusta isn't nearly as well known as any other bike manufacturer to the general public. MV has to know who they want buying their bikes, tap in to that crowd and build brand recognition.

Reviews: MV does have a large racing pedigree, but we need to see some reviews. If a bike is powerful and handles well, it may still be dragged down by a high price tag, poor reliability or bad ergonomics.

Triumph's answer: Once the MV hits the market, Triumph will undoubtedly begin engineering the next Daytona 675 if they aren't doing so already. The 675 has always evolved in baby steps, the most radical change being the addition of the R model for 2011 with it's massive braking and suspension upgrades. The F3 may give Triumph the need to completely redesign the Daytona in order to stay competitive.

So once you get your F3 bring it up here so I can laugh at the stupid amount of money you wasted just so you could out-baller everyone else in the sport bike world.
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

Crimmy Sun's avatar

Lonely Millionaire

There'll be another generation!
When they do, it'll urinate all up on it!!
elemein's avatar

Enduring Friend

Wow! Really really clean looking thread! As far as motorcycles go, I'm more of a lightweight dual-sport fan. Motorcycles to me are definitely tools for the offroad! Yamaha released the new WR250R a couple years ago, so far it seems to be the best performing 250 in it's class. Thoroughly impressed 3nodding
Enjoy the Process's avatar

Wealthy Capitalist

It's a really good bike otherwise. It needs some refinement, that's all. I think the big killer is that the F3 is $14k which is super steep for a middleweight. I thought the 675R was bad at $12.5....
I like bobbers, and choppers. Not a big street bike guy the more for the track if you ask me.
Crimmy Sun's avatar

Lonely Millionaire

I think they're tryna maintain their "Ferarri of motorcycles" image by having a slightly unrealistic semi-exclusive price range in its class

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