If it hasn’t been overly obvious, I am absolutely slammed at the office and at home right now. I’ve unfortunately not been able to spend nearly enough time “adventuring” as I would normally. Along with that, I also suspect that the time has come that my trusty Speedmaster (Lola) and I part ways. Under different circumstances, I would probably keep her, but as I’ve mentioned, I have a one horse stable at the moment, so any inkling to keep the Speedmaster simply gets trumped by lack of real estate.
That said, at what point does a rider make the decision to switch? I find myself as somewhat of a non-traditional motorcyclist (in so many ways…), I didn’t start riding until I was almost 30, never rode a dirt bike, and I also started out on a 150 cc scooter so my first motorcycle was technically a 900 cc two-cylinder. I won’t say that “most riders” start out on 250 cc bikes, but I’m sure a fair number do. Similar to the scooter, I imagine most folks are ready to jump ship off their “learner” bike in about a year. My non-traditional story includes the caveat that my scooter couldn’t do freeway speeds, so my riding habits were severely limited by capability. That considered, moving to a manageable 900 cc bike was a no-brainer at the time, considering I spent two years (and about 3,000 miles) on my first ride. I guess the first to second bike transition is pretty cut and dry (for many), but what about “the next bike”?
Undoubtedly, many prospective buyers probably make the switch when financially prudent, especially in the U.S. considering that motorcycles are viewed as toys. The financial side is obviously a private ordeal, but that topic also spurs the whole “new vs. used” argument. Similar to deciding what and when, new bikes vs. used bikes is heavily debated. Some folks just love the “new car” smell, while others are frugal and recognize the premium you pay for a “new” motorcycle and its warranty. Without getting into a dissertation about “opportunity cost”, I see pros and cons to each, so it’s really about what you’re shopping for. In my case, I have somewhat a “niche” taste; which means that sometimes new and used prices aren’t that far apart, so paying a bit extra to avoid inheriting someone else’s “problems” has value. At the same time, purchasing used typically means you’ll have more cash in your wallet to spend on all the fancy farkles you may want. As it stands right now, both offers are on the table, but that means doing a lot of homework, potentially traveling to buy a bike, dealing with out of state titles, and in all likelihood, some haggling.
When the time is right (and there’s cash burning a hole in your pocket), are you “upgrading” to a “bigger” bike? If someone told me that they love riding motorcycles, but didn’t really enjoy the “power” I would be stunned. “Power” is not everything, it’s not hard to ride beyond your ability on a 600 cc 4-cylinder, but there’s no denying I love the feeling of being pushed back in the saddle when I roll on the throttle. I However, assume I’m getting old, I don’t lust after a liter bike or a big bore “Bagger”; in my case I assume I’ll either be in jail riding a Panigale (if not dead), and just don’t feel the allure of the big bore V-twins (there’s a lot more to that, maybe I’ll explain some other time). At an rate, in recent days I’ve been asked if I plan on “upgrading”; I’ve told most people that I’m “transitioning” to a different kind of bike, not necessarily “upgrading”. Again, this may be an American thing (is bigger really better?), but it seems to be a given folks get larger bikes as they gain experience.
At some point, do you just get bored with your current ride? I’ve been debating another motorcycle for probably the past year. I can think of many reasons why “it’s time”, but initially I didn’t consider “boredom” a reason. I suppose that after putting thousands upon thousands of miles on a bike, you feel as though you’ve mastered it. That’s probably why you sold the first bike right? Writing this, thinking about it just now, yeah, boredom probably does play a small role. I do however, have a healthy fear of the “grass is always greener” effect, so I like to think that boredom alone is not a prudent reason to buy a new bike, but I have a strange feeling it happens every day.
Do you ever just see a bike you “have to have”? Passion is, without fail, a concept that motorcyclists understand. I don’t think that, at least in first world countries, riders would be riders if not for passion. What sane individual would forego safety for the open-air thrill of riding an internal combustion engine with wheels? Despite all other logical reasons to switch bikes (or purchase another), at some point a given machine speaks to your soul. Like a true engineer, I even plotted out a pro-con matrix on the back of a napkin for what bike I really need. Over some beers my buddy Jeff, we considered maintenance, brakes, performance, and he says, “don’t forget a category for soul”, and “that category will probably carry the most weight”. The engineer in my head says that’s silly, just buy a motorcycle like you would buy a tool, every bike has a job. Easier said than done; meanwhile I’m plagued with the fear that sometimes “wanting is better than having”.
Do you find that your taste in riding changes over time? “It’s a great bike, you’ve just outgrown it”, I honestly never believed I would hear those words. In the beginning I lusted after the matte black paint and the subtle chrome effects. My wife says the Speedmaster is simply “voluptuous”, I couldn’t agree more. To this day I am undeniably in love with the way my bike looks, I still stare at it parked in the lot. I am not however in love with its lack of ground clearance and lean angle; therein lies the rub, form and function are almost diametric opposed. What did you learn from selling your first bike and buying your second? Never in a million years would I have imagined putting over twelve-thousand miles on a motorcycle in one year; if it’s your first motorcycle, knowing nothing about your taste, how do you plan for that?
I guess in the end, I’m fishing for wisdom from the masses, when is it time to move on? What did you learn from your first (ish) motorcycle? How did that effect what you chose as a replacement? And lastly, do you wish you still had a certain bike?