One does not simply pass through the late teen phase without being attracted by bikes. Well this isn’t any game of thrones meme. As an avid reader of the blogs and travelogues on xbhp, I would like to share my experience in choosing a bike (probably, first bike for many) for beginners.
The moment one decides to get a bike, irrespective of the motive, one’s heart and eyes race through all the bikes big and small, all the bikes fast and slow and all the bikes cheap and costly. I went through the same and I wish this article would be helpful for new buyers who wish to slow down and realize that buying a bike is not a race and needs a little patience.
So you’ve passed the two wheeler license test and have your license ready. Now it’s time to bug your dad…eerrmmm ask your dad or mom to get you a bike so that you can zip zap zoom through the traffic and quench your wanderlust. Before all that just stop and think twice. Once to discover your riding style and the second time to re-discover it. We usually jump into a conclusion after riding a particular bike for the first time and feel that the bike is going to satisfy your style of riding. For many, it is the adrenaline pumping, blood gushing sports bike and for the others it is either an untouched impact from classics, say a Royal Enfield or a Harley. I wouldn’t say these bikes are bad. But there is a tonne of options to explore before we conclude the type of riding and the bike which suits it. I happen to jump into the same abyss and felt that outright sporty bikes are my cup of tea. But in reality I loved how a bike actually cruised in a relaxed way and felt sporty at doing it in different types of terrain. Yes, I made a mistake by buying a bike which made me lean awkwardly, pin the throttle everytime I got on it and finish enjoying of all the excitement within a twist of the accelerator when the roads opened up. There maybe many who would have been through this, also with the other type of bikes which I mentioned earlier. But only after riding a variety of other bikes, I realized that I went wrong in discovering the style of riding that suits me. So now I had to think for the second time, the rediscovering phase as I call it. Because the next time I am not going to waste my…eerrmmm my parent’s money. Yes I am in my late teens and haven’t started making my own money.
Once this is over it is important to REALIZE the fact that we are actually beginning a journey which will help us become a part of the actual journey that we are going to do on our bikes. Yes, I call this a journey by itself because I feel we move from one bike to another only when we reach the proper destination (I mean outgrowing a bike in all possible ways). As a beginner I felt managing a higher end bike(one’s with higher CCs, advanced technology etc) would be easy as there are service centres to help us out and tonnes of information online. But in reality one would regret getting such a bike (either the person is rich or poor) only when we come face to face with a problem which is totally unfamiliar to us. Yes, the whole ownership experience is as important as the benefits we reap from the bike ( doesn’t it match now :P ? The journey is as important as the destination). For a rookie, understanding a bike is very important. This comes only with time just like the problems in a bike, which get multiplied with time(if at all). Once we get to know the bike in and out with time on and off of it, we will be at ease with all the tantrums it throws in the most unexpected of times.
To start with, it is really advisable to buy a bike which suits your riding style, budget, ease of maintenance for a rookie and most importantly after prolonged periods of test ride. Yes, it is easy to get carried away by the looks and excitement that a bike offers and purchase it just like I did. A short test ride will help, but a prolonged test ride over a few days (months if its possible) will help lock the bond with the bike. I say this because it is important to find out if the bike’s ergonomics, the way it outputs the power and our ability to control the bike et all are exactly in line with the aforementioned idea of long term ownership. After all, the better the first selection, the more confidence you get in the long term ownership experience; the confidence that the bike obeys your commands and is always under your control.
Although the bike you choose after proper test ride is all exciting and grunty, it is important to look at the more user friendly options available. For beginners, it is easier to start with 150 – 250 CC bikes which include many refined and fully loaded options. The bikes that we get nowadays in the beginners category come with advanced equipment as compared to the already existing monotonous 150 – 250 CC. I say this because these equipments enhance the ride and rider experience and most of such bikes in this category are forgiving whenever we make some mistake as a new rider. It is also necessary to look out for safety features like ABS, C- ABS if the budget allows. Another main aspect is to choose an engine which is refined as you don’t feel any fatigue if you’re planning to stay on saddle for long. This will also ensure that you get accustomed to your bike by spending more time with it without getting tired.
Some bikes I felt that are easy to begin with are:
1. Yamaha FZ, fazer, FZ-S
2. Suzuki gixxer
3. Honda Unicorn
Other bikes with slightly higher power output and ease to stay on saddle for long as I rode are:
1. Pulsar 200 NS(because of its linear power delivery and good brakes)
2. KTM Duke 200(because of upright, less-fatigue inducing riding position)
3. Yamaha r15/CBR150R/CBR250R(because of liner power delivery and leaned over position)
4. TVS Apache RTR 180 ABS(it is last because of it awkward lean angle for tall riders and fatigue inducing vibrations for prolonged periods of time. In terms of safety I would rate this bike at the top as I’ve been using it and only good thing that happened to me was the ABS)
There maybe other options available but I felt these bikes are genuinely available in plenty and the availability of spares and maintenance will be under hood all time. Most importantly they serve as the best platform to upgrade to bigger bikes with proper riding experience. Also, they have pretty nice equipment which is sure to provide good ride.
Most of the buyers in late teen categories are dependent on their parents for petrol and maintenance charges, so I would suggest them to get a bike which is pretty frugal and at the same time doesn’t demand much attention or cost. I also feel getting a good fuel efficient bike is a small part in contributing towards conserving the environment. But if parents are ready to spend more, then why hesitate? :P take the chance :P
I feel that starting off with a low budget bike will help in investing in proper riding gear. I used to be so skeptical about buying expensive riding gears until I experienced a crash. Apart from a helmet and a pair of knee guards, I was wearing a very low quality riding glove of my friend. But since the crash was minor, it helped in saving my right index finger which otherwise would have resulted in a broken nail as I rammed into the barricade after a skid. Also the only expensive gear I have till now, a Rs. 3000 worth pair of shoes is what saved my right foot from being bruised to the extreme. It took the crash and still lived. I am planning on changing it as it has already withstood a crash and just in case if something bad happens again, I do not want to take a risk. From this I learned that I must definitely spend some more money on good riding gear irrespective of the bike I am riding. Because once you know that the fall is inevitable, you have to solely bank your faith on the riding gears and the biker angel above.
The torn pair of gloves and shoe.
While there are many out there who have started off from a 500 or 600 cc bikes, I would like to stress on the point that choosing a bike is relative and everyone is not capable of starting off with such bikes because of various reasons. In fact I had the urge to buy a 300CC+ bike but restricted myself below 200CC(which I haven’t mastered even a bit) bikes because it involved a great deal of attention and money which I can’t actually afford as a student and I have to dog behind my parents for the same. Also, I feel one’s psychological and physiological state play an important role in choosing the bike. It is to be noted without any inhibition that not every body type is suited for sport or any other particular type of riding. Every style of riding demands a level of fitness which everyone can’t have. But, if there is a strong passion then one can easily make up their mind and strengthen the body to suit to it. After all we ride to enjoy it, so what’s the use in cribbing about the pain after a ride?
It is very important to have a sense of safety for the people on road while we ride our bikes. The license tests in our country are not so stringent hence it becomes a personal responsibility of the rider to learn the rules from a driving school(even they need to be pressurized to teach us such rules) or from elders so that we practice it every time you take the bike on the road. I strongly appeal to every beginner to not push their budding skills to limit and perform stunt, high speed highway runs and race on roads. Everyone needs time to evolve into a better rider and the racing prodigies are destined to be on motogp tracks, so do not try anything rash on road.
After reading this long article, you might wonder why I am taking special care to write this down. That’s because I made a wrong decision in choosing mine and I am making amendments to get a more suitable bike at the cost of my parents’ hard earned money & time and some physical pain after every ride. I do not want others to take a plunge without knowing the depth so that no one experiences a bad first ownership.
Thanks and love,
PS: I would like you all to add more valuable points and I will update the thread with more pictures and points as and when I discover something worth sharing
Update: Exchanged my bike for a more comfortable and smoother ride.
As I have already had the experience of buying a bike earlier, I will use it to do the PDI and take the delivery tomorrow. I had to take this step because my older bike was giving me so much pain and it wasn't as refined as I expected on long rides; I have mentioned this earlier too. I took my own time, rode a variety of bikes and finally discovered my riding style and hence the delay in changing
Lesson: Buy a bike such that it leaves you wanting more time on it when you get down after a ride
Update: Problems with registration and I thought I would get the bike today, but it will take two more days and I am really gutted about it.