The Sportbike Progression: Everyman’s Path To Panigale

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Sportbike Progression

No matter where you are in your riding career, you want more, right? More speed, more skill, more safety and more riding. If you’re into going fast, this article is for you; consider it your guide to getting more out of motorcycling. It’s the sportbike progression.

The Theory
Riding a motorcycle is a sport. Yeah, you can sorta opt out of it and just cruise around, but because this is not simply a means of transportation but rather a passion, people who participate in it want to get better and use that increased skill to do better things. It might not be a reasonable goal to think you’re working on becoming the next Marc Marquez, but with time and patience, anyone can develop the skills to fully exploit even the fastest bike currently on-sale, the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on sport riding. Don’t worry, we think dirt bikes and supermotos are awesome too, we’re just addressing one particular aspect of motorcycle riding here: sportbikes.

And, because this is a sport, you’ll need to apply the same process of learning as you would in any other skill. Malcom Smith didn’t walk onto the field for the first time last night and get lucky, he invested a lifetime in learning how to play that good. Riding fast isn’t about what bike you’re able to buy; it’s about how well you ride it. And when it comes to the fastest bikes, learning how to ride them well will take a lifetime. This article will show you how to invest that time wisely.

The Basics
To play a sport, you need the right equipment. In the case of motorcycles, that’s riding gear. Consider it as fundamental a part of motorcycling as the motorcycle itself and budget accordingly.

To play a sport, you also need to take lessons. There’s a ton of tuition available, starting relatively cheap and going on up to obscenely expensive. Use it, it works. When you find a school you like, go back and go back often.

Riding fast on the road is dangerous. You can do it and you can do it safely, but it takes some unique skills. And you’ll never learn to ride properly if you’re not taking it to the track, don’t fool yourself.

The Progression
Consider a bike a tool. One which you use to learn stuff on. And, like any tool, there’s a right one for any job, and a wrong one. Start too big and you won’t learn anything, you’ll just scare yourself. As motorcycles go up in performance, the envelope in which they work becomes narrower. Where something like a Kawasaki Ninja 650 is exploitable and useable and at home in environments ranging from city commuting to light track riding, that Panigale only works on a mountain road mostly composed of 3rd and 4th gear corners at temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees, in the dry. Or on a track. And only in the hands of a skilled rider. Use it for anything else and it will just try to throw you off.

Think of a simple 1-10 scale, with 1 being a straight road in the middle of nowhere and no traffic and 10 being a good track on a good day. A good mountain road on an ideal day would be around number 7 or 8. That Ninja 650 will be an ideal tool for the job from numbers 1 to 7. The Panigale only works at 11. No learning occurs at 11, only do or die.

But, bikes are cheap, so it’s relatively easy to just decide you want to do this and put whichever bike is king at this moment on your credit card. Doing so is a mistake. This isn’t a pastime you can buy into, it’s something you have to learn to do. That’s where this progression figures in. Identify where you are in it and what your next step should be, with the ultimate goal of actually deserving and being able to ride that ultimate motorcycle.

Continue Reading, Page Two >>

  • sospeedy

    Excellent piece Wes. Excellent.

  • Nathan

    I’m between first big bike and fast guy. I started on an EX-500 for $800. Knocked it over, dropped it, and high-sided into a gas station but dang that bike was fun. Sold it for $800. Bought a few bikes to learn more and never went down. I have an F4i now and yeah I could go get that shiny new 1000rr if I want but why? My wife likes my bike now, it’s more comfortable for me, and it’s well-behaved.

    • zedro

      High siding into a gas station sounds kinda rad. In my mind I picture a huge Bay’splosion in the resulting carnage….

      • Nathan

        Locked them up when I hit the 1″ pavement transition drop lined with gravel, tried to correct it and over the tank/right side of the bars I went. All with the pumps a few feet away. Luckily my co-worker was driving by at the exact same time and helped me. I had two bloody/road rashes elbows, a bloody,roadrased knee, and a ruined pair of tennis shoes. I learned about emergency braking, ATGATT, and one’s pride all in a days ride. No explosion though…

        • zedro

          Well I guess 3 out of 4 ain’t bad (sigh)

        • RoadRashBadgeofHonor

          you = noob

          dude no one was asking for an explanation of your highside into a gas-station, it’s kinda obvious

    • littletrainthatcould

      “I have an F4i now and yeah I could go get that shiny new 1000rr if I want but why?”

      …you’re asking him?
      you’ve got real issues

  • SniperSmitty

    Very well written Wes. I’ve been riding for 8 years and just bought my first supersport in September 2013. I put 4,500 miles on since then and I am nowhere near reaching the limits of this bike. Hondas are very forgiving. I doubt that I will get a liter bike anytime soon because my CBR 600 still has the ability to make me almost piss myself. Especially when I gag it in 2nd. Thanks for another great article RideApart. I’m doing my first track day this summer. I’ve also booked a Total Control ARC for April. Ride Hard, Ride Safe. Thanks, Smitty

    • Piglet2010

      If you get the chance, take a TC-1 class with Lee Parks (completing ARC-1 makes you eligible) – you get to put all those skills to use at your own pace on a supermoto track, which limits speeds to something less threatening/intimidating for the newbie that what you will see on the full-size track.

      • SniperSmitty

        That sounds good piglet. I’m trying to become a student of the game. No such thing as too much training. I will definitely look into it. Thanks. You always have great advice. Smitty

  • Stacey

    I’m just curious, but how long would it take to get to the level of an average AMA rider? It’s probably a little different since they are paid to ride at that level…

    • Chad

      The amount of time it takes to get fast will be different for everyone. Someone may take a year or two to master that CBR500R Wes mentioned while it may take someone else three, four, five or more. They might never fully exploit it. It all depends on how much someone rides, where they ride (learning is easier, faster and MUCH safer on a track) and how quickly they can become comfortable with their bike. That isn’t to say anyone should try to become comfortable as quickly as possible, that is usually when mistakes are made and people go down. So to sum it up, your question can’t be answered with a number. It all depends on who is in the saddle.

      • littletrainthatcould

        You’re never going to be able to fully exploit anything.
        Nor should that be your goal in life, or even in motorcycling.

        Look, the odds are almost 100% certain that if you are reading this, then you will never be even an AMA pro rider.

        Why worry about “fully exploiting” your bike when you are riding around a track just for fun, not to mention riding on the street?

        Worry about just staying on two wheels and not breaking your collarbone LOL

        This article is nothing more than a loser with a severe case of self-puffery trying to puff himself up even more,

        and not caring about how much he annoys people in the process, who just ride to have fun.

    • Piglet2010

      The answer is don’t bother trying unless you are independently wealthy or have the sponsorship so you can make it your full-time occupation.

    • Clint Keener

      Race motorcycles every weekend starting at 5 years old.

    • GhostRiderJr


      Did someone say “paid”?

  • hunkyleepickle

    This article was great, and perfectly illustrates the difference between me and a buddy of mine. I started out about 6 years ago on a ninja 250, thrashed it, beat it up, and generally made a lot of dumb, but valuable mistakes. Moved up to a Ninja 650 after about 2 years, commuted religiously in all weather, weekend road trips, experimented with all types of gear for comfort and safety. Last spring year i bought a brand new street triple (none used, and i knew what i wanted), and i’ve been continuing on it ever since. I feel like while i’m absolutely still learning its limits, and mine, that i’ve hit a real sweet spot that i’m comfortable with. I’m not that interested in doing a lot of track days, i love commuting, and am interested in doing longer 3-7 day trips. Everytime i’m out there, i’m trying to learn how to get better, be safer, see more. Youtube, Rideapart, magazines, etc, i try to take something from everywhere. I’m really not sure if i’ll go any bigger engine wise at all, although i would like to try owning a true supersport, gsxr 600/750 et al. I get so much enjoyment from my Triumph, and its kind of a nice balance of cost of ownership/insurance over a supersport or bigger bike. My buddy on the other hand has 2 years under his belt on a cbr250, and all he wants to do is go fast…in a straight line. He has no interest in investing in proper gear, extra training, bike maintenance, and recently sold his cbr250, in the hopes of getting something ‘bigger and faster’. I find he really is the polar opposite of my riding attitude, and the attitude of this article. To each there own i guess, but i fear for his safety, and tend to think i’ll be riding with him less and less as a result.

    • Nathan

      I fear for your friend also.

    • littletrainthatcould

      maybe one day you will try to learn how to relax and just enjoy riding

    • SniperSmitty

      Your friend is the reason for the saying…”Sportbikes are the chlorine in the gene pool.” I’m sorry to say that but you obviously have it figured out. Good for you. Maybe show your buddy that twisties are waaay more fun than the way he rides. Or tell him to take his bike to a drag strip. I personally would not ride with someone like that. Ever. Good luck and keep the dirty side down!!!

    • Doug Erickson

      i started on a little (ab)used cbr250 i bought off a coworker for a song, and later split time between it and an aprilia sportcity 250 scoot. two year and several scares later, plus a load of good gear in the closet, i moved up to a suzuki 650 gladius, which fits my hard-won skills like a glove. like you, i watch a lot of youtube video and religiously read skills articles, books, and discussions. unlike you, i did a track day — and it was beyond useful. i received some great feedback, had a couple essential embarrassments, and got some happy validation. i thought i cornered and countersteered well until the pros showed me how it was done, and what they taught me was just as applicable at low speeds in my daily commute as it was in the corners on the track. most importantly, it taught me how to REALLY brake with skill and confidence, and that has been a life saver. xan’t wait to do another, even if i never race.

      at some point, i want a tuono, diavel, z1000 or cb1000r, but that can wait until my skills are up to the advertising. color me a kook, but i don’t want to ride a bike that misrepresents my experience or skill level.

    • Dan

      trackday the street triple and you’ll be hooked forever. what an amazing bike.

    • CommonSenseOnWheels

      your quote exemplifies one thing, for sure: the perspective of a person who is overly obsessed not only with his own motorcycling but the cycling of other people

  • BigBadDawg

    starting to see this site as 1 part talking about bikes, 1 part talking about riding, 5 parts “a cry for attention” 1 part just stirring-up trouble and 2 parts idiocy.

  • Michael

    Baby steps, that is the way to progress through any skill. Wes obviously subscribes to this philosophy. I applaud the message of this article. I myself have practiced this “baby steps” philosophy with motorcycling. I took an interest in motorcycling last year, a little late in life. I started on a 125cc scooter, then after one month bought a used 250 (a Honda Rebel because of the low seat height). I used the Rebel for almost 6 months to learn basic skills. A few weeks ago I bought a Honda CB500F and will stay with it for a while. Ultimately, I will likely upgrade to a 600 class naked bike in a few years. I have my eyes on the Triumph Street Triple R or the MV Agusta Brutale 675. That is very likely where my “sport” journey will end as I am not interested in a supersport bike. I could see myself someday getting a dual sport as a second bike.

  • Guzzto

    look at Sean doing a wheelie !

    …not sure where I would sit on this list been riding since 1986, the quickest thing I owned was a 1982 RD250LC and the fastest was a GS1200ss, last 10 years have been riding older machines GB500′s (great thumping fun on the twisties) and then a CB750 (horrible bendy frame and terrible brakes) currently a late 70′s Guzzi 1000 and a BMW r80, neither of them are sporty but they both are great for touring and the Guzzi holds a line so sweetly though the sweepers. I ride everyday and love it, I enjoy being observant of what I do and body position and how small adjustment make the bikes behave but having said that no burning desire to send a classic down the road sideways in an attempt to push it too far. Guess i’m totally happy where I am at, nothing to prove , don’t care about comparing chicken strips. I’ve ridden more modern bikes like MV’s Ducs and speed and street triples and the Nuda 900 all great bikes but they didn’t stir anything in me like the older twins.

  • Fzr 1000 Alex

    What is the actual deal with the RC390?? No KTM dealership around here has the slightest clue if and when they are arriving and are completely in the dark about pricing. Any verifiable information or is this vapor ware that is gonna lead me to the horrible world of grey market imports to get my small super sport fix? The KTM has the potential to be this generation’s FZR 400.

    • Wes Siler

      If you’re in Europe, you’re golden. If you’re in America, KTM couldn’t care less about selling you a street bike. It might be imported, it might not. Your dealer might get some, they might not. My advice is to hassle KTM corporate as much as possible, but mostly just because they really hate that.

      • Piglet2010

        My dealer is already asking KTM how many RC390′s they can get – maybe someone in Austria will pay attention?

      • Fzr 1000 Alex

        Ive been trying… I left a nice post on the wall and have been busting down doors trying to make noise to get the point across. A high end ‘small bike’ is going to be a winner, especially if pricing is 6k as estimated.

    • Campisi

      I asked the local KTM (and Victory, and Kawasaki, and Yamaha) dealer about the RC390. His eyes sort of glazed over, before he walked past me to talk to some teenager sitting on a Bolt.

  • zion

    Great article. Hits the nail on the head.

  • brittonx

    Nice article. I had a blast on my CBR500R at the track last season. Picked up a CBR600RR for the upcoming season.

  • littletrainthatcould

    Real men don’t need lessons, bendejo. Any more than they need leathers or a series of expensive Italian sportbikes.
    Ask Freddie Spencer how many sportbikes he owned and how many lessons he took before he became World Champion.
    Or Kenny Rodgers, or Kevin Schwanz, or Eddie Lawson. Go ahead, go find and ask them and get back to us.

    • Wes Siler

      Hey man, that’s a pretty badass scooter.

      • Piglet2010

        “Badass scooter” is a redundant phrase. :)

    • Robert Horn

      I’ve heard of Lawson and Spencer, but…

      • Kr Tong

        You know, Kenny Rodgers. He used to ride a Yamagah in the Motor pg. Kids of all ages used to watch it.

        • Wes Siler

          And he never took a lesson from anyone, not once.

          • Piglet2010
          • CommonSenseOnWheels

            I hate to point out that you’re getting bogged down in whether the greatest American road racer that ever lived ever took a racing lesson much less a riding lesson and entirely missing the point that he was the greatest American road racer that ever lived.
            Oh and the fact that the OP got his name wrong.

            Kudos to you for focusing on these little issues and missing the point entirely.

            or did you not realize that he was talking about Kenny ROBERTS and not Kenny Rodgers?
            ..or did you realize this, but figure that harping on that mistake was a good use of your time?

            Or did you just enjoy it too much to care?

            anyway congrats on using the “the best defense is a good offense” play

        • GhostRiderJr

          you are the smartest guy on the Intranet

          damm shame that that guys’ entire post got reduced to a oldster brain-fart by a group of kids who weren’t even a gleam in their daddy’s eye when Kenny Roberts won his last GP500 race

          • Wes Siler

            It’s a conspiracy by us lesson-taking kids to ruin Kenny Rodgers’ legacy.

            • GhostRiderJr

              Whatever. He and Waylon Jennings will always be both cooler and faster than you.

              ps I sense a meme coming on, can you see it

          • Kr Tong

            All three have ran and instructed race schools, so suggesting these folks would be against education is funny.

            • Wes Siler

              All three also took lessons. Lots and lots and lots of lessons. But shhh, we’re ruining the guy’s zinger.

              • GhostRiderJr

                be serious
                you have no idea how many lessons they took, or when or why.

                not a frigging clue
                just admit that you don’t know

                • Kr Tong

                  If he took ONE lesson it would be too many, so not knowing the exact number of how many lessons he took wouldn’t matter. You were awake on grammar day, how about on logical fallacy day?

                  Also If you ask Kenny Roberts he would say Kel Carruthers mentored him for many years, and Jarno Saarinen taught him how to lean off the bike mid his professional career.

                • GhostRiderJr

                  Fine so every time he went to a track or even to practice or even discussed motorcycle technology with the engineers at Yamaha he was either a student or a teacher. That make you happy?

                  As long as they weren’t “his friends” and as long as it wasn’t over iced-tea or beer at a cafe up in the hills, right?
                  (if only because we all know that you shouldn’t drink and ride, well, at least some of us do)

                • Kr Tong

                  Uh, does me schooling you on Kenny Roberts make me your mentor? And if we continue this flame war, do I become your crew chief?

                • GhostRiderJr

                  That depends on whether you can explain why riding on the street doesn’t count as “practice” and discussing riding with other street-riders doesn’t count as either “instruction” or “study” without invoking Zeno’s Paradox (you know, the one where you keep saying “no” until you’ve ruled-out any and all opinions and viewpoints other than the one you want to believe in). If you fail I will send you off for further study behind the Round Door.

                  Either that or I will just make you memorize all the RideApart articles where they pretend to be experts on street-riding and lecture their readership while riding sportbikes in jeans, t-shirts and full-face helmets.

                • Kr Tong

                  Dude i’ve been reading RideApart since 09 or someshit. I probably have memorized all of the articles. That’s how I learned to lean off the bike and get me knee down. Then I went online and continued my education by reading “twist of the wrist” by Keith Code, and watching videos on Then i go ride with dudes who’ve gone through California Superbike school. We take turns towing so we can watch each others line, throttle control, braking, body position, but just going out and “practicing” without knowing what to practice, is a bad idea. Honestly do you have any clue how much BAD advice there is out there? Off the top of my head the dumbest thing i hear quite often is “Don’t touch the front brake through turns.” Most people lowside because they didn’t use enough front brake and load the tire correctly. Just schooled you again. What’s that make me now?

                • T. Aquino

                  Someone who’s still trying to beat their master, and in trying, fails.
                  Your keyboard-warrior skills are impressive.
                  You fail to see that in even trying to impress me like this merely make me chuckle at your sad state of existence.
                  Starting with “I probably have memorized all of the articles…that’s how I learned how to lean off the bike and get my knee down”.
                  How sad, you little disciple, you massive wanna-be…seriously how can “don’t touch the front brake through turns” be the dumbest advice you hear? In a world full of people slinging advice at high speed you are bound to hear advice that is bad for some people sometimes but good for the rest, the rest of the time. This is merely one of those inevitable cases. You have to consider the context for advice, but some people don’t consider the ENTIRE context. Or should I say enough of the entire context. But it is not my role to give advice on how to give advice, or when to give it and when not to. The main issue is that there is no one answer that is correct for all situations, yet…people who love to give advice love to think that there is. The more advice that you give, the more that you get bogged down in advice that is irrelevant to the current situation and the current reader. That is why the best advice is to give no advice. It is to, if anything, to give an option, and to let the listener weigh the pros and cons of said option for themselves. But don’t try to be God and tell them what will or what will not happen. If only for one really-good reason. And if you need me to tell you what that is, you have real issues.

                • Kr Tong

                  Yes i started reading HFL five years ago to impress you.

                • Piglet2010

                  “We take turns towing so we can watch each others line,…”

                  Why the video camera was invented.

                • Kr Tong

                  You can’t really videotape yourself, and you learn a lot by riding behind a better rider.

                • Piglet2010

                  No, I meant having someone behind you tape you, just like many of the track schools do.

                  And one of my best laps was following Angie Loy around the track (back when she was working as an instructor for Star).

                • DogDayz

                  sorry but every comment you have made here has been rendered impotent due to the fact that every reply which points out the stupidity of your comments will get deleted

            • GhostRiderJr

              …speaking of education, how are the grammar lessons going?

              • Kr Tong

                Sorry, I’m too sick with a rare disease called knowingwhatthefuckImtalkingabout to check for typos.

      • Justin McClintock

        The greatest poker player ever. :-P

        • Piglet2010

          And he pitched a perfect game.

          • stever

            really fast on that FA50

            • Piglet2010

              Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 or Suzuki FA50? ;)

  • Gerardo Astroball

    Excelent, excelent, excelent article Wes.

  • karlInSanDiego

    Here’s another way this progression works. Step two: you’re dragging knee on a public road on your slow 500, cross into the oncoming lane, slam into a truck head on and spend the rest of your life in a home. Crashing on a motorcycle in pusuit of ever faster canyon scratching will leave some guys dead, and some guys paralyzed. I’ll take my advice on how to enjoy motorcycles from someone who isn’t so proud of his skills, that he tries to teach others how they too can someday use public roads to do double the limit and drag knee. How many times do you think you get to crash before your number is up? My advice. Enjoy the bike you have. You’ll know it when the bug bites you to go faster. But don’t ride with Ricky Racer. When you see him, see him for what he is: another statistic and a life flight waiting to happen. Also, if I hear another guy say sand took him out on a curve, I think we’re going to need a physics lesson on road does not equal groomed, swept track. Stop counting on the lean angle and sticky tires to keep you alive riding like a douche on public roads. Sorry, Wes. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but you’re instructing people to quest for something that will chew up a lot of guys in the process, many through no other reason than sand or poor judgement when learning, or poor judgement when they’re experienced to know better. Anyway, that’s my opinion. It’s no better or worse than anyone else’s.

    • stever

      the entire article was about riding on the track

    • Paul Cypert

      I agree with your strong feelings on riding responsibly (my only desire is to enjoy riding, never a concern at all for speed), but I think the author here managed to balance the point on this one. He encourages multiple smaller bikes used over many miles before upgrading with frequent educational classes and controlled circuit riding mixed in.

      Motorcycling does catch some people in unique ways and I think this is a sensible guide for those who will catch that speed bug. It’ll be sad if dumb riders advance themselves too quickly, but they’d probably burn themselves out somewhere else if not for this. Common sense not always so common these days.

      Me, I can’t even stand the look of supersports. I think they’re amazing marvels of technology, but have ZERO desire. Kind of like how I love doing sports jiu jitsu, but will never enter a cage fight LOL

      • DogDayz

        “multiple smaller bikes”?!?

        You do know that a 1200 Panigale weighs less than just about any other sportbike you can buy?

        I’ll bet that you’d have trouble naming 5 sportbikes that weigh less.
        Now admittedly they may have a shorter wheelbase and narrower wheels and tires.

        But “SMALLER”? LOL why do you think that bike costs $30 grand?
        It’s a V-twin with carbon-fiber, titanium and magnesium everything. The freaking kickstand is probably titanium.
        It probably weighs less than any 600supersport on the market.

    • John S

      I agree with you, but there is another aspect to this. No matter how careful you are or what gear you have, a car can take you out. I have a friend I used to ride with. We did canyon rides and never had a crash. He was riding to my house one morning on a clear sunny day on a street with a 35mph speed limit on a small Honda. An SUV made a turn in front of him and he did a head on. No time to react, 80mph combined speed. He survived with 26 operations, a million $ hospital bill and brain damage. Oh, and the driver that hit him is suing for damages, he wasn’t injured but thats what is done here in the USA. For all I do to survive this “sport” some of the danger is a gamble. He rode every day and had his luck run out, it ran out big time. He will never ride again, with his brain damage, a small whack to the head would make him an imbecile. I will still ride but some roads I avoid and some riders I won’t ride with. I don’t know about the sport thing but I consider riding a supreme luxury, like a very expensive wine.

    • HatersWillHate

      None of the top riders emphasize “dragging knees”. Even in races. That’s strictly amateur.
      The knee and the attached leg are just obstacles that keep you from getting the bike down low.

  • P.M Glaser, Jr.

    As usual the advice given here is both nonsensical and inconsistent.

    Why advise a rank beginner to spend $1k on a used Craiglist bike the day they walk out of the MVA with their license?
    Why advise anyone who has some experience riding a crappy bike to go buy a $5k 42hp 500 and ride it all the time and make a bunch of mods with it?

    Is the real point of motorcycling to obsess over improving your skills, to learn how to get every erg of performance out of a bike…and how do you rationalize doing this on the street after 5000 articles talking about how you should go to the track to learn and master new skills and how the main goal of street riding should be to ride safe and sane, not at the limit of either your capabilities or the bike? Why say that then and only then you should move up…to something like an FZ-09? You seriously advocate that people go from riding at the limit (on the street, in group-rides) on a 450lb bike with 42hp peak to a 475lb bike with 125hp peak?!? And how did a (1200? 899?) $16k Panigale ever make it into this discussion? And all that talk about gear and there you have pictures of a guy popping a baby wheelie in jeans.

    You guys don’t even know what “consistency” means, not to mention “sensible”.
    Even on Fox News they don’t insist that the commenters make sense. But at least they have to be consistent.
    You guys can’t get either one right.

    Seriously you guys act like you’re in high-school looking desperately for ways to look cool.
    Not realizing how uncool you look in the process of trying to look cool. Not to mention how dumb you look, how little sense you make.

    You should have Jamie edit every article published on this site and fire anyone who tries to sneak one on past him.
    He’s the only one on the staff here that has even the slightest bit of sense about motorcycling.
    And if he doesn’t have time to do a good job editing it, then it has to wait until he does.

  • Ben Mcghie

    I’m a neophyte. I bought an old SV650 last year, and after a month fitted it with new tires, ss lines, and sintered HH pads. It also needed a fair bit of maintenance, but I like learning how to fix stuff. Good thing it was cheap…

    Now, a year and a bit and 25000km later, I’m in love with it. 7 days a week, rain or shine… it doesn’t let me down. The suspension definitely needs work, especially for a bigger guy like myself, but I am so happy with this bike. Enough power to get you in trouble with the law, but still small enough to whack it open any gear and have some fun with it. I could not have picked a better first bike. This one will could easily last years to come.

    • Scott T

      Great bike. Forgive me if you already know this, but definitely check out RaceTech, their springs and cartridge emulators made a huge difference to my SV’s front end, for not much money. Heavier fork oil helps too, 15W -20W.

      • Ben Mcghie

        Yes thanks Scott, I’ve done a bit of research on it. Broke student that I am, I’m not talking the “plunge” yet. I also want to put in a used ZX-10R shock at the same time. The SV forums are very helpful and cheery places!

        • Peter Negru

          ahh, another broke student on an SV? join the clubXD

          I havent gotten around to the SS lines (abs model) or the pads. will be ordering the spring within the next month and already have a gsx-r1000 rear shock on it

          • Ben Mcghie

            I guess with ABS that makes the brakes a bit better/forgiving. So far though, the SS lines are far and away the best upgrade to the bike. Every bike I buy from now on… SS lines are mandatory. It would be my one and only upgrade if I had to choose.

            • Peter Negru

              ehh. i knwo i want them, but its hard to find a kit for the ABS model. my dads BMW f800r has them, and i love them (granted, his bike also has brembos stock.

  • Ben Mcghie

    I didn’t hear that much emphasis placed on ripping up the street. Everyone knows it happens, but it seemed like, if anything, this article was telling you you will eventually wind up track-only if you want to use your machine to the maximum (assuming you keep wanting to buy nicer/bigger/faster bikes).

    • Dustin Coury

      I think you heard correct. If you use your machine to the max on the street, something will go wrong at some point, and things going wrong on the street are bad news. Furthermore, as far as 99% of the motorcycle population using sport bikes to their max.. it ain’t happening. Watch an AMA racer on a R6, you will never look at your bike again the same way.

  • Stuki

    I really can’t get behind the “motorcycling is a sport” theme. Motorcycling is a darned way of getting around, without being stuck in a cage with the rest of the imbecilocracy.
    Just like car driving isn’t a sport, despite some guys driving F1 cars mighty fast around race tracks.
    Or, even more egregious, bicycling is a way of getting around first and foremost. Not some excuse to shave ones legs, dress up like a spandex queen and suck nasty goop out of gel packs while worrying about their glycemic index; instead of eating like a normal human being.

    Nothing wrong with being able to skillfully maneuver once transportation device of choice. But the whole “motorcycling is a sport” meme has gone way, way to far, just like it has with bicycling. Instead of, like the rest of the world; people getting on a bike (with or without a motor) because it is the most natural and obvious way of getting somewhere; the “sport” meme being pushed by guys you yourself, back in your presumably “less progressed” days, referred to as “failed racers”; has led to cyclists of all stripes becoming weird cults of spandex, leather, carbon fiber and kneepucks. Where all that matters is dressing up in proper costume on the weekend, to go out and “prove themselves.” I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with people wanting to do that per se, but the vast majority of people; meaning the vast majority of potential motorcyclists, don’t spend every waking (or even riding) moment, thinking of how to “improve themselves.” If they did, those cheesy self help gurus would be even wealthier than they already are. Brr, that is a scary thought…..

    • Ben Mcghie

      I think some people might not be so precise with the definition of “sport.”

      I try hard to rock climb better every time I’m outside or in the gym. Usually 5 days a week. I also try hard to improve my motorcycle skills every season. Riding 5+ days a week. Both of these things are very similar to my mind. Calling them activities or sports… doesn’t really matter to me. People compete in climbing competitions. People race motorcycles. I do neither. Can I get away with calling them “sporting activities”? I’m only competing with myself though.

      Unless you’re just annoyed with the guys in full leather pinning it on the straights and creeping through the corners on the way to Starbucks posing sessions a mere 20 minutes’ ride from their house. I don’t like the “sport” those guys do either. :)

      • Reid

        Ernest Hemingway said the only three real sports are mountain climbing, bullfighting and auto racing. It’s the element of danger that makes a sport.

        • JP

          Later in life, he added a fourth sport: Wearing 20 lb sweaters.

          • Reid

            And getting drunk early in the morning, then shooting sharks with a Tommy gun all afternoon.

        • bbradsby

          FWIW…actually, he didn’t say or write it…

          “This is one in a long list of quotations mysteriously attributed to Ernest Hemingway. While the general public seem to agree that this is in fact a Hemingway quotation, scholars have some reservations and for good reason. The early Hemingway did not believe that bullfighting was a sport. For him, it was a tragedy. See his October 20, 1923 article titled “Bullfighting A Tragedy” reprinted in By-Line: Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades edited by William White. Hemingway reiterates his beliefs regarding the tragedy of bullfighting in his 1932 book, Death in the Afternoon.”

          Just sayin’

          The article continues for those interested in who DID say/write it.

          • Reid

            I’ve read Death in the Afternoon, but the above apparent mis-quote was even listed among the things Hemingway is to have said. So this is all news to me. One kind of takes on faith what they read in an otherwise faultless book.

      • Stuki

        You just have to realize, most people don’t try to improve their rock climbing skills five days a week. That in and of itself marks you as part of a small minority. And, just like in cycling and motorcycling, I bet many people who might otherwise not have minded going for a stroll in the mountains, are sufficiently put off by the almost monomaniacal focus on the eXtReme facets of that activity as well.

        I for sure notice it when it comes to back country skiing; where people look at me like I’m some sort of mad, for putting on a pair of skis by the roadside and taking to the hills by myself; instead of spending $100 a day on lift tickets, another $500 and days on end on “backcountry, avalance avareness” classes, then $500 more to hole myself up in a snowcat with 5 others of “similar skill level” and have an “expert” instructor guide us to “aprorpiate” slopes; and even more on twelve different pairs of skis; depending on whether today is a wet or dry powder day etc. Dude, I’m just going skiing….. Like people have done for hundreds of years. Not “preparing to get good enough” to ski Everest. Nor particularly give a toot whether the slope I’m skiing down happen to be “rated” black diamonds or not. If it looks too steep, I’ll just go somewhere else. Or fall down and die or something. Not the end of the world either way.

        I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being more “self competitive” or what you want t call it. But I do believe those who are, form a small minority of riders (and potential outdoors people, and skiers, and…..) And that such an incessant focus on those small minorities, are an important part of the tribalization of almost all activity. So that, if you are a motorcyclist, that is supposed to be your sole focus, since otherwise you’ll “never get good at it.” And ditto for other activity. And, by driving away more casual potential riders, you also indirectly indicate to manufacturers that they should only sell bikes that appeal to the minority of committed “alpha” riders; rather than models geared to any old Joe who, in the grand tradition of Americans, don’t much care about anything.

        • Wes Siler

          No one’s trying to say you have to do what’s detailed in the article in order to be considered a motorcyclist. The point here is to demonstrate what it takes to become “fast” and hopefully that either informs a few people’s process, creates an interesting conversation or just shines a light on the reality behind some of these machines.

          If you’re having fun on your bike, you’re doing it right. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

          • GhostRiderJr

            …wait wait wait…”demonstrate what it takes to become fast”?

            Surely you don’t mean to say that if one follows these steps (even to the letter) that they *will* become “fast”.

            Besides, what’s the difference between getting the most out of a Ninja 250 vs a ZX-10R?
            You get 3 guesses…

          • Stuki

            I hear you. And have little doubt you are right about what one ought to do to most efficiently become “fast.” I just recoiled a bit at the “motorcycling is a sport” statement. Mainly because that meme is to such an extent drowning out all others (outside the cruiser world, at least), that I believe it leads many who could otherwise be prime candidates to start riding; to be turned off by the seeming effort required.

        • Ben Mcghie

          I see what you’re getting at. My pet peeve is that most people DON’T care much about anything. I do think driving should be taken more seriously by most people. You don’t have to be perfect, but maybe put down the burger and soft drink while doing 80mph and reading the paper.

          As for the sport of riding sportbikes… maybe that’s the issue right there. Clearly calling motorcycling a “sport” is far more applicable to that style of riding that leans towards requiring a racing-derived machine. I agree it’s a bit silly to call puttering around on a Harley a “sport,” but is it wrong to apply it to a sport bike? Ideally, if you’re buying one of those machines (600 ss) you should be aiming to improve your skills with that bike, to go faster. That’s what they are all about. They aren’t that comfortable for cruising, the engines don’t make a useable torque in the places you want it, and the suspension doesn’t like potholes. They are sporting machines sold to the public.

          If I get it, you’re annoyed with motorcycling in general being called a sport, rather than simply two-wheeled transportation full stop. I think that’s fair, but unfortunately the most interaction non-bikers get with bikes is generally sportbikes in the news for breaking the law. That tends to foster the opinion that motorcycles in general are toys… easily thought of as “sporting goods”

          • GhostRiderJr

            ” My pet peeve is that most people DON’T care much about anything.”

            yeah the world would be a much-better place if we all cared about everything as much as you do.

            • Ben Mcghie

              Oooh, that rascally english comprehension. It’s a tough one, for sure. Anything and everything don’t quite have the same meaning, but nice try.

          • Piglet2010

            I just wish the people that did not care about driving would take a bus or train instead.

          • T. Aquino

            There is always more than one way to skin a cat, whether you think that it is a
            bad way or not. Lighten-up and broaden your mind a little, it’ll be good for you.

            Maybe you won’t have a heart-attack at 35.

        • runnermatt

          I understand your point and I believe it mostly comes down to what people care about that determines their priorities. Most people “Americans” seem to only care about facebook, twitter and what was on TV the night before.

          About 8 years ago I realized I would rather be out “doing something, seeing something” than sitting at home watching TV, etc.

          Additionally, if I enjoy doing something I also enjoy the pursuit of doing that something better and the satisfaction of knowing that I can now do that thing better than I used to be able to. I enjoy driving as well as riding. Also, within the past 8 years I acquired enough driving skill to be able to understand just how good I am, which is to say I know where my failings are, which a lot more than 95% if drivers who have no idea where their limits are and thinking finding their limits is a bad thing. So when two years ago to took the MSF course having never ridden a motorcycle I found that the MSF course did not “give me the confidence” to ride a motorcycle confidently on the road, but instead showed me how little I actually knew about riding a motorcycle. If I hadn’t pursued improving my skills in a car I doubt I would have had that understanding after taking the MSF course.

          While writing my comment I forgot where I was going with it. Anyway, maybe its context will make sense.

          • Piglet2010

            Riding pillion with Jason Pridmore showed me how huge the gap is from where I am at to being a great rider. Sad part is I see a lot of people out on motorcycles who are much less skilled than I am.

            • T. Aquino

              Society does not grow when it is dominated by those
              who think that there is a place for everything and that everything
              should be in its place and likewise you are not enhancing the “sport”
              here, you are poisioning it here with your rigid nonsense.

            • CommonSenseOnWheels

              When was the last time that you wrecked your bike?

              That’s what really matters, Piglet.

              No one is paying you to race your motorcycle, right?

              • Piglet2010

                Are you stalking me online?

                • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

                  shut up Piglet you stalk everyone online the moment that you open your irritating mouth and post your irritating opinion

                • Send Margaritas

                  “shut up Piglet you stalk everyone online the moment that you open your irritating mouth and post your irritating opinion”Lol! I came to the same conclusion!

            • HatersWillHate

              why, did he have a lap-timer on the back of his helmet?

              You think that the difference between you and Pridemore is as great as the difference between Waheed and Steve Rapp?
              Wait you have no idea, you’ve never actually raced against any of them…

    • Piglet2010

      Well, in the push bike world, those things you mention are the most important, as group conformity is everything. Unless you ride a ‘bent – then weirdness is expected.

      My first larger displacement bike after getting back into riding is the Honda Deauville I still have (and probably will keep for at least another decade) – just sporty enough not to be a chore on a back road, and almost as practical as a maxi-scooter. But of course, very different from a super-sport, as the extra weight and linear power-band make it almost newbie friendly once above walking speed.

      • T. Aquino

        Ok so you ride. Is that really enough to make you an expert on
        everything, never wrong and full of knowledge about exactly how everyone
        else should start, learn, and grow, even *think*, as a motorcyclist?
        Seriously? Look-up “God complex” sometime when you have a free moment
        between lectures.

    • Kr Tong

      Round here commuting is as close to the roman colosseum as you’ll ever get. Scratching knees on canyons is something you do to relax.

    • Justin McClintock

      I think you’re sorta missing the point of the article. It’s clearly not written for you. It’s for people who want to push the envelope. People who grew up with posters of GSXRs and Ferraris on the wall, but the Ferraris are just too dang expensive. Maybe they’ll do a “Layman’s Guide to Sport Touring” article for you later. But regardless, for the vast majority of us, you put us on a motorcycle and at SOME point we’re gonna wanna see how fast we can make it go. Some more than others. This article is for those folks who tried that and thought, “Hmmmm….I’ll bet I can go even faster next time.”

      • taba

        Looking forward to a “Layman’s Guide to Sport Touring.”

        Assuming this is still true: “The [2012] Honda CBR600RR is, without a doubt, the most versatile, broadly capable 600 on the market today. It’s equally at home on track or on a city commute. It’s even all-day comfortable and easy to ride, which makes it our pick of the entire Honda range for sport touring.”

        A neophyte (CBR250R, ATG, CSS) with a home in FL, I’m curious if the progression to the CBR600RR is different if the intended use is different.

        I’m not looking to knee drag on the Interstate, just looking for the best sport-tourer I can manage.

        • Justin McClintock

          Well, Honda just decided to bring their VFR (the real one with the 800 cc engine) back to the US. That might be it if you want to stick with a Honda.

          • taba

            Yeah, just saw that.

            Love the VFR but afraid it might be too heavy. The CBR650F may be perfect.

            • GhostRiderJr

              “Love the VFR but afraid it might be too heavy.”

              that’s cause you’re a wuss

              ” The CBR650F may be perfect.”

              …and it might weigh even more than the VFR800!

              • taba

                Arthritic, I’m not looking to wrassle a bike around.

                VFR800 529#
                CBR650F 461#
                CBR500R 425#
                CBR600RR 410#
                CBR250R 357#

      • GhostRiderJr

        no, it’s for people who want to be PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES AT 200MPH!

    • roma258

      It pays to keep in mind that this is an American website aimed at an American audience. So with that in mind, realize that for most Americans, motorcycling is not simply a practical transportation choice. Most of us don’t have lane splitting, our gas is (relatively) cheap, most of us don’t live in dense cities where parking is a premium, many of us live in cold climates with limited riding seasons. So for those of us that ride, it is actually a sport or at the very least a hobby. Because it’s not a hard, rational choice, but a decision driven by enthusiasm for the experience of riding rather than convenience. It is in that light, that articles like this begin to make sense.

      • Ryan Mayo

        Where I live, nothing makes practical sense about riding. We have 6 month riding seasons, Insurance averages around $2000 a year. the roads suck, there’s not a lot of good driving roads around here. You only ride because you love it.

        • roma258

          Sounds like you need a dual-sport in your life.

    • runnermatt

      “the vast majority of people; meaning the vast majority of potential motorcyclists, don’t spend every waking (or even riding) moment, thinking of how to “improve themselves.”

      I think that may have something to do with or a symptom of Cruisers being be biggest seller.

      • Piglet2010

        Most of those cruiser riders do not even realize how little they know about riding.

        • Send Margaritas

          Clearly the best way to determine what someone knows about riding, is the type of vehicle they were seen riding at a particular moment.Or, perhaps, we might determine that by someone’s internet claims and troll-like opinions?You might simply search for video evidence. Look for ones YellowWolf owning Supersport riders on the Tail of the Dragon, or some of the gear-minimalist motorcycle police in trials on 900lb HD(s). If you can’t ride the cones on your standard/sportbike like the such videos showing the cycle cops doing on the big HD(s)…what difference does the choice of bike class make?

      • Stuki

        I’m actually more concerned cruisers is simply a symptom. If all everyone hears about riding non cruisers, is that they have to be so darned concerned about which bike should be next in their “progression”, about how they need to work on their body positioning etc., just in order to ride a non cruiser; lots of people will simply figure “why not get a cruiser, which seemingly can be enjoyed without all that darned work……” Which, given cruisers’ limitations in many (not all) scenarios, is a bit suboptimal (for one, cruisers are too wide and clumsy to invite people to beat traffic with them, leading to that majority of American riders being more concerned about nonsense, than about getting rid of oppressive lane splitting laws).

    • GhostRiderJr

      “Just like car driving isn’t a sport,”

      stop making sense
      that has no place here

    • Gonfern

      couldn’t disagree more. To many of us north of the “forever summer” line, Riding is most definitely a reason to dress up like Power Rangers and play weekend warriors with our friends. I, for example, have an office job that requires I arrive at my workplace sometime before 9am, with well groomed hair, wearing a suit and not covered in dirt, sweat, rain, bugs, ect. It requires that I drive my company leased midsize snoozefest of a cage so that occasionally I can suffer the joy of taking a client or coworker or boss to lunch. It requires that I listen to the news on the miserable stop and go DC traffic commute. The only thing that gets me through that horrific experience (other than a fair salary) is knowing that at the very least, on Sunday morning before the sheep wake up to pasture on the tarmac path to Jesus, I get to put on 2 dead cows, fire up a few dead dinosaurs and go wear some plastic off my knee pucks (hopefully only that). If thats not sport…I clearly do not know the meaning of sport.

      • Stuki

        Just the thought of bumper to bumper DC traffic in a company cage, almost every waking day from now until forever, scares the heck out of me……..

        • Piglet2010

          The thought of all the sociopaths employed in high positions that live inside the DC Beltway scares the heck out of me.

          • Send Margaritas

            Like Lois Lerner and Eric Holder? You have something there. We had a constitution once. Wave to Obama’s NSA!

  • Piglet2010

    Off-topic, but can you publish a list of words to avoid to keep comments being held for moderation? I am trying to figure out if it was the “G r i n d i n g p e g s” or “f r e a k o u t” that set the Disqus nanny-bot off.

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, I know it’s frustrating. Disqus’s moderation algorithm is an unknown for me too. I just try to get to the moderation queue several times throughout the day, so hopefully there’s not a huge lag when the occasional one gets held.

  • Campisi

    And now, the much-more-common progression, which I shall now call the Sean Method:

    - Level One: The Moped/Bicycle/Used UJM

    Everyone has to start somewhere. Virgin efforts are never good, but always wonderful.

    - Level Two: The Goddamn Bonneville

    Man, I’m cool. I found this sweet helmet at a swap meet, look at the patina! Sun’s out, guns out, clip-ons, oh my.

    - Level Three: The Modern Middleweight Standard




    - Level Four: Let’s Take A Stroll Through The Garden

    Oh wow, the big leagues are crowded. Touring bikes to the left, sports bikes to the right. The wizz-bang electrics are plugged in near the first aid station, and the supermotos have ridden off with the concession-stand cash box. I’m gonna need a better jacket.

    - Level Five: The Hyperstandard Master Race

    Sports bikes are uncomfortable, inconvenient, and attract 5-0 billy clubs all day long. Touring bikes only work if you’re far from where you need to be, and supermotos vibe themselves apart on the Garden Grove freeway. Cruisers suck, and you can’t go back, hop on this Hypermotard, jack.

    This has been a (non-)paid presentation of the Sean Method.

    • taba

      I got to use “sun’s out, guns out” this last weekend.

      The girl was amused.

    • runnermatt

      I was listening to Pandora while reading your comment. The pace/lyrics of the song that was playing added to the mood/character of your comment. The song was “Satisfaction (Isak Original Mix)” by The Biz.

    • Piglet2010

      Nothing wrong with the front brake on the Bonnie for street use (the rear brake has too much “bite”, at least on mine).

      • Campisi

        Relax, man, it’s a party.

        • Piglet2010

          As long as you do not tell me that your uncle’s co-worker’s friend’s brother owned a Bonnie in the 1960′s, we’re cool.

      • Send Margaritas

        It certainly isn’t anything to write home about. A Bonnie’s front brake is a bottom-feeder. Take a look at the Street Triple’s brakes. Even my humble FJR has dual disks, linked rear brakes, and ABS.

  • Andy Yun

    I have an Aprilia Tuono, and I love it. It’s reasonably comfortable, a blast to ride, relatively tame, and I’m getting better with it all the time. I don’t want to give it up. However, I think I need to invest in a 250R or 500R to expand my skills. The motorcycle-related expenses keep coming–helmet, gloves, insurance, boots, Roadcrafter, one-piece leather suit, GoPro, more gloves, more boots, track days, CSS weekends, dirt bike, MX-type clothes, trailer, truck, etc.


    I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • SniperSmitty

      Never let anyone tell you that you need to upgrade your bike. There is a guy in my riding group with a single cylinder motard that can spank literally everyone I have ever seen ride a motorcycle!!! No joke. However, that being said, I would advise looking into a Honda CB500. With a tame top speed of 118mph it is insanely fun at street speeds. Limiter is around 9k so hitting sweepers in 3rd or 4th at 7-8k rpm is Amazing!!! Besides, if you don’t ride track, it’s all you’ll ever need. Smitty

      • HankBWYT

        Dude, he’s taking about downgrading his bike, not upgrading, so he can push a slower bike to it’s limits.

        • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

          …because he can only push a slow bike to its limits.

  • Moot

    Panigale don’t throw people off, even when they are not skilled. It has traction control :)

    • Paul M Edwards

      True, and one doesn’t have to ride it at 11 to enjoy themselves… An acquaintance rode his Paningale with us on a casual Sport Touring group ride and was content to hang mid-pack. He was smiling every time he took off his helmet.

  • Paul Cypert

    Only thing that seems missing me to me would be physical conditioning. I’m not an expert rider or super knowledgeable about the training undergone by professional riders, but it seems like you would need insane core strength and physical conditioning to be able to maneuver/control a bike like that. I can see couch warriors working their way onto a few of the bikes on the list, but past a certain point your body’s build and core strength is going to become a huge deciding factor over how successful you are at managing that bike.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Great article about “the arc”. When I was younger my goal was to get into motorcycle racing. It was a great goal, even if I started riding a bit late for that. I learned a lot about riding motorcycles by keeping that goal in mind. Life had other plans, but the goal of riding with precision, is still there.

    So, my “arc” is a bit less of an arc”, but it still applies. I started out with a basic motorcycle, and as I learned to ride it well, I also learned how to modify it to make it a better ride. I spent a lot of time on twisty mountain roads – and on parts and modifications. Each motorcycles was more capable. I spent some time on larger, more powerful motorcycles (thanks to trusting friends). They’re great, but a lot of work when you’re not using them at their best. In line with your “litre-bike” article, I realized that 500cc – 600cc, is just about right for me. It’s a great combo of speed and size.

    The best part of “the arc” is that you also get to a point where you realize that it’s not all about the motorcycle. It hits you that it’s about the rider. I’m more interested about the potential in a RC390 than a Panigale. I expect the Panigale to be great. The challenge in riding the RC390 well is more enticing, though.

  • Brian

    flame me for this comment if you will, but I bet ( at least in a track environment) someone could learn a lot more from a 2 stroke 250 machine like a Yamaha TZR250 or even a an Aprilia RS250 ( which CAN be had in street trim) than they could from any supersport class 600. Some of the best riders in the world have honed their craft on 2 stroke machinery because of the learning curve of that fine edge of power delivery paired with the lightweight nimble handling package. In the band or on the pipe( or whichever terminology you prefer), a super light machine that awakens into a monster with the ability to cut where you want with razor like incision will speak volumes to you. There is such a fine edge to it, that on the good side, you will feel and do things that most just will be amazed by, but on the bad side, you will be on your butt in a heartbeat. That bad side though doesn’t have to be as disastrous as those machines are generally built with the resiliantcy to sustain those occurances and be picked up, readjusted and then taken out to be flogged more. They are generally lighter than their 4 stroke counterparts and don’t inflict as much bodily damage to the pilot should they become entangled with the machine in the likely scenario of ejection. The best in the world have learned on 2 strokes, and while they aren’t as widely available as they once were, they are still quite a bit more effective in the form of a teaching tool that is worthy of their pricing value.

    • Justin McClintock

      I don’t think too many people would necessarily disagree with you there. But it’s an issue of availability. I can go out and buy a slightly used 600cc supersport anywhere in the US at any time. A TZR250? I’d honestly be shocked if there’s a single one of those for sale in the entire US right now. I’d be willing there is with the RS250, but it will command a premium purely because of exclusivity.. The track ready 600? Not so much. The idea is to get better, not to get bankrupt.

      • Brian

        I will completely concede they aren’t as common as they once might have been, but they are still out there ( especially if you know where to look). I know I only site 2 specific models, but there are many more for sure. I just saw an NSR400 recently sell, but patience is key for that for sure. The reward though is vast, and if you are that dedicated to the need for that type of tool for building those skill sets, you should have learned some degree of patience already. Practise requires a lot of patience, and developing those skills requires a lot of practise and patience. In this “game”, it is as much about the right tool for the job as much as anything else. No question that a 600CC supersport class 4 stroke is going to be more readily available, but the degree of necessity is all in what the pilot is looking for in the end as a goal. If they are looking for to be at the sharp end of the stick to be as close to racing type skills, then the tool must advance from the rather comparitive pedestrian offerings in order to get the most out of the teaching lessons.

        • Justin McClintock

          I think at that point you’re onto the guy who’s already had the big bike and is now the veteran though. It’s somewhat an argument of “law of diminishing returns” from a financial standpoint. That and the not so minor issue of keeping a track bike running. Finding parts for a CBRZXGSXRYZ600SSR is pretty easy. Need new parts for a RS250 and live in the states? Yeah, have fun with that.

          Besides, one could make the same argument for getting a motard. And those are cheap.

          • Brian

            Touching on your points in reverse order, actually, the RS250 is really easy to get parts for. It is a Suzuki RGV250 powerplant ( IIRC) and parts are very readily available. I have a friend that actually has one as his dedicated track bike here is the DC Metro area, and he has been pretty candid about what is and isn’t hard about ownership of that machine. On the point of diminishing returns, track bikes ( of any kind or variety ) aren’t investments, or at least shouldn’t be viewed as such, except in the realm of value you get from them in the skills that you hone from their usage. I actually think that the guys that have big bikes won’t easily go back to any smaller bore size because of the lazy habits they seem to develop from having big bore power. On the track, the idea of keeping it in a single gear or 2 to work sections is much more prevelant than in the smaller bore bikes. Smaller bore bikes lend themselves to the pilot having to use the whole machine in all aspects to get the maximum potential out of it and learning about bike feel and traction and many other lessons.

            • Justin McClintock

              True about being able to get all you can out of the small machines. But with a bigger bike, it’s no always necessarily laziness that will drive a person to hold that gear so much as the bike’s ability to make all the power you could use through a section in any of a number of gears. At that point, shifting not only becomes redundant, but actually slower.

              And yes, track bikes are never investments. But that goes back the the benefit of a 600. They’re cheap up front, they’re cheap to keep running, they’re cheap to get parts for. Call it an investment from the standpoint that it doesn’t necessarily bring money in, but they can help limit the amount going out.

              • T. Aquino

                The author not only
                has all the answers, he never makes a mistake and he knows what’s best
                for everyone.

            • CommonSenseSays

              …right, becasue with a large-displacement engine you don’t have to learn about bike feel, traction or many other lessons.
              the bike rides around the track like it’s on rails

              “I actually think that the guys that have big bikes won’t easily go back
              to any smaller bore size because of the lazy habits they seem to develop
              from having big bore power.”

              Yes I’ve heard that you think sometimes. I guess that means you think correctly.

              • Brian

                I am not sure what your experiences are, but I have seen way too many people go to the track with liter bikes looking for maximizing the ability to wack the throttle open in order go faster that way, as apposed to feeling more cornerspeed and using the bike more to its potential. This is especially obvious in certain groups when a guy on an SV650 is pulling lap times multiple seconds faster than guys on liter bikes. I was going to the idea without directly using the cliché, but to make it more obvious for you, “it is more fun to ride a ‘slow’ bike fast than to ride a fast bike slow”. That having been said, I have also seen guys like Brian Kcraget circulate around a track like VIR on an RS125 USGPRU machine giving instruction to guys on large bore twins and multiple different kinds of liter bikes and doing so with the ability to leave them for broke. If you don’t like what I “think” based on my experience, then perhaps you should put yourself in some shoes outside of your own for a slight touch of different perspective sometime and consider that someone will in fact understand, feel, and/or experience different things than yourself.

                • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

                  You act as if there’s something wrong with that. I’m sure there are, right now, experienced sufers in Australia trying to convince new surfers to paddle farther out into the surf, for the bigger waves. Dspite all the Great Whites out there.

                  Measuring the skill of casual trackday riders against a dedicated amateur is simpy insanity. Those guys are not out there looking to get the most out of their bike in cornering. They are out there learning how to harness the power of their bikes. What exactly is wrong with that? So what if a guy with 5000 trackdays under his belt can beat them around a racetrack by 5 seconds? And how does this nonsense about riding a slow bike fast matter in the slightest, even if it were possible? What is happening is that the experienced racer is riding his slow bike FASTER than the neophytes on their fast bikes but only in the slow sections of the track. Hey, if I had a $15k sportbike and I was just out to turn a few casual laps I would have no problem with that whatsoever. Why do you?

                  The last time that I was out on a track I was there with very-experienced riders who were actually pushing each other around this track. My last memory was that of watching a guy get carted in on an ambulance and the bike he was riding get towed in on the back of a truck. It happened to be a very nice black R1 in great condition, I remember admiring it just before the guy took it out for a few laps with the advanced group. He was there that day was to ride the Yamaha demo bikes and other peoples’ bikes on that track, in addition to his own. Guess which one he wrecked on?

                  Now if I had a “spare” literbike? It might be a different story. I still would be pretty reluctant to wreck on it and it would probably also take me 5000 trackdays to really push it to the limit in corners. I am sure there are literbike owners like that out on tracks every weekend across America. Most literbike owners, probably, are not like that.

                  What is wrong with this?

                  Why do you make so much out of it?

                  Please show me the concrete significance of this instead of just discussing your “feelings”.

    • Piglet2010

      I have thought about getting a purpose built track bike that uses a 250cc, 4-stroke single from a MX bike – engine parts and people that can rebuild them are found everywhere there is MX racing.

      • Brian

        I saw one guy running an RS125 chassis that had a Unicam motor from a CRF250R in it that he said handled pretty well. Problem with most of those set-ups is getting the front end to feel right apparently due to weight balance/distribution not being in the normal proportion to engage and give proper feel.

  • Donnie Byers

    And my best advice: Just go out and ride. Whatever you have. Every chance you can get.

  • Innis O’Rourke

    Great article!

  • di0genes

    Best article ever, this rating is based on how much I agree with what it says. As I was reading through, I was thinking yeah but… and then I came to the last category :) Ride apart rocks.

  • 200 Fathoms

    It’s truly mind-boggling to consider that some new riders start out with “The Big Boys.”

    • GhostRiderJr

      how is it “mind-boggling”?

      How can you call yourself a motorcycle expert and not see that a 250 slides just like a literbike, and vice-versa?
      The only difference between a crappy Craigslist GPz-550 and a ZX-10R is 100lbs, 100hp and much-longer gearing.
      Assuming, of course, that you’ve got the money to buy either on in the first place.

      This whole article is just ridiculous, but then so many here are.
      I guess that it’s ridiculous to expect anything other than ridiculous articles from a group of 30 year old West Coast amateur wannabes who think they know all about motorcycling because they’ve spent a lot of money on leathers and replacement parts for their various Craigslist bikes. There’s nothing wrong with starting-out on a literbike. The problem is ending your life on one. But that is true for ANY bike.

    • Piglet2010

      Easy to find plenty of comments on Internet forums along the lines of “You will outgrow a 600cc in 2 weeks, so start out with the 1000cc”.

      • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

        …surprisingly it’s also easy to find comments on Internet forums along the lines of “if I want to be a really-good rider, I need to learn how to get the most out of a 250″. And then such comments inevitably are followed with a description of years of riding-schools and track-days because the rider never feels good enough to ride a faster bike. The nonsense works both ways.

    • SBErules

      …it’s only mind-boggling in the sense that people have such negative preconceptions about learning how to ride on a literbike yet still actually ride motorcycles themselves.

      It is truly hypocritical in the sense that they want new riders to ignore literbikes while they pay so much attention to displacement and ignore technique entirely. In that vein clearly the best bike for noobs is a high-powered literbike, because then at least you won’t have them saying that it’s easy and safe to ride becasue it’s just a 300. You might even get their full attention, and find that they ride conservatively out of respect for the power of their bike.

      Just an idea. Just possible. Just sayin’.

  • ColoradoS14

    Good article, I agree wholeheartedly with starting small and working big, but I do think the starting point is different for everyone. Some people are very green and should start with a smaller bike. Others will be fine going bigger, I had ridden mountain bikes for 20 years, dirt bikes on and off and buddies street bikes here and there before I started. I also road race cars, so the concept of rev matching downshifts, chassis balance and weight transfer were very well understood by me. I chose to go with a 2012 Aprilia Shiver for my first bike and I think it was the perfect choice. I believe that many first time riders would be well served by a V-Twin or other torquey motor, the power is more accessible and you don’t have to wind it out so much like the inlines. There is definitely something to be said for going used for the first one, and frame and axle sliders are perhaps a good investment in case of low speed tip overs. I also think a naked bike or something with an upright seating position is the right choice for a first rider. Most new riders will not have the proper technique to be comfortable on a sportbike with clip-ons and I think comfort is the key to confidence and for that reason the Street Triple will be a better bike than a Daytona 675 even though the performance difference is not that great. I think a TU250X, CB500X/F is great for green riders. For those that have previous 2-wheel experience I think a Ninja650, Versys, Monster 696, Shiver, etc. is a fine place to start.

    • nick2ny

      Until you can slide the bike you’re on, you’re not truly ready for the next bike up.

  • Jack Meoph

    I’ve gone backwards. My peak was at the supersport level (just recently and I would have stayed if not for my aging body betraying me!!). I’ve always ridden on the street and never even considered a superbike. That type of bike would be more of a handicap than asset on 90% of the roads I ride. Spending so much time and effort to go fast, seems like such a waste, unless you’re going to go racing. I almost always ride the Pace now. Fun, fast enough, safe, and most important, NOT scary (most of the time).

    • T. Aquino

      This article exemplifies a really-bad trend in the motorcycling
      community these days, which is the tendency to try to box everything up
      conceptually into neat little well-ordered packages.

  • Reid

    I guess I’m the luckiest kind of twisto-bikey scoot jockey there is. The bike I always wanted was not (despite its bad reputation) a psychotic suicide machine. It’s a machine that won’t be quickly outgrown and can indeed grow with me as my skills develop over time, only getting better and better as time goes on. I feel bad for the folks who have to worry about moving up and on to the next latest-greatest thing.

    • Brian

      A Kawasaki H1 2 stroke 500 triple?!?!?!

      • Reid

        Sure. What else?

        lol no. That’s a one-day, many-years-down-the-road dream.

      • Piglet2010

        No, the H2 750cc triple. ;)

  • Y.A.

    Something to consider. Superbike ergos suck. There is a reason track day sessions are only ~20 minutes and MotoGP races are only ~40. I had clip ons on my Ninja 650 for about a month and did a mountain ride a while back. It was about 40 miles up, 30 miles of twisties and 40 miles back. By the time I got home my back was absolutely fried. Mind you I’m only 30 and I can deadlift a good amount of weight. I switched back to regular bars and fell back in love with my bike. The sporty ergos feel cool for about 10 minutes, but big wide upright bars give you nice leverage. It doesn’t look as cool but it works better for the street. If I change bikes it will definitely be to something naked with more power. I’m thinking SV1000N.

    • GhostRiderJr

      “Superbike ergos suck.”

      They do not suck. And trust me I am older than most of the people on this forum.
      If I can ride a sportbike for 6 hrs in 90deg summer heat and like it, then the ergos do not “suck”.

      In my opinion the big problem with “sportbikes” are that the springs are too hard.
      Put decent road-going springs in them and you’ll come away with a different attitude.
      Now, of course the seats may suck and the bars may be too low, too far forward and too narrows, but these are details that can be changed.
      The only sportbike that I’ve ever sat on that really had “bad ergos” altogether was an R6 and then only because the rearsets were DAMM high.
      Even then it was fun to ride. Not saying that I’d want to ride it for hours, but it was fun to ride around town.

      On the other hand if the bars are too high and the pegs too low, the springs too soft, that obviously is a problem.
      The not only is all your weight on your butt, but the bike wallows too much and often bottoms-out.
      People need to stop trying to categorize so much and deal with the specifics.
      But that would require you to both care about accuracy as well as know what the FARK you’re talking about.
      not popular traits here

      • Piglet2010

        Spring rates should be chosen to get the proper static sag. A stiffer spring will increase the frequency that the bike wants to bounce up and down at, while ride harshness is determined primarily by the high-speed damping of the fork and shock(s).

        What many riders fail to realize is that maximum traction is achieved with *less* damping than the feel of maximum ride control.

        This book has a good section on suspension:

        • SBErules

          “Spring rates should be chosen to get the proper static sag.”

          Wrong. Rates and preload should be used in combination to get the proper static sag, the desired spring frequency and the desired anti-dive. You can use stiff springs and relatively-low preload, or you can use soft springs with a lot of preload, or you can use progressive-rate springs with medium preload. The point is the stiffer the spring, the higher the natural frequency of the wheel, and that frequency can be far too high for the bike and rider to deal with in normal riding. You don’t want to use racing springs on the street, they’re just too stiff. 10 laps on a 2.5mile track is only 25 miles, that’s at most an hour of street-riding at any real speed. Riding race springs on the street only makes sense if you intend to race on the street, if that makes any sense at all.

          “A stiffer spring will increase the frequency that the bike wants to bounce
          up and down at, while ride harshness is determined primarily by the high-speed damping of the fork and shock(s).”

          …that’s only right because you’re quoting someone else who knows what they are talking about.

          You couldn’t have come up with that on your own.

          “What many riders fail to realize is that maximum traction is achieved with *less* damping than the feel of maximum ride control.”

          Doof on the street you care about ride-control much more than maximum traction as long as you have adequate traction.
          You want to be comfortable up to 8/10ths of the bikes’ limit, not uncomfortable up to 9/10ths. Because on the street you’re not going to ride to 9/10ths. The whole point here is that you have to do things to make a sportbike more comfortable to ride on the street which depend on how you intend to ride on the street and where you want the slider to be on the performance meter.

        • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

          no, you don’t choose spring rates to get the proper static sag.
          you choose the spring LENGTH and PRELOAD to get it.

          the spring rate is chosen to give you the proper undamped resonant frequency

          then you choose length and preload to get the desired sag

          this is yet another example of why you’re stuck riding 250s

      • Y.A.

        Spring rates have nothing to do with my gripes. Roads are glass smooth where I live. The problem was the bars. It was the same on my buddy’s R1. After ~30 mins of riding he was fried. And while you can get riser clip ons and lower rear sets, you will never get the ergos to where they are on a bike with bars.

        You can ride a sport bike for hours. Good for you. Again I can deadlift ~450lbs. But 30 mins on a sportbike and I am tapped out. It’s something to consider for a bike anyone plans on riding on the street.

        • SBErules

          “But 30 mins on a sportbike and I am tapped out. It’s something to consider for a bike anyone plans on riding on the street.’

          Ok let me repeat what was said earlier: having ridden an R1 for 6 hours in 90 deg weeather and loved it, it isn’t as simple as “a sportbike with low bars is uncomfortable”. And of course since your roads are glass-smooth you can’t even blame it on the springs, as I mentioned. Because of course, on a glass-smooth road, the springs are not a problem…

          Just a question on the side. Ever use your knees to hold yourself up?

        • CommonSenseSays

          …so use your knees more.

          that’s what you’re supposed to do anyway

          • Y.A.

            Where will I get to ride that fast on the street???

            • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

              40mph or so will be fast enough on an R1 or similar sporty with minimal fairing to take enough of your weight off the bars to ease the discomfort.

              Riding it slow in traffic is the real challenge. 80mph or so you will hardly notice the weight.

              What will always be a challenge is keeping your head up & dealing with the taunt springs.

  • Justin McClintock

    This article makes me want to go get a cheap track bike (maybe an SV for old times sake), a “good value” race suit :-) and about 4 more hours in every day so I could actually have time to use them.

  • dreygata

    I started off, knowing absolutely nothing, on a 97 Yamaha Seca II. I chose that bike because it was comfortable, and conservative with power. Sure it was a 600cc, but it definitely did not have the power of most. My idea (at the time) was that I wanted a bike that I wouldn’t get tired of quickly, and was nimble. I loved that bike, and after riding the heck out of it (in 3 years I put around 7K miles on it), I decided I wanted a newer, more powerful bike. And yes, at this point I was full throttle, dragging pegs, and outrunning my friends on their CBR600RR in the twisties. I originally considered a Yamaha FZ8, but I ended up not liking the way it felt. Went to look at a dealer one day, and found a used 06 Honda 599. After doing my research, I figured out that it was the bike for me. A significant power boost over the Seca, but still not overly powerful, it has given me a smile on my face every time I ride it. I haven’t ridden it nearly as hard, and have much to learn on it, but I am most definitely not disappointed with my purchase. Will I get a bigger bike? Maybe, though being married now has diminished my motorcycling fervor (got to spend money on other things!). If anything, I’ll move up to the 700-900 realm, sticking with standards, but go no further, unless I find a fantastic deal on a Ducati 1200 monster that is…

    • GhostRiderJr

      “I loved that bike, and after riding the heck out of it (in 3 years I put around 7K miles on it)” LOL

      • Piglet2010

        I put that much mileage on my scooter, and twice that on my Deauville in the same amount of time, plus I have three other bikes to occasionally ride. Plus I drive a cage when the roads have snow or ice on them.

        • Paul M Edwards

          I put over 63,000 miles on my 2008 Buell 1125R in 3 years… mostly while living in the Seattle/Tacoma area. And I have pics and maintenance records to prove it.

          I’ve done 125+ in the rain and wheelies in the snow. Wheelies & 135+ (not at the same time) with my wife on the back (she enjoys both occasionally).

          When it got down to 16-22 degrees Fahrenheit during the 2009 Winter, I still rode all week commuting to work 35 miles each direction. Front wheel lost traction on ice in a right-hand turn once which caused quite the puckering brown-eye… Didn’t crash though.

          I rode through Death Valley in November 2008 and rode nearly 4,000 miles in 10 days on an trip in August 2010 to visit my aunt in Bend, Oregon & my dad in SoCal and ride around the fantastic roads. I’ve got pics & video of that as well. Enjoyed it so much that I moved down to SoCal in May 2013.

          Sadly the 1125R now resides under a tarp in the back yard. She developed a slight knock after a maintenance mishap. Breaks my heart…

    • Thomas Høj Jørgensen

      7k is barely more than a set of tires. I put that much on my GS in the last 3 weeks.

  • Ryan Mayo

    Kind of along the lines of how 600′s aren’t starter bikes. Is how hard it is to explain to a laymen that it’s not all about engine size.
    They get confused on how a 600 is too much for a beginner, but a 650 can be a beginner bike. Then you get into engine layouts and then you’ve totally lost them, and they just think you’ll die tmw.

    • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

      a 600 is perfectly fine as a starter bike as long as your concept of a starter bike is bike that you learn to ride on, not a bike that can only do 100 mph in a straight line

  • runnermatt

    “This isn’t a pastime you can buy into, it’s something you have to learn to do.” Great quote, you should put it on RideApart t-shirts.

    Or… the longer version (or some variant of this), “Bikes are cheap, so it’s relatively easy to just decide you want to do this and put whichever bike is king at this moment on your credit card. Doing so is a mistake. This isn’t a pastime you can buy into, it’s something you have to learn to do. That’s where this progression figures in. Identify where you are in it and what your next step should be, with the ultimate goal of actually deserving and being able to ride that ultimate motorcycle.”

    • GhostRiderJr

      Except the only people saying that it isn’t something that you can buy into are those who can’t afford the bikes that people are buying to buy into it.
      And how much do you have to hate on someone to cause them to wreck so you can say “I told you so”?

      • runnermatt

        I disagree with your statement entirely. The first quote is valid for many more things than just motorcycles. Having a nice expensive kitchen doesn’t make you a good cook. Having a expensive camera doesn’t make you a good photographer. Having a powerful, good handling car doesn’t make one a good or fast driver. Having a powerful motorcycle doesn’t make you a skilled rider. Having a race horse doesn’t make one a jockey. Having a top of the line musical instrument doesn’t make a person a good musician. Having nice paints, brushes and canvas doesn’t make someone DaVinci. The guy living on the streets is more likely to be a good artist with a $3 can of spray paint than the wall street banker. Doing something can make a person better at that something. Having money, by itself, does not make a person better at anything.

        The article is about getting better at something and doing so with the tools that not going to scare a person so much that they cannot focus on practicing the things that will make them better. Being able to buy the more expensive bike that enables one to go faster in a straight line does NOT make someone more skilled at controlling a bike.

        • SBErules

          The quote makes no sense whatsoever,

          a) you HAVE to buy into sportbike-riding in some way shape or form. You borrow, you buy or you rent a bike.

          But eventually you have to buy into it. Doesn’t matter how you get there.

          b) the whole issue is someone trying to tell everyone else what it takes to be a sportbike-rider.

          It has nothing to do with who is a GOOD sportbike rider. Just who is and who is not a sportbike rider.

        • CommonSenseSays

          Look, seriously, your comment is nothing but a string of non-sequiturs. The fact that any given fact that you state is indeed a fact doesn’t make it relevant to your initial claim, much less supportive of it. Second you ignore facts that ARE relevant and that DISPROVE your claim. e.g. having a nice expensive kitchen doesn’t mean that you are NOT a good cook. You don’t need an expensive camera to be a good photographer but the fact that you are not a good photographer doesn’t mean that you can’t rationally justify having an expensive camera and make good use of one. You’re just spewing out facts that do not at all support your argument while ignoring all the facts that disprove it.

          The bottom line is that motorcycle-riding is a pastime which a) you MUST buy into at some level and b) you HAVE to learn how to do safely in order to do it legally. Beyond that, when it comes to buying any particular bike, whether it is a “mistake” or what type of mistake and at what level is entirely up to the observer to decide. You have an opinion on that, I have one, and the guy who actually bought the bike has an opinion on it. But the fact is that these are all just opinions and only one opinion actually matters: that of the guy who bought the bike. Everything else here is nothing more than an attempt to get around that by establishing a groundswell of support for that opinion through a quasi-democratic method (honed through modding-away people who don’t agree with it).

          There is nothing that you can say that changes this simple fact: racing motorcycles on the track is one thing, and riding them on the street is another. There is little if any overlap between the two. There have been and there will continue to be people who never ride on the track, never have and never will, and who ride safely each and every time they ride. There is absolutely nothing that says that you need to buy cheap bikes and learn to get “the most” out of them on the track before buying a fast sportbike other than the author of this article and evey fool that agrees with him. Even the guys who ride up and down Mulholland know that there are so
          many bikes and cars riding there that the risk of an unplanned excursion
          off into the gravel due to some unexpected variable is very slight
          simply because there are so many people out there to warn them.

          There are plenty of experienced riders and some top-level racers who have given up street-riding simply because there are too many variables in riding on the street, even more so than riding on the track. They are quite aware that the most dangerous combination is mixing speed (not to mention “high lean angles” as some here need, to enjoy riding) with the street. You will never be good enough for that to be really safe.

          Enough of this nonsense already.
          There are a million people out there with Panigales and HP4s and all sorts of expensive, fast sportbikes who have never been on a track and never will be. Even more who if they do go on a track they will ride it just for the experience of riding on a track at least ONCE, like an adventure-tour. But they have no intention of concerning themselves with laptimes or “getting the most out of their bike”. This is just nonsense unless you want to think of yourself as some modern-day Steve McQueen, James Hunt on a motorcycle. The rest of us will be happy buying & riding expensive, fast bikes at 25% to 50% of their capability, with the occasional excursion up to maybe 65%. All on the street. Without cutting a single track-lap, or taking a single track-class. You want to ride at 9/10ths go knock yourself out. We’ll be waiting for the tweeted shots of you lying in traction or hobbling on two broken ankles.

    • Piglet2010

      “…actually deserving and being able to ride that ultimate motorcycle.”

      Pays well too – Marquez will be able to ask Honda for a wheelbarrow full of gold coins when his contract comes up for renewal.

  • runnermatt

    Your friends want you to upgrade because they see you beating them on your 250 and are embarrassed. IF your were riding a 600 as least they could argue for their pride.

    Or they may just be curious about how much faster you would be on a 600.

    Either way, do your thing. It sounds like you are the type of person that when a person tries to convince you to do something you already don’t want to do it only makes you NOT want to do it more. Welcome to the club, I’m the same way.

  • Piglet2010

    On the other hand, the only difference in a RC390 sold in Europe and in the US will be the turn signals, added side reflectors, and labeling/placarding – hardly a major investment.

    • Stuki

      In order not to get a bad rep in the US, dealers far and wide needs to be equipped to service the bikes. Introducing a new model here, is a bigger deal than in Iceland.

      • Piglet2010

        Does not seem to bother Piaggio.

        Oh wait, that is the biggest reason not to buy anything from Piaggio.

        But KTM is not far behind Piaggio in disrespecting the customer.

  • Sefton

    I ride everything, from trials, to enduro, to probably my favorite supermoto, to older 2nd tier superbikes..

    One thing this set of advice misses is the simple ergonomics.. I am not a giant, but at 6’3″ plus, yes I can ride the CB500s in an upright style, but put me onto a street triple or many of those compact supersport 600s and its super compact form factor is limiting, my upper body is pitched too far forward and weight distribution just feels wrong.

    I totally agree the dont bite off more than you can chew line here, I have a lot more fun hooning a slower bike that I feel I can dominate a bit than being scared or on a knife edge on a more capable one, but the form factor progression isnt so simple for guys over 6 ft..

    • Paul M Edwards

      At 6’2″ I can agree with this sentiment.
      I find my 2008 Buell 1125R to be the most comfortable sportbike I’ve ever ridden with perfect ergonomics for humans of our stature. I rode nearly 4,000 miles in 10 days with no aches or pains.

    • CommonSenseSays

      You’re mixing apples and oranges.

      Engine displacement has nothing to do with ergonomics.

      • Sefton

        Really ?? Care to explain why my 250 super moto is smaller than my DRZ400 super moto, which in turn is smaller than my LC4 KTM 640 super moto ?? Or you really think how a ninja 650 or street triple isnt smaller than a z1000 or speed triple ?? Every super sport 600 I have thrown a leg over is smaller than superbike ergonomics. Here is asia we have old 400 sortbikes from the Japan imports, CBR400s the RC35 NVR 400 etc. Great starter sportbikes, for anyone 5’10″ and under.

        Yes size is ergonomics and engine displacement isnt size.. But is very general terms larger displacement bikes are an easier fit for larger riders.

        • DogDayz

          Because it’s designed for a smaller, lighter rider…because it’s a 250 not a 400?
          Same for the 640 vs the 400?
          Hm. Let me roll that idea around in my head for a while.
          (5 minutes later)

          Yep. Still makes sense.
          Doesn’t mean that the BIKE has to be smaller just because the ENGINE is smaller in displacement.
          I can take that 400cc engine and put it in a big frame, just as I could take that Ninja 650 engine and put it in a small frame.
          All depends on what you’re designing the bike for.

          You may not know this but there is a 450cc class in WERA that now takes 600cc sportbikes running on 3 cylinders.
          Just so people don’t have to ride bikes with small engines AND small frames.

        • CommonSenseOnWheels

          “in very general terms” as in “if you ignore the frequent examples where it isn’t true…”

          • Sefton

            So what frequent examples then ??

            Which 600 supersports are larger than their 1000cc sibling ?? Or what 250 is larger than the 600 ??

            I am 192 cm and 105 – 110 kg.. Heavy on the shoulders and upper body.. Put me on a 250cc or the 400cc japan spec sportbikes and its like a circus chimp on a mini scoot.

            • HatersWillHate

              that’s because the average 250cc rider isn’t as big as you are, so the bikes aren’t designed for someone your size.
              There’s a big difference between the bike being designed for someone who is 5’2″ and the bike will only fit someone who is 5’2″.

              And yet again between the bike “tailored” to short riders and a bike that IS short. I.E. has a short wheelbase.
              You’re that far out side the human norm, you might have to get a custom seat and custom bars to be even close to comfortable.
              There’s not much you can do about the pegs other than move the levers as well. Though probably some mechanical-linkage would allow you to move them forward and back, or a shift-paddle arrangement on the handlebars, double brake levers like stunters use, etc.

              But the literal DISPLACEMENT does not affect this. It’s a DESIGN issue.

              • Sefton

                Your basically arguing by saying exactly what I am saying.. ‘for guys over 6 ft’ the choices are not so simple. ergonomics is not displacement, but at the same time in very general terms, the larger displacement machines have larger cockpits and accommodate guys at 190 cm and over much easier. I am sure there are exceptions but thats the general pattern. I am far more comfortable, and generally ‘fit’ bigger capacity bikes much easier than I do smaller ones.

                That isnt an argument to go out and jump on a mega horsepower literbike but that top heavy sensation where my upper body it pitched about and harder to maintain a well balanced control position is real on sat a triumph street triple or 695 monster. You just need to find where you feel right, what works for you, and let your learning (which mine is still a long long way from trackday champ) work at a speed thats suited to you. I also think the bike press is responsible for pushing higher displacement bikes and ‘the fastest’ as the ultimate desire point for every rider, when fun, control, useability count much more in real world terms for me.

                Still waiting to hear which of the ‘frequent examples’ the smaller displacement bike is physically larger than its literbike sibling.. Maybe not so ‘frequent’ as posted ??

          • Sefton

            So what frequent examples do you want to suggest then.. In what family or brand of sportbikes is the 600 not physically smaller than the 1000 ?? ZX ?? z ?? CBR ?? Etc etc..

  • SpringfieldFatts .

    a self-professed Neophyte. After riding on a cruiser for two years I picked up
    a CBR500R and fell in love with riding all over again. I already feel more
    confident and capable than I ever did, but my local problem is finding a decent
    road to start advancing my skillset. North Florida isn’t exactly known for its
    twisties, and the only tracks near me are a dirt one and a drag strip, neither are of use to me (though one day a dirtbike would be cool).

  • Don Fraser

    Fogarty said that the 1199 is too much bike for him, ’nuff said.

    • SBErules

      if it was enough said then why did you feel the need to repeat it

  • Kevin Harris

    Here’s an example of another great article that does a huge service to the sport/hobby and may even save lives. No pilot jumps immediately into an F/A-18 Hornet from scratch. Nobody goes from a Cessna C-172 directly into the Hornet either. After the Cessna you learn on a high performance prop, then transistion to a jet trainer, and finally the Hornet. Could a few guys go from the Cessna to the high perfomance aircraft? Maybe, but they would never be as skilled as those that went the proper training route.

    • taba

      You learn to ski on the bunny hill, not the double black diamond slope.

      • CommonSenseSays

        You don’t learn how to ski, for real, on a bunnyhill.
        You can’t learn how to ski moguls on a bunny-hill.
        You can’t learn how to do jumps on a bunny-hill.

        You’re talking about gliding and skid-turns.

        That’s not real skiiing.

        And we are not talking about doing acrobatics, air to air combat and instrument-flying in a twin-turbojet figher-aircraft, here.

        And we are not talking about racing a Panigale on the track, here.

        The problem is that so many people here keep bringing up these irrelevant facts all while ignoring the fact that racing a motorcycle on the track is the antithesis of safe street-riding which is supposedly the point of this article. Supposedly!

        From the gist of the comments that the forum-mod chooses to leave up here you would think that the point of this whole article is to talk about the best way to become a WSBK or AMA Superbike rider, NOT how to learn to ride a 1200cc sportbike safely on the street!

        Now here’s the one other fact that so many people here want to ignore.

        You get a motorcycle license, the state has said that you are a safe street rider of any street-legal motorcycle.

        It doesn’t say “you are a safe street rider of 250s”.
        any street-legal motorcycle

        The license that all the Ride Apart writers who live in California hold in their hand says that they are just as safe as anyone taking the test right now on a 125, as long as they pass it. And that they are just as capable of walking into a Ducati dealership and riding out on a 1200 Panigale “safely” as anyone else here is. Just as your AMA pro license says that you are a safe racer despite your numerous wrecks and your extensive medical history and bike-repair bill.

        You may not want to accept that. You may not want to believe that.

        You may want to delete that everytime you see it.

        But that’s the truth.

        Deal with it.

        • taba

          Common sense argues against progressive learning and believes the State all-knowing?

          • CommonSenseSays

            Come on, that’s not “dealing with the realities of the situation”, now, is it.

            That’s just more wishful-thinking.

            Time to grow up, Mikey.

          • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

            I don’t think that is what was said.
            it may be what you wish was said, but it wasn’t.

  • Christopher Murdock

    I’ve already decided I’m skipping the liter super bike and going for the 675R for my next step up.

  • SBErules

    …seriously, give up on this whole anti-literbike thing, and just teach people how to learn how to ride the literbikes they want to buy.
    It just isn’t that hard. Because it’s basically the same way you’d learn how to ride any other bike.
    No need to buy a series of slower, cheaper bikes. Just learn how to ride properly.

    Stop worrying about the size of the engine or the weight of the bike and just teach people how to ride the bike of their choice well.
    The concerns are the same regardless

    Or is it too boring to stop hating on a bike because of the label you put on it, and to actually talk instead about the technical skills related to riding?.

  • Thorsten Wanoth

    Pretty cool article and it hits the nail on the spot – less power and weight sometimes equates to more riding speed, lean angle and enjoyment overall. You don’t need that much power to go fast through corners and a well sorted 80′s BMW airhead with skinny tires will be faster than a GSX R 750 with a slow rider trying to go fast. The enjoyment lies in knowing how to ride a “slow” bike real fast. It takes a few years of practice but is ultimately supremely enjoyable. Go Fast Take Chances (Steve Groves)

    • CommonSenseSays

      By definition, a slow bike cannot be ridden “fast” not to mention “really fast”.

      That statement is on the Top 10 list of Motorcycling Oxymorons.

      • Brian

        okay, then instead of “riding a slow bike fast” how’s “doing more with less” or “getting more of the total potential out of the machine” since in the context of the subject matter they are all amounting to the same thing.

  • Duke

    GREAT article – yet another great reminder for noobs like myself that I’ve got a long, long way to go before I park an RSV4 in the driveway.

    I’m at the point now where I’m starting to think about my “first big bike.” Maybe another season with the FZ6R, and I’ve signed up for California Superbike this fall. Could the Ducati Hypermotard SP fit that role? The Street is a great bike but a little small for me size-wise for me. And until Yamaha starts putting ABS in their street bikes, I’ll be looking elsewhere. I love the look of the Hypermotard (believe it or not) and with TC, ABS, and riding modes, I figured it would be something to grow into. Thoughts?

  • CommonSenseSays

    “GREAT article – yet another great reminder for noobs like myself that
    I’ve got a long, long way to go before I park an RSV4 in the driveway.”

    Or you can just accept the fact that all motorcycles are basically the same. They come with two wheels and a motor, and once you get moving your risks of getting into an accident are all based on how well you restrain yourself. A slow bike is just as dangerous as a fast bike if you don’t ride it safely. So why would you swing a leg over a bike, start it up and ride off thinking that you’ve got a long long way to go to become a safe rider?

    If you can ride a Ninja 250 safely then why can’t you ride a 1200cc Panigale safely?
    Don’t tell me the Panigale is too heavy, it weighs 50lbs more than a Ninja 250.
    Don’t tell me it has too much power, it makes virtually no power off-idle just like a 250.
    Yes it makes 195hp at redline, But redline on a Panigale is north of 10,000rpm.
    And as long as a Panigale is geared, you have no reason to run it anywhere near redline on the street.

    If you know how to ride one bike safely then you should be able to ride just about any other bike safely, as long as it is at-all safe to ride.
    Anyone who advises you to not buy a bike that is safe to ride because it is too dangerous is probably not a safe rider themselves.

  • CommonSenseSays

    …Wes, a question for you.

    Does your favorite lie become true simply because you delete the real truth?

    Does the truth suddenly become false simply because it’s too long and complicated for you to read?

    How do you think that you’re doing your readership any favors by deleting all the sensible comments here simply because we don’t agree with you?

    Fine, so Eddie Lawson and Kenny Roberts Jr. may have taken some lessons on their way to becoming multiple World Champions.
    That does not mean at all that it is a good idea to buy a succession of cheap bikes and “learn to get the most of them” on the track.

    Whether your end-goal is to buy a 1200cc Panigale (which…you advocated against just a week ago) or not.

    The point is that riding on the track especially riding to the limit involves large risk and you should know that better than most here, typing your articles with just one hand. And you could just as easily say that the skill that you acquire through racing doesn’t transfer well to the street because it leads you to ride faster on the street than is safe. Just as having a powerful bike would, so does having a lot of skill. So the same logic that leads to you arguing against people buying expensive and fast bikes for the street also leads against buying bikes of any sort and racing them on the track. You are hoist by your own petard. Because “risk” is risky, regardlss of how you get there.

    The main issue with riding safely on the street is to learn how to ride conservatively.

    That is a talent that everyone who rides on the street needs to develop to ride safely.

    Unfortunately some will never develop that because they think they are too talented to ride conservatively

    and some will feel that it isn’t worth riding in the first place, if they have to ride conservatively.

    But that is no different for any vehicle or any pasttime, really.

    If you get your jollies out of skirting the edge, then get ready to fall over it and suffer the consequences.
    Cause you skirt the edge often enough for long enough, you are going to fall over it.
    But if you have enough common sense to ride conservatively on the street when conditions call for it,

    then there is no reason that you can’t ride even a superbike safely on the street.
    Same as driving a supercar on the street.

    And yeah, you most certainly can “buy-into” that lifestyle.
    Or you can evaluate people as riders and drivers by how scraped-up their car or bike is,

    and how many stories they can tell you about their surgeries and hospital-stays.

    Now delete that and see if it suddenly becomes untrue.

  • StigRossi

    Yes NO ONE other than a racer can approach the limits of a new 600, even journos can’t. This doesn’t mean however that no one should buy a litrebike! I know thats not the point of the article (which was v. well researched and written) but its an important one. I’ve done a few trackdays, CSS, and I lived in Ireland for the past few years where I rode my Multistrada 1000SDS every day of the year. I am back living in N America now, and looking for a bike. Rode a 675 but had naff-all torque and didn’t give me that ‘shove’ that the Multi did, so now am looking at 1000s (the GSXR750 i test rode did give me that shove however).

    I think if someone lives near twisty roads or does a lot of trackdays then yes, it makes a difference what bike you start on and how slowly you go up through the ranks. For most Americans though, living in a city or around straight roads, I personally don’t think it makes a difference whether they started on a 250 or a 600, and I only came to this opinion recently, after a decade of riding.

  • BrandNewGoFastBits

    The more trackdays you ride and the more that you drag knees on the
    street, the more that you worry about better laptimes or chickenstrips
    or maximizing your lean-angles instead of just enjoying the ride and
    getting home safely, the more bones you will break, the less you will
    think that riding is a good idea at all despite your painfully-acquired
    skills and the more likely you will end-up with a garage full of
    expensive tricked-out bikes that you never ride, expensive new go-fast
    parts that you never actually install and expensive old beat-up parts
    that you’ve pulled off wrecked bikes but couldn’t stand to throw out.
    Plus a lot of great pics and videos of your racing days, your crashes,
    injuries, surgeries and rehabilitations plus pics and stories of the
    friend or two that died racing with you. If you’re lucky you’ll still be
    able to stand up and walk over to the mantlepiece where you keep your
    one or two WERA amateur trophies and actually dust them off. Now I’m not
    saying that this means that you should buy a literbike, but saying that
    no one should buy a literbike because it’s better to keep “maximizing
    your performance” on cheap 600s is just stupid.

    WHATEVER you buy, you should learn to ride safely, and “safe riding” does not mean “getting the most out of it”.
    Either on the track or the street.
    That’s the bottom-line.

    don’t let the fact that you hate on literbikes and literbike-owners
    make you do stupid crap on smaller bikes and then talk stupid crap about
    how great they are and how bad literbikes are and how literbike-riders
    are not good riders. People do a lot of bad things out of negativity
    taken to extremes. But that is its own punishment. Stupid is as stupid
    has done and said stupid crap.

  • DogDayz

    dude your comment makes no sense at all. You might be the best 250 rider on Mulholland.
    The moment you talk about buying a 675 (not to mention an 899 and then a 1200 panigale) you say that riding a 250 means nothing.
    But it’s like you don’t hear yourself saying that, and keep right on talking.

  • DogDayz

    any “quest” to be the fastest that you can be on the road is suicidal

    and any “quest” to be the fastest that you can be on the track doesn’t go through a 1200 Panigale

  • DogDayz

    …right, so to you it makes perfect sense to go to a track and regularly “grind pegs” just so you don’t “freak out” the odd time it happens on the street. That’s your idea of logic?

  • DogDayz

    when you routinely go through and delete comments that point out the numerous logical and factual errors in the posts that support your article

    You turn this site into a political statement, not a free forum for motorcycle-discussion. You destroy your own credibility by doing that. Or should I say, your remaining credibility. You have reduced yourself to a motorcyclist who wishes to have his cake and eat it too.

    You promote buying high-powered sportbikes and riding them on both track and street in a reckless manner, while claiming that it is ok and indeed a good thing because you’ve taken a lot of classes and ridden a lot of sportbikes, and that because you are so well-trained such riding is no longer reckless.

    That’s crazy-talk, man.
    Overconfidence combined with a lack of caution is even worse in an expert than it is in a noob. At least the noob isn’t likely to be riding so fast when they wreck.
    Now you cay say, “oh, just buy more bikes before you get that Panigale, and ride them harder and longer, and take more lessons”.

    That doesn’t change the basic problem, in fact it will make the basic problem worse. Overconfidence is not an absolute thing, it is relative. But a lack of proper caution *IS* absolute. You put the two together and you have an overconfident expert displaying a lack of proper caution on the street. That is exactly the kind of rider that has so many people pushing to get bikes banned in the first place.

    We expect inexperienced riders to wreck, that goes with the territory. The type of riding that you are promoting is the type of riding that says no matter how much experience a rider have, no matter how high their skill-level, they will always be a terror on the street.

    You sound just like those a-holes down in Florida who say you should practice stunting in parking-lots and side-streets so that when you go out and do it on the highway and in traffic you’re much less likely to wreck. And then they go and wreck anyway because they are overconfident, they overestimate the chance that they can stunt safely, and they stunt when they shouldn’t be stunting, trying to pull stunts that they can’t quite pull off. It’s all the same.

    The basic lesson is that you do not stunt and you do not race on the street. Period.
    Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding…doesn’t matter how many lessons you’ve taken.
    You’ve got enough trouble staying up on your bike riding normal.
    You don’t need to add to your trouble by stunting and racing.
    And that is what being a good street-rider is all about.

  • CommonSenseOnWheels

    I’m not seeing how that makes any sense whatsoever.

    If you freak-out just because you grind pegs, then what difference does it make whether you’re riding at the limit on the street or on the track? You’re still going to freak-out. That’s the assumption. At the limit, which is assumed by the fact that you’re grinding pegs.

    Your opinion assumes that you will manage flipping-out at the limit on the track, but not manage flipping-out at the limit on the street.
    In other words you assume that a rider will not crash if they grind pegs on the track but they will crash if they grind pegs on the street.

    Let me explain something to you. That makes no sense at all.

    Beyond that you are saying that a street-rider should go ride on a track AT THE LIMIT in order to better-manage riding on the street.

    • Piglet2010

      Not only are you rude, but your interpretation of what I wrote is wrong. Most likely you are an old “friend” who nym-shifted and are now creating a straw-man.

      • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

        feel free to correct it if you feel that it is wrong
        you would any other time

        • Piglet2010

          You really must like creating new Disqus accounts.

          • HatersWillHate

            it’s gotta be fun otherwise why would you have done it at all
            anyone paying you to post online?

  • CheerySmilesAndLaughter

    Ok I’ve read enough of the nonsense on this site to realize what is really going on here.

    What you have here is a lot of “opinonating”.

    A lot of people speaking about their hopes and dreams as if they were actually true.
    A lot of “The View” style talking. Yap yap yap and shout-down anyone who disagrees with or challenges the Conventional Wisdom.

    From now on, people. Show me some hard data that actually backs up what you say or spare me the hot air.

    I won’t say “facts” since facts can obviously be stretched or interpreted to suit, or ignored.

    But at least some hard data.

    Don’t let it all come down to how well you convince people to believe your opinion, even if preying on their ignorance, illogic, bias, fear and prejudice was necessary to do it.

    Show me some actual hard data that backs up what you claim to be true.

    Enough of the BS already.
    Be rational motorcyclists. Not a bunch of old ladies in leather pants.

    • TheTruthIsOutThere

      Much as I suspected, didn’t even last 24 hrs.

      The data that I put up from the superbike/supersport comparison at Chuckwalla

      shows that an average amateur is much faster on a literbike than
      on a 600 even on a tight track, even giving the 600s a tire advantage.
      Even without rider-aids, as the Gixxer, Honda and Yamaha tested (the R1
      didn’t have TC in 2011, I’m not sure the 10R had it then either) do not
      have them. On the other hand an expert rider is slightly faster on a 600
      in the same conditions.

      It’s just amazing that you put up actual data on this site and it instantly gets deleted.

      Anything that interferes with the Prevailing Wisdom as determined by the All-Knowing writers and mods here, “boom” goodbye

  • HatersWillHate

    Well I guess that this will be deleted within the next 24 hrs as “haters will hate” but for now let’s attempt to inject some objective data into this discussion.

    Amazingly back in 2011 the intrepid journalists at did actually test 600s and literbikes from a wide range of mfgs on the same track with the same riders, within the same timeframe. They did not publish all the same data for each bike (the 600 test showed a little more data) and they did not quite use the same tires (the 600s got Dunlop racing slicks, the literbikes only got Micheline Power Pures).

    Anyone want to take bets on what the tests showed?

    Ok I know you’re holding your breath in suspense so let me just post some summary data.
    If you want to see the test results and writeups just go to their site and search on their 2011 supersport and superbike shootouts.

    Let the BS begin.

  • Davidabl2

    re the venerable SV Wes wrote: “look for the faired “S” model for its slightly more sport-oriented riding position. With it, you’ll be better able to work towards sport body position” Much the same effect can be had on a “naked” Sv by getting one that has the SuburbanMachinery bars:

  • S Jackson

    i started on a panigale r its been fun so far