Originally posted by Wet Shrub
Is it just me, or do you know a lot of people that are new to the sport of motorcycle riding (young people 35 yrs old or younger) that make the decision to buy a motorcycle and then they go out and buy a cruiser (harley, Honda, whatever)? You find out a short time later that they are totally unsatisfied with their cruiser, or have already sold it and bought a sport bike.
A lot of folks don’t have any idea how they really plan on using their bikes when they buy ‘em. Everybody that comes to me for advice gets the following:
1. First and foremost, you need to decide how you plan to use your bike, both now and in the future!
Are you just going to cruise ‘round town on Sundays, enjoy it for it’s performance (still close to home), or can you see yourself taking trips on it in the future?
2. Now that you think you’ve decided, look at the bikes designed/made for the type of use to which you (think you) plan to put your bike.
Most newbies I’ve encountered look at a cruiser and think that laid back position looks comfy. I used to do a lot of training and dabbled in racing (road) bicycles, and I tell ‘em I try to get my motorcycles to fit me kinda like my bicycles. While the laid back position may look comfy, if you plan to spend a lot of time on your bike (trips, etc), they may very well find that laid back position painful down the road. A bicycle may look uncomfortable (and when you first get on one it is) but are these guys in the Tour de France really gonna ride an uncomfortable bicycle 2500 miles?
My motorcycles/bicycles are set up to spread my weight (approximately) evenly between my legs, butt/back, and wrists/arms. As on a bicycle, if you fine-tune your seating position to spread the load among these 3 points, you’ll find you can travel longer/more comfortably. I point out to ‘em that on a cruiser, your arms/legs are going to be pretty much uselss, and unless you’re laying back on your sleeping bag, your back & butt are going to support most of your body weight. Every bit of road shock is going to travel through your lower back as it heads up your spine. As with my old original 750/4 Honda, after a while, it feels like someone has their thumb stuck in your lower back, and it really becomes irritating. If you have the load spread with a slightly forward seating position, you can use your arms and legs as springs, unlike a laid back cruiser.
Based on the above, bikes like the Concours (with original low bars), the 6R/CBR F4, etc fit me really well and allow me to cover long distances on back roads with relative comfort. Bikes like the GSXR (while nice for short/track use) place too much weight on the wrists for me to consider them, based on my intended use of the bike.
BTW, I once read that studies showed the first thing a person did in the showroom was give a bike’s seat the ‘finger test’ (we’ve all done it). They walk up to a bike, press on the seat with their fingers, and if it feels soft to the touch, they pronounce it ‘comfy’. Bike manufacturers reportedly used this info to design seats that felt good to the touch, only for the owner to later find that what passes the five-finger test flattens out and becomes really irritating 100 or so miles down the road, after you’ve planted your full bodyweight on it!
So…after my little primer on bikes/seating, they usually go out and buy what the hell they had planned to before our conversation!
After all, most folks don’t spend their lives trying to learn, but rather trying to justify that which they already believe! Usually turns out they were coming to ya for affirmation of their pre-made choice, and don’t wanna be confused with facts!
I’ve found that as they really get into motorcycling, a lot of these folks that originally bought cruisers find they don’t work real well once they tire of riding ‘round town, and decide they want to stretch their legs a bit with some road trips. I think these are the ones you usually see ending up on something else shortly after their original purchase decision.