The Right Stuff

Feb 15, 2014 View Comments by

The Right StuffI’ve owned around forty motorcycles over the years, and recently found myself reflecting on the thought process involved in selecting the bikes I’ve purchased. A definite pattern has emerged, especially when factoring in the length of time that the bikes were kept.

I’d like to say that the purchase of my favorite bikes were the result of painstaking research and careful review of the bike’s features resulting in the most logical choice for my particular needs. And yes, research is a large part of the initial process that helps immensely in narrowing the field of potential candidates.

But there’s one thing that spec sheets can’t tell me, and that’s how the bike is going to feel when I throw it into a turn or twist the throttle, and that is what I nearly always base my final decision on. If the rider/bike connection is missing or weak, I know I’ll never really be satisfied with the motorcycle, and will probably sell it fairly soon. Every time I’ve allowed someone else’s advice to override my own opinion when picking a bike, my ownership of the bike has been short-lived.

It’s interesting how a seat-of-the-pants riding impression can completely contradict spec sheets and even the viewpoints of other riders about a bike. I’ve ridden several motorcycles with reputations of being very quick, only to find that poor throttle response, vibration, or even a strong throttle return spring degrades the “feel” of the bike. Conversely, bikes with strong torque output at low rpm and crisp throttle response can feel much more powerful than they actually are. For most of us, a seat-of-the-pants impression of a bike has much more bearing on how happy we’ll be with it than actual performance figures. We like bikes that mesh with our personal riding style and dislike the ones that fight it.

So should the spec sheet data and reviews be ignored? No, they offer valuable information and help to eliminate bikes with glaring deficiencies from your potential purchase list. But when it comes down to plunking down the money for a new motorcycle, ultimately trust yourself to make the right decision based on the way it feels while you’re on it. Pick the right one, and it will occupy a corner of your garage for years or even decades. If it feels right, it is right…for you, and I’ve found it best not to over-think that decision.


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