Motorman’s Tips, Tricks, and Techniques – Moving up to a bigger bike
I often hear from women riders wishing to move up from their present motorcycle, anywhere from a 250cc to a 1200cc ride, to a full-size tourer. Their question is, “can I handle the heavier bike?” This is an impossible question for me to answer since I don’t know their skill level.
If you’re a skilled rider, in other words, you know the proper techniques, the extra weight of a touring bike won’t make a bit of difference. For proof, you can watch any of my Ride Like a Pro videos. In those videos, you’ll see several tiny women on the biggest touring bikes, handling them with ease.
However, if you’re riding a Sportster now and can’t make a simple U-turn without duck walking the bike around, then you’re certainly not ready for a 900-lb. touring bike. By the way, this goes for men as well as women. If you can’t ride well on the bike you have now, getting a bigger, heavier, bike will make things worse, not better.
Keep in mind also that having the ability to ride straight down the road at 50 or 60mph does not make you a skilled rider. Just because you can start off from a stop without stalling and falling over and accelerate to highway speeds means very little.
You also need to be able to lean, turn, swerve, and stop quickly. Without those skills, you’re just a crash looking for a place to happen. With that said, assuming you can handle your current ride with skill and comfort and you don’t have to start duck walking your bike around as soon as your speed drops below 20mph, you could be ready for a heavier, more comfortable bike.
So, what motorcycle would I recommend for you? Again, it’s difficult to say. But, let’s assume most of your riding consists of 75 to 150-mile day rides with a group of friends and only an occasional 300 to 500-mile ride, you really don’t need a 900-lb. tourer.
A good choice would be a Harley Dyna Switchback or any of the Dyna models. I mention the Switchback because it comes standard with hard-bags and a windshield. The other Dyna models would have to have these items added at extra cost. Unfortunately, the Switchback production stopped in 2016. The good news, plenty of dealers have leftover 2016 models that I’m sure they’d like to move.
The Harley Dyna models are much lighter than the FLH Harleys and handle low speeds, where most riders have problems, with ease. In other words, the Dyna models are very nimble at low speeds, lower to the ground and offer almost as much highway comfort as the bigger bikes and are available with ABS which is a life saver.
Over the past few months I’ve had several riders come to my class on Dyna’s, most of them women. They tend to pick up the proper techniques much faster than riders on the heavier touring bikes. If you’re not stuck on cruiser type motorcycles, there are many other choices available from BMW, Triumph, etc. There are many Japanese cruisers available in the 1300cc range, however, none offer ABS as an option yet. Whereas Harley, BMW, and Triumph do offer that option. Rumor has it that in 2018, all motorcycles must have ABS as standard equipment, but for now, it’s just a rumor.
If you’re not aware what ABS is, it’s Anti-Lock-Brakes. With ABS, if the bike is straight up, you can apply maximum braking force on any surface without skidding or locking up the tires. This is a life saver for even highly skilled riders. For the average rider, I consider ABS mandatory equipment.
Till next month, get out there and practice!
Copyright 2017 Jerry “Motorman” Palladino