Big bikes vs. Small Bikes

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mikem9, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    I'd be inclined to agree. The simple fact that my dad, whose most recent dirt riding experience was in the 70s on a 2-stroke 100cc Kawasaki, was able to make it without incident on an overloaded GL1500, shows that the road wasn't all that tough. But it was nerve-wracking on a low-clearance street bike because of the potential for catastrophic engine damage just from smacking a rock. The higher clearance of the big GS would have eliminated that worry and made the ride that much more fun; the lower weight of the "little" GS would have been even better, at least for my low skill level in unpaved riding.
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  2. Hawk62cj5

    Hawk62cj5 2 Cheap 4 a KLR

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    I have a super sherpa 250 and the only time I wish for a bigger bike is when my wife or son says something about riding 2up. But just for me I Dont see really needing a bigger bike,unless I get a job where I commute on the interstate with it then I would get a 650
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  3. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    Full acceleration isn't that risky, even on a 200hp bike.
    Full lean, sliding over both tyres, on a 15hp bike, on the other hand...
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  4. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    ...is the fun of riding a small bike! (manageable and recoverable):wink:
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  5. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    Full acceleration on a 200hp bike will loop it, unless you have TCS and then its not full acceleration. Big bikes can't be ridden properly.

    Never got both wheels sliding, on modern road tyres I am not sure it is possible on bitumen.

    Most riders crash from the fear of entering a corner to fast, then target fixate off the road, that is more likely to happen on a big bike.
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  6. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Gnarly old curmudgeon

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    My definition of the ideal adventure bike would be the smallest bike (in weight and power) that can safely keep up with traffic on the fastest road you plan to travel on. Obviously the answer will be very different if your trip is mostly interstate highways than if it is dirt and quiet back roads

    Anyone who has ridden much serious dirt knows that picking up and/or pushing your bike will be part of the routine, and heavy is ALWAYS bad when that happens. Less power can mean far better throttle control when the going gets really rough and nearly always means much better fuel economy for more range.

    We argue mainly because our definitions of what constitutes "adventure" are so different.
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  7. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    On a fast bike it's manageable and recoverable as well, maybe more so because of said better parts you often get. The good thing about big bikes is, they offer additional, less dangerous ways to have fun.

    The S1000 and Pani only in 1st gear, the ZZR-1400 and the Hayabusa won't flip. What you call "not full acceleration" is much more than the small bikes are able to do at all. What a twisted definition of "ride properly" do you have? Every bike can be ridden properly.

    Was a damp November morning and I was late for school.
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  8. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

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    Last year, I took a DS ride with a very experienced off-road rider. After a pretty rough stretch of dirt, rocks, streams and ruts, the guy asked me what I thought of my GSA. His expression made it clear he thought I would hate my bike at that point.

    "I love it!!!" He looked baffled. How could I love a 600 pound beast for riding those kinds of roads?

    It is simple. I don't own the bike to ride that kind of road. I own it to ride twisties, super slab, commuting, in-town, highways and everything else 12 months of the year. I ride when it is cold, hot, wet and anything short of snow and ice. My GSA is VERY comfortable in all those conditions but I can still take it off-road if the mood strikes me. Yes, it is hard work and there are better bikes off road, but there isn't one that is better on road that still allows me to push the limits when I feel like it.

    So for me, I will take the big and heavy bike because my priorities are not the few times I get a wild hair to go off road. I still want to ride off road every now and then and the GSA will do it but is far more comfortable the rest of the time than a light bike.
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  9. luckychucky

    luckychucky Long timer

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    [​IMG] Perfect for getting you there with it's high gear ratio, then switch it to low for some 2 stroke madness in the woods. As long as you stay in your corner of the world, if you want to cross continents, better have a long time and lots of secondary roads. Right?
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  10. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

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    I have had many dual sport bikes, from a KE100 to a KLR650 (first gen) all Japanese. My XT225 easily bests all of them. It is not completely stock, it did require some suspension mods to handle my weight and riding style (I'm a bit on the heavy side for a 225) but it is by far the best street legal bike I have ever ridden off pavement. The KLR650 makes a good dirt road bike, as long as it is fairly smooth.
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  11. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    if you have a bike that you cant open the accelerator it cant be ridden properly

    i did also say moden tyres. Your experience back in the 40s is no longer relevant
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  12. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    I want to be able to see you use all that power on a snowy commute like I can!:rofl
    I'm only baiting you with this to see how you rationalize having so much gross power when it's slippery outside. :wink:
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  13. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    That kind of sums me up on the Kawasaki KLX line up. I have a 650 that was for a long time my only street ride and I got it because it was simply a blast to ride a bike like that on the eastern Ohio dirt/gravel back roads and an occasional decent easy trail. It is far too heavy for any kind of serious single track for me.

    I now have bought and need to pick up a KLX250. My intent now is to put 17s on the 650 and run it mainly on roads with occasional dirt/gravel and use the 250 for dirt/gravel and actual dual sporting. My brother got a 250 that I test rode before he bought it and I was sold. It was like riding a bicycle compared to the 650 and any road bike.

    If I was riding tip to tip of the Americas I'd be on a 250. If I have to pick it up, pull it out of mud, and horse it around on poor roadways I'm going light. One more thing I would do, though, I'd lower the bike to drop it down to make paddling easier. I can slow up to make up for loss of travel.
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  14. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    First off something does happen. It accelerates. It's about the fun of rowing the gear box. I find that really fun to work a gear box and engine to keep the bike cooking. I liked my 125 mx bike in the 70s for that very reason. It was just plain fun to have to work to keep the bike on pipe and flying. When you do it past some guy lugging around on an open classer it is really fun.

    I don't enjoy or want some bike I can only run through two or three gears before being in "go directly to jail, do not pass go" speeds. When I did a couple gears on a ZX6 years back, hitting three gears, shutting down in third, looked down and saw 80 mph I knew this wasn't for me. I much more enjoy slamming three or four gears on a 550 and being around 65. It's the feel, not the speed.

    Off road it is also the feel. The feel of being able to hold up the motorcycle when stopped on a crappy trail. Then there is the ease of maneuvering the bike through tight trails, which are prevalent in the east here. Many trails are max 3rd gear here on a 250.

    This really does relate to legality and also to dual sporting more than just size. It would be great to get to ride a streetbike as designed, but that just isn't legal on public roads. And if I have to lift my bike out of a mud hole or horse it around when I don't make it up a hill, I'll take a 250 over a 650 and either over a big twin adventure bike.

    Just noticed you're in Germany - you have places where you can actually wring it out. Best we have within the limits are the 75 mph freeways. But I will also include the fact that the eastern part of the U.S. in the Appalachian mountain range there are so many tight winding fabulous roads that tie big power sport bikes in knots where the mid size are more fun and a supermoto type should be illegal they are so much fun. That is where I ride. Agility, good braking, high corner speed, and good shifting reward more than sheer horsepower. That's also true on the off roading here too.
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  15. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    and nothing about the Zuma! Zumas are cool. I want a 50 with a big bore to run back and forth to school (teacher) along with errand running in and around town. It has to do 50 to be reasonable for the commuting due to soccer moms and business guys who are always late, even when they aren't. It would complement the 250 and 650 dual sports (the streetbike will be going bye bye this spring).
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  16. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    That's the reason I sold my ZRX1100 but kept my DR350, mainly. The ZRX was a pretty good bike, and yeah, it was fun to go warp speed on it every now and then, but it wasn't nearly as much fun as the 30-ish horsepower DR. Plus, what fun is it really to be doing 150mph on a bike? There are few public roads where you can be going that fast in a curve, and going fast in a straight line just isn't much fun for me. Yeah, it's a thrill because the slightest mechanical failure, or road debris, or some unexpected animal running across the road, or any number of things going wrong will cause almost certain death, but I don't get off on risking death just for the sake of risking death...

    Honestly, I don't think the ZRX was significantly better in corners than the DR, at least not on tight, twisty roads. High speed sweepers, sure, but that's just one step up from a straight road in my book. Give me low speed, technical roads any day of the week. I find them way more challenging and fun, and 200hp isn't going to do you the slightest bit of good on roads like that anyway.
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  17. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Even on my old 700 Nighthawk S when I was loafing, when I'd glance at the speedo I was doing 75-80 mph. Just too easy to go too fast without realizing it. Not done so often on a 550 street bike or a 650 on down dual sport. The feel usually warns you.
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  18. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Everything else being equal, a shorter wheelbase bike will corner far better than a longer wheelbase one. Nothing I have ridden is as quick down our canyon roads than my wife's DR 200. Up the roads, not so fast, but it's still a blast.

    A 250 or so supermoto probably would be faster, but I haven't ridden one.

    I have seen a 250 road racer almost keep up with modern liter race bikes, he would lose a 1/8 mile or so on the longest straight, but would almost catch back up after all of the corners. These were professional racers on top notch bikes. Overall he was losing maybe 1/8 second per lap or less. Watching him zip through the turns so much faster than the big bikes was very impressive, passing them left and right, inside and outside.
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  19. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    Even IF there was such a bike, what's not the case: Why?

    In the 40s not even my father was born.

    I can use as much power as you when it's slippery. What bothers me is the turning, not the power.

    Nice joke.

    OK, if you like to frequently pull levers, that's a reason. I'm all in for automatics. And while most of the others aren't, they nonetheless are complaining about too little low end torque and having to shift too much.

    That's true, but it's true as well that accelerating hard up to 100...120mph on roads other than the Autobahn, restricted to 62mph, is as much fun.

    I'm talking on road. There you have agility, good braking and high corner speed with the big bike as well. And in addition you have power.
    It's not as if you had to exchange the one for the other, you just can have both. Off road is an other deal of course.
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  20. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    I'm willing to concede that a bigger, heavier bike can have braking and maximum lateral grip similar to a smaller, lighter bike. But all else being equal (mainly frame geometry - trail, rake, wheelbase, etc.), the lighter bike is almost certainly going to be quicker changing directions, as well as being easier for the rider to make it change directions. If you like riding on tight, twisting roads, the light bike has a clear advantage. Blasting down the freeway and burning up large-radius sweepers, sure, the heavier bike will probably be faster.

    It's not as if having more power automatically makes you faster on anything but straight or gently curving roads.
    #60