Why not a Sports Bike for a First Bike ?
After a rash of posts about what bike to get as a first bike, and a lot of posts defending the reasoning behind "only a 600" or "having respect", or "too big to ride a small bike"....
Why not a GSXR/R6/ZXR/CBR/996 etc?
Well, I am not sure that the fact that these are "only 600's" means a great deal, they are seen as "slow" by newer riders, and therefore easier to master than the 1000cc versions. Many people have said that they feel a 750 would be fine.
I guess that your idea of slow, is a fair bit different to mine. My idea of slow is something that accelerates like, say, a Geo Metro, not something that accelerates faster than a Dodge Viper.
Lets face it, the modern 600 is faster than a 750 of six or seven years ago, in a straight line, up to about 130mph.......
Six years ago the 750 class was in the middle of open warefare season, the (then new) SRAD 750 was the king of the beasts, trouncing the CBR900RR, and the FZR1000 or Chunderace) and destroying everything else in its path. Not just in a straight line either, but the 96 SRAD was a marvellous corner carver.
In its day, it was brutal - it still is, wild head shakes, inadvertant wheelies, and an utterly brutal rush beyond 10K RPM.
The latest 600's whilst just as fast, are only slightly more civilised, the power is not as brutal, but there is still a huge rush, and on the dyno they are only a couple of HP short of the benchmark.
So the power of the latest 600's is amazing, there is frankly more than 99% of people can use, and more than anyone can need on the street - on the track its a different matter, but we are talking street bikes here.....
Its not just the power either, its the power delivery.
These bikes are race-bikes with lights, or at least they are very, very similar to race bikes. In order to be competative in racing, where modifications are minimal, the engines are tuned to be very "racer friendly". The throttle response beyond a few thousand revs is instant, this is great if you are on a track, but merely OK on the road. If you are heavy-handed, it can be very dangerous. The MSF course teaches you to roll on the throttle in a curve, to a newr rider, rolling on is just that, add 1/4 turn maybe ? Well with a modern sports bike 1/4 turn is FULL throttle. Rolling on on these bikes means may 1/32nd of a turn - if that.
This is not a nice trait - you have just gone from 20hp to 80hp in the blink of an eye, and you lowsided - if you are lucky- into the scenery.
So, handling is the next problem.
These bikes are race bikes with lights, this means that they are super-fast handling. In fact they are astonishingly nervous, in order to make they turn fast, they are set-up to respond to minute inputs, and this is another major issue for a new rider. A new rider will not have the subltly of input that the bike needs, rather than push the bars, you apply a slight pressure, and the bike sails into the bends, push on the bars hard, and it becomes all nervous and unsettled, and again, the new rider may be lucky to get through the bend.
Obviously this will not be a good thing - to an experienced rider these bikes feel planted, and predictable, for a new rider, they feel horrible, and your confidence takes a hit.
Ok - Brakes
Again, these bikes are similar to race bikes. One of the few places that they differ is in the braking department. The brake pads have to last a little longer than race compound ones, so they are a little less brutal than those on a racer, also they have rubber hoses, which have a little "give" in them, making it harder to lock the fronts.
But, they are still eye-poppingly good, its possible to stand any of these bikes on its nose, at really, really high speeds, assumning you are hard enough on the brakes.
Then there is the rear brake, and again this is overly efficient, all too easy to lock it, all to easy to high-side as a result of the locked brake.
As they are race replica's they comer covered in expensive plastic. Each side is $600 or more. A slow-speed drop could easily cost you over $1000 just in plastic bits. Add to that the normal "consumables" and you are in the $1300 range for a 10mph spill.
Combine all of these factors, and I hope that you see why a sportsbike is not a good first bike.
It has exactly the wrong set of characteristics for a new rider to learn to ride. Its too fast, too responsive, too twitchy, too nervous, the brakes are too sharp and they cost a lot to fix.
I'm not going to tell you that you should not get one (I'm not your mother), just that you need to bear in mind that these bikes belong in the "expert class", not the "new rider" one.