Can a beginner start on a 1000cc Motorcycle?

A 1000cc motorcycle (or litrebike) is arguably one of the most powerful machines on the street.
This question is asked by many when searching for their first motorcycle, because to many riders, a litrebike is the end goal of riding, so why not start there? You need to make your own decision when it comes to what bike you want to start on, so gathering information on the topic will help you make a more informed decision.
If your young, reckless and have no fear, bad things will most likely happen to you on a litrebike. But…for the rest of us, its not about being reckless or speeding, its more about making an inevitable mistake. The consequences of that mistake will be amplified on a more powerful machine.
The short answer is yes you can start on a 1000cc motorcycle, but before you get too excited there are some questions you should ask and information you should be aware of.

What is your true experience level?

Be honest with yourself and think about your true level of experience. Have you ridden a motorcycle on the street before? Riding a motorcycle for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Most countries require you to do some riding in a controlled environment to obtain your licence because of this.
Are you comfortable with the basics of riding a motorcycle such as throttle and clutch control, gear changes, braking and cornering?
A litrebike has a very high level of engineering because its basically a race bike. They have quick acceleration, a very high top end speed and big brakes providing quick and hard stopping power. This is great for experienced riders, but can be a big negative for the inexperienced rider for a number of reasons.

Negatives for the inexperienced rider on a 1000cc Motorcycle

  • Throttle control needs to be much more refined
  • Clutch control is more important
  • Braking is harder, faster and more sensitive
  • Acceleration is hard, fast and sensitive
  • The motorbike is bigger and heavier
  • Insurance is much more expensive

Experience vs knowledge

Learning as much as you can about riding a motorcycle is a great way to get started, but there is a huge difference between theory and experience. A litrebike is designed for more experienced riders, so there are no safeguards against making a mistake. Smaller motorcycles like a 125cc or 250cc eg: cbr250rr (a great beginner bike), have much less power and smaller brakes. If you accidentally apply too much throttle, let the clutch out too fast or grab a handful of brakes in a panic, the chances of a crash are smaller. When learning how to ride a motorcycle on the road, there is a lot of information you need to be thinking about simultaneously:

  • controlling the motorcycle (accelerate, brake, change gear, corner, rider position)
  • being aware of your surroundings
  • obey the traffic laws
  • feel the traffic flow, predict other road users intentions
  • doing all these things at once, especially on a busy road or highway with little experience will lead to a lapse in 1 or more of these steps.

Power to weight ratio

This is a simple calculation of the engine power output divided by the weight of the vehicle. A modern litrebike has a low weight and high power output making it one of the fastest and most dangerous vehicles on the street. This leads to very quick acceleration which in inexperienced hands can be very dangerous.
With a low bike weight and high power output, the front end of the motorcycle will become very light under hard acceleration, potentially lifting the front wheel off the ground. This means that throttle and clutch control is at the top of the list when it comes to riding a litrebike.

Throttle control

The simple explanation of throttle control is how hard you twist your wrist on the throttle determining how hard you accelerate.
The key word is control. When turning your wrist on the throttle to accelerate, it needs to be smooth and calculated.
When accelerating from a standstill, you will need to slowly release the clutch while applying a small amount of controlled throttle.
This is one of the first things you learn when starting out, and is one of the most important parts of riding.
On a litrebike, the amount of power you have at your wrist is enormous.
If you give the bike too much throttle, you wont be ready for the hard acceleration which in turn will twist your wrist more as you try to hang on, lifting the front wheel and flipping the bike.
This will also happen if you release the clutch too fast, making throttle and clutch control extremely important.

Clutch control

The simple explanation of clutch control is the faster you release it the faster and harder the gear is engaged.
This is extremely important when releasing the clutch in first gear from a standing start.
Throttle control and clutch control come hand in hand, so a smooth clutch release with a controlled amount of throttle will start the bike off from a standing start safely and smoothly.
This technique also applies to changing gears as your riding down the road, a smooth clutch release with a controlled throttle will engage each gear change smoothly and without fault.

Potential mistakes you will most likely make and the consequences on a 1000cc motorcycle

  • Too much throttle applied in first gear will lighten the front end and could flip the bike or throw you off
  • Releasing the clutch too fast lifting the front and flipping the bike or throwing you off
  • Grabbing a handful of brake in an emergency locking the front wheel and slipping out or throwing you off the motorbike
  • Tilting the bike too low and dropping it, or just dropping it and not being able to pick it up
  • Entering a corner with too much speed resulting in a large list of bad outcomes
  • Exiting a corner with too much acceleration sliding the bike out from under you
  • Lifting the front wheel with too much acceleration and not being prepared

The long answer to this question of starting on a 1000cc motorcycle is its very risky and can lead to some pretty hefty consequences.
Of course you can just hop on a litrebike and start riding, but the chances of you making a mistake and getting hurt is largely amplified.
If you decide to skip the smaller bikes and start out with a beast, there are some small steps to take that would be advisable, such as finding a quiet parking lot and familiarizing yourself with the clutch and throttle control. Then play with the throttle while in neutral to understand its sensitivity, then find the bite point of the clutch and as soon as it starts to bite pull it in. Basically all the things you should be doing with a new bike but with much more care. If your thinking of test riding a 1000cc motorcycle click here for a free 8 step checklist. A more powerful motorcycle is not as forgiving when you eventually make a mistake and if you don’t have the basics of riding under your belt and the experience that comes with that, bad things will happen. Whatever you decide, get out there and start enjoying it!