Can a beginner start on a 1000cc motorcycle?

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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. If your struggling to convince your parents or partner to let you purchase a motorcycle, read this article
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 or off the street? Are you familiar with the basics of operating a motorcycle? 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. They then place restrictions on the size and power of your motorcycle until you gain more experience. 
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. Although this is a positive, if you have very little to no experience riding, not only will a litrebike scare the shit out of you, it may put you in constant danger. 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.

Positives for the inexperienced riding a 1000cc Motorcycle

  • Getting what you want – If it makes you happy and its your end goal then maybe its a good decision
  • Saving money – buying the actual bike you want instead of buying and selling smaller bikes on your way up the ladder
  • Respect and care – knowing the extreme dangers and risk may lead to you staying safer and not pushing any limits

Negatives for the inexperienced rider on a 1000cc Motorcycle

  • Throttle control needs to be much more refined – if its not, you will make mistakes
  • Clutch control is more important – if you have never used a clutch before you have created amachanical bucking horse
  • Braking is harder, faster and more sensitive – although this is a positive, in inexperienced hands this will catch you by surprise
  • Acceleration is hard, fast and sensitive – If your body isnt prepared for the extreme pull, you will be thrown off in some way
  • The motorbike is bigger and heavier – Your feet may struggle to touch the ground, if tipped below balance point its too heavy to save a fall
  • Insurance is much more expensive, some insurance companies wont insure a beginner (click here for the average cost of owning a motorcycle)

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. This is a positive for new riders as it reduces the risk of mistakes, 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 is 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, lean angle)
  • being aware of your surroundings both traffic and other
  • 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.

If you are brand new to the road with no car driving experience, you should stay away from a 1000cc motorcycle. Learning the skills to ride and learning the road rules simultaneously on a race like engine designed for extreme performance…its simply too much for you to process, and will end in tragedy.  

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, lifting the front wheel off the ground. This means that throttle and clutch and throttle control is at the top of the list when it comes to riding a litrebike. One of the biggest mistakes made when riding a litrebike is entering a corner too fast. The straight line speed is insanely fast and intoxicating, leading to a corner appearing faster than expected. Keep in mind that if you have the type of personality to get carried away with fast acceleration, high speeds and chasing adrenaline highs, a litrebike is extremely dangerous in your hands, especially if your an inexperienced rider. 

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, any big wrist movements with the throttle can turn the bike into a bucking nightmare.
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 or throwing you off the back (covered in many fail compilation videos). 
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 step is amplified on a litrebike. 
This technique also applies to changing gears as you’re riding down the road, a smooth clutch release with a controlled throttle will engage each gear change smoothly and without fault. Any sudden movements with the clutch and throttle is definately a heart beat skipping moment, and if you survive it, its a lesson learnt forever. 

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

  • Too much throttle applied in any 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

Its important to note that many new 1000cc motorcycles these days have a long list of safety features that can aid in your protection, such as wheelie control, traction control, different power modes and ABS braking to name a few. These features are usually not included in older, more affordable litrebikes that most beginners are interested in. These safety features can also give you false confidence and lead to bad riding behaviours being learnt which doesn’t help with long term improvement in you riding skills. 

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. 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. Its important to note that 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. If you want to become the best rider you can, its advisable to start with a smaller cc motorcycle and move up through the ranks as you learn and improve your skills. This is why many 600cc riders are faster than 1000cc riders on the track. Whatever you decide, get out there and start enjoying it!