Can A Beginner Start On A 600cc Motorcycle?
A 600cc motorcycle is quite fast and powerful when it comes to high performance bikes. Although they are not as fast as a 1000cc motorcycle in general, they are still extremely quick..the difference is mainly in the power band and how the power is put down on the road.
Many people think starting on a 600cc motorcycle is a good midpoint between a 250cc and 1000cc motorcycle…although technically this is kind of correct, in the real world it is far from the truth.
It is definitely possible to start on a 600cc motorcycle, and many people do it. But before making the decision let’s talk about some positives, negatives and how it can affect your riding progression as a beginner.
Do you have any riding experience?
Be honest with yourself about this question. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? Do you have any experience with driving on the roads? Riding any motorcycle for the first time is an intimidating experience, this is why most countries require you to learn in a controlled environment then test your skills before giving out a licence. Once you know how to ride, you need to combine riding with navigating traffic and following road rules. If you don’t have experience driving a car on the roads, this makes riding a motorcycle on the road twice as hard! A good example of someone who may benefit from starting on a 600cc motorcycle is a person who has their car licence and has experience with roads and traffic navigation – and has motorcycle riding experience like riding dirt bikes as a kid.
Positives for the inexperienced riding a 600cc motorcycle
- Buy what you want – If it’s your ultimate dream to ride a bigger bike…
- Saving money in the long run – You may never need to upgrade. Start at the top
- Respect – Riding a powerful bike with little experience will teach you respect very quickly. It will scare the shit out of you is basically what I’m saying
Negatives for the inexperienced riding a 600cc motorcycle
- A bigger bike makes it heavier and taller. You may not touch the ground with both feet. You can’t save dropping the bike because of the heavier weight, dropping the bike makes it harder to pick up (note that many many beginners drop their bike at least once)
- All control inputs are magnified… this includes throttle response, braking, accelerating, clutch control etc
- Insurance is more expensive depending on your age and experience level. Some may even refuse to cover you (you’re a liability basically)
What happens when you make a mistake?
When learning to ride a motorcycle, it’s inevitable that you will make a mistake. There’s a long list of possible mistakes that can be made, but here’s a few that are on the top of the list:
- Throttle response is very touchy – this can lead to too much throttle being applied at the wrong time or accidentally when your not ready for it
- Releasing the clutch too fast – leading to unexpected bucking or lifting the front wheel
- Tilting the bike too low – may cause you to drop it
- Entering or exiting corners way too fast – this is due to the unexpected power
- Lifting the front wheel unexpectedly because of the high power output
Smaller mistakes made will be amplified on a 600cc motorcycle and can be really scary. This may be braking too hard or accelerating too fast. Because of inexperience your body won’t be ready for the extreme pull or the hard braking, potentially throwing you off the motorcycle. Bigger mistakes made on a 600cc motorcycle can cause serious injury or be fatal. Because of the extreme straight line speed, entering corners too fast is very common. Basically once you enter a corner too fast, you’re forced to just ride it out and hope the bike can handle it. This is a very common mistake and most beginner riders will brake mid corner or get target fixation, dumping the bike or riding off the road. This can lead to sliding off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Newer, more expensive 600cc motorcycles have added safety features such as wheelie control, traction control and ABS and different power modes. These are great to help keep you safe, but many beginner riders can’t afford the latest and greatest bike, with older and cheaper 600cc bikes without these features being purchased. It’s important to note that while extra safety features can help protect you, they can make you rely on them, impacting your riding skills and keeping you from becoming a better, more skilled rider.
The difference between a 600cc and 1000cc motorcycle
This is a very popular question and may require its own article (the answer will stay here for now). I like to compare a 600cc motorcycle to a turbocharged car, and a 1000cc motorcycle to a V8 car. The 600 (turbo car) has its power band up the top of the rev range with little low down torque, the 1000 (V8 car) has power and torque right throughout the rev range. It’s important to note that each individual brand has its differences in engine and chassis design, so it’s impossible to lump every 600cc and 1000cc into the same category…we can still generalise though.
A 600cc motorcycle engine is a bit more peppy off the line, with the throttle usually being a bit more sensitive. The powerband is usually higher in the rev range, like how a turbo takes time to build boost. This sudden power acceleration at higher revs can catch the rider off guard, creating all kinds of issues. A 600cc motorcycle is a bit smaller than the 1000, making it more agile and lighter…but…newer 1000cc motorcycles are getting smaller and lighter in size, but more powerful in the engine making them faster and scarier than the 600cc.
A 1000cc motorcycle has power right throughout the rev range, like a V8 engine. They have lots more low end torque making the bike pull right throughout the rev range. The power delivery is a bit more smooth making it a bit easier to predict for the rider, but man do they pull hard. The 1000 will still put down the power hard and fast, even if it’s not quite as jumpy off the start as a 600. Its very important not to think of a 600cc motorcycle as being basically half the performance of a 1000cc because this is not true. If a 1000cc motorcycle is a 10/10 a 600cc motorcycle is a 8/10.
Pushing the limits of the motorcycle
Most countries around the world have a graduated licensing system. This is designed to make sure beginners can only legally ride smaller bikes, then as they progress with experience, they can upgrade to a bigger motorcycle (usually a 3 year period). This is for 2 main reasons.
- Statistics – according to the numbers, beginners that learn on more powerful bikes will have more accidents and fatalities because of their inexperience and the fact that 600cc/1000cc motorcycles are some of the fastest vehicles on the planet.
- Learning motorcycle riding skills – Learning on a more powerful motorcycle will teach the rider bad habits, making it hard to level up each individual riding skill. More power and better brakes can hide your negative riding behaviors, which can hinder your ability to become a better, safer and faster rider.
As a beginner on a 600cc motorcycle, it’s basically impossible to push the limits of the machine (pushing the limits of a 600cc on the road is basically impossible though). Starting off learning on a smaller bike (a 125cc or 250cc) will help to minimise the impacts of your inevitable mistakes, and help you steadily learn how to control the motorcycle to the best of its ability, eventually letting you reach close to the limits of the machine. In other words, you will end up accelerating hard, braking hard and cornering well and possibly close to the bike’s limits…eventually leading to the decision to upgrade to a bigger motorcycle to progress your learning and riding skills. Starting from this point (600cc) as a beginner may hold you back from becoming a better rider.
If you want to become the best motorcycle rider you can possibly be, it’s advised to work your way up through the motorcycle kingdom…125/250cc to 600cc to possibly 1000cc. There’s a reason why many 600cc riders are faster than 1000cc riders on track, and I’ve personally seen 250cc riders absolutely demolish 600cc riders on track due to their ability to push the 250cc to its absolute limit, while the 600cc rider has learned to rely on the power rather than their riding skills.
You can absolutely start on a 600cc motorcycle and it may make more sense for some people, but just note that the worldwide statistics are against you, and you may end up not reaching your potential as a good, great or excellent motorcycle rider.