Riding and Appreciating a Wide Variety of Motorcycles
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
During last week's #TriumphImmersion event in the Arizona desert, we were encouraged to switch bikes with other influencers. I looked from the Street Triple RS I was testing to the Rocket 3 and hesitated. It was a significantly different bike from anything I had ever ridden. It was cruiser-style, 2500cc and looked big and heavy. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that nothing worthwhile ever comes from staying within a comfort zone. So I hopped on the Rocket and went to place my feet on the pegs only to realize - surprise! - the foot pegs were straight out in front of me (a feeling I'm definitely not accustomed to). But as we took off, I quickly realized the Rocket 3 is aptly named. It felt like a rocketship! The discomfort of being on such a different bike turned into fascination and then enjoyment. It was incredibly comfortable yet leaned with ease in corners and didn't feel anywhere close to as heavy as its nearly 800 lbs. Triumph placed the weight of this bike well. I have to say, I enjoyed it and I could see it being a fun bike to own, especially for long road trips. By keeping an open mind, I was able to appreciate a bike I would otherwise not have considered riding.
It would have been easy for me, being primarily a sportbike rider, to thumb my nose at the Rocket 3. I think this is one of the problems within the motorcycle population. Riders tend to categorize themselves and have an allegiance to a specific type of bike or brand so much so that it becomes prejudice. It's understandable to have a preferred brand or type of bike and be loyal to it, but it's problematic when preference and loyalty turn into negativity or even hate. The "cruisers vs sportbikes" mentality is deeply rooted and it's unfortunate to see a community divided.
Since I live in close proximity to The Dragon and my husband runs the motorcycle resort there, it provides me with the opportunity to ride a wide variety of different motorcycles. I'm also grateful that the owners of those bikes trust me as a rider! In the past year or so alone I've gotten to ride a Yamaha Niken, Aprilia Factory Tuono, KTM Duke 790, DRZ 650, Benelli TNT135, Honda Grom, Kawasaki Z125, Yamaha MT09, MT07 and MT10, Yamaha R3, Kawasaki Ninja 300, two different Kawasaki ZX6s, a fully modded out Suzuki DRZ 400, Suzuki SV, KTM 690 SMC, the newest Yamaha R6 and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. Riding a bike I'm not used to on such a technical, twisty road isn't a piece of cake by any means--and at times it's nerve-racking. However, it's helped build my confidence and over time I've learned to take the skills I've gleaned on my sportbike by participating in riding schools and track day coaching and apply it to each bike. Although the bikes may seem very different, the skills are the same across the board aside from slight modifications. Because of that, I think it's strengthened my riding and made me a better rider in general.
This isn't something I'm astonished by, however. Long before I ever became a motorcyclist I competed on horseback. During group lessons, my instructor would sometimes have us switch horses. She explained that it's easy to be a good rider on your horse, but a great rider can make any horse perform well. I remember it being scary at first to hop on a horse that felt drastically different from my own--it felt alien to me. But like motorcycling, I not only learned to apply the same skills I used on my own horse, I learned to discover and leverage the strengths of the new horse while being cognizant of the weaknesses. Over time, I was able to do exactly what my instructor had hoped and could jump on another horse without trepidation, work with it and appreciate it.
Now don't get me wrong or misunderstand. It's not that I think everyone's opinions of a motorcycle need to be all sunshine and rainbows. When reviewing bikes I try to be honest and communicate the shortcomings. No bike is going to be 100% perfect (although some I've ridden come pretty darn close!). What I'm trying to say is this: Keep an open mind and be willing to push outside your comfort zone. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised that you can enjoy a bike you never thought you would.
Photo credit: Samantha Lauraina - @s_lauraina