Size Matters

There is an interesting phenomenon in terms of motorcycling, I feel. And it has to do with size. Now, I remember when a “starter” bike was something around 250cc or less. And, literally everything having to do with riding a motorcycle had to do with engine size. Because, engine size was equated with power, and power was equated with a rider’s supposed skill level. Not so today.

I can recall when I started riding that the seat height of a motorcycle was considered somewhat irrelevant, which is why I bought and rode a Honda CB 200T for my first motorcycle. And that was not because I was short (I was 6’2″), but because I was a beginner.

Much of what I learned about motorcycling, I gained by riding the CB 200. At the time, I was rather naive, and figured that all motorcyclists were “brothers.” However, I soon learned that motorcycling for many was more like a “sport” , and just like any “sport” , competition was the name of the game. And to compete, just like in many types of sports, one had to have adequate size. And of course, when I speak of size, we are talking about engine size.

I can recall very vividly, the times when I was out on my bike, and guys would give me the thumbs-up, or wave when going by. That was truly cool. I thought, okay this is something I can really get into and embrace, and so I made it a routine to go out riding after dinner, particularly in the summer when there was an abundance of daylight. And, at times I really got a true sense of satisfaction when out riding. Until things turned competitive.

At first, it wasn’t really bothersome. I’d have guys pull up next to me, and give me the thumbs-up, but then as soon as the light changed, they’d go roaring off, often with pipes wailing, and they’d be half way to the next light by the time I cleared the intersection. The first few times, I didn’t think much of it, but after a while I started questioning motives. Soon, after I’d ridden for several months, I started to become better acquainted with the power curve of the 200 T. It needed an abundance of revs to really get a good launch off the line. Well, being a 200cc motorcycle, it could make quite a bit of noise, as invariably, I’d try to apply more and more throttle when riding around town, just to keep up. And again, I wasn’t trying to race anybody. I just wanted to stay out of the way of the four-wheelers.

Well, as time went on, many of my fellow riders interpreted my high-revs as an attempt to race. And so, now I was in a bit of a situation, wasn’t I? It became somewhat embarrassing because I couldn’t outrun anybody, even if I wanted to. Okay, maybe the Pinto. However, unless a rider was on a scooter or a 125 cc bike, I didn’t stand much of a chance. Additionally, as time went on, my feelings regarding the “brotherhood” were starting to change. Soon, I began to regret my buying decision. Maybe I should have gotten the Honda CL 360 after all…And why did I allow that salesman to talk me and my father out of that RD 400?

And so, from then on, I sought to go “up the ladder” as it were; buying larger and larger motorcycles in my quest for legitimacy, and yes, maybe even respect. The results? A crash after 40 years of riding street bikes! Looking back on it now, I chalk it up to two things. My impatience in just “getting out there”, verses really learning the bike as well as I should have.

And two,…ego.

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