Starting Big

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My wife and son’s 250cc Diamo starter bike parked in front of my
1500cc Victory 92 TC Deluxe Touring Cruiser.

A new member recently joined the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club. This guy is more than 60 years old, and has never ridden motorcycles before. Apparently the Valkyrie has caught his eye, and he plans to buy one. He gave us some information on himself. He’s technically competent, seems very intelligent and generally a reasonably cautious guy. But he said he does not plan to start small. His first bike will be the Valkyrie.
He assures us he will be careful, take classes, read books, watch videos and listen to advice from more experienced riders. But he seems pretty well set on bypassing experience on a smaller bike first.
Several of the VRCC members, including yours truly, advise him against this. He has a pilot’s license so I asked him if he would recommend somebody learning to fly in a 747. But to my surprise, and dismay, a few members encouraged him to go for it. Most just tell him to be careful. Others think his experience as a pilot gives him the same kind of skills needed to safely operate a big, powerful, cruiser. There is the feeling that as this man is so intelligent, and is licensed and qualified in a demanding profession, that he can simply “smart” his way to safe operation of his bike.
Being smart always helps. But one of the things a smart person will do is proceed cautiously and methodically. No amount of “smarts” will replace experience. A rider on another board recently posted about the accident that destroyed his bike and seriously injured him. He was a new rider and ran off the road into a ditch. He acknowledges when things started going bad, he fixed his gaze on the ditch. This is known as “target fixation.” It’s just natural to look at the thing you’re most concerned about. In his case, the ditch. But it’s also true you will go where you are looking. It takes time to learn to subconsciously look at where you want to go, not at the scary thing you’re trying to miss.
As things start going sideways, your body will react instinctively. There is no time to “think.” You will do either what just seems natural or what you have trained yourself to do. The biggest brain in the world won’t change that.
It’s an old adage that there is no replacement for experience. Somebody reminded him there were old pilots, and bold pilots, but not many old, bold pilots. Learning to ride on a Valkyrie is certainly bold.

- Guy Wheatley

One Response

  1. Kevin Miller Says:

    My argument, when my “soon to be brother in law” started riding, is that we all do stupid things when we start riding. On a small bike you can stick a leg out and stop a low speed tipover, while on a large bike you may not have the strength. On s realy heavy bike trying to catch it can become an even bigger mistake resulting in a broken ankle.

    I’ve dropped my magna 3 times, 2 of them when stopped and the third when turning at low speed (Much like your drop last month). The number of times I’ve stopped badly and held it with a leg isn’t great, but as I get more experience it becomes more rare.

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