My son wants a motorcycle (cue ominous music)

Interesting that people are saying to get him a scooter because they’re safer, slower, unsafe because they can’t accelerate out of problems…

That depends on the scooter. I’ve ridden motorcycles since 1991, and my current ride, after realizing that I just don’t really have the time or desire for a bike anymore, is a Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter. Now, all right, this scooter isn’t going to keep up with the high-powered sport bikes. But it’s fast (I routinely do 80 on the freeway on it), has quite acceptable acceleration, and it’s stable as any motorcycle–maybe more so, maneuverable, and every bit as fun to ride as a motorcycle. The only difference is that you don’t have to shift it (which I, being lazy, like).

A maxi-scooter might be a good alternative to a motorcycle, especially if he wants it for frugality and practicality. You can store your helmet and leathers under the seat (it’s a drag to have to carry them around every time you go somewhere) and, while they’re very cool looking in a futuristic way, they don’t have that same “bad boy” reputation that motorcycles do.

Start him off on three wheels. :smiley:

It may depend on the state. I wrote the state police in Washington and asked them, they said it was fine.

Those look seriously awesome, I saw one at the “We don’t sell Japanese or Chinese bikes” shop in town. Anybody ever ridden one?

Honda doesn’t currently make any street bikes that are 200cc. He’s probably talking about a Nighthawk or Rebel which are 250cc. Those are both good beginner bikes and won’t offer too much power for a young rider to handle. If you’re OK with him riding a scooter, a little Honda 250 isn’t much to be worried about. But what you said about his place of work being located in a dangerous area is more troublesome.

It seems like he’ll probably get this bike no matter what you do, so if I were you I’d buy him a lot of very high quality safety gear, and drill it into his head that he needs to pay attention at intersections.

My cousin has always ridden dirtbikes. motorcycles, etc. He is of the opinion that late teens is the worst time to start riding. His argument is that kids are better off learning on dirtbikes or 50cc (?) motorcycles while they are young, such as early teens. That way they are learning at an age when they still have a lot of adult supervision. He also swears the most imprtant lesson with a motorcycle is learning when and how to lay it down.

I’ve known some people who rode Rebels. By their account they are nice bikes for cruising around town, but are not suitable for freeway riding. By their account they top out at around 60-65 mph and the last 5 mph come on pretty slowly.

Something to keep in mind if he’s going to be driving on roads where people are trying to go faster than that. Like the interstate and US highways…

I have a friend who just got hit by someone while on his motorcycle. His arm was broken in three places, including a compound fracture. He then developed Compartment Syndrome and had to have emergency surgery and a skin graft. He is unable to work and in constant pain. He has to have physical therapy. Because the woman who hit him only had coverage up to $25,000, and he only had liability coverage, that’s all he gets. It’s not enough. He and his wife are facing the loss of their house by next year because there is no way they can continue to pay the mortgage.

If he had been in a car, he would have walked away with a dent in his door.

No matter how safe you are, there is always some idiot out there who changes lanes or turns around or runs a stop sign without looking. If you’re their victim and you’re on a motorcycle, you’re fucked. That’s why I don’t ride anymore. That, and I realized I was too clumsy and flakey and underskilled to handle a bike on bay area roads.

Tell him no fucking way. Not on your watch.

I did that on a Honda 50 at 13. Dad helped me lie to Mama Plant about the damage to my elbow. :slight_smile: Padded ski jacket and a helmet.

This is an interesting thread, as I’ve been toying with the idea of eventually getting a motorcycle. Not a crotch rocket, but a nice, heavy touring cycle for long road trips and other excursions. The different perspectives are helpful.

The kid’s probably going to get a bike no matter what you say, and if he’s a typical teenager, a flat-out no is only going to push him to be more reckless about it. A parent with an open mind who educates instead of denies does so much for making sure teenagers don’t do something stupid. Work with him on it, make sure he understands the risks, but don’t deny him. If he can pay for it himself, denying it would be the wrong thing to do IMO. You wouldn’t be able to stop it and you’d only close his mind off.

First off is my pet peeve of the term, laying it down. It’s either a crash or it’s still on two wheels.

I got my first street bike at 25. If I had one at 17 I don’t know if I’d be here typing this. I love my bike and try to ride it to work when ever it’s fairly warm and dry. It’s no fun being cold and wet, my concentration drops because I’m miserable. A bike is a great second means of transportation, but I would look at it as a chore if I had to ride it everyday.

How long has he been driving a car? I think that some time learning how other people drive from the relative safety of a car is importaint before getting on a bike.

If he does get one, insist on good quality gear. I like “no skin below the chin” said upthread. It’s a nice pithy way that I don’t need to type out ten paragraphs of my safety speech about gloves/boots/jackets…

I don’t agree. I think of a crash as involving a collision. Either something slams into you or you slam the bike into something. Laying it down is just that, you lay the bike down. I’ve done both on dirt bikes. I layed a street bike down once, but thankfully have never crashed. Of the two, a crash is more likely to cause harm to the rider, IME.

Holy Smokes! Can you feel the love?
The stories here have even creeped me out! Rick brought this thread to my attention and I appreciate that. I do disagree with the claim that most bike wreaks are caused by the riders. This has not been my experience.
I am just short of 52 yo and have ridden always since the age of 15 when going from go-carts to mini-bikes to motorcycles. The discussion of my riding a bike was the first major shouting battle between my father and myself. And he was a BIG man. But I knew from an early age I would ride. That part wasn’t really up for discussion and the fight was only about when I would ride.
If he has it in his blood, he will ride. How he learns and the safety he uses is something you can influence. Safety is not debatable. They are far more dangerous than a car (or a Cage as many riders refer to them) and I have the names of many a Brother or dear friend tattooed on my left arm in rememberance
I have known some that rode until they had a crash or side-slide and got a broken bone or road-rash and never rode again. In 1989 I was in the first really major crash of my life. A girl running a stop sign in a rural, low traffic area at night, came out in front of me and nearly killed me. I broke both arms, wrists, left leg and lost my right leg. I spent two and a half months in the hospital and one and a half in the rehab learning to walk again.
Two weeks out of the hospital I bought a new bike with the insurance money from the old one and tied my cane to the handle bars and rode away. That was a Friday and on Sunday I rode in a memorial ride with 200 bikes to the beach for a friend that had died a week earlier after being struck from behind on a motorcycle while sitting at a red light. It was a cage driven by two drunk women, both claiming the other to have been at the wheel.
It’s not for everyone and it is dangerous. I love riding and will as long as I am able. I have had the most fun and met the best (and the worst) people in my life as a result. I feel for any parent looking at this problem because it would scare the hell out of me if my sons were to decide to ride. My oldest has never had an interest and my youngest is way to young yet, but I fear the day.

I second this advice-my ex-wife was a physical therapist…and you would be shocked at the number of young men permanetly disabled by bike accidents!
One such a kid was an all american athlete(lettered in swimming and football)-now confined to a wheelchair for life!
The doctors she knew referred to motorcyclists as “organ donors on the hoof”

Two things that I’ve heard shifted me away from wanting a motorcycle.

  1. My brother told me that he knew one or two guys with only one arm. (No, they weren’t named Smith) Both had lost them in motorcycle accidents. When he went to work at GM, he met another person with only one arm. Bro: “Motorcycle?” Mr. Smith: “Yeah.”

  2. I watched an HBO special about quadraplegics about 15 years ago. One guy had become that way after bike accident. the guy couldn’t even take a crap without having to ask his sister to carry him, and he was constantly fighting infections just to keep alive. It was so dismal that I lost all desire to be some studly biker with the big-titted biker chick behind me, and I suddenly wanted to be come an accountant/security guard/ shoe salesman/anything, as long as I could walk.
    YMMV, so good luck.

And I saw a guy on the Discovery channel (or was it History? But I digress) that had his arms burned off working with high tension cables, so don’t be a studly Lineman for the County, either. :slight_smile:

Someone upthread said that 17 is too young for a first-time rider, and that one should either start as a child or else as an adult.

As I said, I started riding when I was five. At 12 I was riding a bike that was too big for me, but I outgrew it in a few years. I believe that years of off-road riding made me a better street rider. In the dirt you have to watch out for soft sand, rocks, bushes, and other obstacles. It hones the reflexes. And even after not riding for a few years after a couple of non-motorcycle injuries and getting a car the reflexes were still there. I was 17 once. But I honestly can’t remember being reckless on my bike. I was a little more responsible than a lot of kids, but I think it was the years of riding that kept me safe. My Enduro wasn’t a ‘new toy’. It was something I grew up with. (Well, not the same bike; but you know what I mean.)

I think you all know I love motorcycles. I’d like to see more people riding them for a number of reasons. But having been 17 once and being a lot older now, and after reading this thread, I too will have to recommend caution.

My Yamaha 250 Enduro could manage 65 mph on the road. (It could go a little faster, but it wasn’t designed for it.) I was quite used to riding the 100 before it, but even so the 250 was not a performance bike. They didn’t have sportbikes in the '70s. Now it’s very easy for anyone to go out and get a street-legal racing machine. Fast bike + 17-year-old = Trouble. But still, motorcycles are fun, economical, and fun.

Obviously you can’t go back in time and start the kid riding at ten. And it would be irresponsible for him to get a cool racer. Where’s the compromise? One option would be a '70s-vintage small standard such as a Honda CB350 or CB360. They have two wheels (the most important criterion), they’re cheap, and they aren’t spectacular performers. But they lack the ‘cool factor’. Of course you can always spin it as a ‘retro bike you can’t just go out and buy in a shop’. Old and slow? No, a classic! :cool: But a lot of kids won’t see it that way. So how about a Kawasaki 250cc Ninja? It has the looks, and it’s not like it’s a YZF-R1. But it will still ‘do the ton’. You know he’ll do it just so he can say he did. I can tell you from experience that Bad Things can happen when you get near the edge of the performance envelope, and that it takes experience to get away from them. Ask me about high-speed shimmy. And even experience mightn’t help.

Still, a 250cc bike isn’t too bad a choice for a first ride for a teenager. It comes down to this: How mature is this person? Is he going to show off just because he’s Mr. Cool Motorcyclist? Will he try to do things he ought not to when his peers on larger, faster bikes belittle his ride? Does he have the self-control to learn how to ride properly and not go beyond his limits? (It can be done!) A 17-year-old is going to pull some boners. But a responsible 17-year-old will make an effort not to get too far out of his depth.

They didn’t have motorcycle classes when I learned to ride. If I had a kid I’d start him or her out early on dirt bikes. But if I suddenly had a 17-year-old I’d insist on a low-performance bike, training classes, a full suit with armor, and a stipulation that any transgressions will result in the loss of riding privileges.

I hate to see anyone not being able to ride. But some people shouldn’t. It all depends on the maturity of the rider.

I’m going to cry fowl on this logic. You’ve posted an either or scenario. Either you help him buying a bike or the man-child will buy one anyway. There’s another avenue to pursue. Educate him on why he’s not getting a bike. A small 250CC motorcycle has almost the same 0-60 performance of a Subaru ImprezaWRX sports car. I wouldn’t let a kid buy a sports car let alone a sports car with no protection.

The probability of someone being in an accident once in his/her life is very high. It may only be a fender-bender. There is no such thing as a fender-bender on a motorcycle. There are no seatbelts to hold you on the bike. The air bag used to absorb impact is the human body.

The most experienced rider is not immune from someone else’s mistakes. Add to that an inexperienced rider and the odds go down. It would be a serious loss of human brainpower to loose a 17-year-old as it is a commonly held fact that they know everything.

Oooh, I like what they did with it. Darn.

Shayna needs a bike, right? :smiley: