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Hey, I'm new to this forum and relatively new to the bike community on the internet. In a few months, I will be buying my first bike. I've heard the start small argument quite a few times but can someone explain exactly why it helps to start on a lower cc and why that will make you a better rider in the future. I understand situations where you could panic and accidentally open throttle or grab a bit too much front brake, but other than this why should I start on let's say a ninja 300 vs a middleweight like an 899 in terms of becoming a better rider. I've heard it affects skill but I haven't seen exactly how. If for whatever reason I did decide to start on an 899, would basic riding around the city and some highway for a few thousand miles and then attending CSS or another school be a viable option in order to avoid any skill deficits?
 

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Hello! I myself went from a Ninja 300 to a 899. Happy to share my experience and why I think it was the right choice.

A few things about the "start small" argument. If you dont have much motorcycle experience (I had 5 years of dirt biking at a kid, but hadnt ridden for 15-20 years) then you are certainly going to make mistakes. ALL kinds of mistakes. Stabbing the throttle, popping the clutch, stalling the bike, dropping the bike, etc. Each of these mistakes is going to be easier/more forgiving on a lighter bike with less power. Take popping the clutch for example...

I was riding my ninja 300. Shifted from from 1st to 2nd, but i accidentally put it in neutral. Not a big deal, happens all the time, EXCEPT when i put it into neutral the bike revved to about 10,000 RPM since there was no load on the bike and i twisted the throttle. I then proceeded to put it into 2nd gear and let the clutch out (still at 10,000 RPM). Since the Ninja 300 has about 35 HP, this move caused the bike to lurch forward but still be controllable. If I had done this on the 899, the results would have certainly been more disastrous. This is just one example of the many mistakes I made on my 300. Do I still make mistakes on my 899? Absolutely, but for the most part I avoid the big ones and know how to counteract the small ones based on my experiences learned from the 300.

So the short answer to your question is this... starting small and starting cheap allows you to learn. Repercussions from your mistakes will likely be smaller and easier to deal with. Once your confidence is up then you can move up to the bike you want. Getting a used Ninja 300 will be a good first step and you wont suffer much in the form of depreciation either.
 

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At the end it all goes down to the person operating the motorcycle: if you believe you can control yourself, take it slow and give yourself time to learn, there is nothing wrong starting with an 899. It's actually very manageable, the power is linear and it has good brakes, ABS, good suspensions and traction control. I don't consider it a difficult bike, quite the contrary. But it's still a sportbike with 150HP and it can take you to very dangerous speeds in seconds, where mistakes can be very expensive (both in terms of damage to the bike and - more importantly - yourself).
The critical moment is after the first few careful rides, when you start thinking you got everything figured out and when instead you still lack those automatisms that allow you to remain in control in an emergency situation. To be honest, that could happen with any bike, and you can put yourself in danger even riding a Ninja 300. But, as sdg24 said, a smaller bike is slower and a bit more forgiving, so there is definitely an argument for it.
Long story short: make an honest assessment of the type of person you are, and see if it would be better for YOU to start with a smaller bike. As an alternative to the 899, I would recommend a Monster 696: cheaper, easier to maintain, more comfortable riding position, ABS (usually), more than enough power to zip through traffic, easy to customize, fun to tinker with... very good beginner bike and a great classic.
 

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Dont ride faster than your guardian angel can fly.

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