Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Bike update: bigger is better

Making decent progress in working towards my motorcycle licence and learning to ride. Mastering the tricks of clutch control takes some time; the muscles controlling the fingers need to master the sensitivity necessary for low-speed control. At the same time you have to remember the observations on which a motorcyclist’s life depends.

Still, if it was easy there would be no sense of achievement when you get it right.

The importance of good clutch control was stressed before I had my first taste of a big bike. Injudicious use of throttle and clutch could, I was warned, see a bigger bike off the road. That said, treated with due respect, the 500cc Suzuki felt in some respects easier to control.

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Consider, for example, the question of mass. A Honda CG125 weighs about 80kg; which isn’t much and the bike could be lighter than the rider. The Suzuki GS500E which I rode was more like 180kg (apparently, I’ve not checked these figures), which puts the combined centre of gravity of rider and cycle lower. The GS might be more than twice the weight of the CG but the engine is four times the size with (roughly four times the power). The Suzuki also has two cylinders to the Honda’s one which seems to make for a smoother power delivery. Finally, there is a tachometer which makes it easier to learn whether you are using enough revs.

About the only downside was a slightly heavier clutch but the weight did nothing to impede feel of the biting point. I like to tink it didn’t take me long to get the hang of slow riding and practicing starting, stopping and steering within the confines of the tarmac pad at the biking school.

Hopefully my next lesson will include some road work on the big bike and it shouldn’t be too long before I can think about taking my test.