You get more out of biking faster, learning to ride a smaller bike properly first, then progressing up. Being able to ride well is all about experience and confidence, the latter only comes from understanding everything that a bike is doing, and will do, and you won’t learn that by going to a big bike straight away, as it’ll intimidate you and this will either hold you back, or have you going over the line and making a mistake. If you work up from a smaller bike, the differences are smaller, and more managable to learn.
I started on a 125cc, then to a 500cc, then when I passed my test I got a 400cc bike, then a 600cc, then a 750, and then a 1000cc. I know for a fact that if I’d have gone straight for a 600, I wouldn’t have learnt as much and wouldn’t be as confident a rider as I am today. I might also have bashed myself up!
That’s where that line of thought comes from. I think when you got similar advice, it comes from people who have said it a hundred times before, and seen the results of not going down this route, when things go bad. None of us want to see a fellow rider go that way and want the best for them. The trouble is, as a new rider, you may be taken in by all the glitz of the big-bikes, so it can be hard to see other ways of doing things.
Personally I don’t think the issue is about whether or not you’ll hurt yourself, as that’s down to your personality really and how responsible you can be. The issue is how quickly you’ll learn to be a good rider and how much you get out of it.
We’ve all seen ‘riders’ that pass their test and go and ride big bikes straight away, and it would seem only to pose on them, not to enjoy them. The end result is that they can’t ride for toffee and if they feel their skill is challanged then they might make mistakes and end up the fool, or worse.
The reward from learning to ride a bike properly and making full use of it is infinantly better than that of owning the latest and greatest and not being able to ride for toffee!
My personal advice would be to go for a modest bike, one that you won’t be too bothered if you damage here and there with silly mistakes that we all make whilst starting out, i.e. dropping a bike, not fitting in a big enough gap, etc. This bike could be anything that takes your interest. A more city-orientated bike, a 400cc sports bike, etc, but nothing fast and expensive. Your insurance will also be a lot cheaper going this route and allow you to build up the all-important No-Claims-Bonus that you’ll need to insure a more expensive bike later on when you’re ready.
Also, don’t think that you won’t be able to keep up on a more modest bike. I’m not blowing my own whistle here, but I’ve beaten people through town on a 100cc two stroke thing from the 80’s when others have been wobbling around on big sports bikes. It’s not how fast your bike goes that counts, but how you use it, and you’ll be able to use more of a lesser bike, faster, than you will of a bigger bike.
Ah, one more thing; buying a modest bike at the start means you spend a lot less money, which means you can buy the right protective gear from the start, which is way more important than what bike you ride. Things like a good helmet, jacket, gloves, boots and trousers. Better to fall off a cheap bike with good gear, than an expensive bike with no gear, because if you do the latter, you’ll be paying for it twice as bad, if not worse.
You’ll find the Cubana car-park full of all different types of bikes. Nobody says anything bad when someone rides in on a 125cc bike, an older bike or the like. What they might say is something like “bloody hell mate, you’re not wearing any gloves!?”. Biking isn’t about status, that’s for car drivers, biking is about fun and the social aspect.