I’m at a unique position in my life.
Before 2017, all I could do was dream about buying a superbike. I didn’t have the money to afford one, and I was in India, where buying one doesn’t make sense. Getting a superbike in India is like leaving a penguin in the Sahara, they don’t belong.
It’s hard to describe how much time I’ve spent watching motorcycle exhaust videos on Youtube, searching for the perfect one is a lot like searching for porn, a very specific set of videos work for you, adding “compilation” to the end of the search term usually helps, and once you find the one, you watch it over and over again.
I’ve also spent hours on the Triumph website, they have one of those bike configuration screens where you can add and remove parts to see how much the cost changes, and how the bike looks. I’ll take that quickshifter, that Arrow, and a legal notice from your CEO thank you very much.
If the Ninja 650 belongs to the superbike category, I almost bought one. I also really wanted to buy the Street Triple when it was launched, and after I rented the Daytona, it was tough to return. It took me a long time to get used to the Duke, but once I did, I got bored quickly. It’s a fun little machine, but 60,000 kms are enough on one bike.
Now I live in the UK, cheap superbikes are easily available and the roads allow you to enjoy the bike rather than attempting to kill you. My balls would fall off with frostbite if I ride here at the wrong time, but who needs them anyway.
For the first time in my life I can justify the purchase of a big bike, but I really don’t want to. Here I am trying to structure the reasons why.
I’m a bit scared
I have never broken a single bone in my life, mostly due to luck, and my survival instincts.
When I rented the Daytona, I took it on a highway and pinned the throttle. Every nerve in my body wanted me to stop, but there’s a part of you that wants to know, and another part that enjoys doing the wrong thing. I watched the speedo fly through 100, 120, 150, 180, 200, 220, 230. The bike could have done much more, but my helmet felt like it was going to explode.
It scared me, I scared myself. I’m not a responsible adult, I’m not either of those 2 things. I would like to think that I’m an experienced rider, but the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know. My judgement of being an experienced rider is based on my experiences, and they are limited.
It’s just too easy to kill yourself, I don’t want that kind of power. You don’t give a chainsaw to a monkey, you don’t give a loaded gun to a child. Most of the time I manage to stay in control, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to slide out of the bubble. When you are out, you don’t realize you are out.
It does feel a bit weird watching teenagers on Ducatis and Triumphs, feels like I’m a bit too negative, that I should behave more like a real man. However, I think I’m a bit too old to care, and I’ve seen too many crash videos to risk it. I don’t mind taking the risk, but at my age you start to ask yourself what are you getting in return.
I’m not rich enough
The money doesn’t stop flowing once you’ve paid for that big bike, that’s usually just the start. I’ll have to buy new gear, will have to save money for maintenance costs, and spend a lot on insurance.
More importantly, only the super-rich can ride around on big bikes without caring about the fuel costs. For someone like me who wants to travel as far as possible while spending as little as possible, a superbike just doesn’t enter the equation. I’ve seen people touring on Daytonas, S1000RRs and R1s, it looks cool for sure, but I can’t do it.
If I buy a superbike, the most logical thing to do with it would be to take it to the track. Becoming a track addict is similar to becoming a heroin junkie, you’re always out of money, there’s always something more to buy, and you find yourself sucking bleedy dicks in dark alleys to support the habit.
And then there are upgrades. The entire superbike ecosystem is designed to squeeze you dry.
I’ve always said that bikes are a means to an end for me, and it doesn’t make financial sense to spend too much on the means. It’s like air travel, I always go economy class even if I can afford business, because the flight doesn’t matter. If I ever start getting angered by an annoying passenger, like someone sitting next to me and hogging the entire armrest, or someone with a crying baby who don’t seem to care about others, I tell myself that this 10,000 km journey would have taken 10 years in 1876, a bit of inconvenience for 10 hours is no big deal.
This isn’t what I want
This is perhaps the most important reason, I do not have the need for a superbike, I don’t want one. I don’t want to wake up people in the middle of the night with my exhaust, I don’t need wheelies on demand, I have nobody to impress. Most people who buy a sports bike do so because the bike is more than just a machine to them, a symbol of something else. My entire aim in life is to be as less symbolic as possible.
If there was no other option, if all bikes were costly to live with, then I guess it would make some sense, although in that case it’s quite possible that I would never have got involved with motorcycles to begin with. The good thing is that we have cheaper choices, machines that do exactly what we want them to do at 10% the cost of a superbike. There’s no logical explanation why someone would give up on such a choice.
Let’s say I pick up a Ninja 1000, and take it on a ride to Scotland. I may not be able to enjoy the twisties because of the fear of crashing something costly. I may not be able to enjoy my time off the bike because of the danger of it getting stolen. Every fuel stop, every oil change, every insurance renewal would remind me of a bad decision.
I know this seems like a lot of negativity for one article, but to me it is important to live within my means. It doesn’t take much to max out credit cards, take personal loans, and go into debt. Maybe when you are old such decisions feel like the right ones, but I’m too skeptical of destroying my present for the vague promise of a smile when I’m about to die.
Everything would be funny when I’m about to die.
This is why I liked the Duke so much, and why I stuck with it for so long even though I was bored with it. You just ride the shit out of that thing, leave it in jungles, smash it into rocks, it doesn’t complain, it doesn’t matter. Everything can be fixed for a few bucks, you can truly enjoy the bike, and the experience that comes with owning it.
In the end it’s the fear of buying something too valuable, I think that’s why too many superbikes end up being sold on forums with 700 kms of usage in 3 years. I don’t want to buy something that I’m afraid to use, I don’t want to buy something that I’m afraid to lose.