Multiple Motorcycle Syndrome | MMS

The Outside Edge

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeBy George Tranos

A friend of mine recently asked me to test ride a motorcycle that he was interested in buying. This was not something that I was adverse to doing, but rather a task that I was in a position to perform as he was not. Plans took me north to the Americade Touring Rally in Lake George, New York, at the beginning of June. Many of the major motorcycle manufacturers would be there and opportunities to demo ride their new models would be available. I leapt at the chance to help a friend!


After arrival at the rally, I headed over to the demo fleet and began assessing the possibilities. Moments like this linger in your mind like a child trying to decide what flavor of ice cream they want on the cone they’re about to eat. What shall I have – chocolate, vanilla or maybe rocky road? I perused the assortment of makes and models eagerly awaiting the one standout that would draw my undivided attention. My friend’s choice of motorcycle, a KTM 1290 Super Duke R, was nowhere to be found. Apparently, KTM (and BMW, Triumph, Aprilia, Ducati and Moto Guzzi) decided to skip Americade this year. Luckily, there were many other bike makers to choose from including Harley-Davidson, Indian, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, Victory and Kymco.

I decide to give Suzuki a try and scheduled a couple of rides on a Hayabusa and a V-Strom 1000. I also was able to schedule a Honda Intercepter and a Kawasaki Versys. My dance card full, I rode each and every one of these and a few more over the course of three days. Each bike offered something different and had strengths and weaknesses, pluses and minuses. Given the right circumstances, I could own any of these motorcycles.

It costs a lot of money to provide demo rides for hundreds of people over five days. The large bike manufacturers want to sell motorcycles and the best way to determine if you really like one is to ride it. They know this and provide this opportunity for people to be bitten by the bug. It is one thing to read about a bike in a review in a magazine and quite another to actually throw your leg over it, start it, stop it and take it for a spin on a variety of roads.

Part of the fun of this and many rallies is to get a chance to talk to other enthusiasts and learn what they want out of a motorcycle. Some were just riding demos to experience something that they would never own. Of these, a few were surprised when they actually liked what they rode even though they didn’t think they would.

If you’ve been riding any length of time, you know that one bike can’t do everything well. Sure there are some motorcycles that can be used for touring, sport riding, cruising and commuting but other bikes may be better at any one of these things. Specialization has created so many motorcycle niches that it’s hard to keep up these days.

Riding another type of bike than what you currently own can be downright dangerous. And I mean that in a financial sense in addition to a physical risk. Taking that demo or test ride can make you open your wallet and sign on the dotted line. You risk coming down with “multiple motorcycle syndrome” (MMS). It may cause insomnia, heartache and lust. It may make you have to choose amongst your flock and leave those left behind jealous and envious of your intentions.

I admit it; I too suffer from this syndrome. It was too hard to resist its power and I am now looking for a 12-step program to free myself from its bounds. While I did not succumb again this year, there have been years past where the ride back from Americade detoured through my local motorcycle dealer prior to arriving safely at home. As to my friend, it is lucky for him (and maybe for me as well) that KTM did not attend Americade. We both might have had another choice to make when we went out for a ride. So be careful when a friend asks you to help in this endeavor as you too might find yourself a victim of MMS!

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