Switch it up

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeThe Outside Edge

Switch it up

By George Tranos

So you’ve been riding a while now and things are starting to get a little stale. You’ve had your motorcycle more than a few years and riding is less exciting now than when you first started. What can you do to spice things up a bit?  Try switching it up and trying something new!


One sign of a good rider is their versatility – their ability to adapt and ride many different types of motorcycle. Let’s face it – we all want to be comfortable in whatever we do. It’s great to modify a bike to make it fit you better but sometimes it’s great to try something completely different. If you’ve been riding a cruiser your whole life, what’s to stop you from getting on an entirely different style of motorcycle? Variety, as they say, is the spice of life and motorcycling is no different.


You might be pleasantly surprised to see that other types of motorcycles actually feel different. If you’re familiar with sportbikes, you might consider trying a touring bike, a cruiser or dual purpose machine. Different types of motorcycles stress other aspects of riding. You’ve probably heard that one of the fastest growing segments of motorcycles are the new adventure bikes – maybe you’d like to take a ride on one to see what all the fuss is all about?


Since many of us are ‘gearheads’ and are interested in the ‘motor’ part of ‘motorcycle’, today’s options include many different engine configurations. Each has its own allure. V-twins are popular choices for cruisers, while inline fours power many sportbikes. There are many other configurations as well and each has their own charm. Ever ride a triple cylinder motorcycle? I have a Triumph Sprint and its 1050cc triple emits a unique three cylinder howl and has a very torquey motor. There are V-fours, boxer twins, boxer sixes, inline sixes, parallel twins, singles – the list goes on and on. Each has a different feel. Try one and you may be surprised and pleased!


So how does someone get a chance to try lots of different bikes? One great way is to go to a rally where demo rides are offered. The manufacturers are more than willing to let you ride their bikes to entice you to buy one. Of course you must have a valid motorcycle endorsement, wear appropriate riding gear and sign a waiver of liability. You may be limited to the amount of time and route you ride and there may be a lead and trail rider to keep the group together and maintain a safe pace. I’ve done the demo rides at Americade and Daytona bike week and have been able to ride over a dozen different motorcycles over the course of a week. Riding bikes back-to-back like this gives you the opportunity to compare motorcycles under similar conditions and determine just what you like. It also gives you the ability to try something different that you might never have considered. Thinking back, I’ve ridden a Ducati 848, Victory Vegas, Triumph Rocket III, Honda Goldwing, Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, BMW K1600GT and many others that I may never own. Without demo rides, I might not have ever had the chance to do it.


Some dealers provide also provide demo rides. They may require you to sign a waiver or make a credit card charge to insure against damage. Some manufacturers also bring their demo fleet to local dealers and have group demo rides right from the dealership. Ask your local dealer or check the manufacturer website for information on their demo ride program.


You might also want to rent a motorcycle you’re interested in owning to provide you with an “extended” trial period prior to purchase. This can give you a better feel for the day-to-day capability and limitations of any machine.


In any case, if you get the chance to do so, try something new! You won’t be disappointed and it can help make you a better rider. You’ll at least get a better feel of what else is available and if you’re truly happy with your existing ride. You might be pleasantly surprised when you switch it up!