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Old 06-04-2012, 12:06 PM   #1
CaptCrash
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In Praise of 35 horses

In Praise of 35 Horses

Yup. This is about the joy and excitement of 35 ponies. If you're asking yourself, "Really? Does he intend to try and convince me that 35hp is a good thing?" you'd be wrong. I figure that my audience for this is broken into 3 groups.

1. Folks who automatically say, "You can never have enough horsepower and you're always better off with more."

2. Folks who say, "Really? Won't you get bored and need to trade up? Low power is for beginners right?"

3. Folks who say, "Hell yes. Nothings better than going fast on something slow!"

If you belong to one of the first two groups--give me a chance and think this through with me and I believe you may find that low power bikes aren't just for beginners or things we outgrow. Low power bikes are where we can build a basic skill set and exploit our inner intellectual rider. Low power bikes help hone our craft and craft is the first step to becoming "crafty".

Low power bikes are interesting because if you want to ride with real speed you have to create the speed yourself. With 30 or even forty ponies you can't come out of that corner, stand the bike up and unleash hellfire; you need to pack speed with you. Big horses allow you to spank it on the straights and then park it up in the corners. Too often riders with excessive power race from corner to corner only to gently bend the bike around the next turn and then turn the dial to eleven before wildly backing off and carefully making the next turn.

In order to ride quickly on a low power bike you need to "carry more speed". This means you want to enter a turn with good speed but you also need to exit with as much as you possibly can. The concept of carrying speed is vital to low output bikes because you can't just twist and go. You don't have 150 ponies--you have 1/5th that available and you not only need to make the most of that meager number you need what the military would call a "Force Multiplier". According to the DOD a force multiplier is defined as: "A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment."

The force multiplier that small bikes employ is (drum roll): Smoothness.

Generally we talk about big horsepower getting you into big trouble quickly and that's true, it will. But, an important conversation to have is that big power will camouflage poor riding and give you a false sense of grandeur. Because you can tap the ton on that straight you think you're fast when in fact you're only fast on the straights--in corners? You're a roadblock. That abundance of throttle and lack of corner speed is one of the reasons huge power should be avoided by newbies; it's the basis of that hard saying "In slow, out fast. In fast--out dead". Trying to make time in the straights is often why we crash in corners. Being able to run up into triple digits can lead to leaving the paved roadway and striking fixed objects--comprehende?

With 30 ponies you have to manage your throttle and brakes and ride with real awareness of speed because once you lose speed it's very difficult to get it back. Since you're trying to have as much speed as possible at the exit you pay real attention to entry and line. A sloppy rider is hard on the gas and hard on the brakes trying to make time in the straights figuring horsepower will fix things. A smooth rider will be more in control and not as ragged and out of shape as they coax more out of the bike. Where do you think sayings like "smooth is fast and fast is smooth" come from? They are bits of wisdom garnered in the real world.

Are 35 ponies too few? Not for me. Riding is fun. BIG fun. I won't turn you down if you offer me a chance to ride that SS1000R, I'd be happy to twist that things tail. But I won't turn down a ride on a 250 twin either. Why? Because if it's got two wheels I'm gonna have a good time with it AND because I learned to ride on underpowered bikes I know that it's not the size of the wand it's the magic in the wizard that makes things happen.

Don't be afraid to learn to ride. Don't be worried the bike is 'too small'. It ain't. Only thing that might be too small is your mind. Open it.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:48 PM   #2
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Power to weight, and torque... is fun.

A heavy 35hp bike (ninja 250/cbr250) is lame.

A wr250x can be big fun.

but a plated yz250f would be even more fun than those. Power to weight!
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:49 PM   #3
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Power to weight, and torque... is fun.

A heavy 35hp bike (ninja 250/cbr250) is lame.
!

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Old 06-05-2012, 07:18 AM   #4
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Every bike is heavy with me on it, and I still love the low horsepower rides. Great post, OP!
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mr.P View Post
Power to weight, and torque... is fun.

A heavy 35hp bike (ninja 250/cbr250) is lame.

A wr250x can be big fun.

but a plated yz250f would be even more fun than those. Power to weight!
I suspect there are ten people in the AFM who could stomp your butt at a racetrack while riding a Ninja 250, with you on your bike of choice.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:51 AM   #6
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Ninja 250 is about 29hp at the rear wheel, stock.

35hp would make it a front runner in the AFM.

Just sayin'

Overall though, agree, to a point. I used to love borrowing my friends CBR400RR.

But I got sick to death of literally 4 downchanges to pass anything apart from farm tractors. If it was my weekend toy and nothing else, I agree 100%.

But to live with daily...

So that's why you have 2 bikes Or more...
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:58 AM   #7
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great write up, is too bad most new riders will fail to follow this advice. a UK moto mag did an experiment with a gsxr 600. they mapped out a route with mixture of street/freeway etc. at its peak, the rider only got to use 23hp of the bikes output. my favorite bike right now makes under 40hp and im ready to sell the other bike making almost twice the power....
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:05 AM   #8
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great write up, is too bad most new riders will fail to follow this advice. a UK moto mag did an experiment with a gsxr 600. they mapped out a route with mixture of street/freeway etc. at its peak, the rider only got to use 23hp of the bikes output. my favorite bike right now makes under 40hp and im ready to sell the other bike making almost twice the power....
While true, what that misses is that that GSXR is doing that without being wrung to the redline to get to it, making it a much more palatable solution for everyday riding.

Sure, on a big bike, I almost never redline the thing - you can barely change from 1st to second fast enough, and by that time you're going over 90mph anyway.

But I DO miss that on big bikes, overtaking is simply twist and go, no down-change needed.

That doesn't stop the learning merit of riding on a small bike in the twistier, nor the fun it brings.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:17 AM   #9
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oh no, im not saying big bikes are all useless or evil. if new riders were willing to start on lower hp bike, the fatalities and injuries would reduce a bit. I like the big power at my disposal in a touring bike,to move all that weight and to make that pass uphill and around the guy doing 50 talking on the phone....
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:45 PM   #10
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At the recent BARF rally I was silently lamenting the not quite 60 hp of my usual ride while lusting in my heart after the big horsepower rides of some of my friends. While plotting what bike I should get next, one of my riding buddies (with about 100 hp) observed, "I've never seen you ride faster than you did on the KLR you used to own." Here I am thinking I need more power, and George is telling me I was faster with less!

The only real limitation most of the time is when it comes to overtaking. It requires more patience and more planning on a lower power bike.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:51 PM   #11
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I suspect there are ten Proffesionals in the AFM who could Turn Quicker Laptimes at a A racetrack they frequent often while riding a Very well handling slow in a straight line motorcycle with you on A bike you have never ridden at a track you have never seen.


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Old 06-13-2012, 01:39 PM   #12
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While I do enjoy the warp acceleration of a K1300S, the nimbleness of a supermoto is more fun (other than on a freeway). So many options in a corner that I am still getting used to what the hell to do.
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:25 AM   #13
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ftfy
Oh, to be young and ignorant.

No, dude.... They'd stomp the shit out of you. Seriously.
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Old 06-14-2012, 09:06 PM   #14
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ftfy
Lol, whatever.

I know, let's internet benchrace. What's your best laptime, on any bike, at any of the local tracks?
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:16 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CaptCrash View Post
In Praise of 35 Horses

Yup. This is about the joy and excitement of 35 ponies. If you're asking yourself, "Really? Does he intend to try and convince me that 35hp is a good thing?" you'd be wrong. I figure that my audience for this is broken into 3 groups.

1. Folks who automatically say, "You can never have enough horsepower and you're always better off with more."

2. Folks who say, "Really? Won't you get bored and need to trade up? Low power is for beginners right?"

3. Folks who say, "Hell yes. Nothings better than going fast on something slow!"

If you belong to one of the first two groups--give me a chance and think this through with me and I believe you may find that low power bikes aren't just for beginners or things we outgrow. Low power bikes are where we can build a basic skill set and exploit our inner intellectual rider. Low power bikes help hone our craft and craft is the first step to becoming "crafty".

Low power bikes are interesting because if you want to ride with real speed you have to create the speed yourself. With 30 or even forty ponies you can't come out of that corner, stand the bike up and unleash hellfire; you need to pack speed with you. Big horses allow you to spank it on the straights and then park it up in the corners. Too often riders with excessive power race from corner to corner only to gently bend the bike around the next turn and then turn the dial to eleven before wildly backing off and carefully making the next turn.

In order to ride quickly on a low power bike you need to "carry more speed". This means you want to enter a turn with good speed but you also need to exit with as much as you possibly can. The concept of carrying speed is vital to low output bikes because you can't just twist and go. You don't have 150 ponies--you have 1/5th that available and you not only need to make the most of that meager number you need what the military would call a "Force Multiplier". According to the DOD a force multiplier is defined as: "A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment."

The force multiplier that small bikes employ is (drum roll): Smoothness.

Generally we talk about big horsepower getting you into big trouble quickly and that's true, it will. But, an important conversation to have is that big power will camouflage poor riding and give you a false sense of grandeur. Because you can tap the ton on that straight you think you're fast when in fact you're only fast on the straights--in corners? You're a roadblock. That abundance of throttle and lack of corner speed is one of the reasons huge power should be avoided by newbies; it's the basis of that hard saying "In slow, out fast. In fast--out dead". Trying to make time in the straights is often why we crash in corners. Being able to run up into triple digits can lead to leaving the paved roadway and striking fixed objects--comprehende?

With 30 ponies you have to manage your throttle and brakes and ride with real awareness of speed because once you lose speed it's very difficult to get it back. Since you're trying to have as much speed as possible at the exit you pay real attention to entry and line. A sloppy rider is hard on the gas and hard on the brakes trying to make time in the straights figuring horsepower will fix things. A smooth rider will be more in control and not as ragged and out of shape as they coax more out of the bike. Where do you think sayings like "smooth is fast and fast is smooth" come from? They are bits of wisdom garnered in the real world.

Are 35 ponies too few? Not for me. Riding is fun. BIG fun. I won't turn you down if you offer me a chance to ride that SS1000R, I'd be happy to twist that things tail. But I won't turn down a ride on a 250 twin either. Why? Because if it's got two wheels I'm gonna have a good time with it AND because I learned to ride on underpowered bikes I know that it's not the size of the wand it's the magic in the wizard that makes things happen.

Don't be afraid to learn to ride. Don't be worried the bike is 'too small'. It ain't. Only thing that might be too small is your mind. Open it.
I definitively agree, my first bike was a 1985 Nighthawk CB650 and that bike was fun, now I am on a 929 and it has been a real challenge for me to really learn to ride fast through the twisties, especially trying to keep up with KTM Strawn dragging pegs on his supermoto leaving me every time lol. Learning to be smooth on a big or small bike is also the key to being fast on it and i'm sure people don't ever do this on the bigger bikes, some reason almost every time I see a one liter bike around here the chicken strips are over an inch or more. I actually have been heavily considering getting a supermoto in place of my bike just for this same reason, but still have a much to learn no matter what.
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