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CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/12/24 12:40 p.m.

TL;DR I'm 41 and want to buy a sport bike to ride around the mountains in Colorado. Am I nuts?

EDIT: I have no prior motorcycle experience, am a cautious driver and am in good physical condition.

In college I always wanted a 916, but had the misfortune of moving to Florida where the roads are boring and the drivers are murderous. Fast forward 15 years and I'm moving to the Rockies and am considering either a Ducati 916/748/996 or a Honda RC51. 

Anybody here start riding sport bikes later in life? If so, any advice beyond ATGATT and start out with a smaller bike?



eedavis GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/12/24 12:57 p.m.

o.b. out of context quote:

You won't regret it (if you live). 
  -- Mark Twain

Get some training. IDK who does it out there, but find someone that teaches "road racing on dirt" or similar. Dirt flat track would be a close second. HDPE for bikes after that, or race school. If I have my history right, all the car HDPEs basically grew out of Keith Code's California Superbike School anyways. Lots of the material was straight lifted from Keith.

RC51 ... sounds awesome, steering is seriously heavy. Not dealbrakingly so IMO, just my observation.


edit: I don't think a 916 or 748 is too big for a first bike. I mean they're quick, but not not uncomprehensibly so. A 996, IDK, never ridden one. Bottom line the throttle works both directions on all bikes, and if you really really learn dynamics (see above), starting on a faster-than-strictly-sane bike isn't a recipe for certain pain. You're not a teenager any more, presumably you learned some self-preservation along the way? ;)

wearymicrobe PowerDork
6/12/24 1:03 p.m.

43 here and still on sport bikes. Sport bikes for the track, fast nakeds for the street. 

You want something modern with ABS and all the electronic nannies trust me. You can get whatever bike you want the rules for not buying silly bikes is for the 18-30 year old riders. You posted a 748 which is backbreaking to ride. I am in fantastic shape and ride daily and 1 hour on a 748 would kill me. You want one of the new nakeds, like a V2 streetfighter. Much better ergos, easy to maintain, all the electronic goodies and if you buy with say 3-4K miles used you can ride it to 15K miles, do a desmo service and sell it for pretty close to what you paid.  


DUCATI STREETFIGHTER V2 (2022 - on) Review


If you must have fairings then a Ducati 950s has the look of a sport bike but more relaxed egros, at around 110hp it's damn near the perfect all around bike. I love my stupid 220hp super naked but if I had to pick having only one bike and it was going to be a Ducati this is the one that is the best of all worlds. 


2024 Supersport 950S - DUCATI RED - ORDER NOW! - Ducati of Santa Barbara

brandonsmash GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/12/24 1:47 p.m.

41 is old? Get out of here.

I'm in my 40s and have been riding sport bikes for 20+ years. For the past 10 years or so I've favored supernakeds; I am not Jorge Lorenzo. That said, why not get what you're after? You're absolutely on the right page with starting a bit smaller (at 41 you should have better impulse control, but high-hp bikes can get shockingly fast in a hurry) and wearing gear. 

Take an MSF course before buying anything. Test-sit a few motorcycles. Take an intermediate MSF course after a few thousand miles of experience. 

Buy a GOOD helmet: Most decent helmets will share similar safety characteristics, but certain makes/models may fit you much better and a good-fitting helmet makes all the difference in the world to ride comfort. Try a Shoei, try an Arai. Have yourself actually fitted for a lid.

Wear earplugs while riding. The engine noise isn't the harsh bit, it's the wind noise. Just wear earplugs. Howard Leight Max plugs are among the best foamies I've tried and I buy them by the case. 

RC51 and the older Ducatis will require some maintenance; the Ducs in particular require frequent valve checks and belt services. The 996 Testastretta requires, if memory serves, valve checks every 6k miles and cam belts every 12. It's also a brilliant engine. 

Get after it. Sign up for an MSF course not tomorrow, but today. Right now. 

Edited to add a photo of my garage with my SFV4 on display.



CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/12/24 1:48 p.m.

Thanks all!

Getting fitted for helmet and gear seems like good advice. I enjoy maintenance (already checked out the 748's factory service manual, it's decent) so the older bikes should be fine.

I really have no interest in taking one to the track or HPDE but if it will make me safer on the streets I'd consider it. 

Why are ABS/Nannies desirable on bikes for the street?

brandonsmash GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/12/24 1:51 p.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

It's one thing to lock up brakes on a car where you have four contact patches and are in a single plane. On a bike, locking up either or both of the wheels can have much more immediate and unpleasant consequences. Wheelie control is also nice to have if you get a little aggressive on the throttle. That said, I rode without either for 20 years and lived but did have a couple exciting moments along the way. 

bobzilla MegaDork
6/12/24 1:52 p.m.

At 42 I sold my CB750 nighthawk and stepped up to a FZ-09. It was fun for the first year or two but I noticed that my reflexes were not fast enough for that bike. I sold it and haven't looked back. I got a good 20 years of riding in without an issue and took that as a win. With all the traffic around me now along with the inattentive drivers I figured it was good to go. 

If you're quick enough for it, go for it. I learned my limits and decided when to let it go on my terms and not in a hospital. 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
6/12/24 1:52 p.m.

First post in the thread had the question of "am I nuts?" and I kept waiting to read the crazy part.  

I wouldn't get too hung up on the exact make & model of first bike for this, and you won't be outriding anything faster than a modern 400cc bike for a while, so going straight to a Ducati or RC51 (or any hotter Honda) doesn't really have much weight to me.  I wouldn't get that wound up, myself, about having ABS but I like fuel injection and not messing with carbs so almost anything 15 years old or newer would probably be fine to me.  I've never owned a Ducati so I won't speak to what ownership or riding is really like.  I just wouldn't pay a premium for them.  

Honestly I'd probably go looking for an SV650 if you fit comfortably.  A bike you aren't fairly comfortable on will be a bike you rarely ride.  They seem like more than enough bike for most riding unless you're wanting to cover real distance.  

I lived in Denver for most of a year and didn't like how short the riding season is unless I wanted to stay out of the mountains.  Windchill when riding a motorcycle is not to be ignored.

93gsxturbo UberDork
6/12/24 1:54 p.m.

My buddy is in his 70s and still hangs the front wheel on his R1 for blocks at a time.  If he can do it so can you.  

914Driver MegaDork
6/12/24 2:08 p.m.

Absolutely not too old!    You've had a desire for two decades, if you're healthy and can think fast enough to keep up with the bike, Goblessya!   

Only problem I see with sport bikes are kids with little to no experience getting one too early, next thing they're a grease spot on the road.  Go, have fun, but remember; just looking between cars or somewhere up the road and you're THERE.  

As far as comfort, my BMW sport bike had short add-on risers, eases the back.

My $0.02

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/12/24 2:40 p.m.

46 here ...

I started quite young at around 13, but my younger brother learned on my 2000 R1 pictured above at around 19 years old. 

My opinion is buy whatever size you like and be mindful of your limits. I would encourage the RC51, awesome bike and it will keep its value. 

golfduke Dork
6/12/24 2:47 p.m.

Just to echo everyone else's senitments-  Sportbikes have come a long way with relaxed ergonomics while still being extremely competent and capable enough for 99.999% of usage cases.  Gone are the days of belly-on-tank crotch rockets, unless you're proper racing with it on track.  Go sit on as many models as you can find at all of your local powersports shops, and see what you love and hate.  From there, we can better guide you to something that suits your preferences and desires better.  

chaparral SuperDork
6/12/24 2:50 p.m.

You'll want to start on something slower than a missile with handlebars. 

Ninja 300s are free; you will sell it for what you paid for it. I suspect that KTM Duke 390s and RC390s are similar now. 

RC51s are great bikes but their owners sure are proud of them. Mine was terrific. You can get something with antilock brakes for what one costs now. 

If you like twins, the Ducati 848 and later finally became reasonably reliable and durable. 


Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/12/24 2:50 p.m.

My dad was getting podium finishes into his 70s. If there's anything good about getting older it is that you are not as beholden to your ego and don't feel like you have to be running around at 9/10 all the time. Go for it, but mind what people are saying about comfort.  

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/12/24 2:57 p.m.

I went by the bikes you mentioned, but if I was in your shoes, I would look hard at a Yamaha MT-07.

Appleseed MegaDork
6/12/24 3:11 p.m.

Bike don't care how old you are. Don't care who you voted for, what your religion is, you gender. Don't care. They just want to run.

1988RedT2 MegaDork
6/12/24 3:42 p.m.

I waited until I was over 40 to get my Class M endorsement and get my first bike.  Doesn't matter how fast the bike is, if you've lived to be 41, you probably have a pretty good idea about how to make it to 42.

Driven5 PowerDork
6/12/24 3:55 p.m.

Mostly, I wouldn't recommend a bike you're afraid to drop as a first bike.

Maybe get the classic Duc for the second bike.

myf16n GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/12/24 4:35 p.m.

I started riding at 18 and am about to turn 61 and am still riding my 1998 Yamaha R1 and my BMW S1000rr. I recently rode the western coast of the US with some buddies: https://youtu.be/dZMd5ZaeE9M?si=0Jp41RCk9i-bUj7p

Take a class. Immediately. Rebuild and polish your skills in a controlled environment with professional observation. Get something with ABS. Don't overestimate your mental or physical skills. Learn where the risks are, then manage them as accurately as possible. To state the obvious, there are single vehicle accidents and multi-vehicle accidents. The ratio between them varies year to year, but not much more than 45-50% in either direction. Here's the kicker...in the multi-vehicle accidents, the motorcycle is the striking vehicle more than 90% of the time. Learn (or relearn) counter-steering. Consciously use it every time you ride so it will be a part of your lizard-brain reaction when an emergency arises.

Get something with ABS.

Be honest with yourself. Are you a good driver? What would your passengers say? Initially you will bring your car driving skills to the motorcycle. While that can be a good start, it is rarely enough.

Get something with ABS.

Don't ask or expect your body (& mind) to do something it cannot do: see well at dusk, multi-task, less than 0.5-1.5sec reaction time, and many more.

Get something with ABS.

Purchase this book immediately: https://a.co/d/685rXxE

Get something with ABS.

Transparency: I've been an MSF and CMSP Instructor for 34 years now. I eat, sleep, live, drink, and breathe motorcycles and motorcycle safety.

Get something with ABS.

I worked at a Ducati shop for a few years and frequently rode the 748, 916, 955, 996, 998 family. Super fun! Super uncomfortable unless you were actively in a turn. I have many miles on an RC51. Fun, tempermental, heavy, poor fuel economy, fun when turning.

Get something with ABS.

Helping people be safer on a motorcycle is a part of me. I'm happy to discuss this privately over the phone or email if that is easier.

Get something with ABS.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
6/12/24 5:23 p.m.

If you have the wherewithal to buy a 916, even if you don't ride it you can park it in your living room and stare at it.  smiley  I've always thought they were the best looking modern sportbike made.

jfryjfry UltraDork
6/12/24 7:50 p.m.

I was looking at rc51's and stumbled across aprilias.  I ended up with a beautiful rsvr.  

That was about 15 years ago.  I'm at the point that, while I still ride, I don't ride as much as I used to and can't justify having as many bikes as I do.   

if you're interested, I'd be willing to sell it and it would be a good price.  You can contact me through a pm here or email my username at yarhoo. 


it's not the best pic - I'll just say it's a gorgeous bike, to me on par with that equally gorgeous 748. It sounds amazing.  And they are incredibly dependable and need little maintenance. 

I still ride it often and I'm quite a bit older than you. 

WOW Really Paul?
WOW Really Paul? MegaDork
6/12/24 9:32 p.m.

I'm about to turn 38, still have the boosted Muzzy Raptor(first gen zx10r) 

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
6/13/24 12:42 p.m.

What's your current level of motorcycle experience? How to approach this is going to be very different if it's your first motorcycle, or if you've spent the past 20 years on a motorcross track and now want a street bike.

I'd echo the comments on ABS. I dropped a GS500 when I locked the front wheel making a panic stop. If the bike had ABS, or maybe if I had spent a lot of time practicing emergency moves on a dirt bike, I might have kept it upright and gone on my way.

fatallightning HalfDork
6/13/24 3:08 p.m.

I love the looks of the 996/748 et al, but the ergonomics really are torture rack. The 748 is actually fairly mild imo power-wise, but it really is work to sit on unless your'e riding it hard. Besides the obvious desmo services, they're also notorious for flaking chrome off the rockers, which wipes the cams. 

I too am a fan of modern sport nakeds, and there's tons of great ones out there. Monster, MT-07, Tuono 660, Duke 790/890, etc. ABS is one of those things that saves your ass when you don't know it. I learned the hard way that once you lock up the front, the bars gets crossed up and tuck damn near immediately and you're on your head. Modern IMU traction control is also pretty seemless, not the intrusive throttle cuts like you'd think, although this is more important on open class bikes. 

The Aprilias mentioned above are great value buys, RC51s have gone up quite a bit recently. 

wawazat SuperDork
6/13/24 5:23 p.m.

Started riding and got my M endorsement at 53.  Old H-D was cool as hell but miserable to ride so I moved to a Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic.  Not fast, looks great, sounds awesome, and reliable and basic platform (air cooled 2 valve motor) with upright ergonomics.  Very happy with my choice.  

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