Many riders may wonder about heavy motorcycles and whether they are worth it. I am a smaller guy, and I was wondering the same thing a long time ago.
You have to do your due diligence before buying your motorcycle, and one of the steps that you need to make is to ensure that you will not only be comfortable with your motorcycle but also find it easy to ride. Thus weight is always part of the equation.
Are heavy motorcycles hard to ride? Heavy motorcycles are hard to ride at slow speeds and do other maneuvers like pushing the motorcycle, backing it up, parking it, or doing u-turns. Heavy motorcycles are also harder to lift when tipped. Once a heavy motorcycle starts rolling at higher speeds, it is more stable and not hard to ride.
In this article, I will discuss the aspects of riding heavier motorcycles, why and when you might find them harder to ride. And why you may not necessarily have to be afraid of heavy motorcycles. There are a few caveats here, so if you are curious to find out more, continue reading.
What is considered a heavy motorcycle?
Motorcycles come in different sizes and weights.
On average, motorcycles weigh about 450 pounds. However, there are both lighter and heavier motorcycles. The heavier motorcycles can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds. Touring motorcycles usually are some of the heaviest motorcycles. However, sport-tourers, cafe racers, cruisers, and sports bikes can also weigh about 500 pounds or more—especially if you are carrying something on them.
Usually, most motorcycle riders will consider a motorcycle that weighs more than 500 pounds to be heavy.
Of course, we are not talking about horsepower, torque, or engine displacement (CC). Here, we are focusing strictly on heavy—in terms of weight—motorcycles.
Different people will have a different opinion on what is a truly heavy motorcycle. Some riders have 900-pound touring motorcycles and are still finding them fun and easy to ride.
However, the rule of thumb states that if you cannot pick up your motorcycle by yourself, then you should probably not ride it in the first place.
So what one considers heavy might be light to another person.
Do you have to be physically strong to ride a heavy motorcycle?
To a certain extent, strength is important. Nobody can deny that. However, this does not mean that in order to ride your 800-pound motorcycle, you need to be an IFBB bodybuilder.
It is a good thing to stay in shape, but then again, this is important not just because you will be stronger and able to maneuver and control your motorcycle better but because it is also a part of a healthy lifestyle.
A heavier motorcycle will place more strain on your legs, core, and arms; however, if you rely only on raw physical strength to maneuver your motorcycle, you are doing something wrong.
In general, you should not rely on brute force while using your motorcycle.
After all, let’s not forget that there are plenty of very old people who are riding a Gold Wings, which weighs nearly 800 pounds.
Do beginners find heavy motorcycles harder to ride?
New motorcycle riders may find a lot of things about moving on two wheels difficult. Staying constantly aware of one’s surroundings, using the motorcycle controls, the power, speed, and the weight of the motorcycle are all things that beginner motorcycle riders may find difficult.
Riding a heavy motorcycle at high speeds is not going to be a problem for new riders. The difficulty will arise when doing the low-speed maneuvers and when the rider needs to move the motorcycle on their own.
A heavy motorcycle will be more challenging for new motorcycle riders compared to more experienced ones. Low-speed maneuvers are considered more tricky, in general, and doing them with a heavier motorcycle makes them even more challenging.
This, in combination with the lack of experience, makes heavy motorcycles a lot more difficult for new riders.
Beginners and smaller riders may find lighter motorcycles weighing between 300 to 400 pounds easier to ride.
When are heavy motorcycles hard to ride?
When you are moving at higher speeds, you will barely notice the weight of a motorcycle.
The moment when heavy motorcycles become really hard to ride is at low speeds. This includes parking, backing up, making u-turns, moving in tight spots, and anything that will require the rider to move the motorcycle while not under its own power.
Uneven roads and potholes can also easily throw you off balance with a heavier motorcycle and can be very dangerous.
Once you get moving with a heavy motorcycle, the weight is not such a serious problem. In fact, heavier motorcycles are usually more stable and less affected by winds at higher speeds when riding on highways and speedways.
Nevertheless, even though a heavier motorcycle will be easier to ride at highway speeds, many riders will not find that enough to buy a heavy motorcycle because of all the other downsides like the careful technique application, poor handling, gas mileage, and more. You just have to think about every step of the way a little more.
Why you might find heavy motorcycles harder to ride
Lack of physical strength
If you are finding your motorcycle too heavy and arduous to maneuver and control, you might want to consider a few things.
Hit the gym and stay in shape. Working out regularly will help you build more strength and endurance. This will help you better balance the motorcycle and keep it from falling, especially if you are parking on steep hills.
People weighing 160 pounds and below are usually the ones that will start feeling the weight of motorcycles weighing 500 pounds and above.
The technique is everything, getting a feel for how the balance and leverage work is mandatory; however, sometimes, everything can boil down to lack of physical strength.
The height of the motorcycle
Usually, the height of the motorcycle is not considered a significant problem. More experienced short riders can do pretty good on motorcycles that are almost as tall as them.
However, for a new rider, if the motorcycle is too tall and on the heavier side, this could cause lots of difficulties.
If you are on your tippy-toes on your motorcycle or not touching the ground at all, this could make not just heavy but even light motorcycles more difficult to control and maneuver and harder to ride.
A lot of problems stem from poor technique, which can be a result of a lack of experience.
Stopping uphill can be very difficult if you do not do it properly. Trying to physically fight with the motorcycle in order to prevent it from rolling back is not going to work—especially if your motorcycle is on the heavier side.
This is why a lot of riders will use the clutch and throttle combo and keep the motorcycle in first gear with the rear brake engaged. (Using the front brake can be a bad habit to get into, especially when not necessary. And a lot of people tip motorcycles because of it. Brake modulation is important.)
The majority of the new motorcycle riders usually have problems with the balance of heavier motorcycles. However, sometimes the difficulty may come from simply not following the safe riding practices.
For example, not being mindful of the road’s slope when parking and leaning with the motorcycle downhill. This will place a bigger percentage of the motorcycle’s weight on your foot. Instead, your uphill foot should be the first to touch the ground (leaning the motorcycle uphill).
If you tip your motorcycle too far no matter how strong you are, it may overwhelm you, so this is why the proper technique is important as you want to avoid those situations in the first place.
How to make riding a heavy motorcycle easier?
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice makes perfect. No matter how many times I say that I cannot do it justice. You need to get accustomed and used to the weight of the motorcycle.
Never underestimate your motorcycle. Mass is mass.
Focus on feeling the weight of the motorcycle by leaning it to the right and the left. Work on your balance and low-speed maneuvering. You want to get comfortable with how the motorcycle feels, its balance, and weight.
Practice low speed turns and figures eights. Try to get a good feel for where the center of balance of the motorcycle is.
Taking the MSF course is also worth doing (if you haven’t already) as they will teach you some excellent practice drills that will help you with controlling your motorcycle. Check out the advanced MSF courses as well. They are worth taking even by experienced riders sometimes.
Be mindful of your surroundings and the road. Never tilt your motorcycle too much, even heavier riders will drop their motorcycles if they lean it too much.
And lastly, consider starting to work out. You can join a local gym, work out from home, or go to a local park to train if you have access to an outdoor fitness park.