New riders shouldn't purchase...
New riders shouldn't purchase anything but a beginner bike unless they'd like to prematurely test their gear.
Some Sportbike Salespeople have been classified as sharks, swindlers, commission mongers, professors of squidology and pushers of premature insurance claims, but is that a gross misjudgment? A veteran rider is quick to spot an outrageous showroom claim but the new rider is easily deaf to anything but the excitement of buying a first bike. For every solid sales speech there is one so far off the wall that a newbie may just buy into it. Entering the world of sportbikes is a beautifully dangerous undertaking and the way one learns the ropes will ultimately decide whether or not they progress past that first bike. SSB went undercover to find out firsthand what dealerships were telling those they thought to be fresh to the scene with money to burn.
We visited five dealerships—from large to mom-and-pop—peppered throughout Los Angeles. At each, we kept an open ear for sales conversations and acted as prospective buyers with meager knowledge about motorcycling. With the goal of getting the lowdown on what a newbie encounters when the blinding excitement of hitting the street meets the reality of buying an entry steed, we set off. The names of the infiltrated were omitted for legality reasons but each editor dropped onto sales floors and swallowed whatever was spewed. Here were the worst offenders we recorded. Try not to vomit.
Not all salesmen are sharks,...
Not all salesmen are sharks, but remember, they're all in the business of moving bikes.
On a trip to a major dealer and gear retailer, my attention turned to a used Yamaha R1 with aftermarket wheels and a high price tag due in part to exorbitant dealer prep charges. I pulled a salesman aside for more information. He looked at me and without mentioning the wheel’s brand name said they were “really expensive and for performance.” I asked for the specifics and with a blank stare he asked me to wait a moment while he grabbed a second and third opinion. The other salespeople offered no further insight but did butcher the Carrozzeria name in an attempt to answer the question. The mystery wheels were actually Performance Machine, but they weren’t aware of that. I then noticed the throttle stuck even though the sticker price included an expensive “dealer prep” fee that was supposed to assure the bike was entirely road worthy. At this point I had enough and headed for the exit.
Sean: On a Saturday afternoon, I approached a salesman in regards to purchasing my first bike. I made it clear that I had no riding experience but liked the way sportbikes looked. After discussing what felt the most comfortable he brought me out to a recently traded-in 2008 GSX-R750 that would be the “perfect bike for me.” It came equipped with a full Yoshimura exhaust, Power Commander and Pazzo levers (quickly toting the high price but hesitantly pronouncing the brand name). Repeatedly, he expressed the benefits of using, “what they call an A, B, C switch” for its ability to “clip the nuts off the bike,” until I was ready for full power. He gave me absolute reassurance that this was the bike to start on for the room it left its rider to grow. We then made our way back into the showroom where he pointed out R6s to GSX-R1000s as if fishing for where my eyes would light up brightest. That is when I asked about the brand new S1000RRs sitting on the wall. I saw a steaming pile of BS fall from his lips and transform into words at that moment: “An S1000 is actually better than a 600 for a beginner because all of the electronics. It will slowly feed in the power on lower modes and all the California Superbike School instructors teach their new riders on this bike—it’s just expensive.”
Take a stand against power...
Take a stand against power mode mythology. A button won't turn a beast into a baby.
I left shortly after.
Justin: On a recent trip to the local dealer I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching a complete newb walk in for a Ninja 650 and ride away (barely) on a new R1. I listened to him tell the salesman how “tight” he thought the 650 was after reading about it, but when the salesman didn’t reassure him about his choice, the newb replied with, “Alright, where’s the baddest bike in here then?” The salesman pointed to the R1 and said, “The R1 is tough to beat and Yamaha is running special financing on it,” and the buyer instantly jumped for the deal without even asking about the sticker price. Once the salesman started the bike and let the guy rev it to the moon, it was game over. On my exit, I witnessed the new R1 owner wobbling and stalling his way through the parking lot. He got halfway out before precariously teetering on the downward slope leading onto the road only to give up and park it on the curb. He eventually perched atop the saddle, ensuring that he looked cool and phoned for help.