Some bikers think motorcycles are impractical, so they sell their bikes when they have a baby… “No time to ride.” And although its true you can’t go out for the day wandering around Bear Mountain when you have a baby at home, there’s nothing impractical about being able to get from point A to point B more quickly. Even if it’s just a trip to the bank or to Costco for a box of diapers, speed is of the essence, and going on two wheels is always faster than four… And in most parts of the city, it’s faster than taking public transportation. But all this means you need a comfortable and practical motorcycle. People who don’t think motorcycles are practical around the city either ride huge highway monsters, or can’t ride too well (so riding requires too much concentration for them), or have a really impractical bike for getting around the city (which unfortunately means some of the sexier bikes on the market). So what kind of bike would be a good for a dad?
1. Reliable. No classics or clunkers. Unfortunately for me that means to Ducati 916… beautiful, and worth any extra trouble, but there’s just no time to deal with frequent maintenance.
2. Comfortably light. An R6 is reliable and fun on the track, but for me it’s tall and tippy making it a bit of work in heavy traffic, it feels heavier going slow than it really is. I think there are a lot of bikes like that, fine once you’re moving but that feel heavy at slow speeds. An SV650, on the other hand weighs almost the same as an R6, but because of where the weight is, and the higher bar position, it feels really light even at low speeds. You want something that’s easy enough to ride all day (not that you’ll get a whole day to ride).
3. Enough power. Underpowered bikes are fun, but for easy riding you want a good amount of power on tap. Two strokes are too much work (not that you can get plates for them in NY), but so are a lot of smaller engine bikes. Everyone thinks a dad should ride something slow and pedestrian… but realy, you want something that you don’t have to worry about being the “right” gear to pass cars and trucks. Once again a bike like the R6 is too much work to rev into the right gear to be an easy rider for a tired, yet thrilled, father of a newborn. But you it doesn’t necessarily have to be a “fast” bike; scooters like the T-Max have a good amount of torque even though they lack of the top speed of faster bikes…
4. Storage capability. Dads need to carry stuff. Whether it’s stuff for work, or just room for a change of clothes, or a place to strap a box of diapers or supplies from the Pharmacy. Side cases, saddlebags, tail bags…but they have to work for the bike. I have a tail bag for my CBR that I never use because (although it’s a good bag) it’s too much work to strap on securely, and then I have to unhook it and take it with me when I park. A semi-permanent bag setup or ones with quick release straps would work better. Whatever the bike, it has to have good storage options.
5. And depending on how old your kids are, the bike might need to be easy to ride as a passenger. Sportbikes are usually harder to be a good passenger on because you’re perched high up and there’s nothing to hold onto. A Honda Goldwing is very easy to be a passenger on, but it around the city it’s bigger than a lot of cars. Backrests like the kind that come with some top cases are good for passengers, and many standard motorcycles have grab rails towards the rear of the seat. There are also aftermarket solutions like the PSR 2-Up Grab Rail for around $130.
So what’s the perfect bike for dad (okay Mom’s too, but this is a Father’s Day theme)? It should be reliable like…well most modern bikes from the big motorcycle makers…have the storage of a Goldwing, the power of a Busa, the lightness of a 250 and be easy to ride pillion as a Honda Cub… Are you a dad? What’s the perfect bike for you? Let the world know, in the comments section!
[PS - yes I am a new dad, which is why the blog has been quieter than usual these past couple of months... Starting to get a better rhythm though, so look for more posts to come one of these days.]