No - I'm not talking about eliminating the category of smaller more approachable motorcycles - I'm suggesting that we eliminate the phrases "beginner bike", "entry bike", "learner bike" etc from our daily discussions about motorcycles. It's going to be hard to do - but here is the reason for the suggestion:
"Beginner bikes" and similar phrases intone that a new rider will need to step up to a larger displacement to be considered a “true” motorcyclist. At least that is what they might hear. That thought is petrifying to a new rider when they look at the cost, complexity, weight and capability of the typical higher displacement range motorcycle. We will lose consideration as new riders feel that they may not be considered part of our world by electing to ride a smaller bike first - EXACTLY the sort of advice freely given to riders every day - but phrased in a way to push then into larger motorcycles prematurely, or worse, scare them away from riding all together.
I spoke with a podcaster about how she had often told people to go ahead and buy a bigger bike because they would only grow out of a smaller one in a few months. She now sees that that's exactly what they need to do, and that the progression from a smaller bike is critical to ongoing skills growth as riders self-elect to move up the product ladder. Besides, MANY riders will be happy having a smaller and approachable motorcycle in their lives and NOT feel the pressure to "move up". It is up to we experienced riders to respect that smaller motorcycle as an equal in the world of ridership - not based solely on displacement or capability. Nobody expects a Harley Touring motorcycle to compete on a motocross tracks with 250's - every bike has an ideal environment, and the act of being on that motorcycle makes one a rider, and an equal.
Instead of referencing smaller bikes in a way that can discourage ridership - I'd suggest that we start using "Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight". Regardless of the category of motorcycle, there are brands that have motorcycles that fit those descriptors. We would all understand that a lightweight bike rider with expert skills will crush a novice on a superbike.
The benefit of the language change will pay off over time. More riders will fee comfortable - floor sales staff will have more success - more small units will work their way into the used market making less expensive motorcycles available to even more riders. I encourage all of us to shift our language, and and to be inclusive and encouraging.
Ride safely my friends - not matter what you are riding!