By John Basher
I’m a lover of all motorcycles, but that doesn’t mean that I
want to ride every motorcycle ever made. Through trial and
error, I’ve learned what I like. Given my druthers, the Basher
family garage would be stocked with a 125 two-stroke and
450 four-stroke. My preferences are odd, given the wide displacement gap, torque characteristics, curb weight and price
between the two. No, I haven’t taken too many knocks to my
brain—not that I can remember, anyway. Step into my boots
for one minute and take a walk with me.
A 125 makes sense for just about anyone. It’s relatively
inexpensive, easy to maintain and provides the most enjoyment you’ll ever experience on two wheels. The only prerequisites for riding a 125 are to shift often, fan the clutch,
keep the rpm up and not care about how slow you’re going.
The beauty of a 125 is feeling like you hitched a ride on the
Millennium Falcon. I bought a 2005 Yamaha YZ125 for
$1350 off Craigslist. Sure, I poured obscene amounts of
money into it, but that’s because I’m a spoiled brat who wanted the trickest bike possible. The point I’m trying to make is
that I chose the YZ125 as my daily driver because it’s fun in
every non-race situation. I’ll never sell my YZ125.
“AT 32 YEARS OLD, YOU’LL NEED
A PILE OF MONEY TO AFFORD $40
BOXES OF DIAPERS, WHICH YOUR
KID WILL BURN THROUGH LIKE
TEAROFFS IN THE SECOND MOTO
AT MILLVILLE IN 2006. HANG ON TO
ANY MOTORCYCLE—GOOD, BAD OR
UGLY—FOR DEAR LIFE.”
I prefer a 450 four-stroke for competition. At 35 years old,
with Intermediate speed, a 450 is imperative in the Vet class.
I tried racing a 250 four-stroke in the Vet class, but to no
avail. I was always left in the dust off the start and spent the
whole moto eating roost. It was fun in a masochistic kind of
way, but my wife didn’t like how my bruised chest resembled
a Rorschach test.
While I don’t know your age, skill level or financial situation, be happy in the knowledge that there’s a motorcycle for
you out there. Although you might deem the following advice
as out of touch with reality, read ahead anyway. It’s not my
intent to tell you what brand or model to look into; rather, I’ll
generalize by offering the correct displacement for different
16-YEAR-OLD: Get a 125cc or 150cc two-stroke. If
Junior can keep a 125 two-stroke on the pipe, then he’ll
excel on a 250 four-stroke in a year or two. Use a 125 as
a learning tool. It’s fun, fast, fairly inexpensive and won’t put
you in the poor house if it gives up the ghost. A lot of kids
want to jump up to a 250 four-stroke after getting off a 85.
It’s the popular thing to do. I’ve seen several kids improve
dramatically by riding a 125 two-stroke instead of hopping up
to a 250F. The bike helps with roll speed, braking late, riding
aggressively and—bonus—they learn the intricacies of two-stroke tech, because Dad will actually be willing to crack open
COLLEGE STUDENT: Buy whatever you can afford.
Appreciate the fact that you own a motorcycle. Now, go hit
the books and study for that next economics test, because I
hear it’s a doozy. Then, once you’ve graduated and landed a
job making nearly $20,000 more a year on average than a
high school grad, you can reward yourself. Good job!
SINGLE 26-YEAR-OLD: Hopefully, the money is starting
to flow like boxed wine at a bachelorette party and you can
afford whatever bike you want. At this stage in life, your top
priority is living for the weekend to ride with your buddies. You
don’t have a spouse or kids. Why not drop $10,000 on a
new bike? You can keep it a year and sell it to buy something
newer, or hold on to it, because before you know it, you’ll
reach the next point in life.
MARRIED 32-YEAR-OLD: Congratulations, you’re
married with kids! Be content if you actually own a motorcycle. That’s because you have a mortgage, full-time job,
fatherly duties and obligations as a husband. At 32, you’ll
need a pile of money to afford $40 boxes of diapers, which
your kid will burn through like tearoffs in the second moto at
Millville in 2006. Hang on to any motorcycle—good, bad or
ugly—for dear life. As your beacon of light, it will trip fond
riding memories as you walk past it on your way to throw
out toxic poopy diapers.
40-YEAR-OLD: Welcome to prime mid-life crisis time. I
could tell you to be reasonable and wait a year to buy a bike,
but heck, you’re 40 years old! You’ve got one foot in the
grave, right? That’s what some of my older buddies think,
anyway. I wonder how many KTM 450SXFs were wheeled
out the front door of dealerships around the world because
of the sudden realization that it was now or never. I could
tell you what decision to make, but you’re not going to listen.
Let’s move on to the golden years.
55-YEAR-OLD: Hopefully, you’re retired and living on easy
street. Go buy whatever bike you’ve always dreamed about.
Or, maybe you have four daughters who all attended Ivy
League schools and are getting married this year. In that
case, refer to my advice for the 32-year-old married
70-YEAR-OLD: I don’t need to give you any advice. You’ve
been there and ridden that. Congratulations on following your
passion into your seventh decade on God’s green earth. You,
sir, are a true motocross racer.