So Why Not a Big Bike?
It really is quite amusing to find discussions here and there across the Interwebs when it comes to "what bike should I buy?" You hear some good advice like questions as to what the rider wants to do, what their riding background is, etc....
You also hear some really strong opinions, declarations really, about the bike the rider is supposed or not supposed to buy. A more recent example is when I made a big deal about Noah Horak's statement of what a "true adventure actually is" and "if you cannot pick up your bike fully loaded in any situation, it's not an adventure bike." O-kay, Noah
I mean, I get that many peoples' opinions are based on their own real world experiences or what's worked best for them, but it really is amusing to see some people succumb to paroxysms of bitterness and rage if the rider says they're leaning towards a big bike, whether that be a GS or a Super Tenere, Tiger, etc...
I think Jim Downs gets it quite well:
I see the bike you choose to ride simply as a tool you picked from a tool chest. Some tools are better suited for some tasks better and worse than other tools. I am completely bike-agnostic too. I used to own a KTM 500 EXC and it's a fantastic bike! I wish I could have kept it but with no truck/trailer, I wasn't riding it enough to justify parking that much cash idle in my garage. I know many of you also own small bikes, touring bike, choppers, etc...
Is owning a big bike expensive? I don't really know... How much is a second vehicle (truck) or trailer, gas and time (limited to 55 mph w/trailer) worth? I can ride a few hours to a destination, camp off my bike, ride multiple days off road and then get back on the pavement and ride home. That seems like quite a value to me. But see, I'm the rich guy! That's what a guy who is retiring at 55, has paid of his mortgage, has a tricked out jeep, toy hauler and multiple bikes once told me.
I really love my big bike! Yes, it's the first motorcycle I've ever owned (I did ride scooters in high school/college but that doesn't count). Yes, I hadn't nearly a clue about adventure enduro riding (vs. adventure touring) when I first got it. Yes, it did take me quite a while to figure out how to ride it. Yes, I may have found a smaller, less expensive bike easier to learn on. But I really have no regrets.
I've seen many people also figure out that riding these bigger bikes off road is not as hard as it seems with a few pointers, feedback and some professional instruction. I have seen SO many great places, met SO many great people and have had a blast riding my big bike.
Yes, it does take a different and more focused set of skills to ride a big bike off road but therein lies the fun! Ryan Frazier (GS Trophy Team USA '12) said something to the effect that he prefers a bigger bike off road because they require more input and finesse and that it's the challenge that makes it so much fun. Obviously falling and getting tired from lifting your bike isn't so much fun, but with time and a few friends around, the challenging parts become a lot more fun.
I personally cannot stand Harleys but I realize they are popular and there's a lot of people who enjoy riding them. That's why I do not care to bash them here or there because I really don't care what another person's choice of ride is. It has no effect on me whatsoever.
But that also means I do not care to share a forum, Facebook group or online community with Harley riders. We're just different, that's all. I really don't care to hear about how shiny and loud they are or how I'm "doing it wrong." And as much as I still love the smaller bikes, I really don't care to hear from someone who's never ridden a big bike off road how I'm supposedly ruining "their" trails; my bike is not practical to ride more than a simple fire road; I'm carrying too much; I should have started on a smaller bike, etc...
Bigger bikes are just that polarizing I guess.
That's why I think XLADV makes so much sense. We get it. There's no explanation or defense of our choices required.