Riding a big bike is a whole lot different from riding a small displacement underbone or scooter. As it would turn out, big bikes are called as such because they’re, well, big. That adjective however, doesn’t simply describe their size, but their performance, as well. For all intents and purposes, specifically for the Philippine setting, we will categorize big bikes as motorcycles with displacements registered as 400cc and above.
Having said all that, if you’re a new motorcycle rider looking to start your two-wheeled career on a big bike, or say you’re a seasoned scooter rider looking to level up into a bigger bike, there are indeed a few things to consider. As such, let’s take a closer look at a few safety features you should consider for your first big bike.
The first must-have feature is definitely an Anti-lock Braking System, or ABS. Few things are more frightening than having a heavy, high performance big bike lock up its tires as you’re coming to an emergency stop. While nearly all new big bikes today come standard with dual channel ABS, you may want to think twice about purchasing a second hand older model from, say, the early 2000s, which has yet to come standard with ABS. For those not in the know, ABS prevents your wheels from locking up under braking, and can thereby prevent you from crashing, or hitting the object you were trying to avoid in the first place.
A slipper clutch, although not a necessity, is a nice feature to have, especially if you’re new to riding manual transmission motorcycles. Slipper clutch setups offer two main benefits. The first of which would be the smoother engagement of downshifts, as this mechanism allows the clutch pack to slip slightly when faced with sudden changes in force, particularly when downshifting. This also prevents the rear wheel from locking up when traction is broken due to the mechanical overload. The second benefit is a lighter lever pull, as a slipper clutch setup usually entails lighter clutch springs on the clutch basket. This results in easier clutch actuation and less rider fatigue, especially on longer rides.
A kill switch is also an important safety feature. While present on nearly all big bikes, some scooters do away with this safety feature, which can be a potential safety hazard in the event of a mechanical failure or crash. A kill switch, usually the red switch located on the right side of the handlebar, is an emergency engine cutoff switch which immediately kills the engine, no matter it’s operation status. This is particularly useful for when mechanical issues, such as a stick throttle cable, arise, or in the event of a crash. Naturally, when a bike goes down for whatever reason, the first order of business would be to ensure power is stopped from making its way to the back wheel.
Side stand sensor
The next safety feature comes in the form of a side stand sensor. As a beginner rider, it can be all too easy to forget about your side stand, and kick the bike into gear and go along your merry way blissfully unaware of the impending dangers of an extended side stand. Riding your motorcycle with the side stand down is basically a recipe for disaster. Once you lean the bike even slightly to the left, you’re sure to be met with a whole lot of road rash and a hefty repair bill for your motorcycle. A side stand sensor prevents all of this from happening, as it won’t allow you to put the bike in gear as long as the side stand is down. As such, most premium modern-day big bikes are equipped with this safety feature as standard.
Tip over sensor
The last feature on the list is something that’s beginning to make its way even to entry-level commuter bikes, too. A tip-over sensor is a very handy safety feature which, just like the side stand sensor, cuts off the engine once the motorcycle exceeds a certain lean angle. The sensor then tells the ECU that the bike has tipped over, and will cut power off in around 5 seconds. This is particularly useful, especially as your hands, clothes, and other items can get caught in the chain when the motorcycle falls to the ground.