Prepare yourself for answers you don't want to hear...
It should be mentioned; this story is in response to a question recently posed to our colleagues at RideApart by email. Hopefully knowing this fact helps readers understand my answer more thoroughly. Upon seeing the inquiry, my initial response was: “Seriously?!”
Unless the protagonist of this story is a teen or is down on their luck and looking for a short-term loan, the answer seems obvious. But after considering the question more thoroughly, it’s one needing a thoughtful answer. This is the best I can do. And if any “advice” works, I’d call it a win.
Suggestion One: Grow up and buy your own bike
I know this seems harsh. And completely beside the point. But it’s so much more gratifying to purchase your own motorcycle. Deliberating over which bike to take home and fantasizing about “the one” until you finally take the plunge and make it yours – whether you save up money, apply (and qualify) for a loan, or better yet, just have cash on-hand to make a deal – these actions add up to a very satisfying purchase. A purchase that will last you until you’re ready for the next (n+1, right?).
As with anything really good, it takes work. Sometimes sacrifice. Certainly forethought. And it’s typically not easy. Motorcyclists don’t want “easy.” Otherwise, we’d just Uber from place to place. Nothing feels better than buying it yourself.
But if you must ask your parents, or anyone else for that matter...
Suggestion Two: Aim low, expect nothing, give thanks, accept the consequences and make a PowerPoint
Ask for a dirt bike or dual-sport. This iteration of multi-purpose machine often has a low price-point, is readily available on Craigslist, and is tough as nails. They’re a good investment and that’s worth presenting to a potential financial contributor. Any money spent on a CRF250L or XT250 or XR650 or the like is going to go a long way. You can use your new bike on-road and off. It can be ridden with knobby or street tires. If you drop it, being the hooligan that you are, you won’t watch value slip away with every scratch, bent bar or dent. It didn’t have much value in the first place! And then when you’re ready to refer back to Suggestion One, you’ll have a great trail blazer on-hand, if not a bike that you can gift to the next worthy candidate. Hey, you might have kids someday.
At least, don't expect anything from anyone but yourself. Then you won’t allow your gratuitous disappointments to get in the way of your relationships. If you don’t believe you should receive anything, then whatever bounty is awarded to you will be of Gold Standard. It’ll be appreciated. You’ll be gracious and grateful. Each person in the scenario appears considerate of the other. And in the end, if you’re imparted something in exchange for a mere petition, then it’s more than you deserve. Because the theory here is that we deserve nothing.
Upon reception of your endowment – I can’t emphasize this enough – show gratitude. Maybe you don’t feel it (and that’s a whole other issue to deal with), but if you, by some miracle, receive a bike that was yesterday not yours and today sits under your soft little tushy, say: "Thank you." Sometimes, all a person needs or wants when generously fulfilling someone’s dreams is appreciation and recognition. Even if they never ask for it, they are owed – give it to them. Especially if they’re your parents. Because who knows the last time you’ve told Mom or Pop how great they were for wiping your ass, putting food in your mouth, and generally keeping you alive until you had the intelligence, courage and forethought to ask them for a motorcycle?
Accept the Consequences
Regardless of whether that two-smoke, sportbike or clapped-out café racer finds its way into your possession, accept it. You’ve asked the brave question and requested a motorbike. Now you must graciously and maturely accept the answer. If yes is the reply, then the three steps prior to this tidbit of information hold true and should be executed. If no is what you face, go through the steps anyhow. You aimed low, so you didn’t insult anyone with your outlandish request. Without expectation, there shouldn’t be disappointment in your immediate future; you might even feel better than you would have! And no matter what, still show respect and courtesy. Tell Whomever that you appreciate them listening to you, hearing your plea, and making a thoughtful decision. It’s not easy for everyone to let someone down, but sometimes they must. Pushing, prodding and whining in response to the decision are unwarranted. Plus, you never know when you’re going to have to beg for something else that’s more important.
Make a PowerPoint
I'm not kidding. This seems like a fruitless effort. In many ways, it is. But since you’re asking to receive something for (I’m assuming) nothing, this is the least you can do to display sincere interest, work ethic, and pending gratitude. Effort is a great gesture when you have nothing else of value to offer. Select exactly what you want, put a picture on a cover page, include all the pertinent details and prepare to explain them to your audience with zest. Provide links to the manufacturer, even some statistics and studies on motorcycling, the market, and what you plan to do with it – like, I dunno, an article linking lifelong happiness and travel? Then, do research on any news – recalls, awards, appearances in pop culture, and reviews. Lastly, have a list of potential purchases at the ready: Craigslist and dealer ads, to start. Again, maybe all this energy is wasted at the end of your pitch. But at least you’ll know how to make a killer slideshow and present a case with diction and clarity and confidence. Besides, that will help greatly when you have to fall back on earning your own money.
I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I do assume that anyone asking this question is under the legal smoking age. But nonetheless, the answers stay the same. If you’re looking for a handout or a plaything or a trendy ornament to show off your awesomeness which results in nothing but a few laps around your neighborhood and flip of the bird when you’re taking selfies, then – whatever age you are – you should stop reading this and… Well, you get the point.
Find a hobby that can cultivate your true passions, maybe make you productive. Or, at least, if nothing else, an interest that’s free and doesn’t bother anyone. Otherwise, all you’re doing is wasting time and developing your needy, entitled personality. This extends well past motorcycles and if fermented long enough, will be a stench that follows you in every area of life you visit.
So, the real advice – unless you are far under the legitimate age of employment – is “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” You get what I mean.
Note: 2017 Ducati Multistrada 950 pictured in the gallery.