I have never ridden before and have fallen in love with the RT. Should I consider the RT as my first bike?

Jeff Dean says "My normal advice to new riders is to start with a smaller and lighter bike. Pick up a used Honda, for example, of about 500cc, and after you have had a lot of experience on that sort of bike, move on up to an R1100RT. Better yet, start out with a used airhead BMW, such as an R75/5, R75/6, or R80, and get used to their Teutonic qualities. Then move to an RT.

If you have not yet taken the MSF "Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding and Street Skills," take it now. How you do there may help answer your question, giving you a better idea of your skill level.

Funny thing: Someone recently posted to the K1200LT BB the same question! There, the overwhelming answer from LT owners was "NO!" I agree there. A new rider on an 830-pound LT is a frightening proposition! An RT, however, does not present one with so clear an answer.

Kris Besely bought an RT as his first bike, but concurs with Jeff on the MSF Course: "First step is to take the MSF course, this will immediately tell you whether you're ready to go from the small bikes they use to a larger bike."

"Second step is getting in touch with your brain. You're going to have a learning curve that's steeper than if you would be jumping onto a 500cc or 750cc bike, it will be important to have the proper mentality that accepts you're going to be learning and training on your new RT for quite a while (after 6 months and 14K miles on my RT, I am still learning each time I ride)."

Kris continues, "For me, I ended up at a motorcycle show one weekend with some friends. Was bitten by the bug after riding on their bikes as a passenger and spending a couple hours sitting on the thousands of different bikes at the show. Before setting my heart on a bike I took the MSF course to learn the proper techniques and determine what my abilities were with a motorcycle. I ended up being the only person in the class that got a perfect score on the written and riding tests, and receiving comments from the instructors that were clearly to add to skills required outside the course vs. instructions given to other students to help them within the course. I felt good about my skills, but wasn't sure about trying to balance a 600lb bike while sitting on a 1100cc motor.... the test ride convinced me that I had the skills that would allow me to ride safely, learn new skills, and apply those skills to an RT."

"Would I recommend it? Not for most new riders, but there are many here that have jumped right on the RT and safely love every minute. It helps if you know a fellow RT rider that will ride with you, is eager to assist in your learning, and will trim your wings when they see techniques that aren't wise."

"My experience - I'm extremely happy that I went for the RT first. After 6 months, 14K miles, and a 2 week vacation on the RT under my belt... I've had my fair share of humbling experiences (like dropping the bike in my own garage), have had a blast on all types of roads and try to work hard each time I ride to improve my riding."

As a final thought, Kris adds "Don't forget the gear! Make sure you get excellent protection for not only your head, but the rest of your body... and use it every time you ride. Even during my 10 mile commute today, I take 15 minutes to checkout the bike and put the overpants, jacket, gloves, helmet, etc on my body before leaving the driveway. I could drive to work in the car in the amount of time I spend putting the gear on for the motorcycle"

Marc Almgren moved up quickly after gaining experience on a smaller bike. "Previous to purchasing my new 'RT in Dec 1999, the largest bike I had ridden on a regular basis was 650cc. Even after riding for 10+ years and taking the basic MSF course, the first few rides on the 'RT were a bit of a challenge. There is so much new stuff on the bike to get used to (switchgear, seating position, tall first gear, etc.) that, if you weren't already secure in your riding skills, might make you a bit unsafe. For information purposes, I'm 6'6" 260# - the 'RT was still a challenge.

If you're absolutely set on getting an 'RT, I would suggest you buy one and plan on riding it on empty country roads, parking lots, etc. for a month or two and develop your skills (AFTER completing the MSF course). The 'RT is a fun bike - you don't want to make your first experiences with the bike your last.

Phil Roach reminds you to consider the financial aspects: "I really see no reason to avoid the RT as a first bike as long as you can 1) afford it if you drop it or wreck it (most accidents happen to new riders) 2) keep your wits about you since the RT is a bike that can fool you by being much faster than it seems (especially on curvy roads you may find yourself flying faster than your brain can keep up). There are other bikes that make better city commuter bikes also as you have heard about surging at low throttle, etc.. Have you ridden any of the other R models like an R850 or R1100? Have you tried the F650? In any case test ride what you will buy to be sure it suits you and take your time to learn the bike as each one is a little different. 

Mike Boomgarden says "I've been motorcycles for 25 years, so while my early motorcycling experiences are vivid, they are a little dated. Here are my thoughts:

Back in the good old days (when I started riding), a 350 - 400 cc. machine was considered a respectable starter bike, and indeed it was enough for me. My first street bike was a Yamaha RD400, which was a handful--extremely fast, with a very light front end. I clearly got myself in over my head a few times when I started riding, but I was lucky that I didn't hurt myself or anyone else. Here's what I think you'd find with a bike as large as the RT. First, though it's not a pure sport bike, as a novice you'll be amazed by the incredible acceleration and power available, compared to almost any automobile. Only a few exotics--Ferraris, Porsche Turbos, tricked-out Corvettes or Supras--can keep up with a bike like the RT, but that's about it. Secondly, a fully fueled and loaded RT hits the scales at over 700 lbs. Your strength will help in handling the bike while parking, but has little relevance to being able to handle it at speed. That's where the dynamics of handling a very fast 700 lb. projectile come into play, and I feel that it's too much for any newcomer to tackle. Yes, you're less likely to drop the bike putting it on the centerstand; but the more important question is, will you have the physical and mental skills--strength has almost nothing to do with it--to avoid getting yourself in over your head in traffic or in a hinky curve with an oil slick? Finally, you should think about the fact that you might not like motorcycling. I love it, but a great many people get into the sport and find it so unsatisfying that they drop it within a couple of months. You're less likely to get hurt if you start on a somewhat smaller machine, and you're also more likely to enjoy yourself if you get something that's clearly appropriate to your skill level. My suggestion is to find a good used smaller bike and give yourself a season to develop your skills and your appreciation of motorcycling before taking this big a plunge." 

Dan Pennell says "I would probably start out with something lighter and less expensive in case of the almost inevitable "Oooops" experience you are likely to have. This is not reflection upon your skill level, which might be quite high for a new rider (everybody has a different learning curve). It's merely that novice riders do tend to make more mistakes than seasoned veterans and on a bike like the RT it can be VERY expensive to fix in the case of a drop/incident and, to be brutally frank, the power:weight ratio on the RT can get somebody into trouble quickly. This is a relatively quick motorcycle and only experienced paws should be at the throttle, IMHO. Many years ago I started on 550cc and 750cc bikes which were relatively light and yet satisfying from a performance standpoint. Perhaps you should buy a smaller, used bike and get a year under your belt before jumping right in, despite the overwhelming temptation. Perhaps a used Beemer . . . an older boxer or a K75? Once the miles pass under you and you gain more confidence (and assure yourself that this isn't just some passing fad), then jump on the R1100RT bandwagon with both feet!"

Sean Franklin adds "In pilot's lingo, the RT is a high-performance craft. It has the added complexity of a sensitive transmission, 1100cc motor on a faired bike that makes it cruise like a Bonanza or Mooney, and is capable of running in situations where things must happen VERY fast.

Could you learn and ride on an RT? Yes, you could. Could you take your PPL-SEL instruction in a Mooney? Sure. Neither one is probably the BEST choice for a beginner.

Just like you probably flew a Cherokee or C-172 to start with, a simpler bike might be best to start with. I rode a 1986 BMW R80 (air cooled, less power, FUN bike) for 6 years before I got my RT. Had I been in a position to, I'd have bought a bigger bike after one year - but I couldn't, and the RT is all that much sweeter for the wait.

Others have suggested an R1100R to start with - There are good deals on new ones now, but it's still prone to expensive damage. Also, BMWs have a significant break-in period (6,000 - 12,000 miles) during which they are not as smooth or forgiving as they could be, especially in the transmission. Look for a good used R80 or R100 (or R1100R if you so desire) that is fully broken in - you'll find it will run much smoother, giving you less to deal with as you learn. If you decide you are dead-set on the RT (and I wouldn't blame you), still consider used for the same reason."

Rakesh Brennig  got an RT as his first bike "It was the RT that convinced me to get a motorbike. When I saw it on the web, I fell in love. My test drive consisted of being the pillion! I did not have a license nor more importantly, I had only a total of 1 hour of time on a 250cc Honda dirt bike a few years earlier. I blanched at the feel of power on the bike, thinking, it is mad to do this - and I was right. But such is love. Coincidentally, it was my birthday when I went to buy the RT and my friend rode the bike while I sat as pillion again. I did not ride the bike until I took the MSF course ten days later. Excellent course. Then I started riding the RT. What a rush! I was torn between the agony of taming all that mass and power and the pleasure that the arises when riding an amazingly engineered machine. During the first months of I thought I had made a mistake and taken on something more than I could handle. But these were growing pains. It is humbling to realize that riders w/ decades of experience are still learning. Basically, the RT is certainly something a neophyte rider can handle, it just takes dedication. Lots of it. If you go this route just remember that your inexperience will take a toll on the bike (hopefully not you, buy good equipment). In the first couple months I dropped my RT five times! Once even in snow (got the bike in Feb) and the other times by not parking in correctly so I could push off the center stand and remain balanced. I still do not have cylinder protectors on... I am 5'7" and I do not think most people will have this same problem of reach to the ground. I have noticed that riders with 10+ years are still learning and encountering dangerous situations. They are able to react to many situations immediately, without hesitation, this seems the result of years of riding. All note that it is experience that plays the deciding factor in keep safe, in staying alive. On the other hand, I would actually feel less safe on a smaller bike (heaven forbid I sell my RT for a smaller bike!) It is as easy to get into trouble on taking a curve too fast or picking a poor line on a 600cc bike as well as the RT - without the benefit of Telelever. I would feel much more prone to risk on a smaller bike in traffic for the RT seems so much more visible. On the interstate where semis are doing 80 miles an hour I like the fact that I have the power to get out of a tight pack of vehicles. The RT has good anti-lock brakes. To me it seems there are two issues here. Learning how to ride safely on a given machine: know its power/weight ratio for acceleration, braking and balance and secondly, apprising oneself of the dangers on the road and learning how to manage them through learning motorcycling skills and practicing them. I know that sooner or later I will face an emergency situation far greater than embarrassment of a scratched cylinder cover and I hope to be prepared to manage it with minimal damage to self."

Rakesh continues "That said, I would not recommend the path I have taken per se, indeed there are better approaches to entering the world of motorcycling and then leaping in on a brand new beemer. Only know that it is possible to begin with a R1100RT.

Jeff Dean agrees with Sean's suggestion of entering the BMW Community with something more managable: "Rather that starting out on another brand of bike, start out with a used airhead BMW, something like an R75/6, R75/5, R80, K75, R65 etc. That would get you into Beemerland and used to dealing with German idiosyncracies. So go with the Beemer if you can find one. If you pick a good used model, you won't even lose money that way you would on an Asian product!

Bill echoes many of the others sentiments: "While the R1100RT is a great machine for a lot of reasons, I wouldn't recommend it to a rider just starting out. A new rider has a lot to learn. Learning to operate the bike, developing riding skill, and developing what I'll call "good judgment" that only comes from riding experience. Starting out on a heavy bike (~1000 lbs. including rider) stacks the deck against you."

"Lots of folks have recommended starting out with a smaller bike (i.e. F650GS, R100, K75). This is a good idea. It would give you a chance to try it out and develop the skills you'll need. Assuming that you decide to continue riding, the *only* downside is that you'll probably find yourself wanting to trade up to a bigger bike. You might even find that you'll appreciate your dream bike a little more. Since you really do want a BMW, an older R100 or R1100R are good options. The older R100 models are less expensive and mechanically pretty simple. You would have a chance to learn about motorcycle maintenance (a good thing-IMHO). The R1100R is a nice bike and, best of all, can be had with ABS (another very good thing). Lastly, Buy good safety gear!! you should budget $1000.00 by the time you get helmet, riding suit or leathers, boots, and gloves. Bikes come and go. You've only got one body. Protect it."

Dave-Warner took the plunge right away "I had not been on a bike for about 30 years. Saw the R1200C and was crazy about it. I then took the MSF course and started looking at bikes. The Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles does not recommend the RT for new riders. However, I am also a big guy 6'4" and 230lbs and truly liked the comfort. I purchased a 2000 RT-SE and rode the first couple of hundred miles with the seat in the low position which makes handling a bit easier. I think if you use your head and understand that this is a lot of machine that needs respect you will be fine. If you truly feel uncomfortable go with the R.

Jerry thinks its best to grow with your skills, and don't forget to learn mechanical systems as well: "I've been riding for 27 years, so I have to admit, I can't remember what it was like to be a novice rider. I can say, that I've seen a number of people begin their riding careers and I've coached a number of them. The riders who began with the lighter bikes all progressed to much larger bikes and are doing well. Of those two who I saw begin with the larger bikes, one quit riding after having too many difficulties and the other is dead, from a motorcycle accident. I'd suggest getting a used BMW that is lighter and without an expensive fairing on it. Use this bike to gain experience and skill. When you drop it, fixing it won't be nearly as costly as fixing an RT. You'll actually make many of your repairs on the spot with your tools and maybe some tape."

"The other aspect to safe and good motorcycling is being able to maintain your machine. Do your own repairs on that used bike. You won't have to worry about voiding any warranties. Learn how to remove the wheels and fix flats. Work on the electrical system. The skills you learn here will be valuable when you break down in the middle of nowhere. You'll never break down near a BMW dealer! Being able to circumvent an electrical short can mean the difference between riding off into the sunset or remaining on the side of the road, a target for reckless drivers."

"Once you have your experience, you can either sell the bike for about what you paid for it, trade it in, or keep it as an extra bike to play with."