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Got my first bike EVER today and my first ride!

This topic has 56 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 8 years, 12 months ago by AvatarBen.
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  • #4380
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    jsan08
    Participant

    Today I got a 2009 Kawasaki 250 Ninja Special Edition! I found a smokin deal on craigslist, I got this bike with only 460 miles on it, basically brand spankin new, not even past the break in period. I have wanted a motorcycle for sooo long and I finally have one. Before today, I had never even ridden a dirt bike, and had very little expierence with manual transmissions. Me and my buddy went to get the bike, I paid the man and my buddy drove the bike back home for me. After we made it back safe, I hopped on, and fell in love :) We took it to a small parking lot where a few of my friends who have motorycles were teaching me the basics. I learned, and explored the bike and its controls. That was the first thing. Next was getting moving. Ok…got a little more nervous here. I started out feeling for the friction zone and walked the bike for a few feet. After that I did my first lap in the parking lot nice and slow. I was starting to feel more confident. By the next lap I was going at a good pace around the lot in first gear, with my feet up in the riding position…I had a huge grin on my face! A couple laps later and I was shifting into second gear. I was even feeling comfortable turning the bike and felt like I was able to keep my turns pretty tight in the parking lot. I was just saying to myself to remember to look into the turn, wherever you look is where the bike goes. After a few more laps and picking up a little speed my buddy got on his bike and we drove to a much bigger space, it’s like a huge black top, perfect for practicing shifting and turns. There are even some orange cones laying around left by bus drivers in training who often use the space to practice maneuvering. Here I was able to open the bike up a little more and really focused on practicing shifting. Although my shifting is no where near perfect yet, I was surprised at how fast I caught on! Put a huge smile on my face and I was having a blast. All in all I got in about 2 hours of solid on the bike riding practice today and so far I absolutley love it.

    Lets see, some of the things I did wrong…definitely killed the bike a couple of times by forgetting to hold down the clutch, on the big black top when I was picking up speed at the end there is a long fence and I noticed while I wanted to slow down and turn, I was getting target fixation on that fence a lot and had to keep reminding myself “where you look is where you go…so don’t look at the fence” lol. My shifting still needs work. When I was shifting sometimes the bike would seem to rev real high, I finally realized toward the end that I had a bit of a death grip on the throttle and wasn’t easing off enough during shifting. Also had some jerky shifts I think it was because instead of easing the clutch durng shifting I would just be squeezing it and letting it go real quick while I shifted. I’m sure there was more but those were the main things I noticed.

    I want to take the motorcycle safety course. I am in the Navy so I think I can get in it for free. If yall have any tips for a new rider I would love to hear them. :) I have read every part of this website and have to say, all the info here has been invaluable!

    Check out my bike :)

    http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a4/EnZoNaMi/IMG_0935.jpg

    http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a4/EnZoNaMi/IMG_0932.jpg

    http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a4/EnZoNaMi/IMG_0934.jpg

    http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a4/EnZoNaMi/IMG_0933.jpg

    #29543
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    Jeff in Kentucky
    Participant

    Some tips:

    Watch the free videos at the Howzit Done with Capt Crash web site, more are at the top right of the home page:

    http://howzitdonecrash.com

    Keep your hands and arms loose. Wear armor for your head, elbows, knees, shins, ankles, shoulders, back and hands.

    It often helps a lot to adjust the levers and the height of the handlebar ends to fit you better.

    #29545
    Avatar
    madjak30
    Participant

    Congrats man…and it’s the right colour…love the Kawi Green…

    One tip for ya…practice all the slow stuff…see how slow you can ride the bike in a straight line without putting your feet down…practice slow full lock u turns (they are harder than you think)…as slow and as tight as you can, practice figure 8…start with slow circles, left then right and then try the figure 8…all as slow as you can…honest, if you can master the slow stuff the fast stuff is easy…

    It’s fun to practice the fast stuff, shifting, emergency stops…but it is usually the slow stuff that bites us, especially when you are first starting (or when you get a new bike…I need to do this stuff again).

    Good luck, and have a blast learning your new skills!!

    Later.

    #29555
    Avatar
    jsan08
    Participant

    Thanks everybody…just recently got the bike insured, registered and plated, registration stickers for base, and my permit from the dmv so I can legally ride as long as my buddy is with me. Next up is the rider course, kind of backwards I know but they are all filled up.

    I was wondering if you guys had any common maintenance/preventative maintenance tips or recommended things that come in handy. For example, how often should I clean the chain? So far I have a motorcycle cover (it is kept in a parking lot outside), bel-ray chain lube, motul chain clean, and a grunge brush.

    #29556
    Avatar
    madjak30
    Participant

    Chain lubing…well, every 1000kms (600miles) is the norm…but if you ride in the rain, or very dusty & dirty conditions I would clean/lube the chain after each fill of the tank…

    Keeping the bike clean is another good one that people miss…as you are cleaning you may notice things that need to be adressed…an oil leak before it drips on the floor, a frayed cable, etc…

    I usually lube my cables every 5000kms (3000miles), check the hoses for cracking and change your oil and filter around that time as well…if you don’t ride that much in a year, I would do those things atleast once per year.

    Check the electrolite level in your battery once per year…there is usually a line on the battery to show where the liquid should be (above the line)…but if not, just make sure the plates inside the battery are covered by about 5mm (1/4″)

    I was going to mention valve adjustment intervals, but I really don’t know that much about the Kawi’s…best advice is to pick up a Clymer or Haynes manual for your bike…they have a maintenance section that will give you an outline to follow…and explain in plain terms how to perform the work…

    Good Luck!!

    Later.

    #29557
    Avatar
    Jeff in Kentucky
    Participant

    Starting the engine- let the engine warm up at least a minute before taking off, to get more oil to the top of the engine. Pull the clutch lever in a few times before taking off, to get more oil in between the clutch plates. A carbed bike can have the choke left partly on for the first half mile so the engine runs better until fully warmed up, but remember to turn the choke off when the engine gets warm.

    Carbs are set for a cleaner exhaust, and rejetting will make them run better, often just a washer to raise each jet needle and adjusting the pilot mixture screws further out (counterclockwise) will greatly improve the throttle response just above idle, when taking off from a stop sign.

    Coolant- change every 2 years is best (every 5 years at the most), half Havoline Extended Life car coolant and half distilled water works as well as the dealer coolants for less cash, or the Evans NPG+ lasts the life of the engine but costs more initially. Most racetracks prefer distilled water and water wetter, but it will freeze and needs to be drained before below freezing temperatures.

    Brake fluid- after a few years it will become a brown color from absorbed water and fluid breakdown, and should be replaced. I like the Valvolene Synthetic DOT4 brake fluid because it turns brown more slowly.

    Brake pads- for disk brakes you can see the pad thickness, maybe use a flashlight. I rotate the tires backwards with my hand while holding a piece of fine sandpaper on both sides of the rotor, so the new brake pads are bedded in better, and I try to use the new brake pads more lightly for the first few days so the new pads last longer.

    Fork oil- it is best to replace it every 20,000 miles. For riders weighing over 150 pounds, you can buy stiffer fork springs and heavier weight fork oil, so the front forks bounce and dive less.

    Tire pressure- check it often, typically 30 pounds is best for racing, 35 pounds is best for longer tire life and the weight of a passenger, but the higher pressure somewhat reduces the cornering ability and how smooth the bike rides.

    Oil- I suggest trying several, until you find what feels best for your clutch hand and shift foot. A good low priced oil is Rotella T 15w-40. A good medium priced oil is Rotella T 5w-40 Synthetic. Good high priced oils include Amsoil and Maxima. I would change the engine oil every 3000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. If you change the engine oil twice a year, you can use 20w-50 oil in the summer for longer engine life.

    Some reading:

    http://www.canyonchasers.net/shop/generic/chain.php

    http://www.webbikeworld.com/t2/motorcycle-chain-lube/dupont-teflon-chain-lube.htm

    http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Filters.html

    http://vfrworld.com/tex_vfr/tech/oil.htm

    http://www.sportrider.com/tech/146_0310_oil/index.html

    #29558
    Avatar
    Rab
    Participant

    madjak30 is certainly right about the slow stuff being amongst the most difficult things you’ll have to master on a motorcycle; U-Turns especially.

    I would add that, when going slowly, you must remember never to use the front brake when your front wheel is not pointing straight ahead or you will very likely drop the bike. Use the back brake only if the front wheel is not pointing straight ahead at slow speed.

    At speed on the open road however, you should use both brakes together.

    Another thing that nearly got me a few times when I was new to this, was stopping on a piece of road which was not flat left to right (e.g. some driveways on country roads). You may go to put your favored foot down (usually left), find no ground beneath your foot (because of the slope) and then the bike starts to tip over and you have a heck of a struggle to keep the bike from falling over when your foot does hit the ground (as a consequence of the bike falling over).

    Another mistake newbie’s often make is to drive forwards into parking spaces. This is not a good idea as you will have less visibility when later backing-out of the space (than if you’d reversed into the space initially). It’s especially a bad idea if the parking space slopes downward (which is not uncommon). For one thing, your bike’s kick-stand (a.k.a. side-stand) may not hold the bike if you’re not in the habit of leaving your bike in gear. For another, it’s very difficult to get out of the space if your bike has no reverse gear (most motorcycles have no reverse gear).

    #29576
    Avatar
    jsan08
    Participant

    Thanks for all of the info, so far I’ve learned a lot by reading. I had a question about covering the brakes. Are you supposed to do it ALL the time? I have been using 4 fingers to cover the brakes when riding in the parking lot and it’s very uncomfortable. Yeah I can stop on a dime but I feel like I don’t have very good control over the throttle with just my thumb wrapped around it…like I might accidently pin it. Not to mention it cramps my hand.Are there certain situations in traffic when you do and do not cover the brakes? And with how many fingers?

    I signed up for the MSF course, it’s a month away though, it was the earliest one that was open. Until then I still want to ride, I just don’t want to develop any bad habits.

    #29578
    Avatar
    madjak30
    Participant

    Go back to Jeff’s advice in the first respose to this thread…check out Captain Crash Idaho’s video’s on motorcycle safety…

    http://www.motorcycleforums.net/forum/captain-crashs-pad/31656-howzit-done-practice.html

    He makes great videos with a little tongue in cheek to keep them entertaining…if you practice what he shows in his videos, you will be at the head of the class in your BRC…watch a video a few times, then go out and practice what was in the vid for about 30mins to an hour…then come back and watch another one and so on, and so on…

    I’m going to have to take that advice myself since I bought a new bike, and that is almost like starting over again…the balance points of each bike are different…so you have to become familliar with each bike you ride…not so bad if the bikes are similar weight and power, but my new bike is 150lbs heavier and has more than double the power…so practice, practice, practice…

    Later.

    #29579
    Avatar
    jsan08
    Participant

    Nice job on the triple post…lol

    I totally forgot about Cpt. Crash’s videos…I think I will try and practice like you said. I do have a huge empty black top near by that I can utilize as well.

    #29580
    Avatar
    jsan08
    Participant

    I never realized how much motorcycle cops practice…funniest part for me about that video was when he said, “you can’t just expect to play the guitar because you own one”…and here I am watching that video with a guitar in my hands lol. I had just got done playing/practicing!

    #29581
    Avatar
    madjak30
    Participant

    Damn CAPTCHA…I hit save and my computer doesn’t seem to do anything…so I hit stop…save, still nothing…stop, save…then I give up and just hit forum again…then I notice that I have the last three posts…all the same…awesome!! And there is no way to delete a post…I can edit it, but it won’t let you remove it…

    Oh well, it really got my point across…hehehe…

    Yup, his vids are excellent…and entertaining as well…

    I hope I can get out for a ride this evening…we are going camping this weekend, so I won’t be able to get out on the weekend…should be a good weekend (even if there is a fireban in place) and the kids always love camping…but no riding…oh well…

    Later.

    #29582
    Avatar
    Jeff in Kentucky
    Participant

    For covering the brakes, different riders do it differently, and some instructors want it done differently than others. I always keep my right foot near the back brake pedal, I use my index finger and thumb to turn the throttle, and the smaller three fingers on my right hand are for the front brake lever or throttle.

    Many sportbike riders only use one finger to put on the front brake- their front brakes can easily lift the back tire off the ground. Some riders use all four fingers for the front brake, but as a former dirt bike rider I learned that this causes a loss of throttle control while and just before or after using the front brake. I only cover the front brake lever when I see traffic nearby or it is an especially tricky road, but some instructors will have you cover the front brake lever all the time, since it is safer for a beginner.

    It is best to cover the brakes without touching the levers, so the brake lights do not go on too often, unless you want to give early warning to a driver behind you. You can flash the high beam headlight to warn drivers in front of you, along with the horn. I also do head bobbing and sometimes stand on the footpegs, to make myself more visible if I think a driver has their head up their ass (not paying attention).

    #29577
    Avatar
    jsan08
    Participant

    Alright, so I spent about 2 hours practicing in a parking lot this evening. They used to have msf courses here and the parking lot I use must be the one they used to use because there are markings and lines everywhere. I watched capt. crash’s videos and practiced a lot of slow speed stuff, braking, shifting, and getting real familiar/comfortable with the clutch on my ninja. I walked the bike all the way down the parking lot just using the clutch and friction zone. Another thing I did was practice down shifting and using engine brake instead of the regular brakes. I used some of the markings and just practiced on them, one was a real tight S turn and I did that until I could do it consistently, then there was another tighter S turn that I practiced on. I practiced riding in tight consistent circles while focusing on one spot. I am still a little shaky on those so I want to practice that more. One thing I didn’t get to that I will do tomorrow hopefully is the u-turn with in 2 parking spaces. I am feeling a lot better though with slow speed maneuvering and balance. I had been contemplating taking the bike out on the road, and all that practice had me feeling pretty good so I decided to take the bike out on the street for the first time, just to go get gas because I was almost on E anyway. Of course it was late and there was practically zero traffic on base (planned that one) but it felt good to get that first ride on the road in. During that ride I got practice stopping at stop signs, shifting, downshifting, using the clutch/friction zone, braking, turning, changing lanes, and even a few intersections where I had to communicate with the cages. Not to mention it was nice paying 15$ to fill up a tank rather than the $70 it takes for my truck!

    Oh yeah and I was a lot more comfortable not covering the brake the whole time. I definitely felt like I had more control of the throttle and overall just felt better. I kept my right foot by the rear brake a lot like Jeff said he does and that felt good for me as well. I wasn’t in any situation where covering the brake was necessary so I kept my hands on the grips and just switched to the levers as necessary. I found that using my index finger to pull the front brake felt the best and still left me with control of the throttle. Like Jeff noted, I tried going from hand fully on the throttle to four fingers on the brake lever and that didn’t feel good at all. I lost control of the throttle a bit and the bike revved and jumped up on me, I got startled so I immediately pulled the clutch in and used the brake. Overall, even though I was instructor-less I felt like I learned and improved a lot today. I do have some questions though.

    When you are down shifting while approaching a stop is it good practice to always down shift to 1st gear? Or is coming to a stop while the bike is in 2nd ok? 1st gear on a 250cc goes so quick that I would rather just leave it in 2nd, but is this bad for the bike/bad practice? I did this once at a stop sign and when I went to accelerate again I ended up killing the bike, not once, not twice…but three times lol. Luckily it was late and no one was behind me or I would have felt like a real dummy haha. Does being in 2nd gear affect the friction zone/amount of throttle you need to take off again? Thinking back on it I felt like it did but I was also a little nervous so that might have had something to do with it haha.

    Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for readin’ guys

    #29583
    Avatar
    madjak30
    Participant

    That’s the whole point of all of the parking lot stuff…practice and get your confidence up before you go out into traffic…

    As for the shifting into 1st…I always start my bike out in first gear…but I only slow down using engine braking into 2nd gear…when I feel it is time to shift into first for engine braking, I pull in the clutch and use the brakes only for the last bit…and put it into 1st at around 10kph (5-6mph)…it is always smoother to shift while moving, and you want to be in 1st gear to be able to move out of the way if someone isn’t paying attention…you do not want to be the meat in the sandwich…very bad…always check your mirrors when you come to a stop…and keep checking them until you see a vehicle pull up behind you and come to a complete stop…no one else is going to watch you back, so use the mirrors…

    And about filling the tank…I hear ya…my bike takes 12-14 liters (3-4gal) and @ $1.28/liter that’s $16-18 to fill…much better than the 124.5 liters it took to fill my truck today…$159.25 to fill…and I have to have a truck for work…

    Later.

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