How soon after getting your first bike did you go out on the freeway?
May 1, 2010 at 6:29 am #3919
Did you wait a few weeks, a month…hit it the first day?? or is it as simple as where your comfort level is? I’m itching to ride to my buddy’s place about an hour down the back road secondary hiway…I would imagine that as you build your confidence you will venture further and faster speeds, but I was just curious to see what you did and how it went your first time at higher speed?
Thanks for your input…May 1, 2010 at 11:53 am #26085CBBaronParticipant
Basically my third time out. Not that I’m recommending that route.
I would not suggest taking an hour long ride for your first time on the freeway. Depending on your steed freeway speeds can be quite tiring. However they are not hard to ride. You almost never shift or brake. All the traffic is going the same direction and lanes are wide with good site lines. But everything is moving much faster with lots of wind noise and more wind gusts to knock you off your line.
I only did about 15min but it was tiring on my Ninja 250 without earplugs. When I got back on the freeway later that day I used ear plugs and they helped tremendously.
For your trip I would suggest looking for an alternate and avoid the freeway if possible. It is much more fun and rural road are much better than urban.
CraigMay 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm #26089briderdtParticipant
I think it was about 4 months or so after I’d completed the MSF Basic course, I’d had my bike for… 6 months. I slowly built up to roads with faster speed limits, and eventually got on the slab.
I’ll tell you though, it was a nerve-wracking experience, and I had to force myself to relax.May 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm #26090eonParticipant
I honestly cannot remember. I do remember the first time I hit 60mph I felt very vulnerable. Looking at the concrete whizzing by with only my limited skills keeping me upright was a bit nerve racking, but I first hit those speeds on a State Route where the traffic was light. I don’t remember the nerves lasting long though and by the time I hit the interstate it was no big deal and I could give my full attention to the traffic.
The back road to your friends place sounds like the perfect place to get acclimated to these speeds, but I would probably go just a little way there the first time out and then come back. Once you know you are okay with it then it should be an enjoyable trip for you.May 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm #26096RabParticipant
Unless that is, you want to go deaf as you get older.
Hearing loss is cumulative and irreversible.May 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm #26097RabParticipant
I would say, do fast two-lane roads first.
Once you’ve gotten used to the speed and the different steering inputs required at speed, then you can add the freeway experience which adds merging traffic and high-speed lane-changing into the mix.
Leave at least 2 seconds between you and the car in front; 4 seconds in the wet.
To do this, you watch the car in front of you pass a fixed object at the side of the road (e.g. a road sign or whatever). Then you start counting in your head (or aloud as the mood takes you): One Kangaroo, two Kangaroo (or whatever long word you want to use), spoken at normal speed (the idea is to count two seconds).
If you’ve passed that same fixed object before you’ve finished your second “Kangaroo”, then you’re too close to come to a stop without hitting the car in front if it suddenly comes to a screeching halt.
These sudden screeching halts can happen quite often on the freeway in these parts and usually result in a domino effect which makes it very difficult for those at the back of the line to come to a stop quickly enough (sometimes leading to a pile-up).
I know. I went down in the wet last year due to merging into an inadequate space while trying to exit the freeway. As soon as I did, some dipstick of a driver somewhere up ahead must have cut dangerously into traffic causing everyone behind to hammer on the anchors, and causing me to slam into the back of the car in front due to inadequate stopping distance between me and the car in front.
$4,500.00 worth of repair bill; fortunately picked-up by my insurance company. That was on a bike that I bought for $6,999 OTD almost two years ago. The stock muffler alone cost $850 and the plastic fairings cost an arm and a leg too. Thankfully, I was unhurt apart from a dinged finger which fortunately didn’t break. All the gear all the time (ATGATT) folks.
Anyway, if you ever find yourself in a situation like that (sometimes you have to go into whatever gap is available if you want to exit the freeway, or else you’ll miss your turn-off), then you should try to swerve into the emergency lane or the space in between the cars (the white line area), where you just might avoid a collision.
Another good idea on the freeway is to frequently look far ahead up the roads (~12 seconds ahead I believe is the recommendation) so that you might be fore-warned of impending danger.
I hate to sound all doom and gloom, but if you’re sensible, freeways (and motorcycling in general) aren’t such a big deal. If you aren’t sensible, then you could die or end up permanently disabled.
Better to be one of those slower, safer guys than to be a dead motorcycling super hero although being one or the other is a constant psychological struggle for me (but hopefully not the dead part).May 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm #26100eternal05Participant
If you want to tailgate in a car, you’re a dick, but so be it. You’re putting the person in front of you at as much risk as you are yourself. However, on a bike, if you crash into the back of a car that’s stopped and you’re going 60mph (or 30-40mph if you were slowing), you’re going to dent the car and kill yourself. Not so good.
I would actually advocate an even bigger following distance than Rab said, and here’s why: it doesn’t matter if YOU have the skills to stop that quickly, because the person BEHIND you has to notice that you’re stopping and come to a full stop in the same time. While it’s frustrating to constantly have people merging into your lane in front of you because of the space you’re leaving, having more space (3-4 seconds all the time) allows you to SLOWLY come to a stop, ensuring the person behind you doesn’t make motorcycle man sandwich meat out of you.
Two more things. First, what CB and Rab said about earplugs is a definite must. Wind noise is super loud on the freeway, and it will not only fatigue you mentally, but it will as they say contribute to hearing loss and other undesirable things. For your riding, however, the biggest benefit of earplugs is for your concentration. At higher speeds, earplugs will kill the wind noise but leave you plenty of hearing for your engine, making it easier to know what your bike’s doing and distracting you less.
Second, like everybody has said, once you get accustomed to the speed, the freeway’s not so bad. It eliminates intersections (which are the devil for us two-wheelers) and oncoming traffic (for the most part). However, you have to grow even more sensitive to the position of cars around you and to people being idiots and trying to merge into your space (which WILL happen multiple times per ride…drivers are blind; fact of life). Therefore it makes sense to desensitize yourself to speed first, then worry about getting comfortable for long stints. What I did was actually just get on and off the freeway for a few exits one day. The very first time you open the taps on your motorcycle, even if it’s a 250, you will be a bit taken a back. The sense of speed is much greater without the car all around you. Just get on the freeway, ride a couple miles, get off, and go back home. You’ll get used to the speed very quickly.
Do the obvious, however, and stick to your guns. If you feel uncomfortable, scale it down and take it slow.May 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm #26102Gary856Participant
I hit the freeway on my 11th ride out, w/ a little over 400 miles of riding experience on surface streets. During those first 400 miles I gradually bumped up my top speed until I was doing 60-65 mph on expressways. When I finally hit the freeway for the first time, I exited on the next ramp, got back on and rode longer. It was great. I had been wearing ear plugs and felt fine with freeway speed by then. The wind blast at freeway speed was the biggest surprise.May 2, 2010 at 2:22 am #26109owlieParticipant
From my very first ride, I’ve been on roads that are 55mph- however it was about 8 weeks before I road on anything that had appreciable traffic.
I would recommend waiting a couple of weeks and working up to making a 1 hour ride though. They’re fun, but work out some of your kinks first…May 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm #26117SantaCruzRiderParticipant
Come to think of it, since I was living in Hawaii and then Guam at the time, it may have been 3+ years before I ever got onto something you’d consider a freeway (onramps, guard rails and overpasses). There just weren’t any!
But I did ride on the main highway (speeds of 65 plus) on my first road ride. I pretty much had to as it was the route from the dealership to my home.
As others have said, watch your following distances as speed can feel very comfortable and it’s easy to creep up on the car in front. Also watch those transition zones where freeways merge and split, as that’s where you’re likely to encounter drivers changing multiple lanes at the last minute and not watching for a bike.
Use your lane position to increase both your ability to see far ahead and to be very obvious to motorists around you. When starting out, be sure to avoid settling in behind cars that tailgate, as they are more likely to make erratic changes and are often pushing their own limits.
But on balance, I find freeway riding to be less taxing per mile than city riding. People are coming at you from fewer directions and it’s a bit easier to keep tabs on the surroundings.May 3, 2010 at 5:50 am #26132
I definately didn’t plan on riding to my buddies place on my first ride…I hope to just ride around the neighborhood, and some back roads for my first couple of days…then maybe ride to the office for the week, which would give me about 15 mins on a divided hiway each way…then if I hadn’t changed to my truck because of nerves, then maybe ride to my buddies on the second weekend…I’ll play it by ear…I take my course on May 12th, 13th and 14th…4hrs classroom, then two 6hr days riding in a closed course. I take my test after the course…I will be getting my registration and insurance ASAP after that. It will be the end of May before I am even thinking of that road trip…this week will be hell though, seeing the bike, having the gear, but no insurance so no riding…
As for following too close, I have a feeling I will have to worry more about people behind me than trying to go faster…I tend to be “that guy” that does the posted speed limit, but I do enjoy accelleration…May 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm #26136WeaponZeroParticipant
After about two weeks. I decided I wanted to go catch a movie, so some friends of mine made plans to go see Dark Knight at the biggest, nicest movie theater in the area, which involves a short stretch of Highway down about 3 exits. It actually felt easier and more comfortable than being on city streets.May 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm #26142OvertimeParticipant
Btw, I would suggest getting it registered/inspected (and maybe insured) ASAP, don’t wait until you have your license. At least in NH you don’t need a license to do ANY of those things, but you CAN be arrested for riding an unregistered bike. The insurance could go either way since it might cost more if you don’t yet have a license/course completion. However I got my insurance as soon as I got it inspected, and it was cheap as hell. You can always call later and tell them you have the MSF course and a license, and they’ll adjust your premiums.
As for highway, I haven’t yet done a real interstate highway, so I’m interested in reading this thread! Honestly the scariest thing to me I think are the hairpin on/offramps and crazy merging. Actually cruising on the superslab should be pretty easy. I’ve also heard trucks are a big problem, since they create a pretty big amount of turbulence…you have to actually lean INTO the truck. Yikes!
As for speed, that’s the easiest part! I hit 90+ mph in my first solo ride on a wide straightaway (back-roads highway I guess you could call it). It’s the slow parking lot manoeuvres that feel scary to me. I get the sensation I could dump the bike at any moment…at least when I’m doing it wrong! It’s hard to go fast in a straight line “wrong.”
Good luck!May 3, 2010 at 9:32 pm #26146owlieParticipant
A couple of things to keep in mind–
If you are planning to be riding during “normal” commuting hours, there is going to be alot more going on to keep track of than riding on the weekend. Depending on how traffic in your area goes, you may be better off making your first couple of trips on the highway as weekend excursions to your buddy’s place rather than as part of the morning commute.
The other thing about the morning commute- unless you aren’t expected at the office at a set time, the time factor might end up being a very distracting stresser. If you want to do this, try to add 15-20 min into your commute time the first couple of days. That way if you get a late start or there is a traffic snarl, you won’t be worried about being late to work in addition to clutching and shifting and leaning and watching for surface hazards and and and and
owlieMay 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm #26166
I do plan on going on a divided hiway daily, but I live in a City/Town of 10,000 and commute to work in a city of 85,000…not really a lot of traffic compared to most others. The traffic flows freely, and only gets busy on the weekends in the summer. I live in a lake town, so people come from the bigger cities to spend the weekend at the lake. We have two cities within two hours with over 1,000,000. The townies head else where on the weekends…we call the city folks our “terrorists”, since they all come to town to try to pick up the local young girls…get drunk in the bars…get in fights…see what the inside of the drunk tank looks like…not necesarily in that order…lol
Anyway, I side tracked myself…damn terrorists…most of my riding will be an hour south on two lane, an hour east on two lane or two hours north on two lane. Maybe the odd road trip west on two lane to the mountains for the ride. The only time I have to go on divided hiway is from my town heading west for 15 mins…I don’t think it will be that bad. The divided hiway was added to accomodate the city slickers coming for the weekends and I will be heading the opposite direction and laughing at them. On weekends our town can swell to over 30,000…that’s a lot of campers and cabin dwellers…lol
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