My first 15 miles
June 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm #2955
I rode my first 15 miles today on my EX250F. Took off at about 1 PM to do a little residential and side-street riding with the end destination being a church parking lot for more practice. I decided it was time to get home when it got to around 3:45 PM to beat the rush-hour crowd.
Were there stupid little things? Yes. But no drop.
Like realizing what a PITA turn signals are when you haven’t figured out exactly where they are at without looking down. I need to work on that.
Or how much more stressful it is to look behind you at a light or stop sign and see a line of cagers behind you. Or cagers behind you riding in general.
I don’t think I honestly went over 35 MPH the whole trip, which was probably OK, being as the speed limits didn’t exceed that anyway. I’m not sure if it’s caution or what, but I find myself going slower than I would on the same roads in my cage.
Or the time I thought I was in first at a residential stop sign and stalled it worried about the cager behind me (I was in fourth earlier? Hmm?)
Or the time I got mildly annoyed when I was in a curve with a cager tailgating me and found out there was a stop sign in the end of the curve.
Or little things like friction-zone issues starting out. That will get better with time and practice, I hope.
I found myself lifting myself up (like you would going over a 2×4 on the road) at blind grid-residential intersections where I have right-of-way, but I honestly was worried about cars not following their stops. Is this a good habit, or should I nip that in the bud?
I also got a taste of how handling is on a paved parking lot with a lot of gravel. Can you say rear sliding?
All in all, a pretty good first ride, but I really need to work on a lot of things. Mainly, I think I’m worried too much about cagers behind me. I like riding slow at the moment, I think they just see me as a jerk in the way of them speeding.June 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm #19306briderdtParticipant
I hit the horn button several times looking for the turn signal button… It’ll get better. I think now I’d have to LOOK for the horn button to hit it if I wanted to.
And I stalled my bike coming off a stop sign the same way. Unfortuantely I did it on a turn, and dropped the bike (okay, more like an easy set-down).
Friction zone will become second nature quickly. Just keep at it.June 4, 2009 at 11:45 pm #19316MunchParticipant
Agree with all the above… my biggest problem is finding ( or remembering) the damn turn signal after completing the turn…lol. However as a perk…the cages back off as they are unsure where you intend on turning after riding a mile and a half with the blinker on ;^PJune 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm #19317
Don’t mean to sound like a stalker, but I’m going to be following your progress. I am getting my first bike in a few months so I’m interested what I can learn from you between now and then. Keep updating us as to your progress!June 5, 2009 at 12:28 am #19321zeppelinfromledParticipant
All of your issues, I also had. I got my first bike this past Monday. I live near Boston, so there weren’t a lot of options for places to get used to the bike except with traffic. I got a feel for the clutch in a parking space, just rolling a bit. I stuck to the residential streets at the beginning.
I also stalled out a couple times when a light changed with a car behind me. It was a slight hill, so I just rolled out of the way, let them pass, and tried again (and did fine). After some stalls (including one in the middle of an area with lots of pedestrians, which was embarrassing), I got it down.
My biggest problem was canceling turn signals. There’s just so much else going on in the eyes of a new rider. I’ve definitely also hit the horn looking for the signal. And my hands are usually busy, so I can’t wave “I’m sorry” and I have a full face helmet, so mouthing it wouldn’t do any good. Felt kind of bad for the car that I honked at. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, and I want to reserve my honks for driving that a actually disapprove of (or to get people to see me).
I’m also sticking to roads that I know well (from my car) for now. So I’ll know about the stop sign at the end of the curve, or the stoplight that the taxis blow through a second and a half after it turns red, etc.
Best of luck. It doesn’t sound like you’re experiencing anything unusual though. Keep at it, and be safe.June 5, 2009 at 1:08 am #19322
More riding tonight…
From about 7 PM to 8 PM.
I’ve found a traffic light that I love. I’ve used it to get across the ‘main drag’ I live near. It’s basically two 3-way intersections together. And it has no turn on red from the side-streets. So I can sit there, wait for the green, and make my right then my left without fearing over the main drag traffic. Or listening to the honk of cagers behind me when I chicken out on right turns.
I went over to the hospital a few blocks away and had some fun in their parking lot. Just for fun, I had to blast through the gaps in the concrete barricades they set up to divide the two back parking lots. I like being narrow.
Practiced stopping and shifting from a dead stop, and turning and shifting from a dead stop. I was impressed with how the braking practice went, but I don’t have any cones like I did at the MSF class to tell for sure.
Went around to the neighborhoods around the hospital for more riding. Very hilly area. I went down a steep hill with a hard right at the bottom. Second gear + that turn = awesome. Then I just kept it in second to make another left to go back up the same hill I went down, on a different street. No complaints from the bike, but it was fun to twist the throttle more than usual.
Hit a little patch of sand/gravel on a left turn on a sidestreet, on my way to go uphill to another road. It kinda took me off guard, but I knew exactly what it was by feel and just let a tinch off the throttle and went along my merry old way.
Did some more riding, more parking lot fun, and decided to take ‘er home. Got up to an intersection and I did something annoying. I hit the front brakes too hard when I was about stopped, instantly knew it and backed off quick. I was going maybe 5 mph, had been coasting for a while, I don’t know how little slip-ups like that still happen.
I decided to try my hand on the ‘main drag’ for a block or so, but never made it anywhere near the 35 the road is marked. I think I was too worried about my right hand turn coming up to bother getting up to speed just to have to brake it away in a hundred feet.
Oh, and I figured out the center stand (finally.)June 5, 2009 at 3:19 am #19324
Oh man this gets me so excited! I cant wait to get my 650R. How does the power of your 250 feel? I have ridden 250’s and they feel…sluggish to me…but maybe thats because I feel confident on two wheelsJune 5, 2009 at 10:55 am #19336
At no point have a felt the Ninja 250 to be underpowered. I never noticed the engine go over 5000 RPM while I was riding (redline on the 250 is 14000 RPM)
In one of the rough friction zones mishaps, I ended up finding myself reving it way too high then all of a sudden deciding to dump the clutch (oops) and the result being me jolted way more than I was expecting. It could have been bad but I just hung on, stuck with it, hoped for the best and it turned out OK. But that’s a “don’t do that again!” moment.
I’m worried that if I was in that Ninja 650 you want, which has WAY more torque than a 250, I’d be picking up the bike off the road, assuming the damn tailgating cager didn’t run either me or the bike over first.June 5, 2009 at 9:22 pm #19383
Yeah I totally agree with you. I guess I am asking because I am more interested in if the 250 ninja would be enough for me if I did get it. You make a good ‘beginner mistake’ point, but I am no beginner to the mechanics of a bike. I have been riding manuals my whole life. I’m just trying to compare the power of the two because I took the BRC on a 250 and I thought it was super sluggish, even for PLP. I have also ridden my friend’s 250 enduro and it’s a bit underpowered for my tastes as well. Not that I want to go really fast really quick, but it just feels like a scooter. Maybe I should ask you this:
Did you take the BRC, and if you did what CC did you ride? If it was a 250, did you feel like the bike had enough power during the BRC tests?June 5, 2009 at 10:16 pm #19389
Maybe you can handle it, maybe not. You’re the only one to judge your skill.
I never rode a motorcycle in my life, so before I took BRC, I honestly didn’t know much. We had a mix, probably 75% Honda CB125Ts and 25% Honda Nighthawk 250s. I honestly found the power between the 125s and the 250s very noticeable. Also, the Nighthawks seemed a little heavier and more awkward to handle (makes sense, bigger engine.) I honestly didn’t find either underpowered at all. Both are more power than you need for going around a parking lot at 20 MPH tops.
This is coming from the guy who was looking for an Aprilia RS50 for his first bike (found some on eBay, but hardly worth the price and the pain of getting it from states away.)
If there was one thing I wish I did when I was younger, it was ride dirt bikes. It would have been a lot easier to learn to ride without cagers, I’m guessing.
Love to chit-chat, but I got riding to do.June 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm #19394
“Love to chit-chat, but I got riding to do.”
*sigh*…I just got pwnd
Yeah, if you thought the BRC bikes weren’t underpowered then no doubt you’re happy on your 250. Me for one, I’m going to require a bit more push because that nighthawk felt like it was barely moving, but yes, just fine for 20 mph.
Let us know what you learn on this ride!June 6, 2009 at 12:43 am #19402
I learned I have more learning to do.
Started out taking it off the center-stand. I didn’t know it, but I bumped it into first in doing so. Got on, and had the clutch ingaged (little habit I picked up when starting in BRC) but not all the way I guess, since when I hit the ignition it starting going forward. Clutch in all the way! That could have been bad if I hadn’t made a habit of that. Time to check for N light first!
More practice in the hospital parking lot. I noticed I find myself doing a lot of slow turns coasting with the clutch in, which probably isn’t good. More breaking practice. I still don’t do the all-at-once braking the MSF instructor kept wanting. The MOM says to focus all of your energy on braking, and deal with shifting later — I tend to agree. I still need to nip that in the bud, because I’m retaking BRC in August and they are nitpicky about that. Personally, I find 2nd gear more useful than first if I’m moving at all. First has way too much torque.
Turn signals are getting better. I’m not having to look anymore, but canceling still seems to be taking a back-burner to clutch action.
I visited my favorite hilly residential area again. I found a little one-way alley that was steep downhill, gravel everywhere, sharp left at the bottom, when uphill. I was on the brakes lightly the whole way down, coasted around the corner with the clutch in, and then hit the hill in first. At the top is a 4-way stop, which was a fun learning exercise. First time I found myself going backwards because I just stopped and didn’t bother with the friction zone (oops.) That was pretty fun to practice friction zone on, because if you frell it up, you go backwards. Never a car to be seen on it. Good incentive to get it right and hold it when you get to the top.
Still little annoyances like rough first gear starts, getting a lot better. Shifting is rough.. hearing the engine rev then bam clutch out too fast. Hopefully that will self-correct.
I got ambitious and decided to see what happens when I twist the throttle more than I have. I had it up to 40 MPH on a 35 MPH steet, and didn’t feel too scared. Cager behind me, too.
I’m finding that the gears aren’t as pronounced between 2-3-4-5 (never got to 6) as between 1-2. I found myself wondering what gear I was in, because I didn’t notice much difference. I did find myself really able to get to 35 in second quickly by opening up the throttle. I’m questioning my shifting patterns. I’d been shifting before to keep revs down and shift more. With a redline at 14000, I can’t seem to touch it being sane.
Eventually, I decided to head home. I felt like I wasn’t scared enough, and that I was setting myself up for being too brave and something bad happening.
I do need to get some motorcycle boots soon. I haven’t been living up to my name. I’ve been riding with corduroy pants (a little better than jeans) and running shoes. But I do have a Shift Backdraft jacket (it’s OK), Scorpion Exo-700 helmet (love it) and Icon Hooligan2 gloves.
Twice I found the laces getting near caught up on the rear brake pedal. I had to stop and double-tie them.
I took a look at footwear in the bike shop, but I wasn’t sure which was safer — the Alpinestars ‘sneakers’ or the Icon field armor boots. They said the Icons are more clunky, but I might just get them because I need to have boots with ankle support for the BRC.
I’m up in the air if I want to just get knee pads, or if I want to get jeans with CE pads inside of them, or what.June 6, 2009 at 1:27 am #19406zeppelinfromledParticipant
A couple things:
I always park in first gear, but I start the engine in neutral. So my process is: sidestand up, turn the key, pop it into neutral, start the engine (with turning the kill switch on at some point in there).
If you’re doing an emergency stop, don’t worry about shifting, worry about getting stopped safely. You’ve got the right idea there.
A general rule for shifting is that the longer you wait before shifting (letting the rpms get up there), the faster you accelerate. On a relaxed ride, which is basically all I do, I end up keeping the revs pretty low.
For boots, any type of boot will be better than running shoes. Running shoes offer basically no protection at all. If you have work boots or hiking boots or any type of boot, use those. Motorcycle boots are the best, but until then see if you can use something better than running shoes. Also make sure your laces aren’t in the way. Tuck them under themselves, or into you shoe. You definitely don’t want to show up at a stop and not be able to get a foot down.
For motorcycle boots, I have the Tour Master Solution boots, and I’m happy with them. You might want to check them out. (http://www.tourmaster.com/xcart/catalog/Solution-WP-Road-Boot-p-82_7.html)
For pants, I have the jeans with kevlar/cordura lining, and I have some armor that I can wear under them. I also have some real riding pants with armor on order, and they can zip in with my jacket.
I don’t think that feeling scared is a necessity for learning to ride. A healthy respect for the activity, and for the machine that you’re on are definitely good things, but it’s possible for fear to get in the way. Just make sure to stay within your skill level.
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