Forum Replies Created
Harley-Davidson Street 500: Beginner Bike Profile + Owner Reviews
But the lack of ventilation is a deal killer in Texas. It is 101 outside right now, again. I’m going to keep looking for a helmet with the flip-visor feature and excellent ventilation. Or maybe keep two helmets. The internal sun visor isn’t necessary in the summer, and ventilation is less critical the other nine months.
Damn it’s hot this summer. Somebody turn off the furnace already! A full dark smoke visor is just as necessary as excellent ventilation right now.
That’s one of the problems with communicating on the Internet, we cannot see each other’s facial expressions and body language. I completely missed your sarcasm. Sarcasm which was well-put, I might add. I’m sorry I misinterpreted your comment.
and have to say this:
Dong 80 mph wheelies on the street is stupid. Even if you don’t get hurt any cagers who see you will think “There goes another idiot motorcycle rider” and their perception of all motorcycles riders, even the mature and responsible among us, will go down a notch. I’m sick of people thinking it is cute to say “Oh, you bought a (murdercycle/donor bike)” when I tell them I bought a motorcycle.
Keep the stunts off road. It you want to wheelie buy a dirt bike.
As Budd said, you’ll find you haven’t approached the limits. At 200 pounds you’ll tax the GS500F’s suspension on the track, but that is a good thing. Get some aftermarket fork springs and bump up the rear preload before hitting the track. You’ll become a better rider starting your track days on the GS500F instead of a GSXR 750.
I agree comfort is subjective, but I cannot fathom someone who is 6’2″ being more comfortable on a race bike than on a street-oriented sport bike or standard motorcycle. I can imagine your GS500F getting uncomfortable after two hours. Easy fix, there. Stop and take a break. If the F’s riding position makes you uncomfortable what makes you think being folded into a racing crouch will be more comfortable?
Sounds to me like you’re taking a mature approach to this upgrade process, but there is more to safety than just maturity. You need to learn how to stop properly and practice the technique until it becomes a reflex. Same for cornering. When, not if, you get into a turn a bit hot and spot a hazard on your cornering line you need to take the correct action instantly. You won’t have time to think about it. Your GS500F has a bigger margin for error than a race bike. You may very well develop the skills to go directly from the GS500F to a GSXR 750, but you need to develop those skills on the slower bike. As I mentioned above, you and the track instructors will know when you are ready.
Good starter bike you got yourself. Enjoy it.
Being able to wheelie a GS500F is no sign a rider is ready for a race bike on the street.
Back to the original question. Experience has little to do with being ready to upgrade. I signed up for instruction after 200,000 miles because I wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle properly. I had 25-years experience, and many bad habits to replace with good habits. Sure, I had read “A Twist of the Wrist,” but reading a book is no substitute for excellent instruction. Code’s book was all we had back then, so rode anyway with little clue what we were doing wrong.
Every new motorcycle rider should sign up for on-track lessons. Pridmore’s school isn’t the only good one, but it is excellent. I’ve heard good feedback on other boards about some of the smaller, less well-known schools taught around the country. I have also seen first-hand what people learn in other schools in California (Lance Keigwin’s novice schools are excellent). Anyone who considers buying a GSXR or similar bike would be a fool to not get on-track professional instruction first. Anyone who buys a racer replica sport bike and doesn’t do track days is wasting money and buying the wrong tool for the job. Hence my advice for you to get to a track and learn to ride properly. If you have no intention of taking your bike to the track you are lusting after the wrong bike. Suzuki’s SV650 is much more fun on the street than is the GSXR 750. The SV has the added benefit of being cheaper to buy, maintain and insure, gets better gas mileage, and goes through fewer rear tires.
Take two days back-to-back. Practice what you learn for the next year. Sign up for two more days of CLASS. If one of the instructors comes up to you and says “You need a faster bike” you’ll be ready to upgrade to an SV650. Do a bunch of track days on the SV650. You’ll know if you’re ready for the GSXR at that point. You may find the little SV all the bike you need.
Keep one point in mind: No one needs a GSXR 750 for street use. They are race bikes, and despite what the guys at the major motorcycle magazines say, they are terribly uncomfortable on the street. My 2003 SV1000N is a much better street bike than any of the racer replica sport bikes.
Another point: Until you’ve had professional instruction and at least one year experience the SV650 or GSXF650 is more bike than you need on the street.
I have 30+ years experience, 200,000+ street miles, and have spent thousands of dollars on instruction, and the SV1000 is faster than I need for a street bike. It is a hoot to ride, handles well, and is reasonably comfortable. Also, lacking body work to damage my insurance is cheap. I plan to use the SV1000 as a part-time track toy, but feel no need to upgrade the power. I’ll work on the suspension while I practice the lessons I learned at the various track schools I’ve taken. If I ever feel the need to upgrade my track toy I’ll probably keep the SV1000 for my street bike and go with a Triumph Street Triple.
My main track toy while taking riding schools was Honda CBR600F3. It was way faster than I was capable of going, and I learned a lot on that bike. The F3 was a terrible street bike, but excelled in its element; the track. Same for the GSXR 750. That bike is faster than you will ever be unless you have the skills to be a top club racer. If so, you’ll know when you’re ready. Don’t go to fast too soon. As Reg always told us, “To go fast you first have to go slow.”
That’s a good starter bike. Nice low seat, and slow by today’s standards. You should probably upgrade to braided steel brake line if you can find some to fit, or at least get new OEM lines. Check the rotors and pads carefully too. Most of all, have fun!
Every riding school I’ve been to has braking drills for new riders. The key is to practice pulling the lever lightly to set the suspension, then squeezing harder to slow the bike. You have to practice so it becomes a reflex action. I learned proper braking technique after 20+ years and at least 200,000 miles of street riding. Even us old dogs can learn new tricks. I work on the technique every time I ride.
And always anticipate stupid moves from cagers. As the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers used to say, “You aren’t paranoid when they really are out to get you.”
…just north of Austin in Round Rock. I moved back here from the Bay Area a bit less than four years ago. We had a house in Hollister, and I got to ride some great roads, as well as some great tracks. I highly recommend Reg Pridmore’s CLASS, Lance Keigwin’s novice schools, and Red Shift Motorcycle Safety School. You’ll not only become a better and safer rider, you’ll get addicted to track riding.
After riding on the track a few dozen times I’ve definitely slowed down on the street. I was crazy in my youth, partially because I didn’t have access to tracks and had to get my speed buzz on public roads. Back then the roads we used were deserted. Now the (new) stores on those roads sell T-shirts publicizing my favorite Texas back roads to every squid in the state. Good thing we have tracks here now.
Get yourself to a track, but start with one of the schools, not an open track day. Zoom Zoom also has excellent instructors.
Seeing as how all the Kawasaki Ninja 650s in this area are sold out, I broke down and bought a 2003 Suzuki SV1000 yesterday, and took it out for a 90-mile round trip ride this morning. Great bike for riders with the experience to handle it, but definitely not a beginner bike. Tons of torque, great brakes and good suspension. Handles like an extension of my thoughts, but even while cruising home in relaxed mode I found myself taking corners at twice the speed posted on those yellow signs. The bike and I still had plenty in reserve, but it would be way easy to get in over your head with this 996cc V-twin.
Now I need to get signed up for some track days.
There are many misconceptions regarding countersteering, many of them the result of Keith Code preaching that countersteering is the only way to steer a motorcyle. He’s wrong, as anyone with sport riding experience can tell you. My son and I took two of Code’s schools a few years back. I got my deposit back on Levels Three and Four after we completed Level Two, and signed us up for two more days with Reg Pridmore’s CLASS.
The clincher came at Laguna Seca during the body positioning demonstration at Code’s school. One of Code’s instructors had a bike on a a centerstand, showing us the proper way to hang off while cornering. He was explaining we should be relaxed enough to take our hands off the bars in the corner (excellent point), and while he was demonstrating this technique the bike began to tip over. Another instructor used the grab handles to straighten the bike. I looked at the first instructor and asked “Did you just make the bike lean using your body weight?” He sheepishly admitted he had.
A few weeks later at CLASS I listened as Reg explained how to use your body weight to fine the your bike’s attitude while leaned over, after countersteering to initiate the turn. We were at the Streets of Willow Springs, and I had been having difficulty through the Bowl at the back of the course. I just could not feel what the front end of my bike was doing through that section. Reg also explained the importance of keeping your weight off the bars in turns, as had Code. After Reg’s talk I went back out on the track and paid attenton of keeping a light touch on the bars, keeping the balls of my feet on the pegs, and pushing on a peg to lean the bike further or stand it up a bit. The result was magical. I could feel every pebble my front tire traversed, and my cornering speed through the Bowl increased each lap. More importantly, I was in control and no longer apprehensive, which increased my margin of safety even though I was going 15 mph faster than previously.
Does this mean you cannot countersteer while leaned over? Of course not. But there are other, better, ways to steer your motorcycle in corners, especially in emergencies. A few weeks after taking CLASS at the Streets I was at a track day at Buttonwillow. While on a fast (for me) lap I came up behind another bike entering the Lost Hill on the back side of the track. This is a mound of dirt with the apex at the crest. It is a blind corner on entrance. Anyways, I was entering the corner about 30 mph faster than the other rider and preparing to pass him on the inside when he suddenly changed his line and dove toward the inside of the corner (just like Code teaches). I stood on the left peg and passed him on the outside at the crest of the hill, but was now off my line and headed for the dirt. I got my head and shoulders as far down and right as possible, kept my weight off the bars, leaned my left knee into the tank and stayed out of the dirt. If I had countersteered at the crest of the turn I probably would have tucked the front and crashed.
You can also alter your line with the throttle, if you are in the proper gear (i.e. not being lazy and taking turns in a high gear). Keep your engine’s RPM up, and backing off slightly will tighten your line. Rolling on slightly will carry you toward the outside of the corner. The key is being smooth.
You should also practice setting yourself up before the corner. Get your braking and downshifting done before lean into the corner, then roll on the throttle and accelerate through the turn.
Bought it brand spanking new in 1978. It’s a miracle I survived. Scared one passenger so bad he has refused to get on a motorcycle since his one ride. I have since learned to love mid-size bikes and riding at sane speeds.
On my (now sold) Honda F3. Turn 2 at Laguna Seca during one of Reg Pridmore’s schools, 2001.
You want it snug enough that it will stay in place in case of a crash, but large enough to not create pressure points on your head. There has to be enough room for the lining to absorb impact, not transfer the energy to your skull. Try on a lot of helmets. All brands are shaped a bit differently and some will fit you better than others. I find Arai and HJC helmets fit me better than Shoei helmets. Your fit may vary from mine, so go what what is comfortable for you.
As for gear during little short rides just remember that jeans are not made to resist abrasion if you find yourself sliding on asphalt. Yes, motorcycling pants are a hassle for short rides, but the armor in good pants will save you a lot of pain if you fall.