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How to U-turn on a Motorcycle
I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but cruiser or standard, I now might suggest that, unless you are planning on moving up in a hurry (like I did-not to say it was a good idea), you might consider whether your first bike has drum brakes. My first bike is a Nighthawk CB250. For me, it was a great beginner’s bike. BUT, the biggest shock of riding the next bike was getting used to disk brakes, which I believe required a serious re-learning experience. Were I doing it again, that might make a difference to me. I might have considered starting with disks, and ingraining an earlier respect for insta-grabiness.
My bikes are all standards. While at the Ducati/Triumph dealer waiting for a service, I test rode a Triumph Speedmaster because I’d never been on a cruiser. Wow, it was just so relaxing, and so easy to lean into relaxed turns. It felt like driving a big American Car, comfortable. Liked it so much that I put an advance deposit down on a Thunderbird with ABS to add to the collection. Should be very comfortable if I ever take passengers. Elwood, I finally understand what you see in Harley’s, these things are definitely worth a ride.
I think that the Speedmaster has the same basic Triumph V-Twin as the Bonneville. Certainly a second bike. But IMHO there may be some real truth to the opinion that engine size and weight should have different “beginners” criterea for cruisers than for other styles (with caveat that stupid right hand can screw up any bike).
I have recently purchased a pair of Draggin’ Jeans, just denim except for Kevlar in butt and knees. They sell knee pads that velcro to the Kevlar. They also sell full kevlar long bottoms (with a stirrup to go under foot in boot. The pads will velcro to these too. Most riders will go without full gear some time. These things are better than plain jeans. I suspect, however, that they can move around and will never offer the protection of real gear.
I don’t want to argue about leather vs. textile, but for me its ATGATT (all the gear, all the time-or almost). A friend with 30 years riding and racing experience is in the hospital because he got hit from behind by a car ricocheting off another car. He swears that he is alive because of his leathers.
Riding jeans will provide some abrasion protection, but I suspect not as much, and way less impact protection, than full gear. All the Dianese stuff now provides slots for back protectors, or you can buy a standalone. It’s better if your pants zip to your jacket.
I don’t mean to be preachy. I wore jeans with knee pads to ride a mile to meet a friend for lunch. I wouldn’t on highway, or for any longer riding. Just me. Any gear works best when you don’t need it.
Sidi makes shoes for those times when you just won’t wear boots. But boots are way better, and some are better than others. I had a skid in gravel where I kept the wheels down but the peg gave be a kick in the ankle. I bought a pair of Sidi Vortice boots which have great protection, and side supports to stop you from twisting your ankle, as well as offering maximum protection from your bike or other objects. The feel a bit like ski boots, but they are my boot of choice whenever possible. I think boots are like helmets: just how much is your ankle worth?
I am not comfortable on my 696. Thinking of trading it for a street/track day bike. Have sat on the Honda CB600 and it was pretty tight for me. Of the following, 848, monster 1100, Aprilia Tuono and Aprilia RV, I prefer the pegs on the Ducati bikes. How did you find them uncomfortable?
Also, I have no problem on the Multi, (except maybe for wanting a front gear change to improve smoothness at low speed). Is the 848 fairly civilized if you are caught in traffic? Do you think that the dry clutch on the 1100 would be a pain? Thanks. Glad you are fully recovered.
Just ordered the Draggin jeans, which are no big deal, just kevlar in the knees and butt. They do now sell knee and hip armor that attaches with velcro. What I found more interesting, and ordered, were Kevlar long johns with stirrup straps at the bottom. Attach armor to those and you can wear them under any pants, jeans or Khakis.
Good to hear from you. Hope you recovered from your canyon adventure. Is it an 848 you are riding, and if so, how do you like it?
Bonnies are nice bikes. For 2009 there are multiple styles. All have gone to fuel injection (with a fake carburetor to maintain the look). Two have smaller wheels and lower seats than in past years. People love them, and they get good reviews. They don’t exactly fit the definition of a pure beginner’s bike, but IMHO they are fine for a step up. If you like standards, they are a consideration for sure.
It is a question, as always, of your preferences. Bonnevilles are beautiful, totally competent, and comfortable. They don’t handle like sport bikes, which wouldn’t stop me for a second. I bought my Ducati bikes from a dealer who also sells Triumphs. If you can find an enthusiastic dealer, you could be quite happy. Good luck.
First : Nighthawk 250 2008; great first bike, although would now start with a bike that had disc brakes. Will be selling.
Second: Ducati 696+ 2009; haven’t decided. Great bike with ergo issue for me. Never going to be perfect. But rides great.
Third: Ducati Multistrada 1100S 2008; foolish person’s Versys. Can’t wait for the Spring. Can no do overnight, go shopping, have panniers. Good all rounder.
Drooling over: Ducati 848, 1198s, Street Triple R, 2009 Daytona. Curious about Honda CBR600 with new ABS system.
696 has proved to be great in a number of ways. I’m not sure that it’s a great beginning bike, but I have been happy riding it, at least until the snow started in December.
Problems, if any, are the ergonomics. I think all of the monsters, even the new big one, are built for people shorter than 6 feet. Even with the supposedly flatter touring seat, I find myself a little too up against the tank. Otherwise, totally sweet.
I put about 1000 miles on a nighthawk CB250 before I bought my 696 in October. I have put 1000 miles plus on the 696. I don’t want to either recommend or not recommend the 696 as a first bike, but I will point out some differences and some observations.
I am not unhappy that I started on a 250. It gave me way more confidence, and was not as easy to make a mistake on as the 695. Were I to do it again, though, I might have started on a bike with disk brakes. The sensitivity of the Brembo brakes on the 696 took some extra getting used to. Also, an accidental twist of the wrist on the 250 would not be quite as dramatic as one on the 696.
Having said that, the 696 is fairly civilized. The clutch is excellent for downshifts, and somewhat forgiving if you don’t match revs perfectly. You need to get used to the small size of the friction zone (other than in 1st gear, you won’t be using your clutch much to control speed, and it is harder in 1st than on other bikes). The bike is quite light, and can be muscled if necessary, which I think helps with the confidence thing. It is very stable on the highway. I haven’t ridden any other 650s, but I have ridden a Triumph Scrambler (fun) and a Triumph Speed Triple (that is a liter triple, and is fun but a little top heavy). The author(s) of “A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles” thought that the 695 was an OK beginner’s bike.
Two things about the bike. I am 6 feet tall, and the bike puts my upper body more forward than I would like, and it is work to keep my weight off the bars below 50mph. Second, the clutch and front brake lever are a reach for smaller hands (which is a little weird since the bike was designed for smaller riders. I am thinking I should trade it for a multistrada.
Finally, the 696 can just feel amazing to ride. It handles really well and it is easy to feel like part of the bike. Unlike the 250, it has no problem keeping up with traffic on a highway. Unlike the 250, it gets happier, and more responsive above 4000 rpms. I’ve been good about resisting the temptation to really let it go. If you think that would be a problem, don’t get it or any 650ish bike. Hope that helps.
Oh yeah. Still have the nighthawk. It is so easy to ride compared to the Duc that sometimes I take it out instead. It is a bulletproof machine, and is just a relaxing joy to ride. I doubt I’d like the 696 as much if I hadn’t had the smaller engine first.
Ok, had to take the 696 for its first service today, about 40 miles away. It was about 35 degrees F when I left the house, and probably warmed to 40 while I rode. I did 3/4 on a highway at 65-70mph. Going up I had waterproof insulated gloves on my hands, 4 layers under my lined jacket, and patagonia long johns, jeans, and overpants.
My legs aren’t usually a problem, and weren’t today. My core was ok with all the layers, but my chin went a bit numb. My hands got cold enough to be uncomfortable and be distracting. I would have needed to pull over for a break within another 20 minutes.
At the dealers, they installed a pigtail from the battery coming out under the front of the seat. The pigtail has a 15 amp fuse (bigger, I think, than the one that comes with most battery tenders) and was included in a First Gear dual heat controller. I also have an adapter so that I can hook a tender to the same plug when the bike is sitting.
I did my return trip at temps of about 48 degrees (so it was a little warmer). I was wearing heated gloves (waterproof, I think) from First Gear, along with a First Gear Jacket liner. I had removed a layer of fleece, and a cashmere sweater. Damn if I wasn’t comfortable as hell. My only issues are feeling like robo rider with several wires running from me to the bike, and finding a place to put the controller (my tank is covered in plastic, so I mounted the controller-small box with two dials-with velcro on the tank. Also, one glove seems to get slightly warmer than the other, which I will ask the seller about (but it may have to do with different hand positions, throttle vs. clutch).
The gloves are not as bulky as my non heated gloves, so sensitivity on the controls was excellent.
I didn’t need to turn up the heat more than 40% of capacity, so I get the feeling that this stuff would work great in any weather that I would feel safe riding in. About $200 for the “jacket liner”, $150 gloves, $100 for dual controller. May just give me an extra month of riding. One ride isn’t enough for a verdict, but I have hope.
I’m not capable of explaining it, but it does seem to make a difference. Ride smoothness, and the ability to handle stuff like grating on bridges are adversely affected when your weight is on the bars. Maybe someone can explain why.
I did, however, confirm two things today because I took my bike 40 miles into NH to have it serviced. First, at 70 mph, keeping my weight off the bars wasn’t much of a problem. Second, while my bike was being serviced (and outfitted with an electrical connection) I got to test ride a Ducati Multistrada. I think I’m in love (again). Upright seating, more leg room (higher seat, and more distance seat to pegs), can handle serious luggage, and pretty light for a Sport Tourer but handles like a Ducati. Like other Ducati bikes, it doesn’t like rpm’s under 3000 but you can’t have everything.
Also got a preview of the 2009 Triumph Scrambler (in Great Escape type Khaki). So good looking!! Could see trading Nighthawk 250 and 696 for the multistrada and the scrambler. One for longer trips, one just for fun around town or on hardpan dirt roads. Now the economy will just have to oblige me by spring.
I have purchased downloadable subscriptions to CycleWorld and Motorcyclist. The subscriptions are pretty inexpensive, and you use a dedicated reader (Zinio) to read them on macs or pcs. Not great, but not bad for the bucks. If nothing else, you get quick info on new products.
Wish I had a good source for bike reviews and info though. Especially if it were in one place.
Even with waterproof, insulated gloves, I found that 40 degrees gets to be too cold pretty quickly. I just bought a heated firstgear jacket liner and gloves. Tomorrow, when my Ducati 696 goes in for its first service, I’m going to have a pigtail installed that I can use for either the heated gear, or to attach a battery tender. It should be in the 40’s here tomorrow, so perhaps I can provide a before (on way to dealer) and after (with heated gear) report.