Learning to Ride at 75

GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
4/19/22

Preface: I don't know shit about riding a motorcycle.

I’ve had the bike since 4/14/22. When I got it it had 3 miles on it. I now have 20 miles on it. So 17 miles on it so far. All of it in my neighborhood. I’m not ready to get out onto the roads in real traffic. I’ve taken care of insurance and registration. I’m wearing an open face helmet, jeans, and my classic style bicycling gloves, New Balance Walking shoes and any kind of shirt. I’ll be getting more appropriate “gear”, as they call it, as time goes by.

Today I decided I needed to work on my weak spot. Actually I have quite a few of them but the one I have noticed the most is making a right turn at an intersection after a full stop. I’ve been going really wide. I’m going to concentrate on that for now. I put 5 miles on the bike today and probably did about 8-10 of those right turns. Some of them were not too bad, others were ugly. I’m trying to remember to turn the fork first, look where I want the bike to go, and carefully feather the clutch as I keep the engine at a steady rpm high enough not to stall. It’s a lot to think about. I know that I will have to practice this until I do it instinctively without thinking about it. My ugliest attempt was when I stalled it because I was in 2nd gear when I thought I was in 1st.

Sometimes I remember to use the turn signal. But not always. And when I do use it I forget to cancel it.
 
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Rednaxs60

Well travelled
The first stage of having an impairment is to acknowledge it. Time to take a course. The collective here can give lots of good information, but you need a course. You need someone to make you do what you need to do. There are many videos, books, forum threads on this to assist. Unless you are a person who can look and do, take a course.

Learning a new motorcycle riding skill set is like having your friends help you improve your golf swing, say thankyou and take some expert instruction.

Let me be the first to suggest a way ahead.

1. Take a COURSE! Can't emphasize this enough.
2. Commit to the turn, it's identical to starting in a straight line and going. Can't say enough about having to COMMIT! Don't be timid. Just like driving a car, once you start, go - don't second guess yourself - COMMIT! On the bike, enough RPM to engage the clutch, then add throttle as you enter the turn. Do not keep the RPM constant. Look where you want to go as you have mentioned. You should be able to shift to second at the end of the turn, if not before. You will not fall over if you increase the RPM. Worst case is that if you feel yourself off balance and think that the bike may want to take a nap, a little more throttle and dump the clutch, the bike will straghten up. Pull over, compose yourself, start again. When you start in first gear in a straight line, you don't keep the same engine RPM as you go forward, same on a turn.
3. Do this in a parking lot. Use the parking stalls as the guide for the turn.

Don't know what the model of your bike is, but my Gold Wing will do a u-turn in 17 feet. My Himalayan should be able to do 15 feet.

Remeber that the rear tire of the bike turns in a tighter radius than the front tire. Don't cut the corner too close.

Attached a picture of parking lot parking stalls. Start with Pic 1 and progress to Pic 2. Pic 2 shows moving the bike closer to the centre of the parking stall as you get better. For a left turn move bike to other side.

To do a u-turn see Pic 3. Move the bike in as you get better. You can use parking lot stalls to perfect figure 8 patterns as well.

Pic 1.jpg
 
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GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
The first stage of having an impairment is to acknowledge it. Time to take a course. The collective here can give lots of good information, but you need a course. You need someone to make you do what you need to do. There are many videos, books, forum threads on this to assist. Unless you are a person who can look and do, take a course.

Learning a new motorcycle riding skill set is like having your friends help you improve your golf swing, say thankyou and take some expert instruction.

Let me be the first to suggest a way ahead.

1. Take a COURSE! Can't emphasize this enough.
2. Commit to the turn, it's identical to starting in a straight line and going. Can't say enough about having to COMMIT! Don't be timid. Just like driving a car, once you start, go - don't second guess yourself - COMMIT! On the bike, enough RPM to engage the clutch, then add throttle as you enter the turn. Do not keep the RPM constant. Look where you want to go as you have mentioned. You should be able to shift to second at the end of the turn, if not before. You will not fall over if you increase the RPM. Worst case is that if you feel yourself off balance and think that the bike may want to take a nap, a little more throttle and dump the clutch, the bike will straghten up. Pull over, compose yourself, start again. When you start in first gear in a straight line, you don't keep the same engine RPM as you go forward, same on a turn.
3. Do this in a parking lot. Use the parking stalls as the guide for the turn.

Don't know what the model of your bike is, but my Gold Wing will do a u-turn in 17 feet. My Himalayan should be able to do 15 feet.

Remeber that the rear tire of the bike turns in a tighter radius than the front tire. Don't cut the corner too close.

Attached a picture of parking lot parking stalls. Start with Pic 1 and progress to Pic 2. Pic 2 shows moving the bike closer to the centre of the parking stall as you get better. For a left turn move bike to other side.

To do a u-turn see Pic 3. Move the bike in as you get better. You can use parking lot stalls to perfect figure 8 patterns as well.

View attachment 4894
I'm not going to take a course. Just want to get that out there.
 

GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
Bit the bullet and ordered these from Amazon. $81 Bucks with tax! This hobby seems to be geared toward the aristocracy.


I also did a recon mission in my car. There's a pretty big parking lot a little over a mile from me that has a lot of empty space. I checked it out and I can get there and only have to cross one fairly busy 4 lane road there and back. I don't have to drive on it. Just cross it. I'll be coming back at a different crossing point then going. The reason being if I come back at the same point I am going to have to start across on a sort of steep incline going up. Not ready for that yet. So I found one that's fairly level farther up. But I don't want to cross that way going out because it doesn't have good sight distance.
 
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Rednaxs60

Well travelled
Not going to take a course, so a parking lot is his next best friend.

When you go to the parking lot, only do one skill pattern at a time. Perfect it and move to the next one. Lots of diagrams on the net. You'll find a lot of similarities between skill patterns as you progress.

If you have a riding partner, take him/her with you. Show that person what you want to accomplish and ask for a demo. Watch head position, looking where you want to go, engine sound - RPM, increase as the bike goes forward Y/N.

Keep control of your legs. Keep the legs in, don't have to hug the tank.

Good luck.
 

GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
Not going to take a course, so a parking lot is his next best friend.

When you go to the parking lot, only do one skill pattern at a time. Perfect it and move to the next one. Lots of diagrams on the net. You'll find a lot of similarities between skill patterns as you progress.
That's the plan. Going to work on those rights turns from a stop.

I've been checking out the youtube videos on it. What do you think of this one?

 

Rednaxs60

Well travelled
Since a course is out of the question at this time. You meet some good people on a course. Haven't been on a course where even the most seasoned rider did not learn something.

Use the parking lot for straight line training as well. Start off in a straight line, get up to say 30 MPH, and come to a quick controlled stop. Do not lock up the front, if you do, release front brake and reapply. If the rear locks up, leave it alone - keep it locked up. The rear wheel will follow the front.

Do not practice laying the bike down. There is no course anywhere that teaches this skill. Only place this is done is in the movies in a controlled environment.

Cheers
 

Rednaxs60

Well travelled
That's the plan. Going to work on those rights turns from a stop.

I've been checking out the youtube videos on it. What do you think of this one?

Good information. Don't get hung up on the full lock issue. Lots of seasoned riders don't get to a full lock position, ever. What you want to do is have a controlled entry into the centre of the lane you are turning into, full lock or not. Looking down the road is good, not close up. Pick a point and stay focused on it, keep aware of your surroundings as well. If you look at the barrier, you will hit it. Takes a lot of discipline at the start not to look close in or at the front wheel.

I would use the where to look and do a controlled entry into the centre of the lane at this point. Get this right, practice the bike lean. Too many different things to think about at the start can be confusing and make you think about each one individually - very robotic.

To improve one aspect of a golf swing is purported to need a person to hit a minimum of 1000 golf balls. Takes time and a lot of practice to make a small change that you need to become an automatic, subconcious action.

The flip side to this is that with a lack of practice, your skill set will diminish more quickly, so its prudent to practice your skill sets on a regular basis.

Cheers
 

Rednaxs60

Well travelled
Is that why I never see bikers wearing jeans?

View attachment 4895
Jeans will last about 10 seconds, the road always wins. Too many posts and articles of people riding with jeans, having the unfortunate opportunity to test jeans versus the road, and have been in the hospital for several months. Your choice. Here's hoping you will never find out. Riding jeans are cheap insurance.
 

GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
I may have to rethink taking that course. I got to the parking lot OK and I was doing pretty good practicing those turns. Then on one of them I must have let the clutch out a bit too fast and it stalled and before I knew it the bike was down on it's right side. 😕 Bent the rear brake pedal. Gonna hafta take that off and put it in the vise and straighten it out. And it took me about 10-15 minutes to get it back up. I tried the method they show you in the youtube videos of backing up into it and using just your legs but that didn't work. The bike went down on a slope so not only did I have to lift it, but I also had to lift it uphill. And I couldn't find any good place to grab onto other that the handlebars. There's only a grab bar on the left side. And the bike was lying right side up. Finally I just psyched myself up, grabbed it by the handle bars and muscled it up. I would have never been ale to do that if it wasn't for the fact that I lift free weights and do dead lifts on a regular basis. But my troubles were not over. Once I got it up it wouldn't start. :confused: I figure that by lying on it's side for so long some of the oil in the crankcase probably got somewhere where it didn't belong. So I waited about 15 minutes and tried again. And that time it did start. So then I drove it home using only the front brake and of course the mirrors were out of whack again, but I could still see behind me in the left one. It stalled several times on the way and I had to rev the engine to keep it going. That made the crossing of the busy road a bit nerve wracking as I imagined it stalling when I was halfway across. And it didn't help that there was a cop hiding by that crossing running a speed trap. But it didn't stall and by the time I got home it was running better.
 

Andy131

Well travelled
Location
Manchester UK
Really glad that you made it home without injuring anything other than your pride - and who hasn't done that. Dropping the bike while you are learning is going to happen, the advantage of a carpark is minimal damage to the bike and no damage to anything else. Obviously most sane people would advise you to take a course - don't count me in on that one as I picked up my bike after a 40 year break and stalled it several times leaving the dealership. My advice would be go back to the carpark, but with someone else with you, preferably on their own bike. That way they can help if you park the bike on its side.
Many of us have bad habits, passing these on to new rider is not intentional but will happen, still it might be better than them learning their own even worse habits.

Note having hard panniers, engine protectors, and hand guards keep the bike further off the ground when parked on its side making it easier to lift back up.

Stay safe
 

Rednaxs60

Well travelled
Good to hear you're not injured/hurt. Can always fix the bike. Andy has good advice, have a friend with you. Try picking up, a Gold Wing. Dropped my ex-1800 on a 3 lane road beside a bus, ego got damaged nothing else. Did it another time beside a tennis court. The two women that were playing ran over and offered to assist, did not say no. As Honda used to say, you meet some of the nicest people on a Honda.

A course is by far the best. Instructors are not only there to help you learn, but to prevent you from dropping your bike. Self instruction is not the easiest.

If you go back to the parking lot, as mentioned take a friend, but do not practice more than 15 minutes at a time. Take a break, have a coffee, then start again. Took my '85 Gold Wing on a track day, got a lot of wierd looks. Track time was 2 minutes at a shot. Needed a rest after this short time.

You will get it. Good luck.
 

GJC

Well travelled
Location
Mobile, Al
Good to hear you're not injured/hurt. Can always fix the bike. Andy has good advice, have a friend with you. Try picking up, a Gold Wing. Dropped my ex-1800 on a 3 lane road beside a bus, ego got damaged nothing else. Did it another time beside a tennis court. The two women that were playing ran over and offered to assist, did not say no. As Honda used to say, you meet some of the nicest people on a Honda.

A course is by far the best. Instructors are not only there to help you learn, but to prevent you from dropping your bike. Self instruction is not the easiest.

If you go back to the parking lot, as mentioned take a friend, but do not practice more than 15 minutes at a time. Take a break, have a coffee, then start again. Took my '85 Gold Wing on a track day, got a lot of wierd looks. Track time was 2 minutes at a shot. Needed a rest after this short time.

You will get it. Good luck.
Take a friend? Well being both an Introvert and a Misanthrope I don't have any friends. OK, I take that back. I have three of what I would call good friends. The closest one lives 500 miles away in Florida. The next closest is over 2,000 miles away in Southern California. And the other lives in Hawaii which is over 4,000 miles away. And none of them are interested in Motorcycles. Not to mention they are all close to my age, (I'll turn 75 in a less than 2 weeks) and at the risk of sounding conceited I'm the only one in any kind of shape close to being capable of turning a 470 lbs Motorcycle back upright.

15 minutes at a time? Now there's a thought. I'm sure that I had been practicing in that parking lot for a least a half an hour before I dropped the bike. Maybe my left hand was getting tired from working the clutch and that's why I let it out too quick and stalled? Or maybe that's just an handy excuse for screwing up.

I noticed in the youtube videos they kept referring to "finding the friction zone" of the clutch. I guess "finding the friction zone" is a nice euphemism for "riding the clutch".
 
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OldGuy

Well travelled
Location
Seattle,WA
Hallelujah!!!! MSF class for sure. They might sound like kind of a pussy thing to do, but I took my first from a sorta bad dude HD rider after I'd been riding for over 30 years. I went in with a bad attitude and got a real quick lesson in humble pie. I learned a lot! Made me a much safer and confident rider - really!!! DO IT!!! It might just save your life.

You don't know what you don't know until you know it.

OG
 

Andy131

Well travelled
Location
Manchester UK
Call me a clairvoyant if you want, but unfortunately this is going to end in one of the following ways:
1) You get bored of falling off and give up motorcycling - someone gets a new bike with very few miles and a few scratches.
2) You decide that you are good enough and go mixing with traffic, find out that you are not good enough and give up before you get seriously hurt.
3) As in 2 above but you get seriously hurt.
4) As in 2 above, and someone else gets hurt - 400lb motorbike at 30mph can kill a pedestrian.
5) You get to the point where you can stay on the bike, but then realise it's going to be quicker and cheaper to get some basic training - it's going to cost a lot in handlebars keep parking her on her side.
I vote for 5, get some practice in so that you can wobble around some cones, and then ask for help, and yes I know grumpy old xxx like us don't ask for help, but it's going to be quicker, cheaper and less painful
 

Bluestrom13

Well travelled
Location
UK
Dayum! Thanks! You're good at this!
That reply was from YOU to me... Different thread. But still applies. To a degree.

After 56 years riding and spannering (wrenching) I do consider myself (reasonably) competent.
BUT still learning stuff all the time.

So my advice to you now....Listen to the advise.

( It's not something you want to hear now, but I would have suggested starting with a smaller bike).
 
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