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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bike Bible: Everything a first time motorcycle rider needs to know about getting into riding!

The question was asked and I answered with such detail I think it's best I preserve the answer as its own blog post.  Because anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE bikes!


First of all if you want to die or end up looking very ugly with road rash (the burns) and something broken or something between your legs sliced open...get the Busa.

If you want to actually do things the normal way, start smaller and work your way up. The first bike is never the last bike, so don't think you have to get THE bike of your dreams NOW NOW NOW.

My dream bike is a Yamaha R1 Raven...but I'm nowhere near it yet.

You're SUPPOSE to start on a 250 (and the motorcycle courses provide the bikes for you to train in the course on, they are tiny --cc wise-- cruisers). But no higher than a 600, and not one of the TWITCHY 600s that easily wheelie when you don't want to, either.

Kawasaki Ninja 250:

My first bike,and one of the ones recommended by bigger/older heads than me:
Yamaha YZF 600R:

Another guy I use to ride with had the blue one of that ^^^ solid bike, and looks good too.

Suzuki SV650 (a next guy had this one and he rode/stunted the life out of it!):

You COULD if you want get a Suzuki Katana but that thing is a dinosaur and is as HEAVY as one! So I say don't...

I am partial to Yamahas so I recommend that one.

GEAR. Don't even ride the bike til you buy the gear, and when planning how much you can spend to buy a bike the GEAR and the INSURANCE need to be part of your budget!

You need a SNELL & DOT (not just DOT--Dept of Transportation) approved helmet!

Arai is the best!

HJC and Scorpion are the next most popular ones far as I can tell. I had two HJC, a CL-some-number Fuse and a Dragon. (The helmets all have hype names, like Arai made one I liked called a Corsair, but just pick a colour scheme to match your bike and you good).

You need a THICK (I forget the millimeters you should look for, I think 3mm or thicker) LEATHER jacket. And you can get one that has mesh to breathe but leather at the joints, but if you can only afford one, get the leather. Either one should have ARMOR inside it at elbows and some kind of extra cushioning along your back/spine. You can buy a spine protector too but I find guys use that to look sexy and have all their skin out a door except for the spine don't bother try look cool cause them other guys probly riding longer than you or see a casket they love somewhere and want to be in it. Buy the leather!

ALPINESTARS and DAINESE are the best! And theirs are usually track-quality leathers that zip with the pants so you when you ready to race on the track (don't need to be professional to do that, just pay for a track day) you are already ready. (A lot of people, including me, use Teknic jackets with no problems)

You need leather motorcycle PANTS especially when you are NEW. Most people skip them after a while except for long rides or track days, but when you are new is when you are most likely to fall want to wear the rookie scars forever? Alpinestars or Dainese again. I got Alpinestars track quality pants with the knee pucks (and heard I was kneedragging sometimes going around curves but lol that wasn't on purpose). This should also have armor over your knee and hip joints.

You need excellent leather MOTORCYCLE BOOTS. Alpinestars is all I recommend and the only one I wore. They sound loud and squeaky like I don't know what, which was kind of embarrassing, but I could go down any day and not twist off my ankle...foot bones are hardest to heal from don't play with this... they have "cool" looking motorcycle boots too but for a beginner I say your first year at least you need to be in proper boots. Longer if you actually care whether you walk or not. 

You need HIGH quality GLOVES. Preferably the gauntlet style that comes down on your forearms. If you go down (fall off the bike) the first instinct is to put your palm out to break your don't want some cheap ting ripping and then your skin tearing. I went down slow speed in some cheaper Icon Pursuit gloves and the thing ripped in one palm right away. I was lucky my palm only scraped a little bit, but that was less than 30mph! Next time I got the nice solid gauntlets like I should have had...

Other things you need to know:

1. Take the MSF course.

2. PASS the MSF course.

3. Get the endorsement on your license

4. Get a bike + gear + INSURANCE that is inside your budget, so check out how much it would be to INSURE a certain bike before you buy! I didn't repeat this one by accident!

5. WEAR the gear. 

6. Learn how to strap your helmet on CORRECTLY. I see nuff eediat out there wearing the helmet half azzed and first thing as dem crash, dat ting going to fly off dem head. 

7. The helmet is not going to protect your head if you strap it to your bike and ride off. Yes, nuff people do this, and it's stupid.

8. Find a large parking lot or other paved area that has times in the day it's empty, and practice practice practice everything you learned in the MSF course...especially at SLOW speed because that is when the bike's balance is harder to maintain! Friction zone, figure 8s, U-TURNS (both times I dropped my bike, was U-turns, one to the right and one to the left...that second one though was at night and I went over a hump in the road I didn't see, it sent me wide and I dropped...and wished I had worn my leather pants cause my knee got bruised...again at slow speed!)

9. Ride BY YOURSELF for the first 3 months at LEAST. There is a pack mentality that takes over when you are with a group and feel that pressure to keep up, and it makes you go past your skill level.

10. Don't ride with every and anybody when you start doing group rides...some people are more dangerous to ride with than your bike will ever be, avoid them.

11. Figure out what you plan to do and practice doing it somewhere safe! Don't try to stunt in the middle of traffic...practice somewhere isolated and wait for shows or appropriate times or places. Same things with least wait for open deserted country roads and not a weekday in the middle of city traffic!

12. DO NOT TAKE PASSENGERS until you have ridden by yourself for a good while, like at least 6 months! They are often BAD with following directions, and they MOVE around right when you need to do something important! They change the amount of force needed to move the bike off, and the amount needed to bring the bike to a stop, and that can mess you UP if you not ready for it. If girls ask learn to say no. Tell them you don't have an extra helmet and jacket and you don't ride passengers without one. I use to just tell guys (and the occasional weird GIRL who still wanted a ride even after she found out it's a girl's bike she was looking at) straight up I just don't ride passengers. I didn't take a passenger til nearly a year of riding...

13. Sometimes braking is exactly what will make you go down. I saved myself from a HIGH speed crash once by GIVING IT GAS and holding my position still on the bike. Especially going around a curve or if someone is about to change lanes into you and you didn't check recently what's behind you! Slowing down too suddenly in a curve will make you drop the bike...either hold the speed you have and lean harder into the curve, or be willing to let the bike go and jump off. If someone changing lanes you can see ahead of you right away, it takes time to check behind you cause you need to turn your head, so speeding up out of their way can save you.

14. Be ready to let GO of the bike and let it crash if it's going down...that way it won't fall on one of your legs. The first time i went down I felt it going down and didn't save it. I scratched my fairing (and they are expensive!!!) but the bike was fine. The 2nd time, i tried to save the bike, and me AND it went down with it still between my legs, hence the bruised knee.  Oh, and the reason my ANKLES didn't feel a thing is because of my Alpinestars motorcycle boots!

15. Everybody goes down at some point, so if you only riding if you DON'T fall of, you will stop riding eventually, or don't bother starting. I did and I lived past it, and I have a friend who got a testicle split when a woman in an SUV left turned in front of him, and he still rides! I also know of someone who got a criss bike and not even 2 weeks in was trying to stunt like one of my friends who had been riding since he was a baby, and has parents who ride...and that guy's bike 12 o'clocked on him, threw him off, slammed from one side to the next, and threw up SPARKS from the tail as it skidded cross the pavement. His skin got road rash so bad it scraped down to the meat, and that was traumatizing for me to LOOK at and pour the rest of my drinking water on trying to wash the gravel and dirt out of it, I don't know what that felt like for him. But he was being STUPID.

16. Learn how to pick your bike up off the ground BEFORE it drops out in public on you! You don't want to find out when you out on the road in traffic that you dropped your bike and have to wait on someone to help you get it up! I didn't take my bike out til I could put it (gently) on its side and lift it up by myself. I turned my back to the kickstand side, one hand on the sissy bar by the passenger seat and one hand by the handlebar, and while in a squat but kind of leaning on it, pushed up with my LEGS and once it was almost straight up, balanced it against my hip so I could change positions and throw my leg over.

1 comment:

Eloquence, Inc. said...

From the friend who first got it in my head that I love bikes so much I should get my own:

" Nice blog! I'd add: watch for grit & gravel in the road. It's very unfriendly in a turn. Also be smooth and light on the throttle in intersections because most of them have debri and invisible oil slicks due to auto accidents. Avoid painted lane dividers and markings in the rain when turning. They are much slicker than asphalt when wet. You touched on this one: lose the tendency to automatically hit the brakes when in trouble. This is where experience and proper training is a must."

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