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My first ride, VTR250

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by JudeAndHerVTR, Nov 14, 2015.

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  1. Warning – this is a lengthy tale!

    Picked up the bike tonight. She's a 2007 Honda VTR 250cc in sparkly dark grey (have to admit, I thought she was black...how dare I assume she's ordinary?!) and she's my first real motorbike. I rode a moped thing (not a scooter but not a bike) in South East Asia when I lived there for 1.5yrs, but this is the first real bike and my first time riding in Aus :) Dad was there on his Harley to supervise and the plan was to ride from Essendon (seller's place) to South Yarra (mine), we'd stop for dinner, I'd see how I felt, and if I was comfortable enough I would ride her to Mornington to see my mum on the weekend.

    But nothing is ever drama-free in my life, and things often don't go to plan….

    Dad was VERY late getting to Essendon. Over an hour late. So I spent the time (and around 20km) riding the back streets, taking round-abouts, practising NOT stalling, watching the traffic. Dad's still not here. OK. So I a bit further, take a couple of intersections, traffic lights, more corners, and a small main road or two. And repeat and repeat.

    Finally he arrives! I'm feeling more comfortable than I thought possible. Could this bike fit me any better? The back brake is soft, but I don't really notice because I find myself gearing down to slow (habit from driving the “cage” as I've learned people call them hehe) rather than relying on the brakes. Plus, I'm in the side streets doing max 40km/hr so I find releasing the throttle does enough slowing for those conditions.

    We then ride from Essendon to Carlton to stop for dinner, and during this ride I really start testing that rear brake a bit to see how it is at faster speeds, as we're now in 60km/hr zones and there's a hell of a lot of traffic, so I'm definitely using my brakes now and not just gearing down and easing off the gas. It's soft. VERY SOFT. TOO SOFT. Basically, I have almost no rear brake. We get to Carlton and I let dad know. He takes it for a ride and confirms my suspicion – almost no rear brake.

    Now, this bike had a RWC and passed, and a service not too long ago either. I call the seller (who, I might add, is totally above board and who I don't for a second suggest is in any way involved) and tell her what the situation is. She's shocked and pretty angry. I'm annoyed because I'm definitely not riding to Mornington on my own any more, and it's looking like I may not even have a bike for another week at this rate. The seller agrees to come get the bike over the weekend to take it back to the RWC folks and sort it out for me.

    However, my dad is a very accomplished mechanic, and he thinks it's a brake fluid issue. We decide to take it to his factory. THIS MEANS RIDING ON THE M1 FWY. Eeeeek!!!!! I had said I wasn't ready for 100km/hr or fwy riding yet, but dad scoffed and said “You will be fine, just watch the cars, always look ahead and keep your distance”. He was right, it was FINE. The bike was comfortable, I was comfortable, and dad was right behind me.

    We get to the factory, bleed the brakes (I video the evidence) and the fluid is filthy and shows a level of water (dad has testing equipment) that is unsafe beyond words. We replace the fluid, test it again, the levels are perfect – then I test the brakes and lock up the rear wheel for the first time! I know what that feels like now! Ha!

    I let the seller know and send her the videos so she can take it to the RWC shop and also to the guy who did her service to raise it with them. Fair enough maybe they didn't think it needed doing, for whatever reason, but a simple test of the rear brake should have indicated how dangerously soft it was. I'm pretty inexperienced and even I picked it up.

    The problem is sorted and I'm now thinking about the next ride...home in the dark?! My dad is possibly the best dad in the world (he really is) and so he drives behind me in his car the entire ride home (too cold for his Harley he says – must be the fact that he doesn't have hand-warmers on his bike...shame...I DO THOUGH! Those babies saved me in the cold wind tonight!!) I manage riding home at night, on the fwy and then onto Toorak Road (which was by far the most treacherous of ALL the riding I did tonight – all I can say is that slow and with as much distance as possible from everyone is the ONLY way to ride on that road. Wow.)

    I get home safely. I covered 110km on my bike tonight, on my first ride. This was NOT what I had planned AT ALL. But it couldn't have been a better learning experience. Starting in the small suburban streets and gradually moving into more complicated situations – all with my dad to help and to supervise. I cannot wait to ride to Mornington tomorrow. I cannot wait to ride everywhere as much as possible (within reason, peak hour traffic for example, no thanks!). I am totally and utterly in love with my bike <3



    I don't recommend everyone do this! I had my dad (who has been riding for over 40years) right beside me the whole way and obviously riding with soft rear brakes is less than ideal. It's not something I would ever do on my own. And regarding the conditions or speeds, if at any point I had felt unsure or not felt confident and comfortable with the bike, I would not have continued. But the bike is perfect for me – perfect size, perfect seating, perfect handling and perfect power. She's just right.

    Also – I have the people on this forum to thank for tonight's experience. I have been reading this forum for a while and ALL the tips were constantly running through my mind: look/maintain throttle/relax (when turning), scan constantly, keep distance, then keep more distance, move constantly in your lane and change lanes (if safe) to increase your buffer from vehicles, look well ahead, assume people can't see you, assume they WILL turn in front of you or change lanes into you and be prepared to get out of their way, check your mirrors, keep a running story in your head of where cars are around you, keep your arms relaxed, hug the tank with your knees, listen to the bike – she'll let you know when you need to change gears….and … enjoy! Thank you so much forum folk – your input through NR has literally made my first riding experience a million times better than I ever imagined.

    See some of you in practice tomorrow morning perhaps! Looking forward to learning more on each ride and eventually developing from the clueless noob I am now to, hopefully one day, a good rider :)
     
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  2. Since you have only mentioned rear brakes I am not sure how much front brake you are using. So in case you aren't aware, the front brake on a bike is the main stopping brake. If your dad rides a Harley, he may need more rear than you.

    Be careful of rear brakes. Some people refer to them as the most dangerous control on the bike. It is very easy to lock them up and probably using them too hard ( which is easier to do than you may expect) is probably the easiest way to crash a bike. Particularly coming from driving a car, where the tendency in an emergency is to stomp hard with your right foot.

    So much so that some people don't use them. Ever.

    They definitely have use though and I use mine all the time.

    I should be back at Sat practice next week and if you get there seek me out and we can do some emergency braking drills, to help you get a feel for braking.

    Good luck in your journey.
     
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  3. Oh geez, memories! My first bike was a VTR which I loved and regret selling. When I started riding, I'd use the rear a lot. Finally wore out the rear pad whilst front hardly used. Got a telling off from my mechanic, who is a close friend (Streetmaster on this forum - the ONLY person allowed to service my bikes), and got myself out of the habit.

    GreyBM is correct that the front brake is the main brake, although the rear is useful in some situations such as slow riding. However one must practice using both correctly, especially in emergency braking situations so that correct usage of both becomes a habit and a "muscle memory". Locking up the rear is a bad outcome -I was very lucky when it happened to me in my early riding days; I kept sliding upright, just missed another rider (GreyBM actually, lol) and slid right into the middle of a large and, luckily empty, intersection. I could easily have had the rear slide out from under me and gone down.

    Have fun.
     
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  4. Hi both! The front brake was fine, really hard. I use that mainly because I'm used to it from my scooter riding days, but I'm definitely keen to get skills practice in. I don't know if I'll make the practice sesh today as am running late but will definitely go next week.
     
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  5. Let us know how the ride out to Mornington goes!
     
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  6. Congrats on first ride. Great to hear you got a dad to help and encourage. Glad the bike is perfect for you
     
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  7. Well done, not many can put that down as a first ride (ok the scoot experience would've helped a lot, but still)! Enjoy the new life!
     
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  8. +1 Well done, JudeJude! That's a hectic bike pick-up and ride home - inner city traffic, freeways, night-time riding and a brake-bleed to cap it off! It takes most new riders weeks to tick just some of these first experiences off. I hope your weekend practice and Mornington rides are enjoyable.
     
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  10. Goodness JudeAndHerVTRJudeAndHerVTR, what an experience! Fantastic job :) You will easily make your way to Elwood, and will enjoy riding to Mornington and back. Agree with chillibuttonchillibutton, not everyone can put this sort of experience as a first ride!
    Well done, what a champion (y)
     
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  11. well done great effort :]
     
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  12. What a great read - thanks for sharing.

    Sounds like we've got another addict in the ranks :)
     
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  13. Thanks for the kind words guys and for reading the epic tale!

    Practice this morning was so great, really useful to have a go of the turning (so much to learn!!!). Also good to meet people who are in love with riding, friendly and welcoming to newbies like me Here's a little snap of the new love of my life at practice. TOTALLY INFATUATED.

    The mornington ride was just beautiful. Perfect weather and nice beach to look at (in super lightning quick glimpses and only when there was NO cars around haha). Gosh cars are hard work though. Those guys really don't pay attention. I had read all about it but now I'm experiencing it and it's something else
     

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  14. Yeah, my brother in-law got smidsy'd Thursday while he was in clear view. Luckily only a small break in each hand. On the upside he is happy he'll be getting a new replacement bike
     
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  15. Great story for a first ride Jude. Hopefully mine will be a bit less eventful. I have now got all my gear, but still need to find a bike and not sure how I can justify a MT07 to the other half LOL.

    Here's hoping your future riding become less of a challenge.
     
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  16. That was a great read.
     
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  17. Great write up :) I've just started what I feel will be a long affair with v-twins, I think you made a fine choice for your first bike.
     
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  18. Me too. Really looking forward to the ride home. Totally stopping to take some snaps of my girl along the way haha! Then counting down the days till the weekend when I can go again! Pesky work commitments. May need to take her out after work too. I mean, that's a requirement isnt it? I heard the engine gets damaged if it doesnt get ridden as much as possible...right? Haha. <3^_^<3^_^<3^_^<3
     
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  19. Glad to hear your Mornington ride was a positive experience Jude! Great photo by the way, must have been a talented photographer..... ;-)
     
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  20. Great write up and well done JudeAndHerVTRJudeAndHerVTR . Good to see you getting out there and I agree with others....sounds like another addict in the ranks. :happy: Great to see!
     
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