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The first couple of days: Putting it all together (long post)

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Mahoney, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. So, I've been lurking, and very occasionally posting, on here for about 6 months, and I finally picked up my first bike, an '07 GS500 (from a1 motorcycles in Brighton, thumbs up) late on Friday last week.

    On Saturday, I went out to the industrial estates off Chifley Drive in Preston (Melb) and rode around on the empty roads practicing emergency stops, low speed u-turns, smooth gear changes, hill starts and generally getting comfortable on the bike.
    It'd been about 3 months since I'd done my L's course, and I wanted to get rid of the "oh shit oh shit oh shit, the road is RIGHT. THERE!" factor before I tackled traffic or going over 60kph.
    Even though I've been riding my pushie on the road in traffic for over 10 years, with 5 year of cross country MTB racing before that, getting used to the tarmac going past that quickly took a minor amount of getting used to.

    Anyway, that all went well, and after about 3 hours, I felt good with the basics, and I felt I'd earnt a beer, so home to Fairfield I toddled, where I found http://www.motowhere.com/. I spent a few hours checking out routes around Melbourne, even though I've lived here for years on and off, it was great to fidn a resource that was motorbike specific, well worth a look.

    On Sunday, I re-read the following threads:
    Which should be mandatory reading, with an exam, for every learner rider, end of story. My course was great for low speed stuff, but what Rob has laid down there takes it to the next level.

    I'd decided to head north, towards Yarra Glen, as this was an area I was a bit familiar with. I left early, as I wanted to have the roads to myself, which I did, apart from the other riders, and very few cars which was sweet.
    First I headed back up to the industrial estates from Saturday, and spend 20 minutes going over the basic road craft again, until I felt as comfortable on the machine as I had when heading home the day before.

    I had a great ride out, being surprised at A: how good I felt having had the little warm up earlier, and B: how low stress it was more or less having the road to myself. I highly recommend this for new riders, even if you're not a morning person,get up stupid early on a Sunday (like, 6am, on the road by 7am), if you've been stressing a bit about riding in traffic, just get on the road and let the traffic build up around you bit by bit.
    I rode out through throught Eltham along Lower Heidleberg Rd, which is 60 or 70km most of the way, well sign posted towards Yarra Glen and nice wide roads, no tram tracks, with enough easy bends to get used to moving the machine around on the road. I was surprised at how COLD I got with the windchill, particulary around my feet and neck. Hadn't read much about that, maybe it's just me, I have spent the last few years living in the tropics, maybe I need just a bit of concrete in the coffee to harden the **** up, or just a scarf and some proper moto boots.

    Anyway, had a pretty nice ride out to Wattle Glen, had an ice coffee at the general store then hopped on the bike and headed home, feeling like I'd made a start on a good thing.

    I've still got a week off before I start back at work, so today, (Monday) I took things a bit further, and made a point of getting all the way out to Kinglake.
    I often drive trucks as part of my job (basically, a Roadie, but we like to call it "Audio Technician" because we're fancy) and my Bro, who is a real truck driver, said to head out there, because he took a 55 ton semi trailer up there once, and that road is "twisty as f**k and you'll love it".

    Today I think got up to 30 odd degrees, so instead of being cold, I was more worried about overheating. I bought an awesome Dririder all-weather jacket a few weeks ago, and whilst it kept me nice and warm on Sunday morning, I was VERY glad to be able to unzip the inner layers, as when I got to Yarra Glen for lunch, I was dripping sweat all over.
    I stowed the inner layers in my camelback and had a great sandwich and an acceptable coffee from the girls at the bakery there, exchanged pleasantries with the fella with the brand spanking new Triumph parked next to me, and feeling like I'd been riding for years (well, hours...) headed on up to Kinglake.

    This is where I'm so happy for threads like the cornering 101 linked above.
    I found that what I'd THOUGHT was good cornering on the way out, on the nice lazy curves, was no where near good enough. My whole goal of this mission was to start getting comfortable with leaning the bike over, and the Kinglake road was good because I HAD. NO. CHOICE. I found that if I got even slightly distracted, or stiffened up at all, I would run wide, or screw up an entry or an exit. If I just kept the mantra of LOOK, MAINTAIN THROTTLE & RELAX, the bike would, like some kind of magic, go exactly where I wanted it to, like it's supposed to!
    Knowing that if there was a car in the opposite lane on left handers, winding on more throttle would turn the bike harder and I would move away from the other vehicle, was a counter-intuitive life saver more than once.

    Now mind you I was never going more that 60kph on the twisties, so it's not like I'm aiming for some kind of moto-gp like skills here, just looking to create the kind of habits that become second nature, getting those skills to go from conscious thoughts to muscle-memory reflexes so I can just concentrate on the joy of riding.

    I got to Kinglake no worries, felt pretty chuffed with myself, so I had another coffee and a sandwich (gotta love country bakeries!) and headed back down the hill without too much delay, wanted to keep the pressure on a bit, keep working on the leaning over thing.
    When I got back to the traffic from Eltham towards Fairfield, I felt 200% better than before, knowing that I'd pushed my skills just a little bit further. Riding in traffic was so much easier, as now the bike was less something I was hanging onto, and more an extension of my body. I could concentrate on the cars much better because I wasn't wondering what gear I was in or how fast I was going, I was just riding.
    I want to get out and ride for at least 2 hours every day this week, as I know I won't get that much constant riding time for a while once I got back to work.

    I'm so glad to have had everyone on this forum to get me excited for this, I've been wanting to get a bike for years, but there's always been work or travel to get in the way. I don't know how active I'll be, I prefer to lurk and learn, but I wanted to share my experience of the last couple of days, and say thanks for everything so far, I hope I see you out there!
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Good post [MENTION=35612]Mahoney[/MENTION], it got auto modded because you are under 10 posts in total but I marked it approved. Once you post number increases you will be able to add pics etc so get out and post. ;)
  3. Cheers, I wondered about that, I hope it encourages other folks to get out there, really good seeing so many other guys out on the road over the last few day too, once I get my skill level up I'd love to go on a group ride as well.
  4. Come down to a Saturday morning practice and you will catch up with a good group of guys and girls. Then when you feel ready join a Sunday Learner ride.
  5. Thanks for a great post Mahoney. As a learner who has had very little road experience I found your write up really interesting. All the best with your riding.
  6. Yep, great post. Makes me want to get out there even more.
  7. Great Post Mahoney! Well written. (y)
  8. Good post, and should encourage noobs to get out there and learn.

    But I am at odds with your above sentences...

    No matter what corner type you are running, adding power does NOT make the bike turn harder. Adding power makes the bike want to run wider, and is an inescapable effect.
    So...something else is making you turn harder. You need to reflect on this and try to identify what the cause was, so you can correct your understanding of this aspect of riding, and be able to use it to your benefit.

    I have an idea or two, but it's far more valuable if you can identify it by yourself, firstly. But yell out if you get stumped.

    In all other respects, you are doing exactly what needs to be done, by getting out there, and challenging yourself a little each time. There is a life-long but very rewarding time ahead.
    Well done. :)
  9. Raven, if the bike is braking or decellerating at the time, meaning weight transfer forward, front end heavy, then rolling on throttle would put the weight towards the back, lightening the front and a tighter line is very likely.
  10. I guess that's a better way of putting it. As a learner it's very tempting to keep braking to far into a tight corner, so I guess "winding on more throttle" was more about controlling the speed through the corner than just belting it. As a learner I may being seeing things in a more magnified light, so keeping the speed controlled in the corner (as opposed to nervous braking) is still tricky, but I'm not talking about speeding up while cornering.

    Going out for a ride this afternoon, practice practice!
  11. Good post Mahoney, the type that's one of the positive netrider traits... (y)
    You'll get a lot of help here and some lighter advise too...:p
  12. There are times the race guys will spin it up and hold a slightly tighter line on corner exit, but that's serious A-grade race skills. In day to day riding, Raven is exactly right. Add power -> go faster -> wider line. Unless something else changes as well - like leaning over a lot more, or finding a dip or sharply cambered / banked corner or something.

    By the way - thank you for that original post Mahoney. That's a beauty.

    "... then rolling on throttle would put the weight towards the back, lightening the front and a tighter line is very likely."

    Rob, respectfully, there are a few people who occasionally use throttle and brakes at the same time. Rossi does a little. Stoner does it a lot. Hansford used to. I've done it by mistake and not had the result I wanted or expected. I've never done it on purpose and I'd never advise a beginner to do it.

    There is a transient moment when you add power or brakes while leaned over, where the bike will seem to not respond the way you expected, or even respond with the opposite reaction to what you wanted. This moment lasts about a half second or less. You need to brake and tighten your line, but as you start to brake the bike stands up, and you have to hold it down. In that initial moment of reaction, as the suspension compresses, before you have reacted to the stand up - the line will get wider, not tighter, but as you control the stand-up with firm steering input, business as usual resumes and your line will start to get tighter. It's the same under power. An increase in power shifts weight - the rear suspension compresses, the action is happening while leaned over, so some of that squat goes into the lateral plane - which feels like the line just tightened a foot or two. It is a momentary effect, and with the level of power needed to sustain it, the bike will pick up speed quickly and business as normal will resume.

    If you are gentle and moderate with your power and brakes, these effects are quite small, but they can confuse the hell out of a new rider who simply doesn't understand the physics of what's happening. Add to that, many old salts have just learned to deal with this by experience and don't really know what's going on either, and they give poor advice ...
  13. Ok. I get ya. You're not hitting the gas, as in winding on power, just cracking it open to stabilise.
    That action will not result in running wide.
  14. Sorry mate, but you are going to have to elaborate. I'm not seeing it.
    What force is at play, which under the circumstances you describe, would cause the bike to run a tighter line, all other things remaining equal, mate.

    Not calling you out..I'm missing something, and genuinely want to know what it is.
    Feel free to take it off line, in order to avoid any cans of worms, if you prefer mate. :)

    Erm, I'm also still going to stick with my original statement, just based on my own experiences.
  15. KD, the comment was made fully assuming that mahoney got off the brake and then onto the throttle. He says later: "but I'm not talking about speeding up while cornering." so he was effectively managing weight transfer rather than rolling on throttle in a manner more experienced riders might.

    That would definitely lighten the load on the front, removing the reason for it tracking wide.
  16. Yeah, I found it all a tiny bit unclear, which is why I got all War & Peace and spelled out my understanding.
  17. Mmm, ok...front brake is wanting to stand the bike up and run wider. Cracking the throttle will remove that force, and yes, the bike, coming off braking, will want to hold it's line instead of wanting to run wider due to front braking. Effectively tightening it's line, I guess.

    My original thoughts envisioned the throttle cracked, and then increasing power to force the bike to want to run wider. The OP explained that wasn't the case, so it's cool. :)
  18. In general you're absolutely right Raven.

    If you speed up in a corner and hold the same lean angle, the physics are very simple - the radius of the turn HAS TO INCREASE, i.e., you will begin to run wide. If you want to hold the same trajectory at a higher speed you will need a higher lean angle - or go wide. NO two ways about it.

    (For the absolutely physics purists, talking about lean angle is actually incorrect, but for practical purposes it explains things perfectly.)

  19. Yep, understood mate. I didn't get it at first, so excuse my originally misunderstanding you. ( I was thinking right past it) dah!

    Anyway good to know my heads not completely up by backside. LOL :)

    And thanks for keeping it simple. (for me) lol
  20. Are you talking about the Kinglake-St Andrews Rd? Fair effort for second ride of your bike.

    I dont like that road