Dmitry

Any motorcycle riders here?

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Last summer we spent 3 days in Nantucket, and rented a scooter for one of those days, which both my wife and me enjoyed. It was much more convenient than driving around the island. It was a Chinese 49 cc. plastic job, but it got us going at the top speed of  25 mph, which was good fun. Scooters have become  rather popular; these days I see them more and more, not like in Europe, but more so than a a few year ago, for sure. I, too, decided to get a scooter, like a Vespa, to ride around our town, to the beach, to the supermarket, etc. Turned out, I needed to get a motorcycle license to ride anything over 50 cc. No problem, I'll get a license...

Never been on a motorcycle before...ever. To get a permit, had to take a 2-day, 10 hour MSF hands-on riding course at the community college. First day was no fun, it was 35F, windy and pouring rain. That first session I really sucked, I didn't dump my bike, but it wasn't easy to keep up with the group, many of whom already had motorcycles, just needed to get licensed. They supplied us with 250cc Honda Rebels and 300cc dirt bikes in various states of cosmetic and mechanical repair. The one I picked had a small gas leak, the neutral was to be found only by luck, and it seemed kinda small for my 6ft frame. I barely finished the first day of exercises, and wasn't sure I'd pass the test. Second morning was a lot more pleasant, and that made a significant difference for me. Somewhere mid-way I knew that I will pass this damn test, calmed down, and started to ride much better. One of the instructors that second day paid much closer attention to how we were riding, and gave us pointers and suggestions on how to do things. which really helped me. He tried to get me to ride the taller dirt bike, but even though the Rebel was definitely on a smaller side for my comfort, I'd already gotten used to it, so I declined. The final riding test went smoothly for me, and the instructor told me I had one of the lowest scores, which is good, because they add points for infractions. I got my motorcycle permit, which honestly made me way more proud than getting some of the professional diplomas I've got on my office wall.

Here's the odd part of it - with that permit I can ride for a month under the supervision of a 18 y.o. or older licensed motorcycle rider. After 30 days I can get a motorcycle license from the DMV. I expressed my amazement at the fact they were giving us these permits to ride on the thoroughfares , even though we only practiced in the community college parking lot. The instructor was on board with my apprehension, and informed me that in some states even that wasn't required, and Rhode Island was one of the tougher ones. 

So now that I've ridden a motorcycle, I'm kind of considering buying one, not a huge road machine, but a smaller, 250cc or a little bigger.  Are any of you guys  riders? What do you think about various manufacturers, which ones to get, which ones to be wary of? There are many great restored vintage bikes for sale around here. I'm still very unsure of my road-riding abilities, and would possibly go for the scooter first still...but I've got the Easy Rider bug now, for sure. Wife is not on board with it...

 

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Back in college, my roommate my sophomore year taught me to ride (drive) his motorcycle. I never got licensed, but I could almost pass the obstacle course test outside the testing station (painted on the pavement, access 24/7 so you could practice on your own time).

His bike was the very FIRST motorcycle I’d ever even been on the back of, let alone driven. And, oh, I should also mention that it was a Honda Goldwing 1000(!!!) — which was a HUGE bike to have to learn on from scratch (I never had/have been on any other motorcycle, before or since).

I understand it would have been orders of magnitude easier to have learned on a dirt bike, or smaller model first.

I was never great, but I did drive around in small-town traffic on city streets now and then that year, always with my buddy on the back.

This was back in ~1989.

 

 

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Sorry I was traumatized at the age of 6 when a friend's birthday party featured his teenage brother taking each invitee out for wheelies on their driveway. Scared the living crap out of me and you couldn't pay me to get on a motorcycle under any circumstances.

Well, maybe those old-folks three wheelers? 

Naah. I'll pass.

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I've been riding motorcycles on and off since '78. I love them. My favorites have been a '74 BMW 900R and an '08 Harley Davidson Fat Bob. I still own the latter. 

I rode motorcycles that were 250cc or so off road and in motorcycle safety classes. They seem like toys to me, but that is because since '78 I have owned a 400/4, a 650, a 750, a 900, a 1000 and now a 1600 and I am a cross country riding lover. But they are good for back road or small town riding and for a beginner. My best experiences have been with Honda, BMW and Harley Davidson. 

Edited by jazzbo

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38 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Back in college, my roommate my sophomore year taught me to ride (drive) his motorcycle. I never got licensed, but I could almost pass the obstacle course test outside the testing station (painted on the pavement, access 24/7 so you could practice on your own time).

His bike was the very FIRST motorcycle I’d ever even been on the back of, let alone driven. And, oh, I should also mention that it was a Honda Goldwing 1000(!!!) — which was a HUGE bike to have to learn on from scratch (I never had/have been on any other motorcycle, before or since).

I understand it would have been orders of magnitude easier to have learned on a dirt bike, or smaller model first.

I was never great, but I did drive around in small-town traffic on city streets now and then that year, always with my buddy on the back.

This was back in ~1989.

 

 

I had to look it up. That is a huge motorcycle. It's 4x bigger engine, and weighs 2.5 as much as the one I practiced on. Kudos to you!

I must say that one of the people who took the class with me was a young woman who never rode a motorcycle, but already bought a ~900cc HD cruiser. She was not a natural...I hope she does well with her machine. Others also had motorcycles prior to taking the course. I must've been one of the very small group that were complete newbies. 

 

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2 hours ago, Dmitry said:

I, too, decided to get a scooter, like a Vespa

I had a Vespa 125 in my twenties. Later, in my thirties a 200. But then I'm European. Vespas, and scooters in general, are good for the city. And that's what I used it for. In my travels, once in Thailand I rented a 250 Honda dirt bike and rode it on road and through jungle tracks. That was very much fun. And once in Indonesia a 250 Yamaha road bike, with which I fell, driving on the beach sand, and my naked leg touching the cylinder: Ouch!

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1 hour ago, Dmitry said:

I had to look it up. That is a huge motorcycle. It's 4x bigger engine, and weighs 2.5 as much as the one I practiced on. Kudos to you!

I’d also never driven a stick shift (car) before — so my first ever experience learning to “clutch/shift” was on that behemoth of a bike — all while trying to keep the damn thing upright.

Still have never properly learned to drive a stick either, but that’s another story for later...

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I rode for decades. Loved it. My last two bikes were Victory cruisers. I stopped riding in 2011 and sold my 2010 Victory Cross Country. The idiots texting while driving got out of control and has not gotten any better. There is no such thing as a "fender bender" on a bike. You get in a minor accident on a bike and you have a good chance of ending up dead. Until they come up with a law that makes it painful to get caught texting while driving or even better, shut off texting while the phone is moving (easy with today's phones), I'll stick with my cars.

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I've ridden motorcycles since I was a kid.  Most recently, I owned a Kawasaki ZRX1200R.  Unfortunately, I took a pretty nasty spill on it last year while riding in the mountains up in North Georgia.  I entered a curve too quickly, tried to stand up the bike and hit the brakes.  I squeezed way too hard, locked the front brake, and sent myself flying over the handlebars.  I landed on my left shoulder, breaking my collar bone and about five ribs.  The bike was tore up pretty bad too -- but still ride-able.  A few weeks later, I decided to sell it to a friend who can fix things himself. 

Eventually, I'll get back in the saddle, but it'll likely be on a smaller, little less powerful bike.  I'm not as young as I used to be. ... Also, a spill like that is a jolt.  Needless to say, I'll be more cautious going forward. 

Edited by HutchFan

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When I scaled back my bicycle racing- basically when the US pulled out of the 1980 Olympics - I spent a few years riding and (mostly) racing on a Yamaha-sponsored team.   I also worked at a then-fledgling California-based cycle accessory and tire chain and  a Kawasaki + Suzuki dealer.   Eventually,  1984 Olympics and some other stuff, I went back to cycling.   The motorcycling seemed, in hindsight, to have been good for my descending abilities, but not much else.

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I jumped on motorbike in my teenagerhood and I got off this year, after 42 years, because I was tyred of traffic, driver's texting, rain, cold, burning summer and the overwhelming speed cameras all over the country, to make a long story short, I am getting older and I couldn't get this s*** anymore. I spent most of my holidays on bike's trips. Always owned BMWs, though I rode lots of different bikes. In term of safety, today's bikes are a huge improvement, ABS, ETC, etc., so I wouldn't suggest to a newbie an old restored bike. For the same safety reason, I wouldn't suggest a scooter, bikes have frames, scooters, few exceptions, don't, so a motorbike is more neutral and driveable, though scooters are better in term of weather protections for city commuting.

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13 hours ago, HutchFan said:

I've ridden motorcycles since I was a kid.  Most recently, I owned a Kawasaki ZRX1200R.  Unfortunately, I took a pretty nasty spill on it last year while riding in the mountains up in North Georgia.  I entered a curve too quickly, tried to stand up the bike and hit the brakes.  I squeezed way too hard, locked the front brake, and sent myself flying over the handlebars.  I landed on my left shoulder, breaking my collar bone and about five ribs.  The bike was tore up pretty bad too -- but still ride-able.  A few weeks later, I decided to sell it to a friend who can fix things himself. 

Eventually, I'll get back in the saddle, but it'll likely be on a smaller, little less powerful bike.  I'm not as young as I used to be. ... Also, a spill like that is a jolt.  Needless to say, I'll be more cautious going forward. 

You are lucky to be alive. This was a life-transforming experience...

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1 hour ago, porcy62 said:

I In term of safety, today's bikes are a huge improvement, ABS, ETC, etc., so I wouldn't suggest to a newbie an old restored bike. For the same safety reason, I wouldn't suggest a scooter, bikes have frames, scooters, few exceptions, don't, so a motorbike is more neutral and driveable, though scooters are better in term of weather protections for city commuting.

Good points. Modern bikes are safer and more reliable in general. Though a seasoned rider with decades under the belt might prefer the "work" and feel of an older bike.

Personally I know how it feels to be "hit by a truck" because almost exactly 10 years ago I was rear-ened by a pickup truck while I was stopped waiting to make a left turn. It doesn't feel good. Luckily I somehow was okay other than a very badly bruised lower back area where my seat backrest resisted be being pushed backwards.

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57 minutes ago, jazzbo said:

Personally I know how it feels to be "hit by a truck" because almost exactly 10 years ago I was rear-ened by a pickup truck while I was stopped waiting to make a left turn. It doesn't feel good. Luckily I somehow was okay other than a very badly bruised lower back area where my seat backrest resisted be being pushed backwards.

You are lucky that he was stopping and that you were stopped. Getting hit on a motorcycle is not usually what kills you. It's what bring your body to a stop or another car hitting you that is usually the deciding factor. Moving accidents, especially on a highway are where your chances of escaping serious injury start going down.

When I was a kid, my father got cut off by a car turning into a parking lot in front of him. He hit the back of the car and flew over the trunk. His kneecap was shattered and he was laid up for several weeks recovering. The thing that saved him was the car behind him also hit the car that cut him off so he couldn't get run over by that car.

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I've had two motorcycle accidents and know what can happen and have been fortunate not to be hurt worse. I also had a car accident and was perhaps worse for the wear in that accident. I was also hit by a car in inner city Philadelphia at age 9 crossing at a crosswalk--drunk driver turned the wrong way onto a one way street, clipped my left hip and threw me into the air. None of these were my fault. . . . Anything can happen anytime and I have decided just not to dwell on them or let them decide for me whether I ride, drive or walk across intersections.

Edited by jazzbo

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7 hours ago, Dmitry said:

You are lucky to be alive. This was a life-transforming experience...

Yes.  My injuries easily could have been far worse.  And that's very sobering.

... But I still love motorcycling. 

 

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In my post above, I mentioned "other stuff".  I didn't want to turn the thread to motorcycling's unhappy side.  My brother, a multi-dimensional motorcycling professional/expert, broadsided a car that didn't see him at around 100kph (60mph).  Be careful out there. 

I also mention cycling.  Be careful with that too.  I scaled back from 22 years of 25,000km/yr (15,000mi) to only what I can do safely.  Living on Africa can be the best of times, the worst of times.

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I've had two different girl friends who rode bikes and sometimes (fearfully ) I  would ride behind them.   That's the extent of my biker experience.   (I just realized that they both had red hair-- though my wife has pointed out that most of my girlfriends, including her,had red hair. )

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I had a Vespa 125 in college for a while that served me well as a low-cost, two-wheeled commuter before I jumped fully into motorcycling with a 400cc Suzuki. I spent years with a bike as my only transportation, and my last one was a modified '81 Honda CB750F (last of the great air-cooled Honda fours). I still have that bike but it hasn't run in well over ten years after I had to put it into storage due to my living arrangements at the time. At minimum, it will need to have the carbs and brakes rebuilt before it's roadworthy again, a project that I keep intending to tackle before I get too old and infirm to ride safely (although I was suitably impressed a while back when I saw an article in a bike mag about an 80+ year old British guy who was still riding his Vincent Rapide on a regular basis).

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Yep, been riding continuously since 1979 -  Ducatis (two 450 Desmos, 250 Silver Shotgun), Gilera 150, BMW 90/6 (1984-2007), BMW 75/5 (2007 to now).

Got a soft spot for euro machinery but have always had an eye for the British classics too.

Had numerous accidents but nothing major - one fractured jaw (hit the bitumen at 120kms/hr) & fractured big toe on another mishap (hit head on by a car on a Sunday morning) - been lucky I suppose but I think I'm addicted to the feeling of freedom of being on a bike.

Edited by romualdo

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I started riding dirt bikes when I was very young... probably around 10 or 11. My first bike was a Hodaka ACE 100cc, noteworthy for having the gears go 1 up & 4 down. After that, there was a Honda SL125 followed by a Yamaha DT175, both enduro bikes (designed for on & off road). I had a blast riding through the woods. I ranged all over Western Mass in those days.

By the time I turned 15 and could drive on the roads (legally), I moved to straight street bikes with a Honda CB350. After that, I moved up to a Honda CB360 (10 more ccs!) because I got a great deal and it was almost brand new. I once drove that CB360 from Holyoke, MA to Glen Burnie, MD - about 350 miles - in one day. When I got off, my hands vibrated for hours.:) In college, I bought a Honda CB400F, dubbed a "Super Sport". A 400cc 4 cylinder. That thing flew. Then I had a kid. My cousin was a nurse and she started calling me a living organ donor, their nickname for motorcycle riders. That helped push me over the edge. I stopped riding.

Over those years when I stopped riding, I did get my fix every now and then by taking my dad's Kawasaki Voyager 1200cc out every now & then. In the late 90's, I rented a BMW touring bike and drove around Germany, Austria & Switzerland for a weekend tour with my Dad.

When my Dad died in 2006, I started riding his Voyager myself but it bummed me out too much. It was his bike, not mine. I figured it was time, so I bought a 2008 Victory Kingpin, rode that for 2 years and then my last bike, a 2010 Victory Cross Country.

Now I'm done. I thought I'd miss it more, but in my daily commute I see so many terrible drivers out there, I just can't get it out of head and get back on.

BTW, right near the end of my riding days, I was cruising down Route 93 South. I drive a motorcycle much more conservatively that I do a car, so I was keeping my usual space between myself and the car in front of me. I was also driving in the car tire "ruts" in the lane. There's less junk there. I always avoided the middle of the lane. Then I see something up ahead as the car in front drives over it. It's an aluminum ladder laying the long way in the middle of my lane. I was luckily able to slide over and avoid it. Another near death there, one of several, avoided due to my added caution.

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Kevin, I loved reading your motorcycle resumé! I just now remembered how I drove a car-full of you guys from downtown Manhattan to Columbia University in my then brand new BMW 3 series through the NYC traffic. If I remember it right, we met Tom Evered in a cafe above FEZ on Lafayette. You guys had some uneven experiences on that ride. Was that  in 1999 or 2000? Jackie McLean headlined that gig. That was our only time meeting each other. 

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8 hours ago, Dmitry said:

Kevin, I loved reading your motorcycle resumé! I just now remembered how I drove a car-full of you guys from downtown Manhattan to Columbia University in my then brand new BMW 3 series through the NYC traffic. If I remember it right, we met Tom Evered in a cafe above FEZ on Lafayette. You guys had some uneven experiences on that ride. Was that  in 1999 or 2000? Jackie McLean headlined that gig. That was our only time meeting each other. 

That was probably 2000: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/14/arts/jazz-reviews-not-quite-a-jazz-festival.html Weird concert though. They played an odd version of the Star Spangled Banner. I do remember some of the people in the car being nervous in your car. Some people freak out about NYC traffic. Looked a lot like Boston traffic to me.

I did see Jackie McLean at the Village Vanguard in 1999, but I don't remember you coming to that one. Josh Heisler & I went to that one.

Back to motorcycles... I work with a group of guys that still ride together on weekends. They're always on me to get back on a bike. That is one aspect of riding that I miss the most. The camaraderie of a bunch of people out riding. My wife loved it too. I did quite a few charity runs back then. The main thing I didn't like about those charity runs was that they often ended at a biker bar. Seeing a bunch of motorcyclists drinking beer in preparation for jumping back on their bike usually had me driving back solo. A lot of the bikes in those packs had straight pipes. Nothing worse than riding behind a guy with straight pipes. They're not only loud as hell, they smell terrible as the straight pipes bypass all anti-pollution controls.

Shortly after I stopped riding (2014), there was a charity ride near me and a co-worker was riding in it. She asked if I wanted to ride with her group. I almost borrowed a bike to do it. Some drunk driver swerved into the pack, took out 2 bikes and killed one of the riders. My co-worker was 2 bikes back in the pack. It's these stories that keep me off. I nay have to someday as my wife really misses it.

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