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Old 04-01-2010, 07:35 AM   #1
jeff10236
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Default I'm probably going to buy soon

So, I'm probably going to buy a new or used bike in the next week or two (what bike is pretty irrelevant for my question though). I'm not taking the MSF course for about a month (I finish it on Sunday, May 2nd) and I plan to get my motorcycle license the day after I finish the course.

I will buy the bike before I take the course so I can finish that Sunday, get my license on my way home from work that Monday, and go riding later that afternoon- I'm a teacher, my day starts before 7am, so I get out of work pretty early. I'm looking this early because this week is simply when I have the time (I'm teaching full-time and in a masters program- this week is spring break).

I live in an apartment with a multi-level parking garage, and the top two levels are nearly never used.

So, since I will buy the bike a couple weeks before I get my license, but I live in an apartment where part of the parking garage is quite empty, I was thinking...Would it be OK to get some parking lot practice (learn where the clutch engages and low speed handling) before I take the class or should I just let it sit and maybe occasionally start it so it starts fine when I'm ready to go?

As far as I can tell, the advantages of practicing are that I may have some knowledge of low speed maneuvering before the course, and I may need less of that kind of practice when I start riding. The biggest disadvantage is I'd have no instruction to correct bad habits I may form (I would only have books to guide me, the people closest to me who ride can't/won't help- one is only interested in helping if I get a Harley, another has a new baby and doesn't have the time). I'm also not sure the legality- the garage is private property, and access controlled (gated) but it is open to everyone who lives here. So not having a license yet, would I be legal due to private controlled property, or since it is open to those who live here would it be like a public road?

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Old 04-01-2010, 07:54 AM   #2
Kenneth_Moore
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Would it be OK to get some parking lot practice (learn where the clutch engages and low speed handling) before I take the class or should I just let it sit and maybe occasionally start it so it starts fine when I'm ready to go?

I'm also not sure the legality- the garage is private property, and access controlled (gated) but it is open to everyone who lives here. So not having a license yet, would I be legal due to private controlled property, or since it is open to those who live here would it be like a public road?

I'm also not sure the legality- the garage is private property, and access controlled (gated) but it is open to everyone who lives here. So not having a license yet, would I be legal due to private controlled property, or since it is open to those who live here would it be like a public road?


Have you ever ridden anything before? If you're not a total novice, it's fine to get familiar with the bike a bit; if you're confident that it won't get away from you.

Seems to me the parking lot is private property, but more to the point, who's going to bust you up in the parking garage? Most cops are pretty reasonable...have to be a real prick to bust you for practicing in a parking lot.
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:04 AM   #3
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Have you ever ridden anything before? If you're not a total novice, it's fine to get familiar with the bike a bit; if you're confident that it won't get away from you.

Seems to me the parking lot is private property, but more to the point, who's going to bust you up in the parking garage? Most cops are pretty reasonable...have to be a real prick to bust you for practicing in a parking lot.
Totally brand new. As a kid my parents wouldn't let me within 10 feet of a motorcycle. Dad had a friend die in high school on a bike and he is militantly against them (I'll be 40 this summer and he still goes ballistic when I talk about getting one). When I was older I rarely had the time and money at the same time so I could take the MSF class (I still don't really have the time until later in the summer, I'm a teacher and taking classes towards a masters degree, but I am making the time). So, I've never been on a motorcycle. I know how to drive a stick (I'm familiar with clutch work- though a motorcycle is a different animal, and working the clutch through a hand lever is very different from what I'm used to) and I used to be a serious bicycle rider (so I'm not too worried about basic balance, but again, a far cry from a motorcycle and I never had to balance the weight), but no motorcycle experience. I would be very careful, but without any experience with motorcycle controls, would practicing on my own be a bit nuts?

I want to be safe, I don't want to put me, my (future) bike, or any cars in the garage at risk.
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:14 AM   #4
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Read our new riders thread and pack a lunch, I believe its over 400 posts now. If your tall enough pick up a used dual sport to start with, KLR 650, DR 650 or 400 etc or a cheap low cc street bike. Just like in the car get used to where the friction zone engages on the clutch. The msf course starts you by slowly opening the clutch just to the friction zone and pulling it back in, till you get used to the engagement. Then slowly take off from first. Remember to bend your wrist up, the opposite of what you would think, this way if you take off too fast and your arms straighten it will pull the throttle closed instead of cracking it open more and launching you into oblivion... Above all, head up and look where you are going!!! Tool around in first, starting and stopping till your comfortable. If you have to drag your feet, thats ok. Good luck and ride safe.
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:06 AM   #5
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"Dad had a friend die in high school on a bike and he is militantly against them (I'll be 40 this summer and he still goes ballistic when I talk about getting one). "

Good thing Dad didn't have anyone he knew die in a car.
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:45 AM   #6
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Read our new riders thread and pack a lunch, I believe its over 400 posts now. If your tall enough pick up a used dual sport to start with, KLR 650, DR 650 or 400 etc or a cheap low cc street bike. Just like in the car get used to where the friction zone engages on the clutch. The msf course starts you by slowly opening the clutch just to the friction zone and pulling it back in, till you get used to the engagement. Then slowly take off from first. Remember to bend your wrist up, the opposite of what you would think, this way if you take off too fast and your arms straighten it will pull the throttle closed instead of cracking it open more and launching you into oblivion... Above all, head up and look where you are going!!! Tool around in first, starting and stopping till your comfortable. If you have to drag your feet, thats ok. Good luck and ride safe.
I read that thread before I ever made my first post. It took me a couple hours to read it (yup, stupid me had to read it in one sitting). Lots of good info, though not really pertaining to this question. I'm not really asking which bike to buy here- I know dual sports or Ninja 250s are great first bikes but I just don't like them much (and I hated the fit when sitting on a few at the dealer). I'm probably going to buy an entry level cruiser style (500 or 650cc cruiser), possibly a standard. I also really like the Suzuki TU250 and might just buy one if the closest dealer with one in stock wasn't nearly 100 miles away (reviews are great, sounds like a lot of fun, yet it is forgiving for a new rider and the 250cc is great for a new rider). The TU250 would have the advantage of just being different enough, a great around town commuter, and inexpensive enough, that I might just keep it for good even after I "graduate" to a bigger bike. But again, I'm not really looking for advice on the bike here.

I''ll keep in mind your throttle advice. Sticking in first and dragging my feet, yup if I practice before the class, no matter how ridiculous I look, I plan to start out just walking it. Then, move up to trying to balance at slow speeds but with my feet off the pegs (to help catch it if I start to drop it), and only with some time try to balance normally. From there, I'd like to practice turns, u-turns, and hopefully figure-8s. Starting and finishing slow is the plan if I practice before the MSF class and getting my license. Just enough for some familiarity so I can be ready to get on the road as soon as possible when I do finish the class and get my license.

I guess that brings another question to mind. Am I worrying unnecessarily? Not about practicing first, but about how much time I'll need in the parking lot before I'm ready to ride. I'm sure the MSF will give a good foundation. If I don't spend several hours practicing in the parking garage before the class, should I be ready for short trips out on the road after just a short time practicing in my parking garage or another lot, or will I probably need/want several hours of slow speed practice first?

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Old 04-01-2010, 11:18 AM   #7
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If you've NEVER ridden a motor bike before...maybe not. Then again, the first time I ever rode a motorcycle, I lied to the owner and told him I had, got on, and took off. I guess I got lucky...it came easliy.
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:06 PM   #8
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If you are taking the MSF BRC, you really don't need to practice beforehand, especially if you already know how to drive stick-shift. You will get two days worth of riding experience (well, most of the actual riding will be on the second day).

I would tell you not to practice on your own, since you don't have another rider to watch out for you. And if you do decide to practice on your own, I would tell you to have someone else there watching, or at least let someone else know where you'll be and what you'll be doing. That way if you drop the bike on your leg and you can't get up, someone will come help you out sooner rather than later. Maybe that seems a little conservative, but that's my perspective.
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:40 PM   #9
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Good points already mentioned, and Ill repeat if no experienced rider is there to tell you what your doing wrong, you wont know you are wrong or may not take proper action to correct your wrong doings.
I'd say practice all you can but only after a lesson or at least small supervision & correction from someone in the know. Also I recommend getting your feet on the pegs asap & keeping them there. Moving your feet around will alter the balance of the bike unnecessarily. It's natural for a new rider to want to plant a foot to catch his self & the bike from going down, fact is if the bike is moving your foot will grab the street & the rest of you & the bike keep moving, your guranteed to meet the asphalt.
Maneuver slowly, learn the clutch, balance, shifting & braking, wear a helmet & tell your Harley friend you'll call him if you need assistance loading it on & off a trailer (I'm sure he knows how to do that well).
Good luck, also there are alot of Youtube videos, don't get caught up in the stunts, crashes, etc but theres a channel on there where a guy narrates his every action on the controls & explains when & why everything he does (but he is on the "wrong" side of the road, but is english), he is a great rider, but more agressive then necessary if you can find him.
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Old 04-01-2010, 05:18 PM   #10
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Ken sounds like my Wife. Told her to put it in first and go to the corner and come back. 4 gears later she was 5 blocks down the road, hung a right and vanished. After hopping on my K, I found her a couple blocks further away pushing the bike. Being that it was a '69 2 cyl 125 two smoke yamaha that I barely had running she killed it at the stop and forgot to take it out of gear when she kick started it. It fired and took off ghost riding straight for a parked car, luckily it fell over as the tire slid under the car. Broken clutch lever and a bent shifter was much better than caved in car door.
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