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Old 05-16-2010, 06:20 PM   #1
sartorius
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Default Stuff I came across in my early riding days (so far), and a question on turning

I figure it'd be nice to share my early experiences for future riders and hopefully the amusement of seasoned folk.


1. After getting Proficient Motorcycling by Hough, I figured I'd get some good familiarization by getting up early and riding in the 4-5a timeframe. Hough made the point that the roads are safest (fewest automobiles) in the early morning.
Trying to get a sense of the mph/gear/rpm correlation and forgetting I didn't have the highbeams on at 4 am, I wasn't paying enough attention to where I was going (the road) one morning. I noticed something in the limited area lit by the lowbeam. It was a dead opossum in the middle of the road, rapidly approaching my front tire. Fortunately, it was a bit to the left so no emergency swerve was necessary. Even so, it could've been a very short ride if it jostled the front wheel when I didn't expect it. Lesson learned: look where you're going. I mean, how can you do a 2 second rule or anything if you aren't watching?


2. Doing figure 8s in a parking lot in the daytime, the bike stalled. After a split second of holding it up, I felt it sinking to the right. In that moment, thoughts flashed through my head:
"Maybe I should pull harder and just muscle it up."
"Maybe I'd be unsuccessful and end up with my right leg under the bike."
"I can probably muscle it."
"It's not too far a drop, it's at 0 mph, it's been dropped before, and (believe it or not) maybe I should have the experience of a dropped bike."

So, I let it fall. After getting it up again, it took a little time for it to start. I'm not sure if it's time (the carburetor was flooded? I heard that mentioned in the MSF course when someone dropped her bike) or if I just needed to give it some throttle. Regardless, it started after a few minutes and a twist of the throttle. The crack in the fairing is a little longer and the right turn signal now has some duct tape.

I can't really say there's a specific lesson here, but some thoughts:
a. getting an already-dropped bike was very smart (pat self on back)
b. it was fun picking up the bike and I'm glad I've had the experience. Not glad enough to do it again, though.
c. the things that happen to others can happen to me, too, whether or not I think they will.


3. I'm getting much better about downshifting and having steady power throughout turns, but the turn-in to my apartment complex freaked me out a bit this afternoon. There's this frustrating lining of loose gravel along the side of the streets in my area. Adding to that, there was a left-turner approaching who waited for me to turn first. Nice lady, but she added some pressure to the situation.
Anyway, I was afraid of sliding the rear tire as I made the right turn, but I guess I was also worried that too much throttle would be a problem (spinning the tire). I was twisting the throttle slowly, and I can't even remember if it was enough to result in power going to the rear wheel (there seems to be a dead zone or delay where nothing happens). I ended up making a slow, very wide turn which came within a few inches of a concrete median thing in the center of the apartment entrance/exit area where there's some grass and a sign welcoming everyone home.

I'd appreciate any thoughts here, especially because this is the 2nd time I can remember doing something stupid like this. Here are things I'm considering:
a. downshift sooner, or maybe it'll become more natural with time. Being more comfortable with this part would lessen the "OMG! I'm turning and someone's waiting for me and there's s*@$ on the F-bomb'n curb like F-bomb'n usual.
b. I can sweep the entrance to the complex, but this doesn't prevent more gravel from showing up and it doesn't help when the same thing happens in other places.
c. just do the turn a lot until I see it's no big deal (assuming it really *is* no big deal).


------
Now a question:

Say you're making a left turn at a lighted intersection with 2 lanes in every direction. I understand why I shouldn't shift while turning, but I can only go so fast in 1st gear. Here are the options I've considered:
a. stay in 1st the whole way, maybe letting the rpms go a bit high so I'm not really annoying the people behind me by going too slow
b. start out kind of straight or diagonally, quickly shift up to 2nd, and roll on the throttle as I then complete the turn. There's a slight problem with 2 turning lanes if I'm on the inside one, but maybe it can happen.

Any thoughts? What do you folks do? Does it depend on your bike (ex: a taller 1st gear)?
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:32 PM   #2
Dr_Sprocket
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sartorius View Post
Now a question:

Say you're making a left turn at a lighted intersection with 2 lanes in every direction. I understand why I shouldn't shift while turning, but I can only go so fast in 1st gear. Here are the options I've considered:
a. stay in 1st the whole way, maybe letting the rpms go a bit high so I'm not really annoying the people behind me by going too slow
b. start out kind of straight or diagonally, quickly shift up to 2nd, and roll on the throttle as I then complete the turn. There's a slight problem with 2 turning lanes if I'm on the inside one, but maybe it can happen.

Any thoughts? What do you folks do? Does it depend on your bike (ex: a taller 1st gear)?
To clarify, are you stopped at a traffic light waiting to turn left, or rolling through the intersection?

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Too many times, new riders will come here looking for advice on which bike to get and they really only wanted someone to confirm a bike the new rider had already picked out in their minds. Glad you learned from someone else's experience, and your own, too!

Keep up the attitude of perpetual learning. It will serve you well as you journey through the motorcycle experience.
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:41 PM   #3
sartorius
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I should've clarified that. I meant that you're stopped at the light. Otherwise, I'd probably downshift to 2nd or something for the turn.
It's starting out from a stop and having to go through 1st that makes me wonder what's best.

That's one thing among many that I never had to think about in a car. You just kind of shift when you want.

And thanks for staying around to continue giving advice!

Last edited by sartorius : 05-16-2010 at 06:42 PM. Reason: thanks
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:05 PM   #4
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Actually, shifting while turning is absolutely okay. I think that in early motorcycle training, it's enough for new riders to think about looking through the turns, clutch modulation (a.k.a. friction zone), soft throttle response, etc.. In the advanced MSF course they actually have a drill to teach/refresh shifting during a turn.

For you, as a beginning rider, I would recommend only using first gear until you complete your turn. As soon as you have the bike straight, then shift to second gear. Another option is to short-shift your bike. That is, shift from first into second just after getting going. That way you are in the correct gear to gently roll on the throttle through the turn.

Personally, I have been known to shift (in larger city intersections) during the middle of the turn. Again, I would not recommend this to you at this stage of your learning.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:39 PM   #5
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Sprocket covered the shifting thing pretty well - I would add that you want to be in the gear for the turn entrance before turn in, but if you need to upshift as you accelerate (or downshift if you find you need to slow) in the turn you certainly can do that once you learn to change gears without upsetting the bike's balance.

As far as running wide, I'd bet that you were looking square at the curb you nearly ran into. I've watched new riders (and remember doing similar things myself) run wide of huge turns at low speeds because they were looking where they didn't want to go, rather than where they wanted to go. It's target fixation, and is one of the harder habits to break because it's human nature, to some degree. What you want to do is train your eyes on the path you want the bike to take, and your bike will take it. That means looking at the road next to the pothole, or the apex than exit of the turn.
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Old 05-16-2010, 08:40 PM   #6
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:17 PM   #7
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You mean besides holding the throttle wide open and screaming at the top of your lungs when you just broke out of a high speed wobble at a ton plus twenty, and you're weraing shorts and sneakers?
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:30 PM   #8
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Dr_Sprocket -- thanks for the reminder. I need to check into an advanced course down the road. For now, I'll keep doing what I was taught.

ejis -- damn it, you're right. I know better, but I didn't even think of it at the time. It's kind of like "I need to avoid that curb. What curb, you ask? Why, this one right here!".

I'm still not sure what to do about the right turn with bit of gravel problem, though. Maybe I should just take the turn when no one else is nearby on the road, and kind of prove to myself whether or not I'm worrying about nothing. Otherwise, it's kind of like being afraid of the mailbox.
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