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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been riding motorcycles for so long now that I think I'm forgetting things I thought I knew. This sensation is compounded by the fact that the Vulcan is the first bike I've owned with the pegs positioned in front of my hips (as opposed to a more upright posture).

Which, by the way, I love!

It's more comfortable, laid back, and natural feeling.

That being said, cornering has always felt harder on this bike than others I've owned and/or ridden. I feel like I'm learning to turn all over again with it. It's hard to tell if it's because the center of gravity is different, if I'm not as skilled a rider as I thought I was, or if maybe something's not quite right with the steering.

Some background: I've owned this Vulcan for a couple of years. I've put 6000 fun-filled miles on it. My girlfriend, meanwhile, has an '86 Shadow 500 which to me, after riding the Vulcan, feels dinky and powerless. However, I'm a LOT more comfortable cornering on her Shadow than I am on my bike. It's probably shorter in length, obviously lighter, and has the more upright seating position. I'm 5'8" and 150 lbs, so both bikes fit me well.

Thing is, I just can't bring myself to corner hard on my Vulcan. The damn thing wants to go like hell of course and I'm game but I've also never been much of a daredevil. I've ridden safely all these years and am not looking to get hurt now. At the same time, I crave more confidence.

To that end, I've been observing what's going on when I take my corners lately. One thing I noticed today while riding on some nice, newly-paved twisties is that I am far more comfortable for some reason leaning left-hand corners than right. I've never touched a peg (on this or any of my bikes) but I'm definitely a lot braver leaning left than right.

The one time I tried really leaning into a right turn, the steering head began to wobble. Needless to say, I took it easier after that. (The color's just now coming back to my face!)

Granted, it could have been a wonky corner. Pavement in Maine, even when it's brand spanking new, is never guaranteed to be even, much less smooth. But I'm also wondering if my inhibitions about right hand corners are based on some intuitive feedback. Maybe I've felt that wobble before. Maybe I've felt it lots of times but never registered it consciously until today.

Anyway: What do you think? Does anyone else notice that they favor leaning one way more than the other? Is it normal? And what about the Vulcan- is it apt to feel 'heavier' going into corners than, say, a similarly powered bike that has less-forward pegs? Does the more "laid-back" posture make the response feel less nimble?

Alternatively, does it sound like something might be wrong with my steering? If so, what should I check? I've eyeballed for straightness and I've held the tire between my legs and tugged on the bars to check looseness. A casual wheel bearing test doesn't point to any problems.

I will say that this will be the last season on my current tires. The front one only has a smidge of tread left along the center. Even so, that wouldn't affect cornering in one direction more than the other would it?
 

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I too favor the left turns. I think for me it is psychological, in that if I blow a left turn I just end up on the berm, but if I go wide on a right turn, I might become a hood ornament.

I would guess that there's probably nothing wrong with the mechanics of the bike, but rather that something about your uneasiness is leading to the instability. I still consider myself a new rider (having had the bike for several years now, but not able to put as many hours in the saddle as I'd like), and I can really tell a difference between when I hit a corner with confidence vs when I enter it feeling "eeeeeh". Countersteering is counterintuitive, until you get used to it, and then it's natural until you start thinking about it too much. It is easy to tighten up on your grip on the handlebars, and while white-knuckling it, forget the "push to turn and look through the turn" and instead subconciously try to turn the handlebars where you want to go, which leads to a fight between you and the bike as your body tries to pull the bike one way and your handlebar input pushes it the opposite way.

As dumb as it may sound, go back to basics. Light grip, look, lean, and push. Even if you feel like you're in a lounger, you can still hang a butt cheek off the seat to get more turn without as much lean if you're feeling iffy about a corner.

Every time I feel like I'm going to go wide, taking a moment to relax and really commit to the turn fixes the problem.

Take it to an empty parking lot and hit those right turns hard. If there really is something mechanical, you want to ID that before you get pancaked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Thorn, I appreciate the affirmation and the suggestions too. It's good to hear that I'm not alone in getting iffy around the right turns specifically. What you've said about how that could easily translate into an added wobble makes sense in light of my tentativeness too; that being less committed means more fighting the inherent dynamics of the bike.

Your further suggestion of going back to basics doesn't sound dumb. As humbling as it is to confess, I'm obviously still learning to ride this wonderful machine. The many years I've spent riding smaller, lighter and standard-posture bikes may even be hindering me more than helping. Leaning hard into turns on this Vulcan feels extra scary because of the added weight and that uncomfortable sensation that it wants to fall.

I went through a similar experience when, after skiing for over 20 years (including competitively), I decided to try snowboarding. I would have thought that my skiing experience would prove helpful. It didn't. I basically had to start over from scratch. The only benefits my experience had for me was knowing the peripheral stuff like how chairlifts work and what snow feels like at different temperatures. Other than that and in retrospect, I think I was actually at a disadvantage compared to kids and other newbies who learned the sport with relative ease.
 

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I've noticed the same left turn bias on this bike.

I'll practice countersteer from time to time in order to keep it foremost in my mind. That way it's automatic if I need to suddenly make a course change.

It's not leaning that steers the bike, but countersteer that causes the bike to lean. So at any time, more countersteer will create a sharper turn.

Does your bike pull to the left? Mine did because it came with bent forks, and still pulled with new forks.

After checking swingarm alignment, I adjusted the top triple tree. It sits on a tapered shaft (not splined) and can get knocked out of alignment in a crash, which in turn will skew the fork legs. There's a certain procedure to follow for this alignment.
 

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If I can’t see all the way around a turn on a two lane road I automatically feel tense, but more so going around a tight right turn because I’m always worried about the other guy running wide. I never felt any difference between left or right with the bike itself though.
The one thing I’ve noticed( and this is probably a personal quirk) is I ride more “committed” when I’m forced to pay attention to say, the car in front of me or that stupid groundhog that stumbles out past the shoulder. I think the key difference is when I have to share my focus with other stuff besides riding, I just ride. Just like when I get in my car, I don’t think to myself “easy on the break, hands 10 & 2, etc” I just drive and 30 yrs of muscle memory takes over. I have only been riding a motorcycle for 4 years so I still consider my self somewhat of a rookie. I do think yrs of BMX and mountain/road biking definitely eased the transition. I never realized I’ve been counter-steering for years so when I took the MSF it was 2nd nature. So with all that said is there a chance you may just be in your own head? If we all moved to the UK, would we suddenly become “left turn adverse”?:unsure:
 

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1: Check your steering stem bearings. Remove, clean, assemble and torque.
2: check tire psi. I like to run 2psi above recommended pressure. You'll get better tread wear and better handling.
3: get a fork brace. I have the Tarozzi on my VN. Made a big difference in handling. Our VN's have long fork tubes that twist and bend under stress.
4: adjust rear shocks stiffer and change the fork and shock oil.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for weighing in. Your specific mention of counter-steer, Spockster, helps a lot. That, I'm realizing, is one of the "basics" that Thorn was likely referring to. It's something I've obviously been doing all my life but is, for that same reason, something I've taken for granted.

After reading your responses and watching a few YouTube vids demonstrating counter-steer specifically, I took the bike out for a lovely afternoon ride. One of the first things I was now very aware of (that I hadn't noticed consciously before) is how much more counter-steer in general the Vulcan needs than the other bikes I've ridden. I'll resist the urge to speculate why. Maybe because it's bigger (longer), maybe because I'm riding it faster.

Which brings me to my next revelation of sorts - the one dealing with left-hand vs. right-hand turns. While paying specific attention to my counter-steering, I realized I'm timid about twisting the throttle. This bike, compared to the other bikes I've owned/ridden, is incredibly quick on acceleration.

This actually goes back to the very first time I rode a Vulcan. It was soon after they first came out. I owned an old 440 LTD at the time. It was my daily driver, as well as my first street bike. One day while visiting the cycle shop where I did business, the owner had a brand new '86 VN parked out front. He saw me admiring it before stepping into the store. He stood waiting for me with the key in his hand.

"Take it," he said grinning proudly. "Take it for a spin around the parking lot (which was for a large shopping plaza). You know you want to."

"I DO want to!" I confessed. "But what if I really like it? There's no way I'd be able to afford one."

"That's no reason not to try it!" he said playfully. "Besides, maybe you can just save up and get one for yourself someday."

Well, you can already tell where this story "goes", so to speak. A lot of years went by between then and now and I could certainly have afforded to buy a Vulcan before I did, but life happens and I had other priorities. I never forgot my that first ride however. I never forgot how smooth that Vulcan was and how comfortable.

Another thing I never forgot - which came back to me while practicing yesterday - was how goddamn quick that bike was compared to my humble little 440. There's probably a "biker term" for what happened to me that day. If there is, I don't know it. But what happened was that I no more than cracked the throttle on that guy's Vulcan and I was pinned back to the point where I literally could NOT UN-twist the throttle. Next thing I knew (0.5 seconds later!) I was already at the end of the parking lot. AND I was heading for the weeds, unable to stop. I was petrified.

Thankfully, I remembered the foot brake which I promptly mashed and which then allowed me to release my death-grip on the throttle.

Needless to say, I carefully putted that bike back to the store, and felt sure I was shaking from head to foot. Apparently though I was also smiling from ear to ear because that's what impressed the owner. "Yep, that's the same sheit-eating grin I had on my face when I first drove it too!" he said, nodding, as I gave him back the keys.

I knew I'd be able to tame the beast given another opportunity to try someday. Aware of that instantaneous power, I'd simply go easier on that throttle.

Which is what I've been doing ever since buying my own Vulcan. Yesterday however, I realized that I may actually still be a bit traumatized by that first ride over 30 years ago. I still regard that throttle grip with a bit of awe and maybe fear.

That being said, there is something about turning right and pushing the bars subconsciously left in counter-steer that makes me tense. It seems related to some fear of twisting that throttle in the process.

I still haven't figured out why that fear applies more to that direction than the other though.

Meanwhile - and perhaps more significantly - I noticed something else: My hips actually don't like bending that way as much as the other. I feel a LOT more flexible when leaning the bike left than I do when tilting right.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun practicing yesterday and learned a lot, thanks in large part to your responses. I came away with a lot more confidence too. By the end of the afternoon, I actually leaned a right corner so comfortably and confidently that I almost touched the peg.

I will also look into DirtTrack's suggestions. I've never changed the fork oil for instance and was just wondering about that the other day. It looks daunting but so did greasing the splines -- until I did it.
 

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Worm tires can effect left or right turns differently.
Definitely check your steering head bearings for play or wear.
The Vulcan is a “slow steering” bike, do to the rake/trail compared to other motorcycles, but shouldn’t be a bear either.
Get some new tires after checking the steering and see if you feel a difference
 

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An imbalance in the oil in the forks can cause some quirky handling. Mine was way overdue for a fork oil change. It was handling mostly on the springs and it behaved that way.

I haven't found the VN750 to be slow handling, I guess it depends what you compare it to. I think it turns quick and responds to additional countersteer any time. But I'm not riding on the ragged edge either, though I do tend to push harder than most.

Friend of mine had a 440 LTD, in a drag race it would beat my three cylinder Yamaha 750 Special, until we got to high gear. But I know the VN750 will beat that Yamaha badly.

As Acadia spoke of earlier, some paving jobs are better than others. In some cases you might find it's the road giving you bad vibes.
 

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Well I meant “slow” compared to a sport bike. For a “cruiser” the Vulcan is actually fairly nimble. What also makes a difference is the size (in width) of the front and rear tire. Bikes with front and rear tires closer to the same width “track” better, but you’d need an experienced racer to feel the difference.
I had a fork brace, Progressive fork springs and rear shocks, and thought the bike handled quite well…. But felt my 600 pound FJR was better.
It’s not of course fair to compare one bike model with another, any modern bike, once your familiar with it, can likely be pushed beyond your ability….provided it’s not suffering from some issue with suspension, tires, or worn/loose steering bearings, or tweeked frame/forks.
A big factor can simply be your confidence. I noticed as getting older I tend to be more conscious of my mortality, and thus don’t “push the envelope” like I did when I was younger 😉
 

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Yep, it only takes one small puddle of antifreeze to change your whole outlook on things. :)

Comparing to either the 750 Special or 750k Honda, the VN is more nimble, to me anyway. The Special was a much longer bike, close to touring size. The Honda had to be muscled around if you were riding hard, you needed motocross shoulders.
 

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Out of the many bikes I have had since 1963 my beloved "Scooter Gurl" is the worst low speed handling bike I have owned. Out on the road it does okay, but on very slow turns or in parking lots I hate it. Always makes me feel like a real beginner. I thought it might be because I am old but, I have had a couple of friends try it. They didn't like it either. I have tried changing tires, tire pressures, and shock settings to no avail. At the same time it will probably be the last bike I ever own, so I have learned to live with the embarrassment it some times causes. (Well, unless I hit a major lottery, then some form of trike may come into play.)
 

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Next thing you gotta work on are those chicken strips 🙄
I think mine are destined to stay fat and sassy. :D


Out of the many bikes I have had since 1963 my beloved "Scooter Gurl" is the worst low speed handling bike I have owned. Out on the road it does okay, but on very slow turns or in parking lots I hate it. Always makes me feel like a real beginner. I thought it might be because I am old but, I have had a couple of friends try it. They didn't like it either. I have tried changing tires, tire pressures, and shock settings to no avail. At the same time it will probably be the last bike I ever own, so I have learned to live with the embarrassment it some times causes. (Well, unless I hit a major lottery, then some form of trike may come into play.)
I've always felt like it was pretty good at low speed, I was always trying to see how long I could wait to put my foot down at stoplights.

Pulling into sketchy off-road situations, I usually had less trouble than the heavy cruisers with me.

There was one incident, stopping on an uphill and off-camber spot, I put my foot down squarely on a big plastic yard sale sign that was in the road. It was one of those places where you could only put one foot down, and I picked the wrong foot. Down I went, busted my fancy brake pedal cover. Two old friends from high school days came over and helped me pick her up.
 

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"At the same time it will probably be the last bike I ever own, so I have learned to live with the embarrassment it some times causes. (Well, unless I hit a major lottery, then some form of trike may come into play.)"

A friend of mine just got a Ryker Rally Sport with all the luggage. Very sweet trike and fun too. As fast as any cruiser in the twisties, there's a Rally 900 in my future.
 

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"At the same time it will probably be the last bike I ever own, so I have learned to live with the embarrassment it some times causes. (Well, unless I hit a major lottery, then some form of trike may come into play.)"

A friend of mine just got a Ryker Rally Sport with all the luggage. Very sweet trike and fun too. As fast as any cruiser in the twisties, there's a Rally 900 in my future.
A long time rider I know had one for a while, he said it was a blast, cornering, braking, all fantastic. He's had sport bikes and Harleys.

Now there's a machine you can definitely use car tires on, something around 205/15 on the front.

Saw one in a police auction yesterday, they used it in parades.
 

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I'm a bit late to the discussion, but I'll weigh in.
I too have less confidence in right turns. I did as a child riding bicycles. I heard a theory once that it's due to being right handed and having less confidence in your left hand/arm during a right turn.

Either way, I remember my first public roadway ride and I nearly went off the road the first time I tried to turn. I got to thinking about turning and tried literally turning the bars. The bike went the opposite direction! Nearly soiled myself!

Now when I don't think about it, I ride better. I unexpectedly scrapped a peg a couple of weeks ago and I wasn't even trying! My first peg scrape was in a isolated roundabout where I just kept circling and slowly increasing speed until the peg hit. It's probably good to do this somewhere away from traffic because when it happened, I reacted by instantly widening my turn when I really didn't need to.
 

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Well, I figured I’ll post to I’m 77 years young and when I ride and go slow in turns I always have some issues with all the accessories in the top case and the saddlebags. I have no doubt that I have added at least hundred to 125 pounds to the bike, I’m 6 foot tall head,I weigh 212 so I’m probably max so when I turn I turn there is more weight then stock bike and me I also in the last couple of years since I retired have lost muscle mass and I no longer have the strength I used to have . I’m very much aware of my new limitations. I only ride on a Sunday when the weather is good in daylight never alone and practice emergency stops and turning in a parking lot before I begin the ride my reflexes are still good. My judgment is good, but the people that they are in the cages, they don’t care how old I am I break no matter what I will say that I have a super fork brace on the front and I have progressive for 440 heavy duty shocks in the rear and progressive springs in the front running 15 weight oil . Those additions to bike handle much better I’m running metzlers and the front tire is 110 metzler . Any other old coots like me still Riding . The older forum had aged out the new version I think is younger riders
 
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