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Discussion Starter #1
Hey gang,

Got a procedural question for you. I was out riding last night, and although I've had the bike for a year, I've only been able to put any miles on it over the past few weeks. I am still a very new rider, and thought I would ask some of you old hats what I did wrong.

I was in town, and needed to make a left to get gas. Unfortunately, there was a pickem-up truck in my blind spot and I couldn't slow to let him past me in time to make the turn. So I did the next best thing. Went to the next intersection, got in the left turn lane and made a U-turn to double back to the gas station.

The turn lane was level, but the cross street was uphill to the left. The turn light turned green, and I began my turn, obviously from a dead stop. As I turned, I was slow enough that countersteering didn't feel like an option, but I didn't get it tight enough in the turn, and was headed for the shoulder. I tried to tighten my turn, which inadvertantly caused me to roll on throttle. The back wheel broke loose, and I felt the back of the bike start to slip out from under me. (I was probably only doing 5-10 mph at this point). I backed off the throttle and put my foot down (which was definitely something that the instructors in MSC said was a no-no), and got myself straightened out...And didn't drop the bike.

My question is what did I do wrong, and what should I have done instead? It was scary from the perspective of what would have happened had there been oncoming traffic.

Thanks,
--Storm
 

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HAWK
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Good think is you knew when the bike was going over and stopped it.
You may have not use your counter weight on the turn. It is all getting used to the bike, rember roll on the throttel and feather the clutch.
 

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Premium Member
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At really low speeds, I don't think counter steering works.... a motorcycle will handle like a bicycle (balance becomes important).
 

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Lebanon, NJ
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Well I'm a newbie here as well but encountered a similar problem once. As my MSC instructor told me many times. "Turn your freakin head!" Were you looking where you wanted to go?

As I was making a very tight slow left U-turn, I too was headed for the side of the road when I remembered the instructors admonition to "Turn your freakin head!" I did and rolled through ok.
 

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2FAS4U
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Turning your head is correct. Spot the turn, then look ahead to were you want to go, not down at the road.
As far as putting a foot down, I have had to on a few occasions encountering gravel in a turn. It may just be instinct, but it works for me.
I ALWAYS wear boots and long pants when riding.
 

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I am also a new rider and I think you for sharing this story so I can learn from it too.

The first time I brought my 750 out of the drive way I felt simular to what you describe here bcause I was turning from driveway to street, banking hard left. New bike, new rider, no trainning = formula for potential problems. I think I may have acedentaly given it a bit of throttle pushing into the turn too. I lost my balance and just by reflex I let go of the clutch to concentrate on regaining balance. When I did that the bike lurched forward. It went down on the left side and I tumbled forward over the handlebars into the ditch.

Somone above said "feather the clutch". I've noticed that since that day I've been developing the habbit of squeezing the clutch when somehting goes wrong rather than letting it go. Perhaps you may have let the clutch go too quikly just reacting to the problem that developed?

Glad you are ok and thanks for posting this. I am having such a good time riding but there are some nerve wrenching aspects to learning. Wich is why everyone here always advises MSF. (I didnt do MSF)

:motorcycl Take it slow, ride safe, and have fun with it.
 

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Drive less, ride more...
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The bike will go whereever you look.......

These are the only reasons I can think of why your back wheel would break loose at low speeds like that:

a) You hit a slick spot, due to an oil patch or a diesel spill;

b) You gave it waaaaaaaay too much gas and lean angle, and were also (again) on a slick spot;

c) It had just been raining, but not long enough to rinse the goo off the road, and you used too much lean angle and/or gas--and/or your tires don't have enough tread.

In any case, to avoid future bouts of "heading for the shoulder", you really should get into the habit of looking where you want the bike to go. Look thru the turn, and not down at the pavement just ahead of you.

New riders get into serious trouble with this problem, as a hazard comes from out of nowhere (say a car from a side street), then the rider fixates on the sudden hazard (instead of where he/she should be going to avoid the hazard), and this generally results in a crash.

You said you had already done a bike class, but it sounds to me like you could stand some more practice in a vacant parking lot making low-speed turns--both to the left and to the right. You might also have a more experienced rider critique your techniques as you do this.
 

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"ya can't live forever"
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You headed for the shoulder because you looked there !!!!! Throttle, clutch and rear brake and practice!!!
 

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Funny, I was just thinking through the low-speed turns this afternoon, and thinking, "you can't countersteer at low speeds." You aren't going fast enough to get the gyroscopic effect, and so you have to steer directly the way you want to go. And looking where you want to go is another biggie. The other thing I've learned - in parking lots, at low speeds - is that there's no need ever to be in a hurry. Take your time, negotiate a turn at whatever speed feels most comfortable to you, and work from there. Sometimes it's easy to feel rushed by other drivers, but stay within your head and your skill range and you'll be fine.
 

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I don't know about anyone else and I don't know if it will help anyone but this is what I did to get a feel for my first bike. I had bought a 83 Hond Nighthawk 750 from a friend. I only had it for a month before selling it and getting a brand crotch rocket (big mistake, but this was 10 years ago and I was young and foolish) but anyways it was a little tall for me and I was a brand new rider.

To get a feel for the bike and turning and everything I took it to a empty parkinglot (was a high school I think and of course long after school hours) and I practiced making slow tight turns. At first I used my foot for balance but after a short bit of practice I was able to do them without putting my foot down. I did both left and right turns and started making them tighter and tighter. This really helped me once I really started taking the bike out on the road. It not only helped with the weight and balance factor but also helped learn how to properly use the clutch and throttle. I stalled a few times and sent the bike lurching a bit a few timses by letting go of the clutch when I would start to lose my balance but it kept me safe and confident by the time I went out and started regular rides.

I also can't stress enough taking the time to take a motorcycle safety course. It saved my life back in 1997. I was rolling down the highway at about 65 which was speed limit when I changed lanes to get ready for my exit. As I changed lanes, all the cars in front of me slammed on their brakes. I hit mine and my back end started sliding out from under me. The safety class had us practice things like controlled skids and how to correct them. Fortunatly I knew what to do and instread of it sliding out from under me and me into the back of a car I was able to regain control and move to left. I nearly sideswiped the car in front of me and took out his sideview miror with my arm but I kept from wrecking and from getting majorly hurt. I am sure I would have panicked and made the skid worse had I not had the class. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't know about anyone else and I don't know if it will help anyone but this is what I did to get a feel for my first bike. I had bought a 83 Hond Nighthawk 750 from a friend. I only had it for a month before selling it and getting a brand crotch rocket (big mistake, but this was 10 years ago and I was young and foolish) but anyways it was a little tall for me and I was a brand new rider.

To get a feel for the bike and turning and everything I took it to a empty parkinglot (was a high school I think and of course long after school hours) and I practiced making slow tight turns. At first I used my foot for balance but after a short bit of practice I was able to do them without putting my foot down. I did both left and right turns and started making them tighter and tighter. This really helped me once I really started taking the bike out on the road. It not only helped with the weight and balance factor but also helped learn how to properly use the clutch and throttle. I stalled a few times and sent the bike lurching a bit a few timses by letting go of the clutch when I would start to lose my balance but it kept me safe and confident by the time I went out and started regular rides.

I also can't stress enough taking the time to take a motorcycle safety course. It saved my life back in 1997. I was rolling down the highway at about 65 which was speed limit when I changed lanes to get ready for my exit. As I changed lanes, all the cars in front of me slammed on their brakes. I hit mine and my back end started sliding out from under me. The safety class had us practice things like controlled skids and how to correct them. Fortunatly I knew what to do and instread of it sliding out from under me and me into the back of a car I was able to regain control and move to left. I nearly sideswiped the car in front of me and took out his sideview miror with my arm but I kept from wrecking and from getting majorly hurt. I am sure I would have panicked and made the skid worse had I not had the class. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for all of the advice, everyone. I found that the things I failed to do were

  1. Failed to look through the turn
  2. Failed to feather the clutch, and let go when I got into trouble

I have taken the MSC course, however it was a year ago, and I have done no riding until about 3 weeks ago because the bike has been deadlined (leaking tank and drrrrrty carbs. I need to review the books, and for fellow newbie riders, I recommend the following book:

Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques
by Lee Parks
ISBN: 0-7603-1403-9

I'm only a few chapters into it, but I honestly believe it has kept me from making more mistakes than I have.

Again, thanks for all of the advice. For all the newbie riders out there, all I can say is "Learn from the mistakes of others...You won't have a chance to make them all yourself."

--Storm
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Given where you now are in terms of skill level, a much better read for you is Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough.

Lee Parks book, although very good (I have a copy myself), is for more advanced riding techniques that are really beyond a novice level.
So Proficient Motorcycling is fills the gap between the MSF course and Parks' book?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, I went out again last night with a buddy of mine, and concentrated on my turns, and sure as shooting, looking through the turns worked. I also am also trying to find the best balance between countersteering by leaning and countersteering by actually pushing the handlebars. I'm coming to the conclusion that it is more lean and less on the bars, despite what Parks' book says.

I even got out on the interstate and tangled with the big trucks. These bikes are fairly light, so I was getting buffeted around pretty good. I'm considering getting a small windscreen for it.

The only downside to the ride was that my buddy found that my brake light was staying on or randomly going on and off. When he mentioned it, I checked and noticed that there was a little play in the front brake handle. I looked in the book, and it looks like there is a spring in the handle under the master cylinder, and I'm wondering if that might have broken/lost springiness.

Has anyone else encountered something like this on an older Vulcan? There are apparently two different designs, one on the '85-'90, and one on the '91-'06. I have the former...

--Storm
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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Well, I went out again last night with a buddy of mine, and concentrated on my turns, and sure as shooting, looking through the turns worked. I also am also trying to find the best balance between countersteering by leaning and countersteering by actually pushing the handlebars. I'm coming to the conclusion that it is more lean and less on the bars, despite what Parks' book says.
--Storm
This is something I posted the other day in another thread...

While out riding the last couple days, I was paying attention to how I turn into slightly faster turns.
I don't really counter steer at the approach of a turn. I usually just lean the bike into the turn and skip the counter steer part.
It seemed the only time I did occasionally counter steer, was at that point when it just starts to take effect, and only then because I was steering with the bars, not the bike.
IMO, it's all in what you're comfortable doing.

Oh.... and for the brake light issue, there is also a brake light switch for the footlever. Maybe a good shot in each with electrical contact cleaner will help.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Oh.... and for the brake light issue, there is also a brake light switch for the footlever. Maybe a good shot in each with electrical contact cleaner will help.
This is the front brake...There is play in the handle itself, and you can hear the contact clicking. I'm thinking it is the spring in the handle mechanism.
 

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Drive less, ride more...
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Proficient Motorcycling is basically a "bible" for street riding. It's well written, in that it's really an interesting read. The author's style is anything but dry (he won't bore you).

This book (and it's successor, More Proficient Motorcycling) works well as a rider's guide for those between the beginner and the advanced MSF class.

But even those who've had the advanced MSF class would still benefit greatly from it, if they haven't read it yet.

You would do really well to read both of the above, b4 reading the Lee Parks book.
 

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This is the front brake...There is play in the handle itself, and you can hear the contact clicking. I'm thinking it is the spring in the handle mechanism.
__________________
Funny you should mention this, I had the same situation last week. Actually it had been happening for a long time. I replaced, the spring & plunger (only sold together at Kawa) about $40. The lever now returns to the released position as it should. I was glad I replaced the plunger too as when I opened up the master cylinder, there was all sorts of gunk in the fluid, cleaned it all up, bled the brakes and am now good to go, and stop!!
Che
 

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By the way, when I compared the new spring to the old spring, the old spring had collapsed about 1/4 inch so it was now too short. It was not broken, just collapsed
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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This is the front brake...There is play in the handle itself, and you can hear the contact clicking. I'm thinking it is the spring in the handle mechanism.
Ohhh, I thought you meant the switch for the brakelight.
Sounds like Cheman's solution may be your's too.
 
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