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stephenws 06-21-2013 04:58 PM

Potential Dumba.s Question
I've got a 2009 GSA. A couple years experience riding. Been trying to improve my slow speed skills. Recently took the MSF experienced rider course and did well with everything except the figure 8.

Ok, here's the question: I've been practicing figure 8s and u-turns in first gear and having some trouble with "jumpy" throttle input - even while feathering the clutch. Tonight I tried using 2nd gear and the throttle response seemed much smoother and easier to maintain. Should I continue practicing the slow speed stuff in 2nd gear or work on getting better in 1st gear?

JM 06-21-2013 05:13 PM

I'd keep after it in first gear. It's a skill you really need to find.

Part of the trick is finding the friction zone of your clutch. Keep the clutch right at the point just before it starts to engage the transmission. Once you find the point where the clutch just starts to engage you can move the handle just a little to engage or disengage the clutch and it will make things smoother.

You don't want to give it a lot of gas when slipping the clutch or you will heat it up to much.

bemiiten 06-21-2013 06:48 PM

Try leaving the clutch alone and just concentrate on using the throttle smoothly. The rear brake is also a great tool for helping tame the throttle at slow speed.

MoodyGS 06-21-2013 08:38 PM

You may want tot think of body English
At parking lot speed in addition to using the rear brake, feathering the clutch, being liberal with the gas, considering addition leaning your body slightly off the COG away from the direction of the turn, lean left when turning right. This is exactly the opposite of cornering at none parking lot speeds.
Takes practice.....
For riding around corners at parking lot speeds on a heavier bike took waaaaaay more time to learn than riding round corners on a heavy bike at 60 mph.

stephenws 06-22-2013 05:16 AM

Thanks for the ideas and advice. I'll continue to work on it. Kinda intimidating with the size and weight of the bike, but I know I need to master this before I'll feel confident riding it. Almost dropped it 3 times yesterday practicing....

Penfold99 06-22-2013 09:33 AM

I have found the same thing practicing on my new to me '05. It almost feels like the idle speed is too high to do the slower speed stuff without a lot of clutch work. Add to that the on/off idle throttle response, and it is jerky...
My newly installed boosterplug helps some, and just getting used to it. I also found the servo brakes to be very grabby at first, but have now become accustomed to them.

Atlanta, GA
2005 R1200GS

Schlug 06-22-2013 10:27 AM

The bike comes geared pretty high for super low speed work, and loading/unloading the driveline creates a bit of an odd feel.

If it wants to carry forward at 15 mph in first, that might be too high for the sort of nose picking you want to do to get around or through obstacles. So your clutch hand will get a workout. At slow speed this should mean very little wear on your clutch. High speed dragging of the clutch is when that really happens.

So now you can play at becoming smooth. Clutch, throttle, rear brake, and body position along with being in command of your bike-- getting ahead of your bike-- and keeping your momentum, these things are key.

My 1150 is geared down by using the FD from another model because 1st was too high for offroad work and a bit too high to take off 2-up, loaded for travelling.

WoodButcher 06-22-2013 06:08 PM

09 GSA has the enduro transmission so lower 1st gear. I found that the Accelerator module (like booster plg) made a huge difference in slow speed throttle use. Much smoother.

Okie Preacher 06-22-2013 06:21 PM

Not a dumb question at all... It takes some real skill to do this well.

I am good turning left...struggle turning away from my clutch hand to the right! Take the panniers off, find a good smooth spot of dirt and grass to practice (skins things up less when you drop it...and you WILL drop it) drag that rear brake and things will improve!

SourKraut 06-22-2013 06:25 PM

Like others said, I drag rear brake vs clutch in first gear and it works well for me at ultra low speeds. In the real world you need those skills rarely but they have to be ultra sharp when you do, so practice now and again in an empty parking lot. That and track days. :D

DesertTortoise 06-22-2013 07:50 PM

practice by keeping the RPMs up and control the power with the clutch until you get good at it. Bike will feel much more stable with the RPMs up. Using the rear brake helps a lot.

Figure 8 exercise just takes practice. Remember to counter balance like they taught you.

QSrider 06-22-2013 08:18 PM

Also, you will be surprised how slow you can go in first with the clutch fully engaged without stalling the engine.
Without touching the clutch, throttle management must be very precise and smooth. You should hardly feel the throttle move.
A good way to get used to the very slow speed on your big/tall machine is to find an empty parking lot and instead of playing with clutch and throttle, get it in first and had a tiny bit of "choke" (high idle lever for cold start). When you get used to that speed, take some off and go even slower. Keep going... It's a lot easier to be smooth with the high idle lever. When you are used to the very slow speed work, then stop using the high idle lever and work on your throttle control. It is usually easier to work one thing at the time.
Good luck.

stephenws 06-23-2013 07:00 PM

Thanks again for all the advice.

WoodButcher, I think I'll give the Accelerator Module a try. The price is reasonable and appears quick to install.

Had much better luck today practicing. Guess I was just off the other evening when I stalled the bike twice and almost dropped it 3 or 4 times practicing u-turns in a parking lot. Like I mentioned, my riding experience is limited. I didn't grow up riding and got my first bike when 50. When I get nervous or feel something is going wrong, I tighten my grip, which tends to pull in the clutch - just what I don't want to do during a slow speed turn. Guess I need to just practice, practice and practice to develop the correct responses.

I appreciate all the help.

GelandeRoadie 06-23-2013 08:11 PM

Good question

Originally Posted by stephenws (Post 21710334)
When I get nervous or feel something is going wrong, I tighten my grip, which tends to pull in the clutch - just what I don't want to do during a slow speed turn..

At a training course I did last year, they got us to use just two fingers on the clutch and brake controls. IMHO, this made the slow speed exercises much easier. With a full hand grip it is hard to be subtle.

JM 06-23-2013 08:20 PM

Another good skill to learn is how to pick up your motorcycle by yourself. It will happen so learn how to do it and practice it a little. This video shows the technique.

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