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Old 02-01-2013, 04:11 PM   #46
tokyoklahoma
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Thumb Well done

Good job on your first ride and ride report. You have opened a door that leads to a lifetime of adventure.

I am surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but when you are on the soft stuff, go easier on the front brake and use more rear. That is probably what caused the front to "tuck under".

On the bright side.....you will get a LOT of practice with side winds where you live.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:26 PM   #47
Casey. OP
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I went for a short ride today to practice start/stopping and was a bit disturbed by antifreeze dripping from the motor.

From what I've been reading, this is common after a drop. The coolant bottle looks to still have plenty in it, and no warning lights. I didn't see any loose tubing besides these 3 which are clearly intended to be that way (they were dripping a bit as well).

There's no puddle under the bike after nearly a week of sitting in the garage - it only seemed to drip while the engine was on.
Lots of learning to do before I know this bike well enough, but this seems to be benign.
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Old 02-01-2013, 06:54 PM   #48
BillsR100
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Casey, I see that your from Wichita and I was laughing about your troubles on the gravel roads there. You'll find this funny, A friend of mine and I passed thru that area while doing the TAT (trans america trail) and I remember the pea gravel on those mid-Kansas back roads well, it was like riding on ball bearings! I mention this just so ya know, if you can learn to handle that kind of slippery gravel, you've got it made!!
Well, until you get further west Kansas and it gets deeper.

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Old 02-02-2013, 10:58 AM   #49
Casey. OP
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Thanks TKO, and yes, the winds here are ridiculous. That's the #1 thing I hated on my bicycle as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillsR100
if you can learn to handle that kind of slippery gravel, you've got it made!!
This is reassuring. I didn't expect that ball-bearing feeling, but that's what it felt like to me too.


I took my second ride out of the city today, and no falls this time! I couldn't summon the courage to try standing, and I tried to rationalize it by saying to myself, "I'll try standing once I'm not clenching the bars like a maniac while seated."
No drama on today's ride, but I continue to be disappointed with my low-speed control. I crossed opposing lanes when turning right and couldn't do a U-turn in one go; had to swing my foot once, and generally just felt clumsy. Once I was back to the familiar parking lot near home, I practiced all kinds of low-speed maneuvering. Besides just holding the throttle steady while making a tight 180 turn, my other issue was starting from a stop and immediately dipping into that 180 turn. Practicing in the lot, I could tell my arms were locking and I kept looking in the wrong places. After some practice, it improved significantly. More interestingly, here's a few pictures from today:

I visited the small town of Sedgwick today. Never been there before even though it's 20 miles from Wichita.
This little cat peeked out from the sewer to see what was making a ruckus, but he dove back in when I tried to approach:

While in Sedgwick, I came across two guys around a Harley, talking in their driveway. I had just gotten into town and my hands were nearly numb, so I stopped and asked if I could warm up there. They were fine with it. I found out one of them was a buyer, and the other the seller. I had interrupted their transaction.
I mentioned I had come from Wichita, and they were shocked considering the temperature. I told them I was a new rider trying to avoid traffic-filled roads. The seller told a story about a bug hitting him near the eye, leaving a bruise down his nose. I pointed to my helmet and said, "My goggles should prevent that." Then he said to watch out for bugs that ram into your chest. "I'm covered there too." I opened my coat and knocked on my body armor. "Man, you're wearin' all the stuff for the professionals."
Now... I've heard plenty of Harley bashing here, but read that again. He just gave two personal, real-life examples of things that injured him on his bike; I pointed out how I am protected from such damage; then he claimed that my protection was for professionals. That is simply irrational.
Anyways, they both mentioned how they'd be "uncomfortable in all that stuff", and I let it go. They were easy-going guys, and they wished me good luck as I took off.
On the way back, I rode past a frozen river (an indication of the weather):

Just above, there were several snapped lures hanging from the power lines:

Some random abandoned concrete silo thing (the birds loved it):

A dead end road with some nice houses on it:

And finally, a private drive that really tempted me:

I also passed my first other rider. He was riding a Harley and he was properly bundled for the conditions. He gave a wave back, and we carried on. I never want to get into a divisive mindset. I enjoy that camaraderie. Stereotypes aside, I want to continue being part of the biking community as a whole.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:02 AM   #50
Rob.G
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Control will come with experience. And you're smart to not try to stand until you can relax your grip. It's taken me almost three years to be able to do tight, low-speed turns, and I'm still not REALLY good at it. And on dirt, forget it.

How tall are you? You may need to raise your bars up to be more comfortable when standing. I'm 5'8 and added 4" of rise to my KLX and 5" to my DR650.

The best advice I can give right now is just to relax. I know it's hard to do so. But work towards it. The more you ride, the easier it'll become.

Dangit, I wanna go ride now...

Rob
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:14 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob.G View Post
Control will come with experience. And you're smart to not try to stand until you can relax your grip. It's taken me almost three years to be able to do tight, low-speed turns, and I'm still not REALLY good at it. And on dirt, forget it.

How tall are you? You may need to raise your bars up to be more comfortable when standing. I'm 5'8 and added 4" of rise to my KLX and 5" to my DR650.

The best advice I can give right now is just to relax. I know it's hard to do so. But work towards it. The more you ride, the easier it'll become.

Dangit, I wanna go ride now...

Rob
My biggest worry about the low-speed stuff is its practicality in traffic. I may not need u-turns much, but turning right from a stop is essential. I didn't try it in the dirt yet for reasons we both fully understand.

I'm 5'11". I am concerned about a severe lean once I stand. It will take several more rides before I'm ready to try it I think, but I may need to consider a rise as well...

Yeah, I'd say I was much less fearful of loss of control today. I was more nit-picking my lack of finesse. My legs cramped near the end from (apparently) me tightening up on them so much. Whenever I feel a loss of balance, I tend to clench my leg muscles.

Hah, go for it! Oregon can't be much worse than what I'm riding in. I'm finally getting some proper gloves Monday to help with the complete numbness I've been experiencing.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:24 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey. View Post
I'm 5'11". I am concerned about a severe lean once I stand. It will take several more rides before I'm ready to try it I think, but I may need to consider a rise as well...
Yeah at your height you'll want as much rise as you can get. I'm wondering if Honda provided enough slack in the cables to get at least a couple of inches. Otherwise new cables get expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey. View Post
Yeah, I'd say I was much less fearful of loss of control today. I was more nit-picking my lack of finesse. My legs cramped near the end from (apparently) me tightening up on them so much. Whenever I feel a loss of balance, I tend to clench my leg muscles.
Yep that'll do it. At least you have long legs though, so if it starts to go over and you can't save it, just put a foot down and step off the bike. Bike goes down, you're still standing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey. View Post
Hah, go for it! Oregon can't be much worse than what I'm riding in. I'm finally getting some proper gloves Monday to help with the complete numbness I've been experiencing.
Heated grips do wonders and are fairly inexpensive. I use the $20 set from Rocky Mountain ATV, then add a nice new pair of gel grips and a $5 relay from the auto parts store. Cheaper than springing for heated gear at this point (which I have for my morning commutes -- WONDERFUL, but pricey).

A friend is coming up with his KLX so we can put his jet kit in and replace a worn out rear tire. We may wire up his handwarmers and some other stuff too. Then maybe we'll go for a ride afterward. The fog is starting to burn off... its up to 37 deg now. Ugh.

Rob
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:50 PM   #53
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Casey, one thing about turning, either short sharp turns like from one side of the street to the other, or running down the highway is you have to look forward to where you want to go, say 20-25 feet in a short turn and probably some 60-80 feet in wider highway turns at speed. Now I'm not saying you are not to look down in front of the bike from time to time, but if you look forward and see where you want the bike to go you will have already looked this area over. This way your mind can calculate for you, how much room do I have, speed for the turn, and what to do next, and you will react to what you need to do. If you haven't taken the rider course, you need to and there is an advanced course that will teach you how to do things that you thought you never could, excellent course for both new rides and old.

John
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:08 PM   #54
Rob.G
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Trainman's post reminded me of something too. I don't recall -- did you take the basic rider course training? If so, do you remember the part about counter-weighting the bike in tight turns? That's where you weight the outside peg (or even move your butt to the outside) while making slow, tight turns. Try that, it makes it a lot more stable.

Rob
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:16 PM   #55
Casey. OP
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Yes, I did the basic rider course 2 weeks ago. The biggest difference with this bike though is the center of gravity I believe. We had Nighthawks in the course. I could easily flatfoot both sides (and actually bend my knees which was uncomfortable). The U-turn practice was comparatively much easier on those.
I've gotten much better at not staring at the ground - bicycle riding has accelerated this process. I'm planning to take the advanced course. The instructor suggested getting about 5K miles experience beforehand.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:36 PM   #56
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After 5000 miles, you probably won't need that class. Instead, after 5000 miles, find a few people to ride with... not guys who have been riding for eons, but for just a few years. Just one or two at a time. That way you can watch and learn and get advice.

A guy I met at my first Death Valley rally took me under his wing and started teaching me dirt basics. He rides a DR200 and is tall like you. Whenever I'd get wigged by the terrain, he'd ride my bike for me until I was comfortable tackling it myself. Try to find somebody like that who will help rather than tease.

Rob
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:58 PM   #57
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Hey Casey, welcome to the Assylum! Like others have said, it takes me back to my beginning days of riding (about 50 years ago - when did this happen?? ). The little Honda looks to be a SWEET bike, a bit different than what I started on . We didn't have no stinkin' fuel injection, disc brakes, electric start, sealed bearings, 6000 mile service intervals, etc. Ah, the bad old days.

I think you are being very wise in your approach to this sport - take it easy, ride within your limits, learn something every time you swing a leg over, take the lessons, be cautious and thoughtful, etc. I think by the time Summer rolls around you'll be surprised at the progress you've made. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you fly, then look out WOOOOOOOOOT!!! Riding with other folks with more experience is a wonderful way to learn, so don't be afraid to take some of these guys up on their offers, but remember the cardinal rule of riding with others is "ride your own ride". Pick a rendezvous place and meet there, don't feel you have to ride over your head to keep up.

I've been riding so long I don't really remember what it feels like to be a beginner, but I've had several friends and family members take up the sport later in life. You have identified low-speed handling as a concern, and this is a very important skill to build. Good for you for all your parking lot practice! I've bought several copies of the Ride Like a Pro videos for n00bs in my life and can highly recommend them. https://www.ridelikeapro.com/ They are a little sappy at times, but the guy is a motorcycle cop trainer and knows his shite about low-speed maneuvers on big, bulky, heavy bikes. Those techniques won't translate 100% to a smaller bike, but the concepts are universal and some of his tips are truly eye-opening, even for old guys like me. Watching a 100 pound lady pick up an 800 pound cruiser is testimony enough for the validity of the lessons. Using his tricks (slip the clutch, slight rear brake pressure, stay upright) I can turn my 1150GS in a full steering lock circle inside the width of two parking spaces without touching a foot down. You can look up some of his lessons on YouTube.

I started riding in the dirt, it's still my first love, and I can tell you that the skills you learn there will translate very well to riding on asphalt. I don't think it necessarily works so well in reverse. So keep up the practice (Winter riding - good for you!!), the thinking, and watching for idiots in cars and I think you'll be thrilled with your progress once the warmer weather gets here!

Doug
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:21 PM   #58
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Well done Casey.One thing to remember when on ANY road and of course gravel is harder is the camber in the road will make the bike wander to the low side.
A previous poster has already mentioned the "look where you want to go" advise.Also try to keep your eyes level with the horizon as much as possible.The low speed balance and lack of control is normal.Practise practise,and learn to modulate the clutch and throttle to control your speed.Really low speed manoeuvres will probably(its been a long time since i rode a 250 dual sport)require you to slip the clutch a little as even idle in first will be too fast.and idle will be too jerky so rev it up a little and have the clutch" half way" out
Take every course you can.It will teach you new skills and this is the sort of place you will meet riders with skills and interests much like your self.I also beleive these courses teach you the right attitudes and mental approach.The instructors will have many gems of information to pass along.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:39 PM   #59
tokyoklahoma
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Thumb turn from a stop

Right turns from a stop, gave me trouble when I returned to riding. I knew I could do it, but couldn't remember the technique.
These vids were worth the time to watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gzAg...bjGINQP_kStToQ
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:12 PM   #60
Casey. OP
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Thanks for the suggestions Doug. I'm absorbing a ton in a short time.

Good point about the camber advNZer. I have noticed that more-so on paved roads, but maybe that's because it's more visible. I'll have to pay more attention to that on the dirt roads. I think clutch is my weakest skill. I'm too used to the transmission in my car where I only need to ride in that zone in first gear.

Awesome video TKO, thank you. I watched the rest of his videos as well. I love an instructor that can make it entertaining. 3 foot turning radius would make me outstandingly happy.
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