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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Noob Practice

Hey all!

I'm planning on buying my 06 Vulcan 500 next week but unfortunately there isn't going to be an MSF basic riders course near me until sometime in May. What kind of things can I practice on nice days to teach myself how to safely ride in the mean time? I have very little experience on a motorcycle but I used to ride a mountain bike as my regular mode of transportation several years ago.

I've got a full set of gear ready and waiting to be worn on a motorcycle, modular helmet, jacket, gloves, Kevlar reinforced jeans, and boots.

Any input is much appreciated.
Thanks,
~Chaos
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 01:58 PM
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Hi Chaos. Congrats on the 500. Great bike, with a virtually unbreakable engine. This bike has quite a long wheelbase and slow speed maneuvers take some getting used to. I would suggest practicing slow speed maneuvers on an empty parking lot or similar location. Try and set out some obstacles, if you can, and weave. Get into the habit of using both brakes together, applying the front just before the rear. Avoid using just the front brake at slow speed. Plenty of good advice here on this forum and also on the net in general.

This is quite a powerful machine for a 500. The engine is derived from the Ninja 500 sports bike. Plenty of torque, which is a good thing, as long as you are aware of your own capabilities and don't try and run before you can walk.

Hope this helps. Good luck and keep us posted.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Fawlty. Everything I've read on this site (and others) sold me on this bike being a great one for me to get as my first. Not too big, but not too small either. I was thinking to take it to the high school parking lot near by and play around... I mean practice those slower speed maneuvers until I'm comfortable enough to hit the roads. Speaking of the roads, they often end up getting a significant amount of gravel on them primarily at the intersections. How do I deal with that, very carefully? Haha.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 11:23 PM
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Allthough you can never really prepare for gravel you can learn the area and know where it usually ends up so you know where in the lane you need to be to advoid it when possible. Gravel and sand can suck but if you know its there slow down and be alert. even more so on a turn. a pile of sand can be like ice sometimes

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 12:49 AM
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You are right there desertrider. Another skill to work on is relaxing when riding. If you tense and stiffen up when dealing with hazards you dramatically reduce your chances of negotiating them successfully.

Oh and Chaos, check out countersteering. This is a good video to watch:


"It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened I don't know, but I know it couldn't happen again in a million years."

(Johnny Strabbler-The Wild One 1953)

Kawasaki Vulcan EN500A2, 1991 (California Spec.)

Last edited by Fawlty; 03-03-2014 at 12:53 AM.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 12:53 PM
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Those videos are helpful! Some guy on a Vulcan with a name like mine supposedly has a countersteering video out there too

Countsteering is an essential skill; period!

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 02:13 PM
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+1 on all this. I think my best advice (and I don't really have any GOOD advice, so take it as you will) is to get out and do it. Ya just gotta go. It might be scary or intimidating the first time, but if you don't make it past that first time...well, what's that mean?

My wife's friend recently bought a Vulcan 500 (on my advice ) and has had it for 3 months and never seen highway speed. There's no shame in being intimidated early on, but you gotta make the effort to get past it. That's what I keep telling her.

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-03-2014, 04:57 PM
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Hey Chaos... welcome to the club! I think the 500 is a great bike to start on. I was actually looking for one last year when I got back into riding but settled on a Yamaha 250. Within 6 weeks I was shopping for a bigger bike. I actually rode a 500 then and liked it but the price was too high. I later found a 900 classic which I'm really happy with now.

Regarding practice, I'd recommend first spending time in an empty parking lot just getting use to using the friction zone on the clutch, proper braking, some quick stops, etc. Get comfortable so you don't have to think about how to use the controls and can focus more on traffic, etc, when you get on the road. Also, probably the most important thing I learned early on was to keep my head up and always look where you want to go, not down at the ground, and not at something you are trying not to hit, like a curb. The bike will go where you are looking so get use to swinging your head around and look ahead to where you want to be. Also, take it slow. Learn how the bike handles, etc, before pushing it. Don't want your first season to be a short one! Lot's of good videos and advice on all this online. Enjoy!
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for all the tips! I'm a firm believer of learning by experience, and I can't wait to hop on my bike and ride. But at the same time, going into something with a mind full of knowledge helps a lot. Again, thank you all! I'll let you all know how I do on my first ride and I'll post some photos too.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 08:44 AM
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look up a lot of the drills they do in MSF class or your state DMV and set up their courses in an open parking lot. Every time you successfully complete an exercise, make it a little bit smaller and more difficult. That is what I done to pass the DMV road course in Virginia. Use things that wont hurt to run over or cause you to go down, but can still feel or hear. I used empty skoal cans, you can hear those plastic cans crack good and loud.

What made it all click for me what the first time I entered a turn I thought I was going too fast for (now I know i was no where NEAR too fast) had a small panic moment and just let my instincts take over. That was when I realized it was not that bad.

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