Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
814 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This post probably should be in the "New Riders" section.

OK guys. You say you’re a newbie. Just how new are you? You have several thousand miles under your belt now and haven’t even dropped your bike once. Congratulations. Your confidence is building and you’re almost to the point of calling yourself a motorcycle rider. You’ve managed to keep your first bike, new or older, in good repair and it runs great. Now you’re thinking about that first road trip adventure. You’re getting excited planning your vacation days off from work during the best riding days. You read all about what the experts say to take with you, and it’s a ridiculously long list. To heck with that, you can figure it out better yourself. You read about all the good motorcycling roads on the internet, and are in awe at the great pictures of beautiful scenery you can experience in person. Hey, this can actually be done. You saved just enough money, if everything goes as planned, and besides, you’ll pack your camping gear if money runs short. And of course it will. Everybody else does it, and so can you by golly. You’ve been meaning to read some of those great books that some of the forum members talk about that you really need to read. But you just never seem to take the time to find them. Besides, they cost money, and you’ll need all you have for the trip. You’ve talked this up to all your buddies, couldn’t help yourself, and your balls are on the line now. You gotta do it!

That’s how I envision the prospect of a motorcycle adventure for you younger guys. I’m a bit older, perhaps a little wiser but not smarter by any means. I don’t have to worry about vacation time cause I’m long past that, and money, well, that is a concern but not a great issue. My wife will be OK financially if anything bad happens, and I still have that spark of adventure, just like you young guys. So, much of the above applied to me, and I still have a pair and want to use em before I lose em.

I just got back from a nine day, 2,750 mile road trip from central Florida to mid Texas, on my great little stock Vulcan 500. Visited many interesting places in all states in between, and rode some of the very best and very worst roads imaginable. Some of the best motorcycle roads were in the bayou area in southern Louisiana, and some of the worst I believe were in Mississippi. Not picking on you Mississippians mind you. I used to live there. To get to different areas quickly, the interstates are the only way to go. Except if you are in Texas. Just about everywhere the speed limit is 75 on two lane roads! Hallelujah! And you see very few marked LEO vehicles, or they stay well hidden.

I was advised to take many photographs, but I’m not much of a camera guy and brought back a total of twelve. Five each at a couple tourist traps and two of my trusty 500. Besides, all I really wanted to do was ride, look, and explore. I had one breakdown, and with Bikerbill’s help managed to ride on down the road. I wanted to explore the Rockies in Colorado, but wasn’t prepared for the cold temps at altitude this time of year. I’m planning on doing that in a couple months.

A fine young man, 40 years my junior accompanied me on half of the trip. He rode a new, stock Triumph Scrambler, knobby tires, no windshield or saddlebags, and was loaded down, or should I say loaded up to the gills. We rode in the rain, on the interstate in mighty awful wind behind a front, but for the most part had excellent weather. I couldn’t have hung to those handlebars like he did at 75 mph, especially in the wind. Tough guy, Colby is. He loaded for camping every night, but ended up only getting in one night of that. And he ain’t sorry. And he won his trip money in Biloxi. Lucky guy. For you Vulcan 500 guys out there, that 865cc Triumph hasn’t got anything over on our bikes, at least on the hiway.

I didn’t take any maps, instead relied on a new auto gps. Don’t rely on just that. They are good, but you really need some state maps to get the big picture and better route planning. Surprised I was that the convenience stores don’t carry them anymore. Get free ones at the state welcome centers.

We met some very helpful folks who were interested in our doings. One interesting thing; Nearly all were HD drivers, in their pickup trucks - very friendly and wanting to point us to the best places. But not so friendly if they were on their Harleys. Must be taboo I guess. And don’t pass a big Harley on the slab. He will chase you for 80 miles if it takes it to pass you up. I got a good story about passing a group of three big Harleys in Alabama. I think one was trailing smoke though. Story for another time.

I could go on and on, but most of you have left by now anyway. So just a few little things I learned on this first little trip.


Color matters

Black cars & pickups. Watch out for em. I’m serious. There are a lot of them out there and most have fast, aggressive drivers who will crowd your space. We quickly learned to be extra watchful and give them plenty of room. For whatever reason, most black vehicles are larger vehicles, fewer being compacts or sub-compacts. Type A’s I guess, for ###holes.

Brakes

We hear time and again to practice test our brakes for emergency stops. If you’re like me, you probably do it often enough, but most likely at 50 mph or less. Easy enough and we think our brakes are fine and we’re good at stopping our bikes quickly. Try it at 75 or 80 down to a complete stop. That’s a little scary, but not nearly so as having to panic stop for real at freeway speeds. I had to do it twice on this trip and you go a long, long distance just getting it down to 50, probably twice the distance from 50 to 0. That was a real eye opener. It’ll slow your hiway cruise down, for awhile at least.

Day Dreaming

Don’t. Not on a motorcycle. Both of my panic stops were completely my fault and the result of not paying 100% attention to my surroundings. I saw the group of cars and big rigs all bunched together on up the slab. But I didn’t see any brake lights, and besides I was right next to a truck weigh station. My subconscious told me they were just slowed down a little for exiting trucks, but I wasn’t focused, just daydreaming and semi aware. Fact was they were slowed down alright, down to a creeping pace of about 10 mph. I woke up, almost too late. My brakes didn’t stop my bike as quick as I thought they would. Soon enough thankfully, but not without serious concern. They aren’t as good as you thought, or you aren’t as good as you thought.

Passing big trucks

Most big rigs will exceed the speed limit a little more often than not. And I’m fine with following one at a pretty good distance that allows plenty of time to react to road conditions or shredded tires (debris) lying in the road. But most of the big guys just can’t maintain that speed even on a modest uphill grade. That’s usually where I pass em, and I like to get around and well away from them quickly. One caveat here. If it’s a fairly short and steep rise over the hill, the big guys can’t see that much further over the hill than we can on our bikes. Be careful passing one on a hill where visibility ahead is limited. If there’s trouble brewing just over the short hill and you’re passing the big fellow at a quick pace, he may be slowing or braking on purpose before you realize you’re literally flying by. Panic brake stop number two. I don’t think I was daydreaming but I sure wasn’t thinking ahead.

Mentally prepare yourself.

We realize there may be breakdowns, but do we really mentally prepare ourselves that our little road trip adventure may cost us hundreds or even thousands more than we anticipated. You can’t call your buddy to come get your bike when hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. If you’re like me and don’t want to go into debt for a bike repair to a strange repair facility that knows you’re stuck and vulnerable, prepare yourself my friend. But please tell me when you find out how. Cause it happens, sooner or later. Fact is our motorcycles break down a lot more often than even “ole jake” our rattletrap truck. You say you have AAA. Fine, that’ll get you to your real expense soon enough. Meals, lodging, transportation, and thumb twisting. All yours. And lord knows when the friendly, smiling repair folks will get around to possibly fixing your bike right. A smile on one side of the counter and a frown on the other somehow doesn’t shake out equal. You’re under warranty, great. Bet you still get charged for something.

I was fortunate. I brought along plenty of the right tools and I contacted and called on the best and likely most experienced Vulcan 500 owner and forum member around, Mr. Bikerbill. Thank you Bill for taking the time to guide me through the troubleshooting steps to get me back on the road, despite you being in the middle of mentoring those scouts that afternoon. I couldn’t have found the problem without you.


I had a great time, and hopefully they’ll be more.
 

·
V2K Rogue Wrangler
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Great write up! Great advice! I read every word! Even us 'experienced' travelers can benefit from your story. Thanks for the post. It is very thoughtful and useful info.


Sent from Motorcycle.com App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,432 Posts
This post probably should be in the "New Riders" section.

OK guys. You say you’re a newbie. Just how new are you? You have several thousand miles under your belt now and haven’t even dropped your bike once. Congratulations. Your confidence is building and you’re almost to the point of calling yourself a motorcycle rider. You’ve managed to keep your first bike, new or older, in good repair and it runs great. Now you’re thinking about that first road trip adventure. You’re getting excited planning your vacation days off from work during the best riding days. You read all about what the experts say to take with you, and it’s a ridiculously long list. To heck with that, you can figure it out better yourself. You read about all the good motorcycling roads on the internet, and are in awe at the great pictures of beautiful scenery you can experience in person. Hey, this can actually be done. You saved just enough money, if everything goes as planned, and besides, you’ll pack your camping gear if money runs short. And of course it will. Everybody else does it, and so can you by golly. You’ve been meaning to read some of those great books that some of the forum members talk about that you really need to read. But you just never seem to take the time to find them. Besides, they cost money, and you’ll need all you have for the trip. You’ve talked this up to all your buddies, couldn’t help yourself, and your balls are on the line now. You gotta do it!

That’s how I envision the prospect of a motorcycle adventure for you younger guys. I’m a bit older, perhaps a little wiser but not smarter by any means. I don’t have to worry about vacation time cause I’m long past that, and money, well, that is a concern but not a great issue. My wife will be OK financially if anything bad happens, and I still have that spark of adventure, just like you young guys. So, much of the above applied to me, and I still have a pair and want to use em before I lose em.

I just got back from a nine day, 2,750 mile road trip from central Florida to mid Texas, on my great little stock Vulcan 500. Visited many interesting places in all states in between, and rode some of the very best and very worst roads imaginable. Some of the best motorcycle roads were in the bayou area in southern Louisiana, and some of the worst I believe were in Mississippi. Not picking on you Mississippians mind you. I used to live there. To get to different areas quickly, the interstates are the only way to go. Except if you are in Texas. Just about everywhere the speed limit is 75 on two lane roads! Hallelujah! And you see very few marked LEO vehicles, or they stay well hidden.

I was advised to take many photographs, but I’m not much of a camera guy and brought back a total of twelve. Five each at a couple tourist traps and two of my trusty 500. Besides, all I really wanted to do was ride, look, and explore. I had one breakdown, and with Bikerbill’s help managed to ride on down the road. I wanted to explore the Rockies in Colorado, but wasn’t prepared for the cold temps at altitude this time of year. I’m planning on doing that in a couple months.

A fine young man, 40 years my junior accompanied me on half of the trip. He rode a new, stock Triumph Scrambler, knobby tires, no windshield or saddlebags, and was loaded down, or should I say loaded up to the gills. We rode in the rain, on the interstate in mighty awful wind behind a front, but for the most part had excellent weather. I couldn’t have hung to those handlebars like he did at 75 mph, especially in the wind. Tough guy, Colby is. He loaded for camping every night, but ended up only getting in one night of that. And he ain’t sorry. And he won his trip money in Biloxi. Lucky guy. For you Vulcan 500 guys out there, that 865cc Triumph hasn’t got anything over on our bikes, at least on the hiway.

I didn’t take any maps, instead relied on a new auto gps. Don’t rely on just that. They are good, but you really need some state maps to get the big picture and better route planning. Surprised I was that the convenience stores don’t carry them anymore. Get free ones at the state welcome centers.

We met some very helpful folks who were interested in our doings. One interesting thing; Nearly all were HD drivers, in their pickup trucks - very friendly and wanting to point us to the best places. But not so friendly if they were on their Harleys. Must be taboo I guess. And don’t pass a big Harley on the slab. He will chase you for 80 miles if it takes it to pass you up. I got a good story about passing a group of three big Harleys in Alabama. I think one was trailing smoke though. Story for another time.

I could go on and on, but most of you have left by now anyway. So just a few little things I learned on this first little trip.


Color matters

Black cars & pickups. Watch out for em. I’m serious. There are a lot of them out there and most have fast, aggressive drivers who will crowd your space. We quickly learned to be extra watchful and give them plenty of room. For whatever reason, most black vehicles are larger vehicles, fewer being compacts or sub-compacts. Type A’s I guess, for ###holes.

Brakes

We hear time and again to practice test our brakes for emergency stops. If you’re like me, you probably do it often enough, but most likely at 50 mph or less. Easy enough and we think our brakes are fine and we’re good at stopping our bikes quickly. Try it at 75 or 80 down to a complete stop. That’s a little scary, but not nearly so as having to panic stop for real at freeway speeds. I had to do it twice on this trip and you go a long, long distance just getting it down to 50, probably twice the distance from 50 to 0. That was a real eye opener. It’ll slow your hiway cruise down, for awhile at least.

Day Dreaming

Don’t. Not on a motorcycle. Both of my panic stops were completely my fault and the result of not paying 100% attention to my surroundings. I saw the group of cars and big rigs all bunched together on up the slab. But I didn’t see any brake lights, and besides I was right next to a truck weigh station. My subconscious told me they were just slowed down a little for exiting trucks, but I wasn’t focused, just daydreaming and semi aware. Fact was they were slowed down alright, down to a creeping pace of about 10 mph. I woke up, almost too late. My brakes didn’t stop my bike as quick as I thought they would. Soon enough thankfully, but not without serious concern. They aren’t as good as you thought, or you aren’t as good as you thought.

Passing big trucks

Most big rigs will exceed the speed limit a little more often than not. And I’m fine with following one at a pretty good distance that allows plenty of time to react to road conditions or shredded tires (debris) lying in the road. But most of the big guys just can’t maintain that speed even on a modest uphill grade. That’s usually where I pass em, and I like to get around and well away from them quickly. One caveat here. If it’s a fairly short and steep rise over the hill, the big guys can’t see that much further over the hill than we can on our bikes. Be careful passing one on a hill where visibility ahead is limited. If there’s trouble brewing just over the short hill and you’re passing the big fellow at a quick pace, he may be slowing or braking on purpose before you realize you’re literally flying by. Panic brake stop number two. I don’t think I was daydreaming but I sure wasn’t thinking ahead.

Mentally prepare yourself.

We realize there may be breakdowns, but do we really mentally prepare ourselves that our little road trip adventure may cost us hundreds or even thousands more than we anticipated. You can’t call your buddy to come get your bike when hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. If you’re like me and don’t want to go into debt for a bike repair to a strange repair facility that knows you’re stuck and vulnerable, prepare yourself my friend. But please tell me when you find out how. Cause it happens, sooner or later. Fact is our motorcycles break down a lot more often than even “ole jake” our rattletrap truck. You say you have AAA. Fine, that’ll get you to your real expense soon enough. Meals, lodging, transportation, and thumb twisting. All yours. And lord knows when the friendly, smiling repair folks will get around to possibly fixing your bike right. A smile on one side of the counter and a frown on the other somehow doesn’t shake out equal. You’re under warranty, great. Bet you still get charged for something.

I was fortunate. I brought along plenty of the right tools and I contacted and called on the best and likely most experienced Vulcan 500 owner and forum member around, Mr. Bikerbill. Thank you Bill for taking the time to guide me through the troubleshooting steps to get me back on the road, despite you being in the middle of mentoring those scouts that afternoon. I couldn’t have found the problem without you.


I had a great time, and hopefully they’ll be more.
Hopefully, you never find yourself in surgery in a hospital 1000 miles from home, requiring a plane ride home. It happens . . . forget about calling a buddy to come get you!
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Good stuff! Read the entire thing. Very funny in parts. Very informative over all. Great to remind us to pay attention at all times. I rode for 10 years when I was 30 years younger. Recently I have 4 more years on the road. I still consider myself a newbie. Soaked up everything you wrote. Thanks!


Sent from Motorcycle.com App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,197 Posts
Thank you for sharing. It was a good story with some insight that we dont always think of.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
814 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
To Administrators

Thank you members for your comments.

I thought after riding locally for a couple years that I had enough experience to easily take this on, and even now I feel the same way. My thought is now that motorcycling long distances day after day in all kinds of traffic n' weather is just a dicey affair, period.

ADMINISTRATORS: Could you please move this thread to the "New Riders" section. This is probably 'old hat' to most readers here and that section would be more appropriate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,094 Posts
Great write-up redfish.

I enjoyed visiting with you via phone. (Wish it could have been in person.) But very happy you made it home and sound to Mrs. Redfish.

You make some good points about traveling in general regarding preparation, the unknowns of the road and the payment of attention. (it has almost got me into trouble a few times too)

Til next time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
I enjoyed your story very much. I don't even have 1000 miles under my belt yet. My first bike is a 2009 Vulcan 500, so its nice to hear you had a good trip on a bike I was a little skeptical on buying because of its size.

Thanks for the advice, I will take all that I can get. It does seem like I learn something new every ride I take.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
814 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I enjoyed your story very much. I don't even have 1000 miles under my belt yet. My first bike is a 2009 Vulcan 500, so its nice to hear you had a good trip on a bike I was a little skeptical on buying because of its size.

Thanks for the advice, I will take all that I can get. It does seem like I learn something new every ride I take.
Matt, that "little" Vulcan has been called "the best kept secret" more times than you can count. It's smooth, has a decent seat (to me), gets decent mileage, and plenty of power to haul you and a passenger anywhere you want to go. I was bitten by the bug to buy a bigger bike after a few thousand miles on my 500, and actually traded it in on a new, larger cruiser. Thank goodness it wasn't sold before I returned a week later and bought it back! The new cruiser is up for sale. I wish the 500 was fuel injected, but on the other hand it has two very dependable carburetors, and as long as you keep good fuel in the tank, don't let it sit for months, and occasionally add some fuel system cleaner to your fuel, it should serve you fine. Most folks here like Seafoam fuel additive.

You can find anything on this forum to keep your 500 running fine for many years. There is no better place than this forum if you need help with your Vulcan 500.

Ride safe & have fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
Thanks for sharing your experience. It is really a great write up. And yes thanks a lot for all the suggestions. They are really great. I also carry all the tools along with me when I go on a long ride. You never know when you are going to need them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
814 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for sharing your experience. It is really a great write up. And yes thanks a lot for all the suggestions. They are really great. I also carry all the tools along with me when I go on a long ride. You never know when you are going to need them.
Thanks and I certainly agree with you on the tools Gajju.

I keep track of all required sockets, allen wrench sizes, and associated tools necessary to accomplish nearly all maintenance, and carry those. Also spare fuses and light bulbs. It really doesn't take up all that much room. I removed some really big saddlebags from a large cruiser and adapted to fit the smaller 500. They are huge and kinda ugly but do the job. Also built some quick release, lockable, bag mounts so I can remove them from bike each nite when out of town. Effort was worth it.

I'm thinking of buying a motorcycle cover but don't know if there is room on the bike to carry. Not always possible to store your bike under cover at night and always wonder if she'll start the next morning after an all night downpour. I used large trash bags to at least cover the handlebar area but it doesn't work that well.

Planning another trip the end of this month. I miss that feeling of freedom and escape from routine.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top