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Discussion Starter #1
I'm fresh out of the motorcycle safety course, with a new Vulcan 650 S, and have no idea what I'm doing. I'm looking for how to learn how to ride my new bike, and how to ride it in traffic, and just figure this out.
 

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Welcome to the forum Mithril Maiden
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Now you have an excuse to ride your bike more !
If you still need to practice using the clutch find a large empty parking lot. Large neighborhoods with little traffic are good for awhile, and then back country roads with less traffic.
Pretty soon you will get your skills and confidence up and be ready to ride anywhere.
 

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Welcome from Atlantic Canada and to the wonderful world of riding. As Sixth said, keep practicing the skills you learned and build up your confidence on less traveled roads. You'll find you become more comfortable the more you ride, but always be alert - pretend you're invisible and every car wants to kill you...lol. I have to warn you, it's addictive, but you'll never be able to wipe that grin off your face.
 

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Welcome from Houston Texas. Practice is the key, slow and steady. Wear appropriate gear. Find an empty parking lot, practice starts and stop, practice turns, make the turns tighter and tighter. Always look where you want to go. Use caution braking in a turn, brake before turn. Read up on counter steering. Ride like you are invisible, most people don't see motorcycles. Good luck, speed will come with time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the welcome! I took my bike out for the first time today. I somehow rode over a curb in the empty parking lot I was practicing in (no idea how it happened, I was doing pretty well the rest of the ride up until then). I then turned around and went home (I was getting ready to do that, anyway), realized how I just cannot adjust my mirrors in a way to have proper visibility of what's behind me, pulled into my house, and because my driveway is complicated shiznit, I misjudged the power necessary to enter and sideswiped my stone and iron fence.

I hit first, then the bike, and I basically got wedged between the bike and the fence. Luckily, I was wearing proper riding gear, including a motorcycle leather jacket (as opposed to thin fashion leather). My shoulder impacted first, but that jacket took the impact incredibly well, and I don't have any pain in my shoulder. The jacket got scuffed a bit, but isn't ripped or torn, and mostly buffed out. My head hit next, and I am very glad I chose a full face helmet over a 3/4 face, because 3/4 face wouldn't have covered the part of my face that took the impact. The helmet got some small scratches, but I don't think I hit hard enough to compress the foam and require a replacement. It was a pretty slow crash. I might have sprained my pinky, but if I did, it's a minor sprain, and it definately isn't broken. I doubt I even need a doctor, it should heal on its own.

The bike has shockingly little cosmetic damage. A tiny ding in a place that was gonna get a Star Trek sticker, little scratches on the wheel, stuff like that. Except the mirrors and bar ends. I scratched those all up. But I already ordered longer bar ends yesterday, and I need taller mirrors, anyway. It's very evident I hit the fence first, and my body essentially protected the bike.

I'm naturally rattled. I was having fun, then this happened. Ultimately, I think I just need some more training, but that isn't gonna happen for a while. Maybe I'll go back out to the parking lot after my crash bars arrive on Thursday and I install them? I think I absolutely have to replace the mirrors before I ride again, though.
 

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Glad you weren't seriously hurt.
Getting your riding skills perfected takes awhile. When I started riding dirt bikes as a kid, I dug up a lot of dirt with my body. Fortunately dirt is a lot softer than pavement or fences.
.Glad you had on the proper gear. I'm sure that helped so things weren't worse.

Just take your time. Stay in that parking lot and practice releasing your clutch in a controlled manner. Get used to making turns.
Practice slowing and braking in a controlled manner. Learn to use that foot brake more. Never use your front brakes in a turn.
It's like anything else, the more you do it the easier it gets and pretty soon it just comes natural to you.

I'll never forget the first few times I went snow skiing as a kid. My best friend had already been going for awhile and asked me to go. After the first trip he asked me how I liked it. I wasn't overly impressed. Falling down frequently and laying in the snow in freezing weather and trying to get up with all this heavy gear on didn't seem all that fun. A couple of weeks later he asked me to go again. I didn't have anything else to do so I went. I didn't fall as much the second time. After about my fourth trip I started to have fun and enjoyed it for many years.

Pretty soon you'll get the hang of it and will have a blast.
 

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Congratulations on your new ride, and first crash. Not sure there's a person out there riding a bike who hasn't messed up at some point. This won't be your last oops, but let's hope future ones aren't serious.

Depending on where you are located, spend as much time as you can at first in low traffic areas. The more time you ride, the more natural riding will come to you. When I first started riding it was on a small bike that wasn't freeway legal so I spent countless hours just cruising around neighborhoods. After a couple summers I knew every road with a speed limit under 45 in the whole county - I grew up in Marin. By the time I got a larger bike i was comfortable enough to make the transition to more traffic and more speed. Was a little nervous when I finally hit the freeway though.

I suggest you spend time doing some low speed riding similar to what they have you do in MSF courses. Practice slipping your clutch and doing figure 8s in a parking lot. Start off with wide 8s and when you feel comfortable, try making them smaller and slower. Be patient. You want to stay relaxed so don't push it. You could even start off just doing circles, then transition to circling the other way. Feel how the bike balances. Your clutch is the magic key when it comes to controlling power at low speeds. I've been riding over 50 years and to this day, I still like to practice very low speed turns in parking lots feathering my clutch and brakes without putting my feet down. I'll even do the same when coming to a stop a stop sign. If there's no traffic I'll focus on coming to as smooth of a stop as I can, pause, and slowly take off without putting my feet down. It's about relaxing, and smooth use of the controls.

I also want to remind you of one very important rule - you go where your eyes and head are looking. In a panic situation you have a tendency to fix your eyes on whatever you think you are going to hit, and if you force yourself to look where you want to go, the bike will follow. It's a tough one to do because you have to fight instinct and look away from the danger but it does work.

FWIW - As I mentioned, I grew up in Marin and I'll tell you, the Bay Area is a great place to own a motorcycle. There are so many incredible riding roads once you get away from the urban centers. There were many Saturdays and Sundays where I took off in the morning and was gone until the summer sun was setting in the evening. When you get more comfortable on the bike, Highway 1, either north or south is awesome. There's tons of roads in the wine country to the North, the ride to Mt Diablo Sate Park is nice in the East, heading down 101 toward Gilroy and San Juan Batista, in the South and Santa Cruz. There's quite a few nice roads that cut over to the coast from 101. To me that whole area is a biker's paradise once you leave the freeways. I moved away 30 years ago and have missed those roads ever since.

Enjoy your new bike. Be patient, and practice, relax, and practice some more.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the advice, and sorry about disappearing for days. That's one of the disadvantages of being a graduate student. Even in a pandemic, I just get slammed with things to do and drop off the face of the earth sometimes.

Unfortunately, I can't ride. My roommate most likely has COVID-19, so I've just been shifted from shelter in place to full quarantine. Can't even go out for shopping or exercise for the time being.
 

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Well, when this pesky little bug is done with us we'll all be ready for some riding! Hang in there, and if that nasty little bundle of proteins gets you, give it hell, get better and be ready to ride again.
 
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