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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is gonna be a doozy, I have a tendency to write way too much, so read it if you wish, or don't. But this is the story of today, which is the day I got my first motorcycle.

So today I was finally able to pick up my bike today, a 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT. The deal went okay, but not great, the pictures the dealer used were crummy, and didn't show how damaged the saddlebags were. Apparently the guy has had the bike on his lot for like 2 years, and apparently it spent a fair bit of that time out in the sun, so the bags will need some TLC for sure. However, that didn't deter me too much.

I got to the dealership and talked with the guy, saw the bike and man did it look so much bigger than I thought it would, and it definitely intimidated me. He says it's probably not the best idea for a new guy to start out on a 900, but if I want it then he'll sell it to me. So I asked him what other bikes he had available, and he had one in mind but it was at the back, so I sat on a few different bikes as he pulled them out trying to get to the one he wanted. I'm so glad I didn't start out on a 250, they're way too cramped for me, my knees were above the gas cap, and that just wasn't comfortable. I also sat on a street legal dirt bike, don't remember if that has an official motorcycle lingo or not, and didn't like the fact that it wasn't a cruiser, so I passed on it too.

Then he finally pulls out the bike he was aiming for, a silver-ish 750 something or other, one of the Japanese brands, but don't remember if it was Yamaha or Suzuki. I want to say Yamaha, but I might be mixing it up with one of the 250s he had pulled out. I liked it, it felt comfortable, the saddle bags were in much better condition than the ones on the 900, even though it was a 2003. However, it just wasn't the Vulcan, and with my history with Kawasaki, and the fact that I already bought highway bars for the 900, I passed on the 750 and told him I'd take the 900.

He said he'd knock off $150 for the saddlebags being in rough shape, bringing his price down from $3,995 to $3,845, and I told him I was thinking more along the lines of $3,250. Then it clued in to him that I was the guy he had been e-mailing a few days prior, and I admitted that I was, and we had agreed on $3,500 out the door in the e-mail, but I was thinking more along the lines of $3,250 because his pictures were crummy and I hadn't realized the saddle bags were in such poor shape. He stuck to his $3,500 and we shook hands and parted ways over $250. I don't know if it's legit or not, but he said that at $3,500 out the door he was losing $1,000, but he was willing to lose that if it meant he could finally have it off his lot as he'd had it for 2 years. However, apparently that was all he was willing to lose as he wouldn't take my offer of $3,250.

So I went back to my car with my buddy, and we drove to a parking lot I was planning on test riding the bike, because I wanted to see how far away it was and if I thought I'd be comfortable/confident in my abilities to ride the bike in traffic to get it there. Then we sat and talked it over, and he helped me see that I could handle a 900, and it wasn't such a big bike, and with some practice I could get over my nerves. Plus there was the fact that our first stop had been to get me boots, a helmet and pants, and I had them sitting in the back of the car, and I had already agreed to $3,500 in the e-mail, and that's what I'd gone into today planning on spending, so the $250 wasn't really much of a sticking point with me, and so my buddy and I went back and I filled out paperwork.

All said and done, the contract says I officially got the bike for $3k, the other $500 was TTL and other standard dealer fees. I figure $3k is a fair price, and much better than the $3,995 + TTL the dealer originally wanted on his site.

So I sucked it up, and got up the courage to ride it out onto the road and we made it to the parking lot of a nearby bowling alley, which is also one of the two spots that local MSF courses are held. Unfortunately I couldn't use all of the marks on the ground because there was a lone truck who parked in the wrong spot and screwed it up for me. So I just took my time, went slow, and did laps of two lanes. First I went to the left and that was easy, then I went to the right and that was harder, because coming out of the right turn pointed me at cars and I'd get target fixated and take the turn too wide. So I moved down a row of lanes where the right turn wouldn't leave me seeing cars, and I started to do better.

I also figured out something about cruisers, and that is that heel-toe shifters definitely aren't for me. I have a form of Autism called Asperger's Syndrome, and one of the unfortunate side effects is that I have a lack of spacial awareness. I don't remember what the official medical term is, but that's what I call it. Basically, I don't have any sense of where parts of my body are in relation to my core, or to other objects. So I'm not aware of where my feet are on the running boards, and apparently I usually keep them back by the heel shifter, which isn't good because the heel shifter is SUPER sensitive, like you look at it funny and it will shift into the next gear. Unfortunately, at least this is my best guess, my lack of spacial awareness and a super sensitive heel shifter, meant that my foot touched the shifter mid-turn, which put me into second, and when I let off the clutch and rolled on the throttle, expecting to be in first, the bike abruptly stopped and tipped over. Fortunately the damage is non-existent, since I was going probably around 5 mph and the bike simply flopped over without dragging on the ground at all, other than being quite annoyed with the super sensitivity of the heel shifter.

So I'm seriously considering cutting the heel shifter off, as I felt much more confident with the solid CLUNK I felt/heard when I used the toe shifter, as opposed to the basically nothing I felt/heard when I used the heel shifter. And I don't mean a clunk in a bad way, nothing was grinding or going wrong, the toe shifter just had a much more positive feel, which I felt more comfortable experiencing, than the little to no feel I had with the heel shifter. I figure there really isn't any downside, unless I wind up selling the bike and the prospective buyer isn't happy with not having a heel shifter? Which isn't really a downside for me, as I don't plan on selling the bike, unless I can't get over my fears/emotions and wind up not becoming a legit rider.

Then my buddy alerted me that it was getting late, and traffic was about to get bad, and that if we didn't leave soon then it was going to get fun. Well, unbeknownst to me, it was going to get fun regardless, but that's coming in a bit. So I sit there and get super anxious, trying to figure out what to do. We had three different routes we could take, two were different roads that while being fairly major roads, they weren't highways, which I appreciated. However, they're not the best condition, and have more stoplights than I felt like doing, since I was dumb and didn't practice enough starting and stopping when I was practicing my turns while in a loop. So I made the decision that the highway would be quicker and easier. Boy was I wrong, but also right.

We finally make it to the highway, only to find that the on ramp, and a bit of the highway ahead, is stop and go, bumper to bumper traffic. So I'm all flustered, and anxious, and nervous, and not at all a happy camper. Unfortunately, I'm bad with directions, and I don't have a phone mount so I couldn't have my phone for directions, and I don't have a communicator so I wouldn't be able to hear the voice navigation anyways. Well I honked at my buddy twice and signaled, letting him know I wanted to move. Well he didn't hear me honk and kept going straight onto the highway. I didn't want to get lost and lose him, especially since my phone was in the car with him, so I sucked it up and stayed in line to get on the highway. Well then someone pulls over in front of me, between my buddy and I, and I get flustered, and the bike starts heading for the curb, and I get target fixated on the curb, and my worst fear is almost realized.

I hit the curb, the bike starts to tip as I'm riding along the curb, I go to stick my foot out, preparing to bail off and let the bike lay down, and then I think to myself that I can't ditch my bike on the way home from getting it from the dealer, and there's no way I want to block the on ramp and back up traffic for who knows how long. Fortunately for me I bought a bike with floorboards, which ground on the curb a bit, but kept me upright just enough. So I stomped on the right floorboard to try and get the floorboard off the curb, and then grab a large handful of throttle to get more power to the gyroscopes (wheels) and the bike picks itself back up, and I wobble my way forward and stop behind the car in front of me. I can tell that those were a nerve wracking few seconds, I wouldn't be surprised if it was less than 3, but man did time slow down and it felt like forever. I'm just glad I react well in panicky/emergency situations, and I realized that the bike wasn't beyond the point of no return, and that I had the knowledge of how to right the bike and save it from crashing, and I implemented those actions in the proper order and saved myself the embarrassment of having to call my insurance company and tell them I need to make a claim on the plan I had started just an hour or two before.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Part 2, because apparently there's a 10,000 word limit, and I was at 14,xxx.

Granted, that did absolutely zero to help increase my confidence in my riding abilities, and just made me even more nervous and anxious. However, I soldiered on and continued driving. We finally got to our exit, got off the highway, and started heading on the road that would lead us directly to home. That's when I got to have some fun, as I got my visor and windshield wet with a few drops of rain. Fortunately it was only just a few drops, and the rain storm never really developed into anything more, so I didn't have to add in a rainstorm to the not so fun events that happened on my trip home. But we finally made it home, I got the bike in the garage, and that's when it really started to get annoying and the suckage turned itself up to 11.

I turned the bike off, put down the kickstand, turned the key off, and then for some reason I decided I wanted to leave it in neutral rather than first. So I grab the clutch, use the shifter to put it into neutral, and it won't go into neutral. No matter how lightly you tugged on the shifter, my buddy even tried it with his hands and was super careful and gentle, it just would not go into neutral, it won't only go from first to second. We double and triple checked that it was all the way down into first, and we weren't trying to go from neutral even though we were in second or third or something stupid like that, but it just wouldn't go into neutral. Then I tried to start it, and it wouldn't start. I'd hold the clutch in, hit the starter, and the lights would flicker a bit, but it wouldn't start. So I got disgruntled, gave up, and went up to my room.

My buddy and I eventually clean out my car of all the wrapping from my new gear, and the paperwork from getting insurance and the bike. Then we go back to the garage to see what we can do. I get on the bike, and somehow, after a bunch of forward and backward rocking, we finally see the neutral light flicker to life, and then flicker right back off. However, it flickered. So, enthused by that flicker, we somehow managed to get it into neutral, and then the bike started up just fine. I have absolutely no idea why that happened, or what caused it, or if my rocking back and forth somehow fixed it, or whatever, but if anybody makes it down this far and has some idea as to what happened, or why, or how to prevent it from happening again, I'd love to hear it.

As soon as I get up the courage to go riding again, I'm gonna give it another go. I at least want to get up the courage to take it down to a motorcycle shop to get them to give it a good looking over to see what kind of damage was done while it sat, if any. But it passed the state inspection, so if anything I'm hoping it won't be major. I just hope that my stupid mistakes are over, which I doubt they are, and I'll be able to work up the courage to start riding my bike more and more. I also don't know the last time any maintenance was done to it, so I'll probably have them flush/change fluids and filters while it's there, once I get up the courage to get it down there.

But yeah, that's pretty much how today went. It could've gone a lot better, it could've gone a lot worse. All in all, I have a motorcycle in my garage, which is desperately in need of a wash, and I can officially call myself a Vulcan owner.

And yes, this was long, but I intend to give all my experiences with my Vulcan in this thread, as I want to be able to look back on this years later and remember what it was like when I was brand new. So I guess you could call this my online journal or whatever, but bear with me as I expand this thread and learn more about my bike and myself as a rider.

Obligatory pictures:



Left saddlebag damage:


Right saddlebag damage:


I imagine the right saddlebag just needs those loose pieces to be restitched, but the left saddlebag is missing one of those pieces entirely, and I don't know what to do. I imagine they also need a good cleaning and to be reconditioned. However, if I can find a set of good condition OEM saddlebags for a decent price, then I'd probably just go that route, as I'm not too pleased with these.
 

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Nice write-up reminds me of my first Vulcan , it was the second time I rode a motorcycle when I got it and rode it the 90 km trip back home. No surprises for me though!
In your case now, I believe the bike won't start when in gear and with the stand down even when holding the clutch, I maybe wrong.
I myself find it more difficult to find the neutral in the VN900 than in my old VN400 but changing the oil to 10W-40 improved and solved that issue. But sometimes the Vulcan cannot get into neutral especially when engine is stopped and then the only way is to go a bit forth & back with the clutch pulled in and then try again.
I believe it is just the nature of the transmission and just a matter of experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nice write-up reminds me of my first Vulcan , it was the second time I rode a motorcycle when I got it and rode it the 90 km trip back home. No surprises for me though!
In your case now, I believe the bike won't start when in gear and with the stand down even when holding the clutch, I maybe wrong.
I myself find it more difficult to find the neutral in the VN900 than in my old VN400 but changing the oil to 10W-40 improved and solved that issue. But sometimes the Vulcan cannot get into neutral especially when engine is stopped and then the only way is to go a bit forth & back with the clutch pulled in and then try again.
I believe it is just the nature of the transmission and just a matter of experience.
So my memory sucks, and I don't really remember what exactly we did, which is why I wanted to write so much, but I wouldn't be surprised if we left the kickstand down, so that would explain why it wouldn't start. I'll have to do some playing once I get off work if I remember to test it out. I wonder if it has a battery issue though, because the first time we tried the lights would flicker when I hit the starter button, like it was trying to start but there wasn't enough juice.

I have a set in decent shape if you are interested
If they're oem studded ones for the classic lt then I'd be interested. I just dumped all my money on the bike though, so I wouldn't be able to get them right this second, but depending on price I'd be interested.
 

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I was wanting $150 for both and that will include shipping. I will snap some pictures and post them. They aren't going anywhere so just let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Success! Well, sort of, I hope.

Yesterday I ordered a battery tender, and thanks to amazon's free one day shipping, it arrived today while I was at work. So after I got off work, got something to eat, and relaxed for a bit, I decided I'd get the pigtail installed.

The success is that I think I got it installed properly, or at least the red light on the battery tender came on and nothing blew up. The kind of is that it only took me nearly two hours to do it.

First I had to look up how to remove the seat, then I had to get the tools, then I had to futz with the damn nuts on the battery terminals. What kind of genius thought of nuts but didn't think to glue them to the underside of the terminal? That took me the longest, especially when you factor in that I dropped one of the bolts and had to look up how to pop off the side panel so I could try to find the bolt I dropped. The trick I used was jam a toothpick under the nut and use that to leverage the nut up so that the bolt can thread into it.

Then, once I got all that back together, I had to figure out where to squash the fuse on the pig tail so that the tool tray would fit, which took me probably 10 minutes of trial and error before I got that back together.

But, finally, I made it, and I got it all back together, and I'm not looking forward to when I have to get a new battery, or if I decide I want a longer pig tail, since the one that comes with the charger isn't even close to being long enough. I think the pictures of the cigarette lighter adapter showed that it had a long cord, so I might get that, rather than a usb adapter that plugs directly into the pig tail.

But I don't know, because I already ordered the usb adapter, and it should be here tomorrow.

Do phones even like getting 12v directly from the battery? Or does the usb adapter step the voltage down so my phone will be happy?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here are the pictures of the bags
Thanks, I'll check them out on my computer tomorrow, my phone isn't displaying them well. But, given the condition my bags are currently in, I bet those are loads better and I'll be happy to buy them. It will just take a bit as I have some bills I need to take care of first so I don't fall behind.
 

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Success! Well, sort of, I hope.

...

Do phones even like getting 12v directly from the battery? Or does the usb adapter step the voltage down so my phone will be happy?
Your phone will certainly be very unhappy with 12V directly from the battery - the USB adapter will step it down to 5V for you. Don't wire a USB adapter straight to the battery either - it works like a transformer and will slowly drain your battery (I know this from experience). Make sure it's wired to an accessory outlet that's switched with the ignition.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Your phone will certainly be very unhappy with 12V directly from the battery - the USB adapter will step it down to 5V for you. Don't wire a USB adapter straight to the battery either - it works like a transformer and will slowly drain your battery (I know this from experience). Make sure it's wired to an accessory outlet that's switched with the ignition.
It'll run off the pigtail which is wired directly to the battery so it can charge, and I'll have to unplug the usb adapter when I turn my bike off so that I can charge it. But I'll keep it in mind to also unplug the adapter if I expect to be away from the bike for a few hours while I'm in a store or something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well I just got back from Cycle Gear where I returned the AGV helmet I originally got, since I needed something that day and they didn't have the helmet I wanted. Got a Shoei GT-Air instead, and man is it nice. I was originally going to go with a Scorpion, but now it's only going to be high-end helmets from now on. The pin-lock anti-fog system is so much nicer than the chemical anti-fog on the AGV I had, definitely a marked improvement.

Unfortunately, I saw that one of my contacts was damaged when I took it out last night, and my eye doctor won't have any more in for several days. Fortunately, my glasses fit a lot better than I thought they would inside my new helmet. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, my glasses fog up under the helmet. So I'm undecided on whether or not I'll take the bike out today. Still intimidated by how big and heavy it is, and I've always had issues doing things solo, I get a lot more enjoyment when I'm doing stuff with someone, but I don't have any friends who ride, and my buddy who went with me to pick up the bike isn't available. So I don't know what I'll do. I'll probably just stay inside and finally get around to the cleaning stuff that's been neglected due to working so much.

Now I can't wait for when I have enough money to upgrade from the Sedici Arturo pants I had to buy since Cycle Gear stocks hardly anything other than Bilt/Sedici, so I wasn't able to pick up the Alpinestars pants I wanted. I'm hoping they're as nice as I'm expecting.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just got back from a ride around my neighborhood, trip odometer says I did a whopping two miles. I think I'm having issues with target fixation, almost hit another curb. Pulled the rookie mistake and got concerned with the curb rather than where I was going, so I headed for the curb. I need to work on not getting target fixated, which is why it's good that I'm riding around my neighborhood instead of on busy roads.

I'm still questioning whether it's all worth it or not though. But I think that's due to my nerves more than anything. It's also probably because I'm sure I would've done better starting out with a smaller bike, a 500 or something, or maybe the 750 the guy at the dealership had me look at. I don't know though, I guess I need to get out a few more times and see if anything changes. I seem to enjoy it some when it's going okay, but then I pull a rookie mistake and the fun gets drained out of it.

I'm just an impatient person, and I expect perfection, even when I can't give it because I'm so new. It just frustrates me when I expect myself to be perfect right from the start, and I'm not. It's stupid, I know. It's also that I still owe $1,500 on the bike, and I don't want to total it and owe money on it. Insurance should pay it off fully if I do total it, but I don't want to deal with all that, not right now.

I guess it's just I'm putting pressure on myself that isn't there. My grandpa used to ride when he was younger, two of my uncles ride, even my younger brother rides. I guess I just want to get into riding so that I can feel like I fit in better with the family. But I don't know, like I said, I don't know if it's really worth it. Right now I don't feel like I'm getting enough enjoyment out of it to offset the risk of death or serious bodily injury. And I don't know if the fun will start balancing the risk better, or if it never will, and I don't know what kind of timeline I should shoot for in making that decision as to whether or not the reward offsets the risk.

Sorry for rambling, but it just helps me clear my head when I can put things down and get them out of my head. Besides, I figure I've basically turned this into my little diary, so people can ignore it as they please, I just need a place to put my thoughts, and maybe someone will give me feedback. Or, maybe in the future some new person will find this and it will help them realize that they're not the only one who's had thoughts like the ones I'm having now.

I just need to work on throttle control, clutch control, brake control, turning tighter, and not getting target fixated.

Unfortunately, there's only so much I can do with the control issues, due to my Autism and my lack of awareness in what my extremities are doing, and sometimes how my hands/feet physically don't respond when I try to tell them what to do. There were two or three times while I was riding today, where I told my hand to ease off the clutch while I rolled on the throttle, and my left hand didn't do anything and I just revved the engine. That's extremely frustrating. And another time I realized partway through a turn that I still had the clutch engaged, because my left hand hadn't let go of it.

It just seems like due to my difficulties and everything else, maybe riding a motorcycle just isn't for me? What if I'm simply not cut out to ride? I mean, that's okay, isn't it? It's not really admitting defeat, or admitting I can't be part of the family if I can't ride or don't find enough enjoyment in it to offset the risk? I don't know. I think it's too early to completely throw in the towel, but I'm considering it, and I don't know if that's right or not.

I guess part of it is that I drive all day in my car, and when I get home the last thing I want to do is drive it even more. So I was hoping that I could get a motorcycle, and that would be my fun vehicle, and I could enjoy it, and I could finally start driving around on my days off and get groceries, and run errands, and do other things that need to be done, but don't get done as often as they should as I have no desire to drive my car on my days off.

I don't know though, I just plain don't know.
 

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Learning anything new can be quite a challenge.

Take it slow and easy and give it time.

If you have a large empty parking lot close by, it may help to just go there and practice going up a gear and back down a gear. You can practice all sorts of things at less than highway speeds and that will get you used to it more.

I can tell you really want this to work out, so take it slow and learn.

No one is an expert overnight!


Sent from my LG-K425 using Tapatalk
 

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I really enjoyed reading your journal TK, or whatever it is :) Thanks for sharing it here man. Sounds like an emotional roller coaster of a first day, and subsequent first days, of your new ride and first bike. Almost tipping the Vulcan on the onramp was nail biting to read, lol, glad you recovered. IMO All life experiences worth living through are loaded with emotional content. It's what makes it so much fun!

I agree with RS. Take your time, you got the bike now, it's in your garage. You have a lifetime to learn how to ride it. No rush. It seems like you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Relax, breathe and enjoy your bike. You're going to screw up and make mistakes but that's a part of the experience, it's just how we learn.
 

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I went from a Ninja 650 to a Vulcan 900.

It was much heavier and i was intimidated by the size and weight of it but you get used to it.
I have done 4500 klm most of it out on the open road, i suggest you do some open road riding because you will forget about the weight and size of the bike and just enjoy the ride, you will get used to the bike and then work on the rest.

John
 

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Try not to overthink riding too much and think loose and easy, like your on a bicycle. And while it is good to practice around your neighborhood, the open road is where you get to actually just kick back and ride, so as John advised above, get out on road where you don't have a ton of turns and intersections and such and can just ride and get comfortable with the bike without worrying/thinking about all the stuff the slow in town riding requires. The 900 is also my first real bike and once you get over the intensity of riding a motorcycle, the 900 is actually quite nimble for its size, so don't worry about that so much.

And if in the end you decide its not for you, no harm no foul. No one will think worse of you for not being a motorcycle rider, and if they do, f*#k them.
 

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The other guys said it right; You need to go to a vacant parking lot or place where you can practice and get accustomed to the controls on your bike. Yes, you probably did start out on a bike that's too big. So what?! It's the bike you own...so go with it!

Take some time to 'walk' your bike. I'm talking about a non-running bike that you maneuver around and push. You'll be surprised how much that helps you find that balance point and overcome the 'weight' of the bike. Trust me, it'll pay off.

I took a military course years back. It was a long course. We had one day (a day!) on the course where we were required to maneuver the bike all over the course by pushing it! I thought they were crazy! Truth is...I was able to handle my bike better than ever before.

Target your practice. Do a session where you do nothing but starts and stops. Do large left and right circles. Decrease the size of the circles over time. Don't push it too quickly. Pushing too quickly can cause you to learn bad habits. You want to learn to do them correctly and smoothly. Then learn to do them without even needing to think about them.

When you try to learn on the road you are distracted by the possibility of death and destruction. It keeps you from learning. I also don't recommend that you ride with anyone for awhile. Again, it's another distraction. You'll know when you are ready. Riding with others is cool, but being on the open rode with just you, your bike, the wind around you and the road under you is unmatched by anything...anything.

Your thinking, "How long should I do this before I'm proficient?"

I'm 59 years young. I've been riding all of my life. Owned and ridden many, many bikes. I still practice today. You can never be too good.

Go slow with this thing. You had to crawl before you could walk.

For the record, you are not going to be a biker! You already are. Forget the pressure and just soak it in. Get to know your bike. You love it I can tell. Part of the biker thing is done in the garage.

It took a lot of courage to get on a big bike and ride it home in traffic having never rode a bike before. Don't underestimate yourself. Wear that badge every time you saddle up. Ride safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

I'm starting to think that maybe the reason I'm stressing about it, and not enjoying it, is because I simply bought a bike that's too big. I took the MSF course already, and passed it with flying colors, I was the only person in my class who passed the riding test with 100%, and that's coming from never having ever sat on the main seat of a motorcycle. I only ever sat on the back seat of my uncle's motorcycle once or twice in the past. But those bikes at the MSF course were little 125cc bikes, and they were tiny, way too tiny for me. My knees were well above the gas tank, and it was just uncomfortable.

When I was at the dealership, I had the chance to sit on a 250, and I had the same problem I had with the 125, my knees were above the gas tank, though not to the same extent as on the 125 obviously. So I don't think a 125 would be a good option for me.

My Uncle has a big, huge bike right now, but he does a lot of commuting and wants better gas mileage. So I sent out feelers to see if he'd be interested in buying my 900. If he buys it, then I'm likely going to take that money and buy a 500 vulcan instead. Hopefully starting over on a smaller bike will help me learn the basics on something I'm not so intimidated by. Then I'll feel more comfortable and enjoy it more, and then I'll be able to go back to a 900 once I'm comfortable on something smaller.

At least that's what I'm hoping.
 
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