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Discussion Starter #1
I've been riding for three short seasons so far, and although I feel much more confident on the bike than I did three years ago at the MSF Beginner's Course, there are times I feel very awkward on the bike.
My first two years were on an 81 Suzuki GS850G, and this spring I sold the Suzuki and bought a 900 Custom.

Low speed maneuvering, and stopping are still on the awkward side. More so on the Vulcan than it did on the old Suzuki. I'm not sure if that's due to the different physics of the new bike, or if it's because the Vulcan is a shiny new bike, or a little of bit both.

Three times this year, while making a sharp right hand turn from a standing stop, I put my right foot down mid-turn. Big no-no!
Gives a big blow to my rider confidence, and makes me wonder if I'll ever be more than a mediocre rider.
I really don't want to be "that guy" that rides for 20-25 years, but really doesn't know what he's doing. 25 years may be pushing a bit, considering 51 years is next week.

Looking for some advice from seasoned riders. Advice on low speed maneuvers, and anything else you think would help me on my path (or road in this case).

My apologies for the long, drawn out post, but I live with an extreme detail monkey on my back.

Thank you and advance for the wisdom and advice.

Tim
 

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Hey Tim. You're being too hard on yourself. I see riders put a foot down all the time in parking lots, service stations, etc., and I don't think anything about it.

I too have been riding for three seasons and occasionally put a foot down even on a lighter cruiser than your 900. Sure beats the alternative which would definitely cause a blush.

Deep down we all wanna look like pros, but for some of us that's gonna take a lot of practice that we never seem to have time for. So everyone's going to tell you the same thing. Go practice slow biking.
 

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I don't put my foot down on right turns at intersections (Turning at an intersection, you should be steadily accelerating the whole way through the turn which will stabilize you) but on particularly tight U-turns, I frequently put a fut down, especially when I'm more top-heavy due to being two-up. I'm still VERY new to bikes, so what I'm saying may not be right, but it's my experience.

In regards to being more stable though, dragging the rear brake, and applying power work for me. (Not simultaneously, lol. That kinda cancels itself out).
 

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First of all, in the situation you described, turning from a stop or even a very low speed, I'd much rather put my foot down and catch my balance and steady myself then let the bike go down. It's really not all that big of a deal. Even those who are really well practiced occasionally still do this.

I would have to say, the biggest part of making that successful turn is your head and eye position. As they teach you in the basic riders course, keep you head/chin up, and look where you want to go. Looking down at you feet, handlebars, speedometer, or pretty much anything other then your intended "flight path" is in many cases a sure way not to go that way.

Further:
If making a sharp turn from a complete stop. first thing you should be doing is turning the wheel in the direction you want to go the appropriate amount to make the turn, then looking where you want to go, then go.

A decent video that illustrates this:
http://youtu.be/i6-23HInNcA

and another:
http://youtu.be/F2mStyJ8m-c?list=PLB76B192649091250

The guy in the second video has a channel with some overall decent tip videos, but they tend to be a little vague as his goal is really to sell you a class, but you can still glean a little info from many of the videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB76B192649091250
 

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I started riding in August 2012, so we are close to even, although I have over 10 years on you in age, so you are still a youngster with lots of time left, probably the whole 25 years or more. I also have an advantage since riding is year round down here, although at our elevation, 3,500 feet, we do get some freezing.

Slow speed is just a matter of practice. One of the ways I practice, in safe environments, is coming to a stop and starting out again without putting a foot down at all. It is actually easier on the Vulcan than on the Honda Rebel, although I do decently on my bicycle.

On the Vulcan, I usually put both feet down at a light or stop sign, but not till I come to a full stop and my feet come up when I begin moving again. I don't want to get caught duck walking. Still, there are the clumsy moments that you are hoping no one notices.

I just practice, practice, practice. When I tip the bike over, which is very rare now, I pick it up and go on, thankful that I bought those engine guards. The one thing I still work on is doing that figure 8 inside a 20' area. Easy on the Rebel, a lot harder on the Vulcan.
 

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Ride Like A Pro course. If you have one in your area take it.. If not buy the book and DVD and practice practice practice.
 

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Don't worry about it, man. Just relax and ride.
No need for a whole lot of self-monitoring. That relaxing will take care of most of that stuff as you gain experience.
Relax man. Touching a foot down lightly at times is not bad, its smart and contrary to what some 'expert wannabes' might say--is not an indication of a poor rider.
 

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Don't worry about it, man. Just relax and ride.
No need for a whole lot of self-monitoring. That relaxing will take care of most of that stuff as you gain experience.
Relax man. Touching a foot down lightly at times is not bad, its smart and contrary to what some 'expert wannabes' might say--is not an indication of a poor rider.
Sorry man, but I gotta take some exception here.

Self-monitoring is what will make a poor rider better and a good rider into a gooder rider. :)

I would advise against putting your foot down except to maneuver the bike into a parking/stopping position or duckwalking it on gravel, grass, or other unsure surfaces.

Putting you foot down at any speed above walking can yank you out of position and quickly dump you on the ground.

New9, take advantage of your lane.
If you know it happens on right hand turns.
As you approach, get to the left of the lane and just before you stop, turn the bike so that it is at an angle pointing into the turn.
Also, get out and find a parking lot to practice slow speed maneuvering in.


Scott
 

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Don't worry about it, man. Just relax and ride.
No need for a whole lot of self-monitoring. That relaxing will take care of most of that stuff as you gain experience.
Relax man. Touching a foot down lightly at times is not bad, its smart and contrary to what some 'expert wannabes' might say--is not an indication of a poor rider.
Call me crazy, but if you never evaluate yourself, you'll never get better. No, you don't need to analyze every start, turn, and stop, but if something out of the ordinary happens, take some time to figure it out. I had some weirdness today and as soon as I had everything under control, I thought about what had happened. Turns out I had a moment of sloppiness, so lesson learned for me, luckily without any damage.

Something for everybody to keep in mind when dabbing a foot is to be aware of where it is in case the bike starts/continues to fall on it. Floorboards or pegs poking into your leg probably hurt. I took a tumble a while back in the dirt. As I felt myself lose control, my instinct was to drop my feet and paddlewalk to a stop. I fought the urge and kept my feet on the pegs, which likely saved something from snapping in the ensuing fall.

Sure, don't be afraid to dab a foot if you need to, and don't be afraid to think about your riding and how to improve.
 

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I took a tumble a while back in the dirt. As I felt myself lose control, my instinct was to drop my feet and paddlewalk to a stop. I fought the urge and kept my feet on the pegs, which likely saved something from snapping in the ensuing fall.

Sure, don't be afraid to dab a foot if you need to, and don't be afraid to think about your riding and how to improve.
I think you guys are right about monitoring yourself for self improvement, but Graybush, I gotta hand it to you. No way could I keep my feet on the pegs all the way down in tumble (if that's what you're saying). Even with engine guards I wouldn't even consider it cause I couldn't. Like you say, instinct would take over. I think I'd try to swing the leg free before the fall if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
More great advice!
With the cold rain, and snow right around the corner, this riding season is almost over.
I bought a used copy of "Proficient Motorcycling" from Amazon, and I'm going to spend the off season reading and watching videos. Next spring I'll make it a point to start the riding season in an empty parking lot, running MSF drills. And perhaps a "Ride Like A Pro" course.

I do try to analyze what I could, or should have done differently when I feel I've made a mistake.
And I think I get it, keep focused on improving my riding skills, but lighten up on myself.

Thanks again!
 

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I think you guys are right about monitoring yourself for self improvement, but Graybush, I gotta hand it to you. No way could I keep my feet on the pegs all the way down in tumble (if that's what you're saying). Even with engine guards I wouldn't even consider it cause I couldn't. Like you say, instinct would take over. I think I'd try to swing the leg free before the fall if possible.
I was on a big adventure bike so I was standing up until right before it happened. As the front end started wallowing around, I sat down so I could put my feet down but something in the back of my brain was screaming, "NOOOOOOOO! :eek:" so I kept them put and rode it in. Impossible to say what would have happened otherwise but I was unhurt and able to ride the bike out with minimal damage. Looking at the scene, I don't have a good feeling that would have been true if I'd thrown out the landing gear. Yes, I've had close calls where a quickly placed foot saved me some embarrassment, but not in this case. That's why I bring it up, because if I hadn't spent time evaluating my previous rides, I probably would have just done the obvious but in this case, the wrong, thing.
 

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More great advice!
With the cold rain, and snow right around the corner, this riding season is almost over.
I bought a used copy of "Proficient Motorcycling" from Amazon, and I'm going to spend the off season reading and watching videos. Next spring I'll make it a point to start the riding season in an empty parking lot, running MSF drills. And perhaps a "Ride Like A Pro" course.

I do try to analyze what I could, or should have done differently when I feel I've made a mistake.
And I think I get it, keep focused on improving my riding skills, but lighten up on myself.

Thanks again!
Good for you for wanting to get better.

Even though they're geared towards racing, "Twist of the Wrist" by Keith Code and "Total Control" by Lee Parks are good reads if you aren't familiar with them. A lot of what they say applies to cruisers, too, just at lower speed.
 

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C'mon guys...of course you want to monitor yourself to an extent and improve. It goes without saying, but to a paralyzing degree is counter-productive.
You ride better relaxed--everything is smoother when you are relaxed and 'lightly' as I said, touching a foot now and then is not a bad thing.
It all comes with a bit of time unless you are a very uncoordinated individual or have a balance problem due to inner ear or eyesight.
 

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WOW, reading these is kinda funny. I have been riding for 50+ years and on occasion I put my foot down. No I don't like to put sometimes the foot comes in handy. I think everyone who rides a lot does. People don't like to admit it. its like riding on a grated bridge, I still have a pucker moment once in a while. You never quit learning how to ride as we find ourselves in different situations from time to time. Now if we could only get the people who drive cars to learn how to drive and watch for us. The Motorman disks are a great thing to watch also. Keep your tires down and Yes, get those feet up.
 

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WOW, reading these is kinda funny. I have been riding for 50+ years and on occasion I put my foot down. No I don't like to put sometimes the foot comes in handy. I think everyone who rides a lot does. People don't like to admit it. its like riding on a grated bridge, I still have a pucker moment once in a while. You never quit learning how to ride as we find ourselves in different situations from time to time. Now if we could only get the people who drive cars to learn how to drive and watch for us. The Motorman disks are a great thing to watch also. Keep your tires down and Yes, get those feet up.
Right on--Lane!
 

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Well then, how about this, "I ride better after a few drinks, because I am more relaxed." Be serious. Riding relaxed is no way to deal with busy city/suburban streets or a crowded freeway. It might work great going up Hwy 93 to Las Vegas, but even in Kingman it could get me killed.
 

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Well then, how about this, "I ride better after a few drinks, because I am more relaxed." Be serious. Riding relaxed is no way to deal with busy city/suburban streets or a crowded freeway. It might work great going up Hwy 93 to Las Vegas, but even in Kingman it could get me killed.
Grasshopper--one can be relaxed and vigilant at the same time.
:)
Relaxed=not tensed up.
Tensed up is bad. Very bad.
 
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