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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just picked up the Vulcan S on Friday and have been to the high school parking lot 4 times now, practicing u-turns, swerving around cones, etc. I'm having trouble getting the hang of the u-turns though. Am I supposed to be keeping the bike as upright as possible when making a slow, sharp turn? Which way should I be leaning? I find I don't even have to give it any gas; it will coast along at 5MPH without any throttle input whatsoever, so that's the speed I'm going when turning.

I'm either putting my foot down or making too wide of a turn. I'm afraid I won't pass the skills test for state of NH to get my license.
 

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I find that pushing the bike down in the direction I am turning while keeping my body on the opposite side counterbalancing coupled with light rear brake application and good throttle and clutch modulation make for the tightest u turns, however just a little rear brake drag and proper modulation is typically good enough, and of course always with head turned exactly where I want to go.
 

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Just picked up the Vulcan S on Friday and have been to the high school parking lot 4 times now, practicing u-turns, swerving around cones, etc. I'm having trouble getting the hang of the u-turns though. Am I supposed to be keeping the bike as upright as possible when making a slow, sharp turn? Which way should I be leaning? I find I don't even have to give it any gas; it will coast along at 5MPH without any throttle input whatsoever, so that's the speed I'm going when turning.

I'm either putting my foot down or making too wide of a turn. I'm afraid I won't pass the skills test for state of NH to get my license.
As Blueribbon stated lean the bike in the direction of your turn. While you lean the other way..this makes the bike lean more.

Just keep practicing....do figure eights..three parking places wide..then just start going in a little at a time...until you end up two wide

I expect the problem you are having is in the area where the bars flop in the direction you are turning.
Here is the thing..if you start out with the bars cranked all the way. Then the bikes tries to straighten them .
So..do big figure eights for practice start tightening them up..if 'it' starts to go bad..blip in a touch of throttle and the bike will straighten right up while the bars will straighten up as well
Keep trying..just remember that the throttle will save you.
Ideally you are supposed to be able to go full lock with the bars..remember the throttle will save you ...then try it again.
Hit it for about 15 minutes one day..wait another day..the next day will feel better..then the next better.. next thing you know..you aren't even thinking about the u turn


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dang, I'm still having so much trouble with this! Have watched a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject and have practiced now 10 days in a row and just can't get my U-turns down to 2 parking spot widths. Frustrating!
 

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Dang, I'm still having so much trouble with this! Have watched a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject and have practiced now 10 days in a row and just can't get my U-turns down to 2 parking spot widths. Frustrating!
You are trying to hard...its fear of dropping your bike and damaging it..

Practice turns from a stop...full lock on the bars and take off.

Is it the flop zone on the bars that is giving you trouble with u-turns?

Starting out from a stop at full lock..like simulation of a right hand turn..will give you a feel of how the bike wants to go straight by itself.

Remember on these u-turns throttle will straighten the bike for you .

If your bike runs good and has low end grunt..you can skip the clutch slipping friction zone rear brake dragging formula
Can't look while typing but I think you have the 650 right?.
You should be able to idle around the lot ..and just twist the throttle a little bit if the bars suck in on you..speed in first at idle shouldn't be to fast and should be about right...bigger bikes are trickier as ground speed is faster is first






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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You are trying to hard...its fear of dropping your bike and damaging it..

Practice turns from a stop...full lock on the bars and take off.

Is it the flop zone on the bars that is giving you trouble with u-turns?

Starting out from a stop at full lock..like simulation of a right hand turn..will give you a feel of how the bike wants to go straight by itself.

Remember on these u-turns throttle will straighten the bike for you .

If your bike runs good and has low end grunt..you can skip the clutch slipping friction zone rear brake dragging formula
Can't look while typing but I think you have the 650 right?.
You should be able to idle around the lot ..and just twist the throttle a little bit if the bars suck in on you..speed in first at idle shouldn't be to fast and should be about right...bigger bikes are trickier as ground speed is faster is first






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I'll give it a shot, trying the start from full lock. I'll try anything at this point. It's definitely fear of dropping the bike and damaging it. Yes, I have a Vulcan S ABS. I also keep forgetting something, like looking where I want to go, not where I'm at. Something like riding the rear brake and slipping the clutch. Shifting weight, etc.
 

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I'll give it a shot, trying the start from full lock. I'll try anything at this point. It's definitely fear of dropping the bike and damaging it. Yes, I have a Vulcan S ABS. I also keep forgetting something, like looking where I want to go, not where I'm at. Something like riding the rear brake and slipping the clutch. Shifting weight, etc.
Know anyone with an old dirt bike or enduro..something that isn't hurt when it ends up on its side?

In the sharps turns on these cruisers...in order to turn sharp we have to lean the bike in the direction of the turn..so we shift our body weight to the outside so we can lean the bike more to the inside..
Also the faster you are going..that flop zone dissappears..its while going real slow that you have to fight it.

Practice figure eights...full lock turns from a stop..then the u-turn will kinda happen by itself.

Remember the throttle is your friend for getting you out of trouble while practicing..it will straighten up those bars and stand the bike back up straight .

It's kinda like carrying a full glass of soda..try too hard and soda goes over the side..now imagine its water and not a big deal if you spill some..you can casually walk across the floor with less worry ..
Motorcycle..big investment..no scratches and we don't want any..its like carrying soda over the carpet vs water.
You just need to relax a little ..lean your body out a little so the bike leans in more...keep the bars where you want them and shift your weight for the minor corrections at low speeds..if you feel like you are getting ready to wad up and go down on the inside..just add some some throttle to save it and try again.

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Sometimes when I have difficulty getting something down and it's not an immediate need to get right I would take a day off from practicing it to ease my mind and often times when I get back to it I tend to do better, maybe a day off after 10 straight days would be beneficial for the brain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sometimes when I have difficulty getting something down and it's not an immediate need to get right I would take a day off from practicing it to ease my mind and often times when I get back to it I tend to do better, maybe a day off after 10 straight days would be beneficial for the brain.
It's been raining all day and will be tomorrow as well, so I'll have a little break and will get back to it on Sunday.
 

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Just checking in to see if you have made any progress.
It really is so much easier on a smaller bike without forward controls...as the leg is already in the position to dip down to the ground.. less fear of the bike ending up on the ground.
You will get it...leaning your body out helps alot..bike turns sharper while leaned out with the body
Drag that rear brake a little if you have to to slow it a touch...when you aren't fighting the bars you have the right speed and lean combo.
Technically it can be done with no hands..I can't nor do I want to try lol.
But just practice low speed and lean as to where you aren't fighting the bars...then reduce the size of your course a little at a time. Two parking spaces wide and you are good....expect to use two and half for a while..nothing wrong with that.
Anything less than two is actually pretty good..expect to be a little more than two wide and practice with that until the bars feels good

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just checking in to see if you have made any progress.
It really is so much easier on a smaller bike without forward controls...as the leg is already in the position to dip down to the ground.. less fear of the bike ending up on the ground.
You will get it...leaning your body out helps alot..bike turns sharper while leaned out with the body
Drag that rear brake a little if you have to to slow it a touch...when you aren't fighting the bars you have the right speed and lean combo.
Technically it can be done with no hands..I can't nor do I want to try lol.
But just practice low speed and lean as to where you aren't fighting the bars...then reduce the size of your course a little at a time. Two parking spaces wide and you are good....expect to use two and half for a while..nothing wrong with that.
Anything less than two is actually pretty good..expect to be a little more than two wide and practice with that until the bars feels good

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Appreciate the check-in. I've been practicing almost daily - there's a nice big parking lot behind the local middle school that is completely obstructed from view from the road, so I can feel confident no one is watching. I'm wondering how far apart the lines are on the actual test at the NH DMV - if it's two parking spaces wide I'm in trouble, as the best I've gotten so far is maybe 2.5 spaces wide. I do sort of wish I had a bike that had a lower center of gravity and mid-controls. Although I can reach the ground flat-footed just fine, I feel like this bike is taller than others I've sat on with regard to center of gravity. Of course, my saving grace is that the week after my scheduled DMV test, I'm set to take the MSF Basic Rider Course near me, so if I fail the DMV test, I'll have a shot to pass via certificate from the course, which is done on much smaller bikes that will help build my skills and confidence.
 

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It's all about the lean and speed, as well as the weight, as you enter your turn. I actually did two of these recently with the heaviest bike I've owned to date, and I comfortably did a u-turn on my narrow two lane street with my 1500 that weights approx. 700 lbs full of fuel and accrys.. The heavier the bike the more difficult it will be. See how easy it is to do a u-turn on a bicycle and you can almost bring a bicycle to a stop right? On a motorcycle you BOTH have to work together in balance. My bike weighs 3 1/2 times more than I do so I just slow down almost to a stop, turn , and lean ONLY as much as I need to, to get the job done. It really takes practice and all bikes weigh different. The lighter the bike, the easier it is. Practice makes perfect. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it faster with precision, to the limits of combining the four ingredients, SPEED, LEAN, TURN, and weight. The front RAKE has a lot to do with the room it will take to pull off the maneuver also...Try it on a chopper LOL!!! I also had to zig zag around a line of cones. Lay out empty containers and pretend they are cones.
 

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Appreciate the check-in. I've been practicing almost daily - there's a nice big parking lot behind the local middle school that is completely obstructed from view from the road, so I can feel confident no one is watching. I'm wondering how far apart the lines are on the actual test at the NH DMV - if it's two parking spaces wide I'm in trouble, as the best I've gotten so far is maybe 2.5 spaces wide. I do sort of wish I had a bike that had a lower center of gravity and mid-controls. Although I can reach the ground flat-footed just fine, I feel like this bike is taller than others I've sat on with regard to center of gravity. Of course, my saving grace is that the week after my scheduled DMV test, I'm set to take the MSF Basic Rider Course near me, so if I fail the DMV test, I'll have a shot to pass via certificate from the course, which is done on much smaller bikes that will help build my skills and confidence.
It will be more than two parking places wide..how wide I am not sure different states different laws..probably 20 or 24 feet.
20 feet is two feet wider than two parking places.
Just keep practicing...two and half wide isnt bad..you are getting there..you either have to slow down a little or be more aggressive while diving in initially.
I think practicing lower speed u-turns makes a better rider when said and done..its always harder to ride the slower we go ..you will get it.
Try some spirals...a big circle and just keep going tighter on each circle...If you are stuck on two and half wide right now...then alot of circles at two and half wide until it feels good may help..then shrink em a little..you will get it


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Don't feel bad, when us guys all gathered in this parking lot to take turns with our tests in 1981, I had a 71 Honda CB500 I think, and most everyone else had a small bike. BUT, there's always one that shows up this a full size extreme custom raked chopper that I swore had 10' long forks!! It didn't go well for him real quick..LOL!!!!!!! If you are more comfortable on a smaller bike, borrow one if you can. This is the most important test you can take and I think if you don't pass, you can try again in 30 days if I'm not mistaken. The less front fork rake the better. And play that throttle after half way into the turn and it will help keep you upright. NO PRESSURE! Relax.
 

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If you're worried about dropping the bike, but some pool noodles, split them in half, and zip tie them to the parts that will hit the ground. It'll save the bike if you do drop it, but also give you confidence so you won't. It worked for me when I was learning.

As for passing the test, have you done the MSF BRC? I don't know the rules where you are, but in Georgia the MSF instructors are authorized to give the riding test, so when I passed the course they gave me a waiver to get my license without a test at the DMV. The advantage is that the instructors want you to pass and the test admins don't care if you do or not, so the instructors tended to be fairly forgiving in their grading.

One last piece of advice for the test. In Georgia, you lost a LOT of points if you put your foot down, but only one point for going outside of the lines in the figure 8 box. Considering that, most of us just went outside of the box on that part and moved on.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If you're worried about dropping the bike, but some pool noodles, split them in half, and zip tie them to the parts that will hit the ground. It'll save the bike if you do drop it, but also give you confidence so you won't. It worked for me when I was learning.

As for passing the test, have you done the MSF BRC? I don't know the rules where you are, but in Georgia the MSF instructors are authorized to give the riding test, so when I passed the course they gave me a waiver to get my license without a test at the DMV. The advantage is that the instructors want you to pass and the test admins don't care if you do or not, so the instructors tended to be fairly forgiving in their grading.

One last piece of advice for the test. In Georgia, you lost a LOT of points if you put your foot down, but only one point for going outside of the lines in the figure 8 box. Considering that, most of us just went outside of the box on that part and moved on.

Good luck.
I'm taking the BRC May 10/11 and can get my endorsement via course certificate.
 
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