I'm Hooked!! - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
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I'm Hooked!!

For those who followed my Delayed 650 Pickup thread, I thought I would share my progress.

Just a bit of background first, I took (and passed!) my MSF course in 2015. So, I've been walking around with an "M" endorsement on my license, burning a whole in my wallet, for 2 years. I finally got around to buying a bike. That process wasn't tough, although no dealers would let me ride any bike (even used) so I phoned-a-friend to test drive it for me once I had it narrowed it down.

Since the dealership was well over an hour away, requiring highway travel, I opted to rent the U-Haul Motorcycle Trailer. I was outside of the dealers delivery zone, and he wanted to charge me close to $100 to have it delivered; also it would have to be schedule, etc. etc. I made that problem disappear for $17! Once I paid for the bike, did the paperwork, got some accessories (helmet, gloves, battery tender) it was cash & carry (so, to speak) and out the door I went all rev'ed up ready for my new adventure!

I get the bike to my local school parking lot and it all comes back to me! I was so worried I wouldn't be able to handle the 650 since we learned on 250's. Sure those first shifts were a bit clunky, but the Vstar 650 Custom has a low center of gravity, the low seat gives me loads of confidence since I can easily plant both feet flat on the ground if needed, and it fits me (5'8" 165 lbs) like a glove; What more can I say!

So, I spend last weekend at the school parking lot and in my neighborhood. Not really venturing out onto the open road. I live in the burbs, and we are surrounded by 40/45 MPH roads and I needed to build up my confidence. So, revisiting the MSF class drills: Speed up, Slow down, left turn from a stop, right turn from a stop, left turn while moving, right turn while moving, figure-8, left u-turn, right u-turn panic stop, lane change with head check, you get the idea. There is a long road that heads behind the school, so I was also able to practice my speed, 20, 25, 30, even 35 mph.

Finally, last Friday I played a bit of hooky and escaped work a few hours early and eased onto the 35/40 MPH roads. Easy. Great! Logged over 25 miles just driving around my town. I found some back roads that run along side of farm land. Twisty/Turney roads that follow rivers and streams, the weather was perfect, the commuter traffic wasn't heavy, and it was a perfect ride!

Talk about perfect ride - Friday didn't hold a candle to my Saturday ride! Again, I got out early before the roads got busy and did more of the same. I ventured onto some of our busier roadways for a bit. Even discovered new ways to get from point-A to point-B. I also got my first motorcycle wave from another cruiser headed in the opposite direction. Of course, I returned the gesture like I've been riding for years . I think I'm hooked !

One tip, that I got from a friend who rides HDs, is to not be shy about making yourself known. So I did some subtle revving when at traffic lights, so everyone knew I was around. When I did, you could see the heads tilt to look in their rear-view mirrors. Maybe there is something to that line about Loud Pipes.

All-in-all, I logged just under 70 miles between Friday and Saturday. I have some stuff around the house to catch up on today (Sunday) but I do hope to get out for an hour or so. Again, my only destination is experience, so who knows where I'll end up. I can't wait.

Thanks to this forum for providing all the good insights, reading and experience that I've been following. I only hope I can repay with the tips and tricks I pick up.

PS: I am scheduled for the "additional practice" MSF course next month; I want to nip any bad habits in the bud before they become routine. I may also take the advanced MSF course next year, when the bike comes out of winter hibernation and I have more miles behind me. Thoughts?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 08:01 AM
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Sounds like a great couple of days for you. Teaching my sons how to drive I suggested a mind game, "have a way out". As you ride always be accessing a safe way out of a situation. What if that car to my right came into my lane. Do I speed up, stop, swerve to miss him? Each situation has multiple ways out, but which is the safest? I thought my sons had forgotten the game until my oldest granddaughter started driving. One day the two of us were driving somewhere and she told me about this game her dad tought her, it was the "way out" game. This game has now been working for a few generations in my family. Play if you want. Keeps you alert at all times as traffic situations are constantly changing. Ride safe and often.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 08:57 AM
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Sounds like you're doing everything right in getting to know your bike and easing into how to handle it in traffic. I know exactly what you mean by being hooked. I felt the same way when I got back into riding late last fall. I have high blood pressure and while medication has helped lower it some, since this spring it has dropped lower than it's been in years. Coincidence? Maybe, but I haven't really changed anything else. Just taking off and heading out for a long, no destination cruise is the most relaxing thing I can think of and I do it at every opportunity (my wife calls my bike "the other woman" lol). Anyway, glad you're enjoying it and keep up the practise. Looks like you're on course for a long love affair with two wheels.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-24-2017, 12:42 PM
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As a rider who's been "in the saddle" for almost 30 years now, welcome to the fold brother! I also have a 650 Custom and I love it. I've been told that I needed a bigger bike, but I'm sticking with my 650. It's an amazing machine.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 05:30 AM
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It's great to hear how you are building up your confidence. I think everyone has given you great pointers and suggestions. Well done!

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 05:44 AM
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Congrats Parrothead1809, this is one addiction that doesn't need an intervention. lesblank's mindgame tip is a good one and has helped keep me alive after decades and hundreds of thousands of miles of riding. Being aware of your surroundings at all times is very important as a motorcyclist and although it may be mentally draining at the start it eventually becomes second nature. As a passenger I've predicted how events will unfold before the driver has even become aware of them and to me they were completely avoidable accidents yet the driver, being unaware and lacking observation skills, was taken by surprise.

When I first started riding my brothers and I would find a lone stretch of road or open parking lot and practice handling our bikes and becoming familiar with them. We would have braking contests to see who could stop in the shortest distance, have slow races... see who could go the slowest between points a and b without putting our feet down, if you did you go back to the start line. And of course do the usual figure 8s without putting your feet down and slowly build up speed and learn to lean and scrape pegs.

In short become familiar with your machine and know how to handle it before you actually need to in traffic.

Another thing you may want to do is train yourself to cover your front brake at all times. I've learned to ride that way and it's saved me many times. When you learn to cover your brake you save a split second in response time which at speed can be 10ft, 20ft or more difference in distance traveled... that can mean the difference between running into an obstacle or stopping short of hitting it or worse yet being in the path of a vehicle that's going to clip you from the side. Also since your finger(s) is already there ready to apply pressure to the lever there's less of a chance of panic-snatching the brake by opening your grip on the throttle and again closing it on the brake lever.
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Last edited by Diogenes415; 09-25-2017 at 01:10 PM.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the words of encouragement guys! We did learn to "cover the break" in the MSF class, but I do find myself relaxing a bit. I'll have to make a conscious effort to keep it "locked and loaded"; Great Tip! Keeping an "escape plan" is burned into my brain from my <ahem> many years of driving cars. I chalk this up to driving defensively and simply assuming that everyone else on the road is out to get me. All said, there is no doubt that the key is practice, Practice, PRACTICE!

And speaking of practice I logged ONE HUNDRED MILES between the three rides on Friday, Saturday and Sunday! I'm building up confidence, but still playing it very conservative.

Thanks again everyone!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 08:55 PM
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Sounds like you are off to a great start. Cant add much to the MSF course.

The key things to practice are:

1. countersteering. It takes a while, maybe years, before counter steering becomes second nature, so practice steering all the time. When you are riding on a straight road shift your bike from the left side of the lane, to the right, and back. Practice swerving (mildly) around man hole covers and any random marks or spots you see on the road, so that steering "backwards" become muscle memory. Dont just ride for miles in the same part of the lane. When you are going around turns pull yourself into the turn a little tighter, and let the bike go a little wider, so you can adjust your path while you are in the turn.

Even though you know how steer the bike when you think about it, I still catch myself after 5 years and 25,000 miles - sometimes I see something in the road and I still run right over it, even though I know how to steer. Usually its when I dont see it coming because I wasnt looking where I was going.

2. Brake more aggressively than you need to when there is no one behind you at a red light or a stop sign. Stop short about 2 car lengths before you need to stop, and get on the brakes just a bit more than you normally would. You can lock up the rear tire while going straight and be ok (hold it locked until the bike stops), but dont ever lock up the front wheel, you will drop the bike if you dont get off the front brake instantly.

Push the bike on braking till you feel you know the limit for how fast you can stop when you need to.

One other thing, you mentioned your helmet and gloves. I know you cannot take the MSF course unless you also have boots and a jacket, but the next things to get are real motorcycle boots and a MC jacket. Textile jackets will save your skin from the apshalt, and most have padding on your back, elbows and shoulders. Likewise MC boots will keep you from breaking your ankles and crushing your feet.

When it comes to riding gear I got good news and bad news:

the bad news is someday when you least expect it, some dumb ass will knock you off your bike and you will go sliding down the pavement at 60mph.

The good news is: you get to wear whatever you want. If you need inspiration watch a few professional MC road / track races. Riders drop their bikes all the time and get back up and walk away. That is what you want.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 09:06 PM
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This is the guy I re-watch time to time. Very useful videos IMO.


650 custom is a very good perfect bike! My wife loves hers. It is a little bit too small for me but I had fun on it while riding it home on the day we picked it up. I had to ride on the interstate and it was able to get up to 75 MPH. I love its look.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-26-2017, 08:41 AM
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A 650 hits its peak HP at about 55mph in 4th gear, and 70mph in 5th gear - thats when you hear the stock intake airbox growling in joy.

Top speed is about 100mph.
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Last edited by KCW; 09-26-2017 at 11:46 AM.
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