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Discussion Starter #1
Just seeing if anyone has any tips for getting past the new bike jitters? I've been riding since I was in my teens and have owned a Kawasaki ninja 650 and Honda vtx 1300. I know in my mind I have the skill set and the bike has the ability to do what I need it to do but I can't seem to get past this ominous feeling that the bike can't do it. I think because it's the largest bike I've ever ridden (stratoliner). I feel like I am overthinking things and nowhere near as confident as I hoped I would be after a month on the new bike. I understand confidence is key but I'm getting impatient waiting on that confidence, I want to be able to enjoy the ride again instead of feeling like I'm fighting the bike the whole time.
 

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Find an empty parking lot somewhere and just start practicing. Nothing fancy just ride around then add in a few new maneuvers as u go. Couple hours and you're likely to find ur comfort zone with it.
 

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When I upgraded from 650 to a 950, I spend alot of time practicing in our local HS parking lot doing many different maneuvers (like 07 midnight custom said), but also I traveled down the local streets close to home to practice starting, stopping, turning and being around light traffic. From there, I slowly moved into more traffic as my comfort level increased.
something to keep in mind is take your time and move slowly up the list of things to accomplish and your gut feeling about your convidence level will move you forward.
 

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Watch a "Ride Like A Pro" DVD and do the parking lot maneuvers. You'll get a better feel for the bike and learn or refresh your knowledge at the same time.

Here's the link. https://www.ridelikeapro.com/

The one in the red jacket is the best for starters. E-Bay and Amazon Have lots of them.
 

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Andy I think everyone has given you excellent advice. The confidence will come with practice. Empty parking lots are great places to hone your skills. After my bike comes out of winters hibernation, I ride straight to the nearest empty lot and freshen up my skills, works every time.


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I applaud you for being open about your concerns. Too many are overconfident and ride outside their ability. A month really isn't a very long time on a new bike that is around 175 lbs heavier than your VTX unless you're riding eight hours every day. What specifically causes you to feel this way. Is it cornering, slow maneuvering, just holding the bike up when stopped? Is it too much bike for you for your size? Nothing wrong with that if it is the case. This may not be the bike for you. On the other hand, it may be the perfect bike for you, and you just need more time for things to click. I've been riding for years and after a 6 month surgery lay off, I had my jitters for awhile when I started riding again. IMO riding has some perishable skills, so work on the skills that cause you concern until you're good and don't get hung up on how long it takes. Just be safe. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I think it's a good size for me, cornering and supporting the bike are no problem, mostly it's slow speed and managing speed when hard turning from a complete stop. I had heard it was a bear at slower speeds and I guess I am just adjusting. If I think it's too much bike I will sell simply because, what's the point if you don't enjoy it? I will try at the local hs near my house. I can keep it stable as slow as a walking pace but I feel unstable when I turn at low speed.


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Your main concern is one most of us have had especially on a bigger bike like you ride. Knowing when to accelerate when turning to keep the bike stable is a practiced skill and a large parking lot will serve you well. You usually need to accelerate a bit sooner on a bigger bike, and be sure to look where you're going and not down or at the turn (I'm sure you know this...just a reinforcer). When my son was learning to ride my bike instead of his sport bike, he would dip his head down when turning. I had to keep telling him to keep his head and eyes up. It takes a bit of practice to gain the confidence to lean a big bike over. Also, to help manage the bike at slower speeds finding and managing your new bike's "friction zone" takes practice. If that happens to be an unfamiliar term just google it. Good luck.
 

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I know how you feel, my bike is a V Star 1100 and not considered a big bike but my previous experience was 10 years prior on a 750 Virago. The bike fealt big and heavy to me and what helped was seat time and parking lot work. I never see this recommended but because I had a hard time with U turns, I decided to just go around in a big circle while gradually decreasing the radius, tighter and tighter and this turned out to be a good routine and helped a ton. Managing speed when hard turning from a complete stop was a problem for me also, the bike wanted to go straight across the road, parking lot practice solved this problem. Do you have highway bars? They are great for low speed practice, if you do drop the bike you shouldn't hurt anything.
 
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I was given some advise from a good friend of mine who is a motorcycle cop and on weekends runs the local riders course...He said you can't be afraid to put your pegs on the ground when cornering. When you worry about where your pegs are is when you look down and take focus off what you're really doing. Pegs will give. Keep practicing and the confidence will come.

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Just seeing if anyone has any tips for getting past the new bike jitters? I've been riding since I was in my teens and have owned a Kawasaki ninja 650 and Honda vtx 1300. I know in my mind I have the skill set and the bike has the ability to do what I need it to do but I can't seem to get past this ominous feeling that the bike can't do it. I think because it's the largest bike I've ever ridden (stratoliner). I feel like I am overthinking things and nowhere near as confident as I hoped I would be after a month on the new bike. I understand confidence is key but I'm getting impatient waiting on that confidence, I want to be able to enjoy the ride again instead of feeling like I'm fighting the bike the whole time.
I felt the same way when I bought my first Stratoliner. I had been riding my son's VTX 1300, and found the Strat to be big. Ride it slowly, as some have suggested. You will get used to it, and when you do, you will feel very comfortably on the Strat. It's low center of gravity makes this bike easy to handle.

Ride safe.
:smile:
 

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Don't think I saw it mentioned here, but my advice would be to sign up for one of the MSF riders classes. They have excellent tlips/tricks for all types of riding and it WILL boost your cofidence. Also, there are several books for sale on Amazon that deal exclusively with riding a large bike. Just search the site for 'large motorcycle riding.' As has been said, take it slow and easy and let your self-assurance catch up to your ability.
 

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Andy,

even though you had two other bikes before this one, you dont say what your training and experience actually is. I had a street bike for a couple years back in the late '70s ( a honda 175) and I had an enduro Yamaha for most of my life that I rode off road, mostly on trails in the woods.

When I decided to get a cruiser street bike I thought I knew how to ride a motorcycle. I took the MSF beginner class just for the simplicity of getting my license in 3 days with no bike of my own.

I was wrong, I did not know how to ride a motorcycle properly and I learned a great deal in the MSF class.

The big things:

1. I have always driven manual transmission cars and I was taught you slip the clutch as little as possible, to keep it from burning up. In the class I was surprised to learn MC clutches are in the engine oil bath, and you are suppose to slip them at low speeds. If the no-throttle 1st gear 'clutch speed' of your MC is 4mph, then to go slower you must slip the clutch in the friction zone. It helps to give the engine a bit of gas, the rev'ing engine flywheel acts like a gyroscope when you are just barely moving and makes the bike more stable, and you dont have to think about throttle, you use the friction zone to control your speed, not the engine.

2. When you are turning, esp U turns and figure 8s, LOOK where you want to go. If you are doing a U turn twist your upper body and head all the way around and look where you want to end up => look behind you. You can turn with the fork all the way to the lock by slipping the friction zone to hold your speed steady and balance the bike if you look all the way around. Dont stop and try to turn from a dead stop, get the bike moving for 20 to 30 feet, and then start your turn.

3. Its ok to put your foot down when you are practicing. Dont freak out and stop the turn, if you have to slide your foot then slide it, or duck walk the bike for a few steps, but keep the turn going. Eventually you wont have to.

4. Practice going slow straight too. As if you are in slow traffic, or in a parade, ride straight and slow about 2mph, slipping the friction zone to get the bike moving at a steady speed, then pull the clutch in and coast for a bit.

5. you say your issues are mostly at slow speeds and turns, are you really comfortable turning at speed too? A lot of motorcycle riders have an instinctive feel for riding and do not understand that a motorcycle is self balancing, and you turn by pushing the grips backwards: counter steering. To turn right you push forward (and down if you want) on the right hand grip, the bike will lean right and turn right. Some people ride for years and never consciously realize this is how the bike turns. If you have not practiced this (all the time) then you will not feel confident that when you really need to turn that the bike will do exactly what you command it to do. It will. If this is news to you try it going straight, push the right grip a little and the bike will move to the right of the lane, push the left and it will straighten up and lean and go left.

There really is no trick to riding a big heavy bike, anymore than there is to driving a big heavy car or truck, if you are riding correctly. A lot of people start out on smaller bikes, horsing them around with their body weight... you cant do that on a big cruiser.

If you still cant get your confidence level up after a few weeks practice, then I also recommend taking a MSF course, they have a class for people that have new bikes, to teach you how to learn your bike and what it can do. Its about $250 - way better than selling your bike and getting a smaller one again.

PS: one other thing that will make you very uneasy with a big bike is pushing it around by the handlebars. DONT do that. If you want to move the bike, sit on it, put the kickstand up, duck walk the bike forward or back, put the kickstand down, then get off. If you are standing on one side of the bike pushing it by the handlebars, it only has to get a few degrees past vertical before it falls over and there is no way you can stop it, because both your feet are on the other side.
 

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I know you mentioned you did this already, but what has helped me thus far as a new rider (less than a month) was the parking lot practice. I spent two hours the other day in a nice big parking lot riding around the outside "Track" of it in both directions, stopping in areas, starting again. Riding just the clutch with no throttle to reallllly feel that friction zone and control speed with it (at low speeds of course) rather than throttle, etc.

I currently plan (we'll see if I stay true to it) to do this for 30-60 mins every weekend just to stay comfortable. The lot I was in has a decent (maybe 1.5 mile) "track" that has some linked curves, left/right hand turns at various angles to include 90 degree turns from a stop. Stop signs, a few speed bumps, rain runoff gutters, just a lot of conditions that really let me practice multiple things every "loop" around the track. Then I pull into an actual lot off the "track" portion and can do a lot of start/stops, slow speed turns, etc.
 

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Weise, Practice all that stuff when you ride.

When you stop for a light, if you feel a bit un-nerved, feel the friction zone, pull the bike forward against your boots a bit, pull the clutch in and push the bike back, pull it forwards a bit.... When the light changes you will pull away smoothly. Do this esp if you are stopping pointing up a hill - find the zone so the clutch is holding the bike from rolling backwards, then let off the brake and go.

When you are riding pick out things to swerve around: man hole covers, spots in the road, and practice that as long as there are no other cars right around you (people freak if you start swerving in traffic).

When you stop at an intersection, if there is no one behind you brake short a bit aggressively, and then coast up to the stop line.
If you are in a bit of traffic at a stop sign intersection, slow down back a bit and ride up at 1 mph (instead of stop go stop go stop go) to practice riding very slow.

When you take a curve in the road, push the bike in tighter, and push it out wider, so you are comfortable changing your path in a curve. Dont go nuts with this, just enough so you could avoid a pot hole or dead animal if one was there.

In the parking lot you can get a bit more aggressive, lock up the back tire with the brake and ride it out (dont let off till you stop). Put the bike in a wide turn then straighten it up and stop, or apply the brakes gently and see how it affects the lean and turn. Practice the things in the parking lot that you would not do on the road.
 
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