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Discussion Starter #1
What is it about Motorcycling that we find so enjoyable? Sometimes it's hard to describe. The experience means different things to different people. For me it's a time to clear my head and enjoy the outdoors (no matter how hot or cold). Since I'm a returning rider and old enough to be honest with myself, I will also say that motorcycling is a skill best practiced on a regular basis.

As you may already know, I came back to riding on a scooter and traded up to a regular motorcycle because 50cc twist-n-go scooters, as fun as they are, just don't cut it in traffic (at least not around here). The first time back on a motorcycle was at MSF while I was there for the basic riding course. My Coach remarked that he could tell that I had ridden before (I tried not to stand out as some of the students were on the bikes for the very first time). I wouldn't let it go to my head though. I loved riding motorcycles years ago but the fact of the matter was I hadn't been on one in years. When I got my license, I traded the scooter in because it just wasn't cutting it in traffic (we'll talk about that in a minute). My first ride on my CBR250R was quite the experience. It felt big and powerful and it might has well been a 1000RR as far as I was concerned. I stalled it probably half-a-dozen times on the way home (usually from missing a gear change or forgetting to down shift).

Since I've had the bike I've been able (fortunate enough) to ride almost every weekend, at least one day. Early on, in spite of already having a license , I would spend time in a parking lot practicing some of the drills from MSF and starting and stopping smoothly. I was still stalling at least once a ride, missing a shift from time to time and was a little wobbly off the line. I'm like a lot of people on this board as my legs are short and sport bikes are not made for people with short legs. Backing the bike up without being able to get your foot flat on the ground can be especially hard but eventually you develop a technique. I persevered, once you are up and running the feeling is great.

About a month ago there came a day that I got on the bike for my usual Saturday morning ride and I felt noticeably different. The bike didn't feel gigantic any more, it felt normal, it felt like my bike. The shifting was much smoother and for the ride was always in the right gear instinctively. I couldn't remember the last time I stalled the bike. My gear, helmet gloves, boots etc, felt comfortable. What changed, did it happen over night? No . . .

Nothing magical. Just the practice of riding the motorcycle paying off. Well maybe it was sort of a kung-fu moment like Kwai-chaing Caine when he mastered walking through walls. But it makes for a much nicer ride when you no longer have the death-grip on the handle bars or you have smoothly up-shifted to third by the time you've cleared that intersection or you're riding down that road with the switch-backs without drifting into the oncoming traffic lane when coming out of the turn.

My rides have not been without challenges. Saturday, two weeks ago I had someone pull out in front of me four separate times (as if I wasn't there, even with the lights and horn). I bought a Fiamm Low-tone horn but haven't mounted it yet; it will be on for this weekend's ride. The biggest payoff is being able to handle these situations with urgency without panic. One of those car pull outs could have put me straight into an oleander hedge, the practice helped me handle it and no one ended up in the hedge. The other day I lost traction on the back wheel while I was in traffic (silt . . in the center lane). I ended up 6 inches from the bumper of the car in front of me. That was better than landing on their trunk face up.

Now, you might remember in an earlier post regarding posts we love to hate: "Hello all, I'm ditching the CBR250R because I've just outgrown it . . .". I can see and understand the temptation perfectly, there may come a day when CBR250R will just feel downright puny. It certainly has for some of us but not yet for me. For those who have I sincerely hope their new bikes are giving them the reliability and satisfaction they expect. Personally, I think I have a ways to go with this bike and I'm not in a hurry to move up. After all, if one needs to practice riding, for me there's nothing better.
 

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This is a great post. It really captures what I consider the draw of riding: the unique sense of freedom you get from it, and the constant reward from constant practice.

I come to riding from the far other end of the spectrum. I've always been a car nut. I've always wanted to own a sports car or something of the sort. The only stipulation I had about it was that I'd want it to be a manageable sports car. One I could enjoy to at least 50% of its potential every time I took it out. Sure, I could get a GTR, but on the road it would just be eye candy for someone else while I never got to take it out of 2nd gear. I got into motorcycling because I couldnt see myself being able to get a sports car any time in the forseeable future (thanks to having to pay off a 370z worth of student loans...) and I still wanted something that would give me that thrill of being at the controls of a fantastic machine. The more I learned about motorcycles the more I was drawn to them. The nimbleness, the styling, the uniqueness.

I got a 15 year old Ninja 250 from someone on craigslist last summer and took it out the night I got it. I stalled it twice before I even got it out of my apartment complex and immediately fell in love with the challenge that it presented to me. I rode that thing up and down the block as far as I felt comfortable with, moving over to let people pass me since I was doing about 10 under, and very very slowly learned what made the thing tick. I dropped it twice the first week I had it, one just from making a crap U-Turn and riding up over a rolled curb into some grass, and then locking the front brake in a left hand turn trying to avoid some garbage in the road. Those were the hardest times in the first week of riding for me, not because I was afraid to get back on the bike or whatever, but because I wanted to so bad but the minor injuries I had gotten from the drops were prohibitive. I continued to take the bike out every chance I could the rest of the year and then when it came time to store it, I took a HUGE leap of faith that I was going to drive it to the shop where I stored it which was about 15 minutes away. That ride was a huge breakthrough for me because I made it there without incident and got my first taste of what moving at a good clip felt like on a bike (a mighty 45mph!). I found out when I went to get the bike out of storage that the amount of work that would need done on it was worth more than the bike, and I decided that it was time to buy a bike I intended to keep for a really long time (maybe my 'forever' bike, more on that later), so after alot of deliberation, I decided to put down the money on the CBR250. I can tell that getting out when I can and keeping at it are making me better. Every time I park the bike back in my carport, I think of the next time I'll get to ride it. Its only been above 40 here about 3 days in the 2.5 weeks Ive had the bike so far, but theres only been 2 days I've been able to resist going out there and taking a ride, even if its just a half mile roll down the hill. The best part of it for me is that I can feel myself improving. I still deathgrip some, but not as bad as I used to. I'm not afraid that the bike will just fall over if I lean it around a turn anymore. I use the back brake (I actually never used the back brake on the ninja...) alot more. I'm more proficient at clutch and brake usage.

But as it is with any things, once you get good at one part of something, a whole new wave of challenges comes on. Now I'm focused on perfecting shifting (downshifting especially is giving me fits right now). I feel confident, but not cocky, riding around in my neighborhood. But I still come up with plenty of things every time out I need work on. For example, I came to a red light on a hill when I went out about an hour ago to test a new helmet mount I've got. Who can guess what I did sitting on that ******************** hill over and over again when the light turned? And yeah, I've got it all on tape lol. So if I ever need to laugh at myself...

I'm happy with the CBR. It's smooth as butter at the lower-end compared to the Ninja. I had to rev the crap out of that thing. I'm not used to being able to shift at 5k and get away with it. Its modern, its sleek, its everything I'd want in a sporty car for a tenth of the price. This may be my only motorcycle for several years, because I just got engaged, and the future wife isnt too keen on motorcycles, and honestly I'm fine with that. The bike suits my needs just fine and never ceases to make me smile.

Every single MSF course within 2 hours of Cincinnati was full all of the end of last season, so I didnt get a chance to get in any of those. I am finally registered for one at the end of April this year. I cant wait to get in there and learn plenty of new things. There are definitely plenty of rewards to go with the risk of riding a motorcycle, and continuing to uncover those and have a blast doing it is something I look forward to for years to come
 

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Four decades of motorcycling, clocking hundreds of thousands of miles... that's practice which there is no substitute for. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll have another 15 to 20 years of motorcycling ahead of me. :D

New, and younger riders would do well to know that time is a big part of becoming a truly proficient motorcyclist... it doesn't happen in a year or two, let alone over night.
 

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Help! I am stuck in the geriatric section ...

... where I clearly belong.

It is a pleasure to read your stories, which take me back about fifty years.

So many times, when relating something vitally important to a novice,
I find it difficult not to call him "Grasshopper". It does no good to use this label,
because it comes from before his entire lifetime, and means nothing to him!

Earlier this month I rode my 250 across Florida and enjoyed its abundant power on the freeways and its nimbleness on the twisty roads I prefer. The bike is all I need, in most circumstances, but next weekend I will cross Florida again, this time on my 650, simply because I choose to. I will be spending the weekend with folks I went to school with in the 1950s, before I cared about motorcycles.

I sure care about them now, and for the foreseeable future.

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, I guess I do kind of date myself with the Kung-Fu reference.

For any of us, young or old, riding for years or riding for weeks all we can bring to this forum is our knowledge, thoughts, opinions and experiences. If mine can help someone then I'm happy to do so.

When I started out MSF existed . . but nobody seemed to know about it (and I worked at a motorcycle dealership). I taught myself how to operate the controls on the motorcycles and ride them but lacked the benefit of any coaching or encouragement. It could have gone horribly wrong. When I returned to it and needed to get the license again I took the basic riders course and feel it was money well spent. I've got a lot to work on still. I haven't gone on any group rides yet but I can imagine that there is an expectation from your fellow riders that you will have a certain level of skill and attentiveness.

Anyone out there just starting out, I'm here to encourage you . . . Anyone been doing this for a while, I appreciate hearing from you.
 

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Thank you for sharing your stories. I love reading them and hearing how humble everyone is with their riding experience; even if you have double digit years of experience under your belt. Us newbies can only learn from posts like this. Sometimes our heads inflate way to fast and that is how accidents will happen.

One of the main things I've learned since joining this forum is not letting the excitement of riding in general or other riders pressure you into riding in a situation you are not comfortable with. I have a friend whose been riding for over 10 years and is excited that I have taken up riding. He is constantly asking me to join him on his Laughlin ride in April. For me that is just insane considering I barely finished BRC last month and just recently got my M1. To a seasoned rider, it might be an "easy" ride, and he thinks I have the skill to be able to accomplish it. However, knowing my own personal limits is key and I have yet to experience the Kung Fu moment referenced by Rory. I can't wait for that moment to hit me. :)

Ride safe everyone.
 

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Sometimes, you can get a bit too much of a rush riding on the edge and it bites you.

About 6 years ago, I got distracted looking at movement at 2 o'clock (deer/coyote?), missed a 25 mph curve sign, and started into the left-hand curve at 65. I didn't quite lean that cruiser enough and walked the front end off the pavement and lowsided.

Don't do that!

The picture is to show why a full-face helmet is preferred over a 3/4 helmet.

 

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Riding will always involve a constant learning curve. No matter the experience level, which is why we see MotoGp riders biting the dirt from time to time. Sometimes rider error and sometimes time and unforeseen occurance. I try and keep the mindset to never be too comfortable instead always be aware of "these unforeseen occurances". In reference to the statement how some on this forum love to "hate" when some ditch the 250 in favor of another.....speaking for myself, I made the decision because the larger portion of my riding involves highway, for hours on end. There is no doubt the 250 is an amazing bike but it can become tiresome at constant highway speeds. Most on this forum use the 250 as a commuter, polls have shown this. Also, many have larger cc bikes in addition to the 250 which are used on longer rides. If I could afford to keep 2 bikes the 250 would not have been sold. So now, I await my new 500, essentially a double 250 ;) So, when the "hate" is expressed, I wonder how many of the haters have another bike sitting in their stable? By all means extoll the virtues of the 250. I would lead the parade with the same sentiments. I have not "traded up", nor bought an SS. What I chose was a bike which will comfortably meet my highway riding needs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@jsonder, along with this bike (my very first real motorcycle) came my very first full face helmet . . actually the helmet preceded it by a couple of months. When I went back to riding on the scooter I bought a half helmet and put a visor with a full face shield on it. Way back when, I had a pair of goggles and no helmet. I personally wouldn't think of riding without a full face helmet and my armored mesh jacket but I've seen plenty of people who don't wear either. My mind was changed by not by a personal event but education; I hadn't ridden in years, I wanted to get back in to it . . . how do I do it and be safe was my approach.

@L2R There may be a 500 in all of our futures. It's at least a fine looking bike and Honda did do something to address the ugly exhaust dilemma. For you I hope it's everything your 250 was and then some. I looked at other bikes before this one and if the circumstances were right I might even get another motorcycle just to have. I say, if you have two bikes, good for you!

I wish a safe and fun ride for everybody and sincerely wish everybody that 'moves up' to that bigger bike can handle it for their sake and maybe mine as well. Every day on the way to work on the freeway I pass three things in the center lane: A piece of a red honda fairing (600rr or 1000rr), A single Alpine Stars glove and a shredded Icon Motorcycle Jacket. I don't know the circumstances of what happened but the impression I get is that they didn't walk away.
 

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... Every day on the way to work on the freeway I pass three things in the center lane: A piece of a red honda fairing (600rr or 1000rr), A single Alpine Stars glove and a shredded Icon Motorcycle Jacket...

Today, I saw a guy on a cruiser style bike, hauling ass (in town) and wearing a dark suit, white shirt & tie... no helmet, just a freaking suit & tie. I don't know, maybe he just came from court or something... sure looked ridiculous though. :rolleyes:
 
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