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My Wife has never ever not one time been on a motorcycle. Not even a 50cc. She has always been scared of motorcycles. She saw a Burgman 400 and said that it looked safe. I have spent all day telling her that it is still a motorcycle. She thinks that after a two day riding course from MSF that she could hop on board the 400 and learn by taking the side roads and following me around the neighborhood. I was convinced that She might be able to start out slow and over several months, get used to it. But now I am thinking it over. I started out on a Honda 360 (first bike). The Burgman is a automatic. It might be easier, but I want my wife to be safe most of all. I would be totally devastated if she was hurt. Has anyone started from scratch with a Burgman 400. What is the success rate. If it is okay, then maybe we can try. If not, I will say no untill, we train on a 125cc or something small. She does not want to train on a small bike, she wants to go straight to the Burgman.
 

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I fear the answer is painted in shades of gray. I personally agree with you that a smaller first bike is _absolutely_ in order, but lots of others here will take your wife's side, especially since she is so confident.

If you want to cheat, there was a Burgman 400 fatality documented here on this forum from where a hubby was teaching his wife on a parking lot. She lost control, hit a plate-glass window, and bled to death. In point of fact, the death had little or nothing to do with the 400 or the size of the scoot; that is why I referred to using this info as "cheating". (There was a long thread on this, and I don't recall if the victim was wearing safety gear or not.)

Given that I'm on your side, and many others here likely will not be, I'd try attacking this from another angle. I'd find a way for her to _try_ a smaller scoot; personally, in terms of power I found little difference between a Reflex and a Burgie 400 under 50MPH, and most folks find the Reflex and other 250 cc scoots equally attractive in the appearance department. I might also suggest that you could explain that if she agrees to a smaller scoot, she could pick up a used one and then sell it again in a few months for about as much-- maybe more, with gas prices spiking-- than it was bought for. A smaller scoot is just as useful as a larger one during the learning months, because a small one will do 55 with ease, and a beginner has (in my opinion; again, others here disagree) no business whatsoever on the Interstate anyway for the first few months. So, learning on a small bike is all gain and no loss in my book.

Or, alternatively, if you want to sink to the "cheating" level again, you could develop a sudden urge youself to own a machine capable of delivering 70 MPG to run short errands and such on, and buy a 150 or 250 for yourself. Then once _you're_ riding it, the rest oughta be easy.

I find it terribly hard to understand why so many folks want to go right to the 400 or 650. I am a large, 320-pound middle-aged blue-collar worker, and I survived my few months on an Aprilia Scarabeo 150 just fine-- in fact, I still miss it sometimes for its lightness and ease of handling. If anyone ever looked ridiculous on a scoot, it was me with my big belly and gorilla-like build sitting on that tiny bike. I didn't let it bother me a bit. Instead, I ran all over the Nashville area on it, waving at friends and smiling so wide that I thought my face was gonna bust open. I sold it to a friend 600 miles later for exactly what I paid for it and immediately picked up a new Burgman 400.

During those first 600 miles, I credit the smaller, lighter scoot's small size, nimbleness, and forgiving nature with twice saving me from death or serious injury due to idiot beginner mistakes I made. It is my firm beleif that just about everyone makes idiot mistakes when learning a new skill of any sort; it is utterly beyond me to comprehend why when learning to do something as dangerous as motorbike riding they insist on making these mistakes on anything but the most forgiving possible ride.

'nuff said.
 

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Another thing to think about is that smaller scoots usually have smaller wheels. My experience goes from moped to 125, 250, 650 scooters. Each larger displacement scooter had larger wheels. Of all those the bike I feel the safest on is the 650, and primarily due to it's larger wheels. The smaller bikes with smaller wheels made me nervous when the road conditions were less than perfect. Small wheels don't do potholes very well. Smaller suspension travel means they won't soak up tall asphalt ridges as well. Less footprint means they won't have as good of traction, especially around curves, where they are scary to lean over on.

I'm also more confident on my 650 because of the extra power. I feel it can get me away from trouble whereas my 250 left me only the option of backing off and hoping the trouble deccelerate to stay back with me. A 250 also temps one to do the highway. It can go the speed, but doesn't have anything left to pass with. Sometimes you have to accelerate to leave trouble behind. You always have to accelerate to pass. That lack of highway speed options was why I stopped riding my 250.

Dave B.
 

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I first read this post early this morning, & rather than answer it, decided to sleep on it & answer this morning instead. Mainly because I felt the same as Lapine Rider mentioned about he shades of grey he mentions above.

I took the plunge & got my 650 to learn on because I couldn't afford to pass up the deal I got on it, also because I made up my mind very early on to go slow, learn properly, & not rush things as far as getting out on the road until I'm fully confident that I can do so with at least relative safety.

If I had the luxury of getting a smaller bike to learn on, in hindsight, I would have, but like so many others, if I didn't strike while the iron is hot, I probably would never have gotten a bigger bike. My economic situation would have made it nearly impossible to ever be able to step up to the big boy toys.

I say again, start on the smaller bike and work up to it. It won't take long, the economic climate has shifted in your favor if you take this route. Soon scooters & motorcycle prices will be spiking because of the gas prices, & this will almost certainly put you in a good position to trade up later.
 

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Well Mike first let me say welcome to the forum. As a first time rider I would probably reccomend starting on a smaller displacement ride. A good used 150 or 250 cc machine would probably be better for the situation. Chances are your wife will get caught off guard and possibly drop it stopping or slow turns with too much brakes. This is a normal learning curve.

If you were to get the smaller one now for her and let her practice for the rest of the summer then you may be able to get a better deal on a 400 in the fall.

Who knows.....she may decide she doesnt want to ride after awhile. The loss on a new Burgman would be greater financially.
 

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I find I have to agree with the logic of the above posts even though I feel if your wife still feels as confident after passing the MFS course then there is no reason she could not handle a 400.
Another thing we don't know is how big a woman, and how strong your wife is. A lot of "newbie's" get a way with using strength to make up for finesse in bike handling when they first start out.
And yes the image of that poor woman losing control and hitting a plate glass window is cheating ! But if that's what it takes to stops one person from getting hurt then I gladly except the cheating. 8)
I would say let your wife pass the course first, then based on a how she feels, and a test ride, there is no reason she can not step right up to a 400.
But please remember I am only one voice, and so far you have four other equally qualified against. :)
 

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I have a different take on this, I guess, coming from a long motorcycle history. A 400 scooter, to me, is definitely a great beginner's machine, not some scary powerful thing. It has a low center of gravity, decent seat height, very manageable acceleration, and, of course, ease of operation due to the auto tranny and linked brakes. If you compare it to a 250 motorcyle, which is definitely considered a beginner's machine, it has lower performance (my son's 250 goes 100+) and higher rider friendliness. There is an added benefit of spending all your time on the machine that you are going to stay with. You grow intimately acquainted with the it and don't have to relearn things after trading up to the 400.

I say let her get the 400. Rejoice that she wants to ride! Let her take the MSF course, then hit the parking lot with the 400. Then, on to the back roads!
 

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Yup - this is a very difficult question. Personally, I took the MSF class and took the instructor's advice - got a used small cc bike to learn on since i'd barely ridden any motorcycle in many many years.

I got a Honda Rebel - 250cc cruiser - because it was similar to the bikes we used in the MSF class. I got it used and cheap. It is way too small for me - i'm 6'2" and 200 pounds. The vibration caused my hands and butt to go numb for any ride over 20 minutes.

But I loved it and learned a LOT on it. Never came close to banging it up, but easily could have. Then I too sold it for nearly what I bought it for - 1200 miles later and about a year. A nice "learning curve" of ridership.

Then I looked at medium weight cruisers - primarily the Honda 750cc and other similar bikes, and stumbled upon the Burgman line. Never looked at another bike since and have been terribly happy with my purchase. I did have one small incident on the Burgman - a beginner's mistake, but not due to its weight or size.

I think a smaller cc scooter would have suited me better to learn on, and would recommend that for your wife for a starting point.

Jusy my opinion.
 

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One thing to possibly consider is your wife's driving style/reflexes/reaction time. Yes, riding is a whole other skill set, but IMHO, a nervous or unskilled driver doesn't need to be on 2 wheels. Definitely, a small cc machine would be a good compromise to build skills and confidence in their case.

The 400 is my first motorbike, having only rode friends' moped/mini-bikes growing up and the occasional scooter rental while on vacation. But, I was confident that I would quickly grow into the 400 and really didn't want the hassle of "trading up" later. I took a private training course and picked up some good tips. But I strongly feel the 50cc scoot they had me on bore little resemblance to what is takes to actually handle the 400.

As it stands, I've had some fleeting thoughts of trading up to the 650. I won't do that until I've logged more miles (only 1600 since May) and the 400's power reportedly doesn't open up until 2500 miles (according to the popular lore in these parts).
 

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I'd recommend your wife take the MSF course first and then, if she's still interested in riding, discuss buying a "first" bike. After her first taste of riding on two wheels she'll have a much better idea of what type and size of bike of she'll be comfortable with.
I wouldn't be overly concerned about the engine size. New riders who can't learn throttle and brake control can get into just as much trouble with a 90cc or 125cc bike as they can with a larger engine. Most of the bikes used in the MSF courses are 125's or 250's and, if she learns to handle them and becomes comfortable with throttle and brake control during the classes, she should be able adjust to and ride a 400 Burgman in a short period of time.
To me, the most important factor is how a bike fits a rider physically. If your wife can sit on a 400 and is able to easily reach the controls, can place both feet on the ground (flat-footed) and can move the bike around with the engine off, she should be OK.

Don
 

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I agree most with the last two posts.

1. How comfortable is your wife on two wheels? Experience on bicycles, mountain bikes, etc. will show how good her balance is. If she's got good balance and coordination, then there's no problem riding a motorcycle.

2. Taking the MSF course will really give her a good idea of what she can handle and it will give her more of challenge (with the clutch and gears). If she takes the course and decides it's not for her, then that will be money well spent. If it's what she wants, riding the 400 afterwards will be a breeze.

The 400 is SO easy to ride (I found that after taking the motorcycle course I was wanting a little more than what the 400 offered). With the 400, once you've got the basics of handling and balance, all you have left to do is concentrate on is traffic--and that's probably what will keep your wife safe. Having the power of the 400 to keep up with traffic (over a 50cc scooter) will also keep your wife safe.
 

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A year and a half ago, I decided that I wanted to get a scooter...something small, no bigger than a 50cc. My husband and I talked about it and agreed that even though a licence is not required with that size bike that it would be a very good idea for me to take the MSR class.

I took the class a year ago May and immediately knew that the 50cc bike was not going to work for me. I wanted a bike for commuting and I was going to be riding on roads with speedlimits over 40. So I started surfing the net looking for a bike that would work. That was when I found the Burgman 400. I went to a local dealer and he only had the 650 on hand. And altho, I thought the 650 was really cool, I knew in my heart that the 400 was more than big enough for a first bike and a brand-new rider.

I finally bought my Sophie in April of this year. In the 11 months between my class and my bike, I practiced in a parking lot with my husband's V-Star 650. I always felt like I was going to wreck his bike and refused to ride it on the street. I was much happier on the back seat of his bike...

He rode my bike home from Denver when we picked it up. I started out on the residential streets near the house, worked my way up to city streets and so on, as my confidence and skill grew. I currently have 3k miles on the Burgy and have riden it in the city, on the highway, on dirt roads, in the mountains and got caught in a nasty hail storm without cover...

According to a lot of the previous messages and other messages in the forum, I never should have started where I did. And I shouldn't be riding like I do. Yes, I am still learning; but my husband who has been riding for over 20 years and has 3 accidents under his belt is also still learning. I will push myself, but will not do something that I consider unsafe.

Wait to buy the bike until she has completed the MSR course. After riding a motorcycle for the weekend, she may decide that she prefers a cage. She may decide on her own that a Ruckus or Reflex is better for her. But then again, she may still want the Burgy 400. If it makes you feel better, why not go to class with her. Then you will get a chance to see her in action.

The other thing I did, which seemed to have helped, was join a ladies riding group. Riding with other women, gave me the confidence to try things I may not have done otherwise.

My final answer, yes, it is a good first bike for the right person.
 

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If you're going to error in this decision, error on the side of caution. Better to take baby steps than to never be able to walk again.
 

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been asking myself the same question???

As a new rider and a fairly small woman, I have to admit I was asking myself the same question - kind of after the fact :lol:

My plan was to take the MSF course, then make a decision. I went around looking at various scooters and motorcycles. Honestly, I leaned towards scooter more because I didn't want to have to concentrate on clutch/gear shift handling. I was still thinking small - but love does funny things to you. A couple of dealers spoke to me about Burgmans - I saw the Burgman 400 and then the 400S and I was smitten. The dealers and some friends who ride spoke about the advantages of someone my age taking up a scooter as opposed to a motorcycle. I'm 51 - 5'4, 129 lbs dry weight. One thing a couple of experienced riders and dealers told me was that you have to learn your machine - whatever its size, weight or engine displacement. Also they told me that heavier did not necessarily mean harder to handle at slow speeds - but yes, different. Having said all that, last Thursday my friend trailored my Burgman 400S home for me. Despite the fact that he has ridden for many years, and rides a Suzuki Bandit 1200S right now, he did not want to take a strange machine straight out into traffic.

All I can tell you at this point is the 400 balances like a dream. I have a driveway with about a 35 degree slope - not horrendous but not flat. Rule one - its your bike, you handle it. He helped me unload it from the trailor onto the street, after that it was my job to get it off the street, over the curb, turned and down into my driveway. Yes, I did it and yes it was not a cakewalk, but it wasn't really difficult for me either. If you keep it upright, you just have to guide it - not muscle it around.

While seated I can balance it flat footed and I can also balance for a few seconds with my feet up. I've practiced balancing it leaning either way too, with the weight on alternate legs - because you won't always have a nice, flat, straight corner at a stop sign or light. I can go fairly far over, without feeling undue weight. I can duck walk it forward and backward - maneouver it where I want it to go - turn and straighten it - all this without power mind you. I've pushed it up my driveway - stopping at various intervals, testing how it holds with the front and back brakes, then guiding it back down into the garage. My neighbours think I'm crazy - but I'm getting acquainted with my bike. So far, I have only inched out into my driveway with power - basically just enough throttle to glide forward, close throttle, brake, stop. Good practice and I'm not going onto the road until I take my course this weekend.

So - did I get bad advice or was I blinded by my shiny red Beast??? I don't have any answers for you yet, but I'll keep you posted. One thing that would concern me is where you say that your wife has never been on a motorcycle and always been afraid of them. Do you mean "never" as in never even been on the back???? Because even on a scooter, its just the open air between you and the pavement. And yes - I've gone down as a passenger - no injuries - and I've been on the back when the Bandit fell over at a corner - lol - stopped a sharp, twisting uphill curb that traffic just never let up to let us get on the main road. My friend held us up as long as he could - but gravity won, he jumped (the cad) and I came tumbling after.

As for me, well after the course, my friend will take me out to a nice, open parking lot and I'll practice the things I can't practice in my driveway. What concerns me most under power is turning - it feels a lot heavier in the front end to me than a motorcycle and I wonder if the "lean" factor is different in cornering. Braking - while you have to learn how "your" machine brakes - and do it over and over until you know. And if I have any doubts, I can afford to switch to a smaller scooter, get in practice this year and park my Burgie until the spring. No financing, so no interest charges. Yes, I wouldn't be happy, but I wouldn't give up my dream and I'd rather be able to ride next year with confidence and safety. And I would keep the smaller scooter for my daughters to boot around on :wink:

So - I think height, yes, matters - weight probably not so much so - strength to a certain degree (I weight train quite seriously), balance absolutely - does your wife bike, rollerblade, ice skate???? Anything that helps you balance while in motion?? I realize not everybody can afford to keep a Burgman around as a shiny red garage ornament for a year - so that is a consideration too.

As I said, I'll be able to give you a better perspective after this weekend. I'm pretty interested in the answer myself.

PattiP
 

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In answer to your question....

No.

No quick or easy solution here.

Bike (bicycle) riding starts at a time when the inner ear and balance and coordination "thing" are all forming. She does ride bikes doesnt she?

My buy on it is this....if she can ride a bicycle, she can ride a scooter - but - also - thats tempered with her getting used to motorized conveyances. I say, if possible, get a mini bike (dont shuck me off here) and let her get used to throttle on throttle off - brakes etc. Hell - go to a go cart track. Then maybe rent a small bike and try that. Make sure she knows about vehicular dynamics. Show her how things "work" as best you can yourself.

Take a bicycle ride with her. If she's relatively adept, then move to the next "phase".

I am assuming that your mate is too valuable to leave "to chance." Newbie riders take weeks and weeks. Be patient. One of those 250's that they use in the MSF might BE the "ticket." :wink:

Pedz.
 

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I learned on a DR200, went to a 125 dirt bike for about 2 years, took the MSF class, then sold that due to knee surgery(couldn't kick start my bike).I now have a quad and have had my Burgie 400 for about a year. I highly recommend learning in dirt, lots of challenges and you can increase your confidence and skill before taking that first street ride. I also highly recommend the book Proficent Motorcycling by David Hough. It really helped me, a new rider at the age of 42, mentally go through cornering, looking where I want to go, not target fixate, explained countersteering, told me how,yes I can lean and not fall over, and lots of other stuff. I almost had the book memorized before I took my first ride. I think the Burgman is a good firstbike but I'm really glad I learned in the dirt first.
 

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I am quite surprised by some of the responses to your questions. :? If this were your 21 year old son asking for the same thing I bet the answers would be totally different.

A bit of background on me before I respond. I am a 47 year old woman, about 125 lbs., 29 inch inseam and good physical condition. Over 30 years ago I drove 250cc - 500cc motorcycles a few times, with the owner on the rear seat. Other than that I had no experience on scooters. I frequently ride a bicycle on busy streets and have been since childhood.

I have always wanted a Vespa, so 2 years ago my husband said I could have one for my birthday if I took the MSF course. I jumped at the opportunity. We both took the course together. I got my Vespa ET4 150cc. I DO NOT stand flat footed on the Vespa. The seat is 30.5 inches off the ground. I can balance it just fine. Anyway, my husband soon purchased a V-Star 1100 for himself. We road together for about 9 months, including a 600+ mile trip up the coast of Florida. By the way, he was able to keep up with me :D Our riding group had several sport bikes, cruisers and a few Harleys and me on the Vespa. That was fine for short trips of 150-200 miles but the Vespa just wasn't enough for longer trips. OK, here comes the Burgman :roll:

We went to the dealer, who had both the 400 and the 650. On the 400 I could sit with my feet on the ground and knees slightly bent. On the 650 I have my legs straight with the balls of both feet on the ground or one flat and the other on my toes. Both bikes are balance well with a low center of gravity. I got the BIG one. I was used to being on my toes with the Vespa and I wanted enough size and power for mountain touring. NO, not in Florida :roll: , but the east side of the USA. I have been riding the 650 for almost a year and it has been great.

I tell you all of this because you need to consider the whole picture. Your wife is an adult. She has probably been driving a car for some time. If she is willing to make the commitment to learning how to drive the scooter she should be the one to choose what she rides.

In south Florida the MSF offer classes on motorcycles or scooters. Check your area maybe they do the same. Before purchasing anything she should take the class and see if she feels comfortable riding in a controlled environment. If she does not, then the decision should be clear. She will not be comfortable on the road. The next issues are practice and responsible driving.

In my area a 50cc - 150cc scooter is probably more dangerous than a 400cc scooter. When people in a car see the small scooter they assume you can't go over 25 MPH and immediately try to pass even if it is not safe to do so. I have had this happen to me many times. I have had my Vespa up to 70 MPH, but this doesn't seem to matter to the car drivers. They just assume. This doesn't happen on the Burgman. Drivers see the size and think I can go fast enough. The 400cc Burgman is the same physical size as the Honda Helix and Reflex, with about the same seat height. It is more powerful though. The issue is when will she need the power and how will she use it. That extra power sometimes make the difference on the highways.

I think the reference to the women who went through the glass window is unfair. A person on a 50cc scooter or even a bicycle could have done the same thing. It is all about responsible driving. That was a very sad mistake on her part.

There are no guarantees in life. Walking, riding a bike, scooter or motorcycle are all dangerous, but so is breathing or drinking the water in some places. Give your wife the same chance someone gave you many years ago. Let her learn to ride and let her ride what she thinks she can handle. I think women are probably more practical than men when it come to choosing their cycles/scooters. We know size isn't everything, but sometimes it makes a difference. :D

Janine :)
 

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I will have to admit that I did not read all of the above posts. However, a B 400 is in reality a bored out B 250. I began riding a 650 Suzuki Savage after a 30 year hiatus from motorcycling. I also am the type of person who will try to use the best equipment that I can for my size (5'4") because I know that within a very short period of time I will be able to adjust to what I have (and from an economic point of view do not want to spend more money nor do I have time for the hassels of trade ins).

The B400, as mentioned earlier, has a wonderful low center of gravity, and the rider controls the speed. An inexperienced rider will be just as scared on a 150, 250 or 400. However, within a very short period of time will learn to readjust to the situation. If your wife is happy with the look, feel, and comfort of the B400 than go for it. It's not like riding a 1000 cc crotch rocket where if you gave it too much throttle could be thrown off backwards! There is a tremendous hesitation on the b400 throttle when you first start anyway. So I don't think there is a large amount of concern for alarm.

However, as mentioned earlier, we do not know size and experience of wife. However, if she feels comfortable on the B400 than go for it. Althouth, you may want to consider a blue B400 as opposed to a silver B400 as the blue is a slower machine :wink:

Evelyn
 

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hmmm...

Hi. I sell Burgmen (heh) and get this question a lot.

For some reason, people see less power and no clutch as ingredients to a safer vehicle.
This is not automatically true.
IF your wife did very well in the MSF course, you may consider the 400 or 650 as a first bike.
IF your wife is the type who is overcome by panic situations (doesn't react, just screams) then you may want to get her a dirt bike to play around with for a while. Maybe even something like a Yamaha xt225 dualsport. That way she can learn how to manage the controls and develop riding skills well without endangering herself or _others_ in the process.
I'll echo others sentiments in the "we don't really know your wife, so have no way of knowing" vein.

Is the Burgman 400 a good first motorcycle? For some, it can be.
 

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Yeah - what flame said....which makes me think... the only diff twixt a scooter and a bicycle (with front and back brakes) is that you dont have to pedal it and you have to manage much more wieght and traffic sitz'.

can she grab the front binder on a (important here -) "good" bicycle at a time when you scream "front brake stop!!" with the up front agreement that yall were just doing a "test for front brakes." Same holds true with just the rear. With a good bicycle she should be able and prove that she can lock the rear up and will lock it up. With a good bicycle (same type of test) she should be able to flip herself over the handlebars with an extreme front brake application. Hell I got flipped over about 5 weeks ago on mine - btw - nuthin but a bruised shoulder...

Bicycles (most) and scooters are driven by power and stopped by brakes. The similarity lyes in the fact that bicycles use "handlebar mounted brake levers" as do most scooters.

Then there is the "third dimention" of knowing how knobology works,,,whats the gas - whats the brake - wheres the gas cap? etc. etc.

patience - patience. like someone else said here - its a gas that your squeeze has the desire to give it a whirl! Shoot - that's almost as good as.....

naw. well - you know what i mean.

I guess that I am a bicycle kind of prsn and I think that scooting and that are very similar.

If she can check out on a good bike then I'd punch her ticket and get her ready ta go. I - however - would do so on a helix or smaller.

more oh2
ciao
pedz
 
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