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Discussion Starter #1
With all of the do's and don'ts in learning to ride a scooter/bike and then throw in the info I have read about practicing stops, curves, countersteering and the rest, I am wondering is it all going to be worth it or are there so many things to watch for (road hazards too) that I won't relax enough to enjoy the ride? I have never ridden any bike even as a passenger so this is all new. I intend to take my state's Motorcycle Class next week just to get a license. I didn't want to learn the manual, which is a reason I bought a scooter, but will have to anyway since that is all they teach. Any encouragement out there for me? If it makes a difference, I am a 54 year old woman.
 

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Ease up, moondaz. You'll do fine.

The class will be the most fun you've ever had. 8)

Steve

Gear up!
 

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Welcome to the BurgmanUSA forums moondaz. Glad to have you join us. While there is a lot of precautions you need to take when riding, the enjoyment you get from it is well worth it. I HIGHLY suggest going and taking the MSF Basic Rider Course (as you have scheduled) as it will each you a lot of useful information. Once you start riding, it is normal to be tentative on a new bike. The more you ride, the better your skills become as a rider while learning the limits of your bike and it will increase your confidence level. Once you get confident, you sometime tend to forget the dangers inherent in riding (most people never consider in a car they are meeting another vehicle a few feet away at a combined speed of over 100 MPH because they're used to it). That's why the 'reminders' you see on the forum are important. They make us remember to be a little more cautious in our daily rides. While riding is not for everyone, those who take the time to learn usually get immense enjoyment out of it. Being mentally prepared and having proper gear are just something I think of as requirements to ride safe. Hope you keep the 400 S and enjoy it as much as I have my 400!
 

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Try practising on something less expensive, somewhere void of obstacles, on something low to the ground and with a little bit of power. A 50cc moped in a large, empty parking lot or a field would be perfect. Wear a helmet and protective clothing, and make sure there aren't any shop windows around you could run into.
Honestly, it's good to be a bit scared at first. You learn some good habits that way. But it's very worth it and not very dangerous after a short while. You made the right choice with a scooter instead of a standard shifting bike.

I'm quite a seasoned rider, and frankly, the only thing that causes me concern is highway riding at night - animals can run out in front of you, or those ever-present pieces of blown-out truck tires you don't see 'til it's too late.

Take your time, and don't feel like you have to keep up with the group by going faster than you're comfortable with. Trust me, this is SO much fun and it is SO worth it.
 

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Actually if you have no fear you should not be riding. You probably shouldn't be driving a car either for that matter. But you quickly learn to channel that concern into alertness, intelligent scanning for potential danger, and a thought process that plans contingency actions in advance should you need them. This becomes automatic after a while, and does not detract from the thrill of riding.
 

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A lot of the things you worry about now will become second nature to you very soon.
We all started were you are now.
Just keep the fear and use it, just don't let it get the better of you. :)
And welcome forum
 

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Go to the State Motorcycle class relaxed. Don't think about all there is to learn and look out for. Go to class and enjoy yourself as you will be taught the proper way to do things by professionals. The instructors will make sure you don't get in over your head. Try to remember all the fun you had riding a bike as a kid, it will be that all over again!
 

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I was scared poopless before I took the course. I took the MSF course very nervous. After the MSF course and a few months of practice and staying away from lots of traffic, I felt confident enough to go out for longer and further rides. I ride an 03 Volusia right now (when I can catch Billy at work and my boy with his granny. lol) it's an 805 cc bike. The 400 I had was a LOT easier to ride. Much easier because I didn't have to concentrate on my feet and hands working together.

I think you should take the course and see how things go from there. Granted you have a lot to think about when riding but you have a lot to think about when riding a bicycle or driving a car.
 

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Relax...

I got back on a bike after a 35 year layoff. It is easy. Just take it slow , and if possible ride in areas you feel safe, A uncrowded road, parking lots etc. Slowly build up to longer rides.
 

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Don't worry too much. After you take the class, stick to areas you know that are close to home, and don't think you have to ride beyond your abilities. Your skill level will catch up faster than you think. As a note, it's actually easier to ride a bike above 20 mph than below, so if you spend your first efforts trying to go as slow as possible, it will seem alot harder than otherwise. Don't go too fast at first, but going very slow is an acquired skill. I'm assuming you are getting a new bike, so you have to go slow for the first 500 miles anyway to break it in. You'll be fine.
 

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Welcome Moondaz! :)
Like everyone is saying, relax and have FUN during the class! They will take you step by literal step through the learning process. Do not think for a moment at your young 54 age you are in any way handicapped. We had a gentleman who was 70 in our class and he passed the course. So can you! :)
It is worth it for me.
 

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The MSF class will give you what you need to start out. I took it before I bought my first bike in 2000. I've taken other classes since, but that first one is the core, and I still think about something or other that I learned there every time I'm on the bike.

Be careful, but not afraid.
 

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don't worry, but stay alert!

Moondaz

I've got ya beat!!!! I'm a 56 year-old guy who also had never ridden. About three weeks ago, I bought a 650. After it was delivered to my house, I stood looking at it and thought....HMMM! " No shifting, how hard can it be?" I took the bike out in my neighborhood. After driving into a neighbors lawn planter and then dropping the bike on my left leg (OUCH!) I parked it and waited for the MSF course, which I just completed last week. BEST THING I EVER DID!

As the other folks are telling you, wait for the course, stay a little bit nervous ( this is normal and helpful ) and pay attention in the class. You'll be practicing all the techniques you mentioned at low speeds, on a small bike and under the watchful eye of some very experienced riders.

Take it slow, stay in where you know the layout and practice, practice, practice all the things you learned at the school. On bikes, experience IS
the very best teacher!

By the way, where are you from ?

Good Luck and HAVE FUN!!!!!

Bill
 

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moondaz,

Boy, am I glad to know that I am in good company! I was so excited to take the MSF class last December, and when I got there, I got so scared. My husband and I signed up for the same class. I thought it would be good to be there with someone I knew. :roll: I rode a Puch moped when I was a teen, and thought, how hard could a motorcycle be? It seemed the instructors spoke quickly, they assumed I had ridden a motorcycle before, and there was one instructor (there were always two instructors in the parking lot) that was one big jerk. :knob: I picked a motorcycle that couldn't get into neutral, so I would always be the last one trying to fart with the cycle to get it into neutral (so embarrassing :oops: ). I almost started crying :crybaby: and was shaking from being so frustrated. I ended up quitting after 2 hours. :banghead: (at this point in the story, you're probably asking yourself if this story is ever gonna get better...)

Fast forward a couple months. I already paid the $200 for the class and, dammit, I was gonna get my money's worth. Before I went to the make-up class, I practiced riding on my husband's BMW K75 (750cc) in a high school parking lot. That was the best thing I ever did. :cheers: I practiced Fine-c and all that stuff they'll teach you in the classroom portion. The main thing I learned (hind-sight being 20/20) is that the most important thing is your attitude.

I noticed that the people who had been riding for a long time and thought they didn't need to be in MSF class were the ones that had the worst scores at the end of the practical. One guy actually dumped his bike during the exam! (They drove Harleys, but that may just be coincidental. :sign5: )

Just remember that the MSF class is there to teach you to be safe. You'll learn so much and be so much more confident on a cycle after the class (there a huge difference between Day 1 of the class and Day 2 of the class even!).

The more you ride, the more it becomes second nature. You will be having a blast in no time. A little fear is healthy for you and for those riding near you. I watched my husband grow from newbie rider to competent rider in just a few months. He LOVES his ride! (I, sadly, have yet to find a scooter to buy.)
 

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Welcome aboard. The MSF Beginners Course will get you started in the right direction. As others have said if you get to the point where you don't fear (or respect) the bike/scooter you shouldn't be riding. Remember to keep your eyes up and point your nose in the direction you want to go. Old saying, "If you look down, you'll go down.". Parking Lot practice is a good thing, granted it's easier to ride at speed, but you also have to be able to ride slow.

One of the hardest tests I ever took was in Japan for an International License. One part involved riding along on top of a strip of cement about 10" wide, 20 meters long that was sloped at each end (only about 2" above the ground surface). From the time your front wheel started up onto the strip of cement until your back wheel came off at the other end 10 seconds had to elapse. If you don't think 10 seconds is a long time, just try riding down a painted stripe for that length of time. Less time than 10 seconds and you failed, and also if either of your tires came off. Then you came back the next week and tried again. Nothing like that in any test I've taken in the US.

Always be alert and ride safe.
 

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Ohio has changed their motorcycle test, thank goodness.

Prior to the change about 10 years ago, they did a similar skill check. They took mini orange, cones, about 4 inches high, and put them less than a foot apart for about a 30 foot run. You had to ride between them at a very VERY low speed, and they measured the time you took. If it was too quick, you got one more shot at it. If you knocked over one of the cones, you failed the skill.

There is nothing to be scared of If you are not up to riding, the MSF course will either get you there or verify that you never will be there, if you know what I am saying.

My mother dumped my fathers bike twice before she found out she wasn't up for motorcycle operation, so it ain't for everybody. But if you pass the basic course, you are ready to go.

Good luck!!
 

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Our instructors told us (more than once) they are not there to teach us how to ride a motorcycle, that it takes a long time to learn how to ride.
They are there to teach us the fundamentals so we may safely continue on and teach ourselves. I agree that attitude is a major factor. Just go, have fun, listen and you will be happy you did! :D
 

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Learn to ride

Hi Moondaz! :hello2:

Everybody here is being pretty supportive, I think. I have some notion of what you're thinking and I thought I'd add my two cents as well.

I took a class when I started motorcycling. It was a small class, with only myself (young male) and two women (age indeterminate, I'll say 40-something). It was a great class, with a great, knowledgeable, friendly instructor who was obviously doing it because he loved it. We started in the classroom, and then the next day moved into the parking lot on Honda 250's.

It was at this point that one of the women dropped out. We hadn't even started the bikes up: we were taking turns pushing each other around, and that was enough to unnerve her. Then we moved on to do a day and a half of parking lot maneuvers. At noon on the second day, it was time for the road ride.

It was at this point that the other woman dropped out. She didn't feel confident enough to go out into traffic (we're talking about a small city here, not REAL traffic), and so she took her leave at that point, saying she would continue some other time.

The end of the story is that I did the road ride, passed my test and got my licence.

What did I think of the situation? Well, my nature was to try to be supportive of my classmates and encourage them to continue, but in the case of the first dropout, I don't think she really wanted to be there. I don't know for sure, but I think a (male) influence was pushing her to learn to ride. She didn't want to, and I think it was the right decision to stop before she really got in over her head. The second woman was probably smarter than me: two days of riding and then an exam to get a licence is not enough. There is no way that I was ready to take the training wheels off, and yet I managed to pull off the pass. The second dropout figured out that she needed more time to absorb what she'd learned, and decided to step back. That was healthy and smart.

Fast forward a decade or so...

I'm still somewhat nervous when I hop on Der Skoot. No, "nervous" is the wrong word. "Alert" is more like it. It's when the alertness lapses that things go wrong, like seeing junk on the road too late, or not noticing turning traffic. But if I take it easy and leave lots of space to see and maneuver, riding is relaxing and very enjoyable. It just takes time, confidence (not too much), practice and patience.

Simon
 

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Taking MSF course on scooter

Hi Moondaz, and welcome from another relative newcomer!

I've noticed that most people who talk about the MSF beginner class talk about taking it on the 250cc motorcycles. Since I wasn't interested in all that shifting, when I called up I asked could I take the course on a scooter. They did provide me with a 50cc Yamaha Zuma, but the throttle was touchy, and I ended up not passing my first test. I came back on the following weekend on my Yamaha Vino 125 and had no problem. I'm in Washington state, Seattle area, and I wonder whether we're one of the few areas that actually offer the MSF class on scooters. There's actually an all-scooter class, but I didn't want to have to wait until June for it.

My husband also was able to take his MSF beginner class on his scooter, a Yamaha Majesty (400cc). We both had to provide full coverage insurance papers to the instructors at the site, though.

I did have to give the MSF people enough notice to provide a scooter at the location where I took my test, but I think you should ask if your local organization can set you up with one. There was quite a range of riders of both genders and all ages, from 18 to 71, in my classes, and everybody seemed able to master the controls of the motorcycles eventually (though I wasn't the only one not to pass the first time).

Of course, I did have to put up with a lot of kidding from my classmates and instructors, and the instructors I had didn't really seem to know what to do with me when the other students were practicing motorcycle-specific tasks (such as shifting gears). But I'm glad I was able to take the course on my scooter since that's what I intended to ride. Some people seemed to think (and they may be right) that you might as well learn to ride the motorcycle; the scooter will be so much easier and you'll already know how to ride the "harder" one.
 
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