Possibly a very silly newbie question... - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:06 AM Thread Starter
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Possibly a very silly newbie question...

I'm a new rider from Raleigh, NC. After a lot of research, decided that the Versys was by far the best bike on the market and bought a gently used 2009. I've signed up for the MSF class in a couple of weeks, and I've been puttering around side roads for a few weeks now and doing a lot of reading. I struck out on the interstate for the first time last night and this morning.

I'm really shocked with how much I feel "blown around." At 45-55, I don't really struggle with gusts very much, but doing 75 I felt like I was going to get blown out of the lane a couple of times. Is this just something you get used to and learn to compensate? Is the Versys inherently more susceptible to this due to light weight or height? Or am I doing something wrong (too tight on the handlebars, locked elbows, something like that)?

Thank you all for the help.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:09 AM
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Or am I doing something wrong (too tight on the handlebars, locked elbows, something like that)?

Thank you all for the help.
You are too tight on the handlebars. You need to relax more, and yes, it is something you will get used to with more experience. I hardly notice the wind anymore when I ride.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:18 AM
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OR....you could flip the screen upside down, itīs bloody awful stock position.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:24 AM
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You will get used to the wind. I used to get tense and stiff when he wind blew. The faster I went the more nervous I became. Also, instead of leaning into a turn I would sit strait up and push on the handle bars. I had to slow down significantly so that I wouldn't cross into the other lane. The more you ride, the more comfortable you will be with your bike. Your question is a good question. No need to feel silly here my friend.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:29 AM
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I Hold on loosely in windy conditions (and any other time) and stay in the center of the lane instead of the left side and when the side winds hit you, the bike will swing like a pendulum under with your contact points (tires) moving back and forth from a few inches to a foot or so in a hard gust but your head/helmet will stay in pretty much the same position in relation to the center of the lane. In more extreme side wind conditions, slow down until you feel comfortable. I have ridden in 50 mph side winds and have never been blown out of my lane or off the road but I did slow down to 35 or 40 mph in those conditions. Yes, and turning the windshield upside down will help with wind noise.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:33 AM
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It's not as if you are any lighter than any other average motorcycle, aside from a half-ton harley. I had the same issue with my XT225 and I thought for sure it was because of the light weight. It wasn't. Wind can be a problem even for huge bikes and experienced riders.

You just have to let the bike track straight on it's own, and if you have a steady wind strong wind from one side, kind of shift your weight towards that side a little to compensate if the bike seems to be drifting. Also be careful around trucks, they do effect the air around them.

Like mudarra said: release your deathgrip, and keep practicing. Don't let yourself get 'blown' into another lane. If you feel that happening correct your steering to avoid it.

I heard of a guy in my area who bought a brand new bike, 20,000$ custom job, was riding it down the highway, and they said he got blown into another lane onto an oncoming truck. Now unless there was a freak tornado: we all know it was from an unfortunate lack of experience and there is a lesson to be learned, but because he died we're all gracious and treat it like it was a freak accident.

That MSF course should tell you all most of everything you need to know about wind, if they don't: make sure you bring it up. Also ask lots of questions, the instructor just have a lot of real world knowledge that is good have have express vocally. It's also something that everyone taking it with you ought to know how to deal with.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:47 AM
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How much do you weigh? On the rides you felt this wind issue what was the wind speed and direction (cross wind) relative to you direction of travel?
I am a big guy and never have this except in a 35mph cross wind. I could imagine a light person 150lb'r experiencing this on a bike. And Versys is a rather light tall bike. Technique and time to get more comfortable riding should reduce the dis ease.

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Originally Posted by DJFlowe View Post
I'm really shocked with how much I feel "blown around." At 45-55, I don't really struggle with gusts very much, but doing 75 I felt like I was going to get blown out of the lane a couple of times. Is this just something you get used to and learn to compensate? Is the Versys inherently more susceptible to this due to light weight or height? Or am I doing something wrong (too tight on the handlebars, locked elbows, something like that)?

Thank you all for the help.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 10:45 AM
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im a new street rider too.. 700mi on my v.

i feel like i get blown around a little, but never enough to really get the bike off track. it's mostly crosswinds pushing my helmet around. once i got comfortable with that i just roll with it and feel fine at speed on the highway and in crosswinds.

i have, however, felt uncomfortable when some big truck jerk blows by 10-15mph faster than me. that sudden blast of wind is a bit unnerving, but typically i see it coming and mentally prepare for it.

i think it's mostly in your head and you'll be more comfortable with more experience. i know i will.

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 10:52 AM
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You'll get used to the wind. I think every rider goes through that. You spend so many years in a car doing highway speeds in still air. Even with the windows down it's not the same. Give it a little time--you'll get used to using your abs a little bit to fight the wind. You'll also find that balance spot where you're leaning slightly into the wind and letting it support you. After a while that just becomes second nature.

I'd rather be riding.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, everyone. The advice is really helpful. I think I am getting nervous and putting a "death grip" on the bars. I'm going to spend a while on the interstate this afternoon and get used to it, and learn to compensate. As long as I'm not committing some mistake, I imagine I'll adapt after a couple of hours.

Again, thank you all. I really appreciate it.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 12:20 PM
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We get pretty wicked winds in Alberta and I've had time I've ridden at ~35 degree angles on the highway to stay in my lane, but you get used to it and learn to compensate.

Great idea on the training course to dude! Glad to see you around.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 03:03 PM
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Trim Tab effect

You could also consider extending your knee out to the upwind side of the bike. It's like using the trim tabs on the rudder of an airplane, to offset the effect of a crosswind. It causes the bike to crab into the wind, to a certain extent, and reduces the effects of gusts.

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 06:25 AM
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I feel a bit more affected by wind on my Versys compared to my TDM. It is a taller bike.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 12:01 PM
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When I first bought my versys I thought the same thing. The V is my first street bike that is capable of going over 60 miles per hour.

I was nervous the first couple weeks on the freeway with the wind. Especially going over the ship channel bridge which is pretty tall and can have some nasty cross winds. Once I had to put a serious lean on the bike just to keep going straight.

As someone said, after a while you'll learn to adapt to the wind and it will become second nature. Sometimes when I feel a crosswind I'll make a slight adjustment by pushing on the handlebar grip from the direction of the wind. You sit a little taller and straighter on the versys so you get more wind from it....but you'll get used to it.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 12:40 PM
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It's my opinion that many here (and elsewhere, too) think that taking an MSF course is the only thing you should do to learn to ride. No doubt, it gives you a chance to physically experience the dynamics of riding a bike. I recommend it to everyone.

However, there are a number of excellent books and resources out there that will help you understand how a motorcycle works, as well as how every single motion you make and everything else on the road will affect the safety of the experience.

My library includes(so far):

MSF Guide to Motorcycling Excellence...Good basic guide

Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough...Excellent basics

Proficient Motorcycling, Mastering the Ride, by David Hough...Expands on the first book, Excelllent!

A Twist of the Wrist, by Keith Code....Concentrates on Throttle, weight transfer, positioning in turns. More about track, but much transfers to street. Excellent books

A Twist of the Wrist II, by Keith Code....Expands upon his first book. Keith concentrates upon what he calls "Survival Reactions" (FEAR to the rest of us) like gripping the bars to tightly, and suggests ways to combat the instinctive reactions, and explains why those have the potential to kill you. Really good stuff!

Total Control, by Lee Parks..... Another excellent book, sometimes a little Karmic.

Sportriding Techniques, by Nick Ienatsch....Excellent read for street riding.

Sportbike Suspension Tuning, by Andrew Trevitt....All you want or need to know regarding those mysterious things like trail, sag, shocks, forks, and setting them up properly.

I figure I spend 2-3 hours reading and trying understand and apply principles and techniques found in these and other books for every hour in the saddle. I've probably gone over each of these books about 5 times now and I pick up something new each time. I also make notes of what I want to focus on and take them with me on the rides I take on my "course" in the mountains west of me.

In reality it exempts me from having to watch HGTV and the Food Channel with the wife for hours on end.

V-Zee

"I don't want a pickle, I just want to ride my Motor-sickle"
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post #16 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 01:39 PM
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Ya know, I bought that book, Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough, but I haven't found any earth shattering secret riding tips. Seems pretty common sense to me, and a lot of the techniques he mentions are taught in the MSF courses, both basic & advanced. Don't get me wrong, good book & techniques, but the more of him I read, the more I get the feeling he rides like a grandma. No offense to Mr. Hough intended...


Oh, and DJ, you'll get used to the wind. Compensating will become more of a reflex than something you think about. Just take your time & be careful. Don't rush it. Seat time is the BEST way to get better.




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post #17 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegrider View Post
You could also consider extending your knee out to the upwind side of the bike. It's like using the trim tabs on the rudder of an airplane, to offset the effect of a crosswind. It causes the bike to crab into the wind, to a certain extent, and reduces the effects of gusts.
+1 on this, works for me in very strong winds
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post #18 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 06:03 PM
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All the above are good suggestions. As with so many things, the answer is 'practice, practice, practice'... Stay within your comfort level and you'll find it becomes familiar fairly soon.

PM me when you get a chance. I'm over in Durham (and work in Raleigh). Let's find some time on a weekend to compare bikes. -- Mark

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post #19 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 09:44 PM
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We get pretty wicked winds in Alberta and I've had time I've ridden at ~35 degree angles on the highway to stay in my lane, but you get used to it and learn to compensate.
I find it a bit dodgy in high winds and long sweepers around open fields with mixed bushlines...it can be rather harrowing, but trying to keep the bike somewhat centered on the pavement, while difficult, leaves maximum room for gusts....it's not a lot of fun riding straight down the road at 35 degrees...even less fun on big sweepers...gotta slow down considerably, just my experience.

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post #20 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2010, 07:18 PM
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I was thinking about this earlier today, when I rode back from work with the 25 mph crosswinds. I used to have the 'death grip' on this bike but, after a year ( and about 4k miles ), it's second nature to deal with it. Haven't been on the 'interstate' yet ( there's only one in the state near me and I avoid it even with the car ) but on the faster roads I go to the right side of the lane when I see a truck coming the other way. What gets really interesting is when the truck cuts the 30 mph crosswind which makes you go towards it, what fun.

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