How Long Until You Became Comfortable? - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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How Long Until You Became Comfortable?

I completed the MSF course in mid-May. I purchased my first bike ('13 Versys) just a couple weeks ago. Since buying the bike, I have had no regrets. I love it. The first week or so I strictly rode it around my neighborhood for an hour or two a day getting to know the friction zone, shifting, braking, etc.

A few days ago I finally ventured onto the street and into Indian lands where nearly no traffic exists, so I could become comfortable at cruising speeds of 40-50mph, upshifting and downshifting. Then the following day I ran my first errand to the store that wasn't too far. It was fun and I loved the ride. I did have one guy almost blow through a stop sign, not paying attention, and that scared the hell out of me.

Anyway, I am still a bit nervous (with butterflies in my stomach) every time before getting on my bike; not because of the stop-sign guy, just in general. Once I begin cruising I become fairly comfortable, but my nerves still keep me from going on busier streets; instead of just the side roads I've been taking that contain less traffic. So I am curious . . .

When you were beginning to ride, how long did it take you and what did you do to become more and more comfortable on your bike, until the nerves finally went away and it all just became natural to you?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by alexg1 View Post
I completed the MSF course in mid-May. I purchased my first bike ('13 Versys) just a couple weeks ago. Since buying the bike, I have had no regrets. I love it. The first week or so I strictly rode it around my neighborhood for an hour or two a day getting to know the friction zone, shifting, braking, etc.

A few days ago I finally ventured onto the street and into Indian lands where nearly no traffic exists, so I could become comfortable at cruising speeds of 40-50mph, upshifting and downshifting. Then the following day I ran my first errand to the store that wasn't too far. It was fun and I loved the ride. I did have one guy almost blow through a stop sign, not paying attention, and that scared the hell out of me.

Anyway, I am still a bit nervous (with butterflies in my stomach) every time before getting on my bike; not because of the stop-sign guy, just in general. Once I begin cruising I become fairly comfortable, but my nerves still keep me from going on busier streets; instead of just the side roads I've been taking that contain less traffic. So I am curious . . .

When you were beginning to ride, how long did it take you and what did you do to become more and more comfortable on your bike, until the nerves finally went away and it all just became natural to you?

Thanks!
First off, alexg1! I'm also a very new rider (first season, '07 Versys is my first bike).. Been riding only a few months and I don't get nervous getting on the bike anymore. When I first started, there was definitely some nerves going on, but for me, I just kept riding, and riding, and riding. As you encounter different situations on the road (good, bad, and swear-worthy) and you figure out how you handle them, I think that does a lot to calm your nerves down, or show you what you need to work on. Experience is the best teacher, but ride to your comfort level (and protect yourself), and you'll eventually get more comfortable.

Again..ride often, ride safe, and always be aware of what's going on around you, and one day you'll walk up to your bike, start it up, put on your gloves and helmet (all your other protective gear is already on!) and you'll just hop on and go. No more butterflies, and you'll never even realize it unless you stop to think about it.

That's my take on things. Others might have different view.
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 04:31 PM
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Ride your versys to the MSF corse, 2 hrs rideing the corse, then ride home
repeate as needed and most of all HAVE FUN and be carefull
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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 04:42 PM
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alexg1,

Welcome to the forum and great question. I'm afraid the question you asked can only be answered in one way. Only with practice and riding experience can you begin to feel comfortable on your bike. I think you're very smart to take it slow and ride in less congested areas. Work on your skills. Find a nice open parking lot and practice everything until you are ready. Everybody is different, for some people they feel comfortable in a week, a month, and others take longer. It's not a sprint but a marathon. And you will learn something everyday...pretty much for the rest of you riding life. You can never know it all. Just have fun, gear up, and ride smart...not faster.

If you can...find an experienced rider to take a few rides with. Make sure to ride your pace and not beyond what make you comfortable. Look for beginner meet up groups, and find a some riding partners or take an advanced BRC with a professional instructor who won't teach you bad habits.

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 05:39 PM
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I've been riding my '08 Versys for about a year and a half. At age 60 this is my first motorcycle. I took the course also, and I'd say only in about the last 6 months or so have I stopped having a case of nerves every time I got on the bike. I mostly commute to work and back on my bike, but that means I am riding just about every day. Some really good advise has been given here, all I can add is that what you are experiencing is probably normal and healthy. Keep at it, it gets easier and more fun every time you ride.
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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 05:47 PM
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I've been riding over 30 years and I still avoid high risk roads. Why put yourself in those fighter pilot situations when there are enjoyable back roads that will get you to your destination. I will pop out on the main road near the business I need to visit and then pop back off as soon as possible.

Do I possess the skills, situational awareness, and experience to ride those roads? Yes I do. But, do all those cagers possess the same skills?

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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 05:55 PM
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I started riding on the street legally when I was 13. At thirteen one is invincible and will live forever. After a few year you learn it was a lie. A little fear is a good thing.
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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the replies. I greatly appreciate the responses so keep them coming along. Undoubtedly I'm in no hurry to hit the highway anytime soon, though next summer I do intend to road trip the Four Corner States and Pacific Northwest by bike; hence my ultimate reason for getting the Versys oppose to other manufacturers out there (given the MSRP comparison), and I'm sure by then my butterflies will be no more.

For now I'll just do as stated, stick to the mellow roads. One bit at a time. Today, I went out once again into Indian lands where nearly no traffic exists. On the way I actually merged into traffic and did alright, which was a confidence boost. However, if anything annoys me it's when waiting for traffic to pass (when making a right onto a main road) so no oncoming motorists can speed up behind you, but at the corner you have a car or two behind you becoming agitated with your waiting . . .
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 07:50 PM
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I'm with waltermitty

I've only been riding for 6 years on a motorcycle, but I had a road bicycle for years off and on and have experience with what cagers are willing to do. So I agree a little fear goes a long way. Be aware of your environment and before making any traffic adjustment think of ANY consequences that might occur from it. Good or bad.


Cheers!


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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 09:56 PM
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I imagine you'll overcome the nervousness as the miles pile up and you become more familiar with the bike. If there are secrets, in my opinion they are to know your limits, and always - always - stay alert. The currently popular phrase is situational awareness - understand the environment through which you're moving, its potential hazards, and what you might have to do to avoid the hazards.

In many ways it's much like learning to fly. When progressing from slower aircraft to faster aircraft, or from open airspace to crowded airspace, what was once comfortable suddenly becomes a case of being behind the power curve. My first instructor used to remind to, none too gently, to keep my head out of the cockpit. That was long before people spoke of situational awareness.

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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 10:15 PM
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This thread is why I love this forum. Quality advice from a vast array of experiences.

I've been riding road bikes for five years and also took the MSF class (which is an excellent beginning!) I learn something new almost every time I ride. I was hit by a car on my last bike and that made me a little gun-shy for a while. Thankfully, I wasn't seriously injured, but it could have been a lot worse and now my family is more fearful of me riding.

Great advice above. There are also great books on riding that are reviewed on this and other forums. Read them. Always be a student of riding, because even the most experienced riders will tell you that you're never a pro (unless, of course, you get paid a bunch of money to ride tracks or managed courses - and even they'll tell you to always learn).

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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-21-2014, 10:19 PM
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To truly get comfortable where everything slows down and the ESP kicks in where you can almost predict everything that is going to happen around you takes some time. Sometimes significant time. Just be patient and you will know it when it happens.
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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 01:11 AM
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as others said, it's fine holding off on the roads that make you nervous, no sense doing something that feels threatening or uneasy while learning

sounds silly but, those times when you feel tension in the hands, shoulders, etc? don't forget to breathe, a few deliberate in and outs, in through nose, out through mouth...can help even things out some when experiencing anxiety

be aware of what's coming next (or could happen next), especially at intersections...slow down, cover the brake, be ready for anything, and when finally certain everyone sees you and is waiting on you, then on your way

and speaking of brakes, practice stops here n there in an open lot as msf probably advised you, you don't want your first urgent stop to be out on the road...especially on this bike since the stock brakes are less than stellar imo

like someone said above, seek out those less traveled back roads so you can be at ease and bond with the bike without distractions, control movements and muscle memory will become more proficient and and you'll feel more comfy when headed out into the highways

be comfy and cautious, never complacent...and look where you want to go
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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 05:00 AM
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never get too comfortabe , I have been riding for nearly 3 years now , started age 47 with a 180cc my first bike and the Versys now for 2 years . I am very wary of traffic light and stop street and never blast through intersections . I do push the V sometimes and cruise at 150kph most of the time on the highway . I have had 1 accident where someone did a u-turn in front of me , it turned out minor as I broke my foot and a light damage to the V , it did wake me up a I was getting cocky on the bike . Just take it easy and the nerves are good as they keep you awake . have fun and safe riding
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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 06:31 AM
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I might suggest what a friend who started riding 4 years ago did. He asked to follow me on a ride and then I would follow him. He wanted to learn the lines that I rode and for me to critique his riding. I gladly complied. Lane position is very important and total awareness of your environment. We rode in the country only, on many rides. I stopped if I saw him do something that needed to be addressed.

A desire to become a better rider is important and I told him that I never stop learning.

Don't forget to cover the front brake with two fingers around traffic and also in areas where deer are frequent road "sharers". Try to relax and stay loose, a light grip on the bars.
You should slowly adapt and get comfortable but always be vigilant and assume others will always play silly buggers on the road. Good riding and welcome!
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post #16 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 06:35 AM
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To get comfortable riding, it all comes down to putting on lots of miles and gaining real-world experience. There are so many situations that you simply cannot imagine until you've encountered them.

In my opinion, one of the most dangerous times is when you first start to get comfortable riding. That's when you have to begin taking extra precautions and pay more attention to what's going on around you.


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2013 Kawasaki Versys, 2012 BMW K1600 GTL, 2013 Triumph Street Triple R, 2006 HD Electra Glide Classic
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post #17 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 07:23 AM
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What everyone else said.... Practice so that you become a very good rider, wear gear for your protection 'just in case', and never become so comfortable you become complacent.

Ride To Live, Live To Ride....no, really!
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post #18 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 07:58 AM
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Welcome. Great question, and great advice from lots of experienced riders here. For me personally I have been riding for about 8 years, and most of the time I get on my bike just like when I get in my truck and don't think twice. But even still every once in a while I still get that same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like many others have said fear is good, and warranted. When you become complacent that's when bad things happen. From the sounds of it you have a head on your shoulders and will probably be fine as long as you keep practicing (every ride is a lesson) and realize the possibilities when on a bike. Remember you can be the best rider in the world, but that does nothing for the cager after a few wobbly pops or with a cell phone. Ride safe, and ride often.

- Ian Thomas
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post #19 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 08:22 AM
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Long time ago, but I can remember that it took me a few weeks of daily riding. Thing is, after I was "comfortable" I also became "confident" and quickly after that I was the proverbial overconfident noob.
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post #20 of 53 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 09:33 AM
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6 years riding for me so I still remember the beginning very well. What worked for me was parking lot practice to get familiar with the mechanics of riding, and then REALLY looking 12 seconds down the road to see what's happening ahead. It allowed me to be proactive instead of reactive, which is a big thing when you are still learning the basics. As someone above said, get your head out of the cockpit.
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