Advice to My Son Who Wants to Ride - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-01-2015, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Advice to My Son Who Wants to Ride

I recently let my 28 year old son know that I started riding again. His response was eagerness to start himself. He's never ridden before. This was my advice to him, slightly edited to remove some of the personal stuff. I thought some of the newer riders might benefit, like my son.
  1. Plan slowly and cautiously; ease into it. A lot of what creates survivability is being disciplined and thoughtful about your process. Right when you think “I have it”, you will crash. Riding is dangerous beyond compare and even the most experienced riders go down.
  2. Consider starting with off road only - get a dirt bike and a truck to transport it. This is the safest way to learn motorcycle handling and falling without much risk of being seriously hurt. You will fall at some point in the early learning, better to fall in the dirt where there aren’t cars and light poles to kill you.
  3. Follow the ATGATT rule - All The Gear All The Time. That isn’t just a helmet. Gear I consider mandatory:
    a) Full face helmet of the best brands out there as tight fitting as you can stand without reducing your concentration. With full face shield, always down. I use a Shoei Quest full face helmet in white. Do not use patterned or dark colors - use hi vis.
    b) Leather - best is leather top and bottom, but leather riding jacket is a must, with full armor. Mine is Alpinestars GP Plus R perforated with full upgraded armor on my spine, shoulders, chest, elbows. It weighs a ton, but I know it will protect me.
    c) I don’t have full leather suit or pants, so I use separate armor on hips, thighs, knees, and tail bone under Kevlar lined jeans. I use separate armor from Forcefield under the Kevlar jeans to achieve this.
    d) Riding boots - I use Alpinestars SMX 6 vented boots.
    e) Riding gloves - I use Alpinestars or Dainese, high quality gloves designed for racing with carbon fiber or titanium on the knuckles.
    f) Hi visibility vest and other hi vis gear - the difference in behavior from drivers and cops is astounding. Drivers think “he wants me to see him, so I will”; cops attitude changes from “potential problem” to “are those drivers watching out for that rider”. Some older drivers may also think you are in some official capacity so give you wider birth. Just do it, don’t even consider what other’s might think. I’m using a Bilt hi vis vest in lime yellow over the leather jacket. I remember trying to get you to wear one of these when biking, don’t be like you were then, hi vis can save your life and makes the whole experience more fun and relaxing.
    g) Acquire the gear before the bike, do not skimp.
  4. Take the MSF class and listen, take notes, study the material before and after the class. Take it seriously.
  5. After the MSF class read “A Twist of The Wrist II”. Do not read it thinking you are going to race on the street or track or try to go fast like described in the book, read it to learn the dynamics of a bike. Why throttle control is so important, why breaking in a turn will get you killed, why slowing prior to a turn is mandatory, etc.
  6. Take to heart the principle that you are invisible to drivers, never ever trust them. Every intersection or entry onto your path is a potential for someone to hit you. Green lights and clear roads don’t stop people from entering your right of way, slow down and be ready when approaching these. Use your horn to get drivers attention - I do constantly.
  7. Even if you get your M1 right after the MSF class, behave as though you are on a learners permit. That means no freeway riding and no night riding. Both are far more likely to be fatal if you are hit or fall.
  8. Do not ride in groups of riders, even if they are your friends. The group dynamic creates pressure and distractions that are dangerous. Less experienced riders feel pressure to keep up and end up riding above their ability, which results in crashes. Also, cops see it as hooliganism and will imply racing, even if it isn’t happening, which can result in felony convictions.
  9. Study YouTube motorcycle crash videos and stories. Learn from them. These will help you see where bikers and drivers go wrong and solidify in your head the need for all of the above.
  10. Every bike is different and requires different handling. Don’t think you get it because you got comfortable on the MSF class bikes. Every new bike makes you like a new rider. Throttle response, breaking, weight distribution, seat height, peg location, all different. Treat every new bike like you are starting from scratch, like you never rode before.
  11. You may find your own rules beyond these...

Last edited by banhmi; 02-01-2015 at 08:10 PM.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-01-2015, 08:20 PM
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Rubber side down. Shoulda got him into it earlier. My son (11) rides the Honda Grom around the yard and cul de sac all day if I let him. By legal age he will be good to go.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-01-2015, 09:35 PM
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Perhaps a little more detailed than I might have been but I don't have a son. And my daughter had no interest in piloting two wheels. Still, all good advice.

Two lessons from our ocean boating years come to mind and loosely convert to motorcycling. The most important lesson that can be learned is how little one really knows. The second is that the sea is very large and unforgiving and my boat is very small and fragile.

Hope he heeds your advice - or at least most of it - and enjoys his two wheel adventure.

Arion

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-01-2015, 11:09 PM
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Good things to share with him.

People comment to me all the time that motorcycles are dangerous and ask, "Aren't you scared of getting hurt?" My response, is, "Yes. It helps keep me safer out there."

On a side note, I realized today that at least half of the time that I take the car out in the Bay Area (I live in SF and commute to the East Bay and Peninsula) I come within inches of someone hitting me. Usually, they're drivers who are speeding along and weaving in and out. Invariably, at some point they try to change lanes into me. I'm watching for them, so I'm never surprised (but always kinda pissed). I got home today (after one such occurrence) and was wondering why this happens so much more to me when I'm in the car and not nearly as much as when I'm on the bike. I'm sure that it's because when I'm on the bike I'm far more conscious of not being next to (or anywhere near if possible) of those drivers...

Even though it would clearly be the other persons fault if I got hit by someone changing lanes, in some ways, I play a role in it too...

Always leave yourself an out!

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 12:21 AM
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On a personal level I would ease up on some of the gear requirements and focus more on training. There are other companies out there that make good gear besides Alpinestars and Dainese (and not all of their stuff is great). Same for helmets, high dollar brands are buying you more comfort than extra protection. Finding the brand that fits you is more important than it being Shoei or Arai.

I would recommend more dollars on further training and making that a continual part of your journey than simply passing MSF and then buy a book (though if your buying books then Proficient Motorcycling would be my first).

I also don't subscribe to the "you will fall" mentality. Seems to set expectations on the low side for me. I prefer "if you fall you f***ed up" attitude to "oh well, everybody falls".

But good luck to him!
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 06:32 AM
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The modifications I would make to the list is that I would stress the reading materials first. "Proficient Motorcycling" by David Hough starts out with a story of a serious crash. That should get one's attention. I would get him all the Proficient Motorcycling books, as well as "Total Control" by Lee Parks.

I would also recommend dirt first, but instead of a straight up dirt bike, I would recommend a dual sport so he could venture out on the back roads as skills progress. Also, stress riding in an open field first. Trees are as dangerous as light poles and cars to the panic stricken out of control rider.

Both my boys played with the 15 year old Honda 250 dual sport when they were in their teens. Neither caught the bug, and I am kinda glad about that.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alba View Post
I also don't subscribe to the "you will fall" mentality. Seems to set expectations on the low side for me. I prefer "if you fall you f***ed up" attitude to "oh well, everybody falls".
Agreed, and not everybody falls. It is not a foregone conclusion...

Quote:
Originally Posted by twowheeladdict View Post
Both my boys played with the 15 year old Honda 250 dual sport when they were in their teens. Neither caught the bug, and I am kinda glad about that.
Yep, not everyone should ride motorcycles. I'm both encouraging and discouraging when someone talks to me about wanting to ride.

The single biggest thing to take care of is education. So, MSF or similar course.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 11:49 AM
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All very sound advice.
MSF, In my mind, Should be mandatory for all motorcycle riders. Honestly even after years of riding in the dirt when I took the course I learned so much so quick that and surprisingly still today find myself using a lot of the simple things I learned. Looking through the turn and "slow, look, press and roll" are engraved into my mind forever. Object fixation is another biggie.
I hope if he decides to get on two wheels he heeds your advice.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 11:31 AM
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Well, I'm pretty sure you talked him out of it!
JK
But no way I would have started riding if there was a 10-15k minimum investment. I agree with the gear first and buy the best you can afford, but race quality track gear is not really a requirement. In my experience most people that wear it tend to ride the street like it's the track. You are the exception, obviously. Everytime I've fallen off a bike I hit my knee or my *ss, and sometimes both. But I've never hit my knuckles. In my world good comfortable lightweight gear that is adaptable to different riding conditions is a better solution than dressing like you're going to ride Moto GP. Or fight crime in Gotham.
When my son decided he wanted to start riding (at 25) I paid for his MSF class. I let him ride my only bike I was willing to see dropped ('92 KLR). When that didn't work so well (too tall for a newby) I bought a Hawk GT that'd been around the track a time or two. It lived at my house for the first year and is a big reason I bought a Versys (light bikes are fun!). He bought it from me, but 6 months later decided he wanted an SV650S and sold the Hawk to another Newby rider.
He started out wearing my "B" gear. Then bought some stylish Dianese stuff that looked the biz but squeezed his balls when he rode the bike. He bought a used Aerostich onesie that worked pretty well until he could swing the dough for a Roadcrafter made just for him.
He took the Total Control Advanced Rider Course a couple years ago, and today is one of the safest, most squared-away riders I know. Had I thrown up a bunch of seemingly impossible hurdles for him to get over before he started riding and found out how much fun it was I wouldn't have one of my best ride-partners. And we would have missed out on a lot of good times together.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-05-2015, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by banhmi View Post
I recently let my 28 year old son know that I started riding again. [/LIST]
Having not ridden a bike in 40 years, and back then my only training was on a moped, I took a long time to search out and plan, and ended up following many of the steps you outlined. From the type of bike I got to how I dressed kept changing the more I read and listened. After finishing the safety class I realized that I was only an expert at driving slow in a parking lot since I had only logged less then 12 hours on a 250cc something. My plans changed to newer, less power, taller, more visability, more protection and realize that this would be a never ending learning process. I'll be learing until the day I quit riding, and yes, I do not trust anyone around me on the road unless it's someone who I trust on their bike. Besides ATGATT, I stongly profess to installing a Stebel or some other loud horn right away. I think I used it everytime I riden since I installed it back in June.

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-05-2015, 07:36 PM
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I also don't subscribe to the "you will fall" mentality. Seems to set expectations on the low side for me. I prefer "if you fall you f***ed up" attitude to "oh well, everybody falls".
I think the OP gave sound advice, but I tend to agree with this statement to some extent as well. Most of the time riders could navigate around accidents if they knew how. But it's not always the case. I had a deer jump out of the woods in front of me with next to no time to comprehend it, let alone do anything about it. The safety editor of Rider magazine bit the dust in a similar situation. It happens. All the gear in the world ain't gonna absorb the energy of a human going from 60 to zero in microseconds.

Riding is a great experience. I've spent my life seeking out great places to do it. But I don't kid myself that it comes without a cost. Serious injury and death are always a mistake or unexpected event away. If you're not willing to roll the dice, better to step away from the table.
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