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Motorcycle Safety & Driveability/handling tips on my motorcycle

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Question
Please can you help me. I am a fit female and in my forties, weigh 58kg and 1.63m tall. Bought my dream motorcycle suzuki boulevard 800 cruiser and just love it.From what i read so far this is not an ideal starting bike, but now i have it and just have to learn on it. Been training for 10 weeks and only get to ride over weekends. My boyfriend who is an experienced rider is helping me. My pull away, gearing up and down, breaking,leaning when i ride on an open quite road, all going great so far. my problem is that I put her down twice by making silly mistakes. 1. by stopping on a slight slant and the bike was already over its center of balance when i put my foot out, and 2. while i was training to ride through cones and turn just to sharp for me and speed to low. In both cases it was the weight of the bike which pushed me down. Please could you give me advise on how i should train on my bike considering my riding experience. I am very very cautious and don't take chances, but seriously unhappy about my falls! Even if it takes me years, i want to ride well and just a bit worried that i might be doing the wrong things first. I am in no position to buy another smaller bike to train on, and definitely not going to sell her. Far to in love with her! Please please help!

Answer
Brigitte,

Thank you for the question. I hope I can provide some valuable advice. First, let me suggest some reading material. There is a book called Proficient Motorcycling, by David Hough. I highly recommend that you obtain a copy of it and read the scenarios and exercises given in the book. Second, if there is a formal training course convenient to you, I also highly recommend you enroll in a course. The benefit of having a trained motorcycle coach offer suggestions while observing your riding can give you some very helpful tips that you can then go and practice on your own or with your experienced boyfriend.

Let me offer some suggestions that may assist. Please remember I can not observe you riding and am only offering suggestions based on observing riders I have observed who are at the skill level you are describing.

Here are some critical tips.

1 -  when coming to a stop always try to plan ahead so the handlebars are absolutely straight. If the front wheel is turned even slightly it can cause the motorcycle to lean heavily to one side and causing you to drop the bike.

2 - try to always keep your eyes directed toward the path of travel you intend to ride. Looking downward for even a split second can cause you to lose some balance. When riding through a slow tight corner turn your head (chin pointed where you want to go). Don't just turn your eyes.

I don't think it will be necessary to purchase another motorcycle. Take your time and carefully monitor the riding situations you place you and your motorcycle into as you gain experience and your riding skills develop.

I am encouraged that you have taken the time to seek advice and possess the desire to improve your riding skills.

Please try using some of these tips and write back to me with your experience and let me know if they helped. I can then suggest some further exercises for you.

Please take your time and be safe. Most importantly relax and enjoy motorcycling.

Tom Wright

Motorcycle Safety & Driveability

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Tom Wright

Expertise

Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Rider Training, Motorcycle Driver Licensing and Inspections, Motorcycle Touring

Experience

Retired in 2008 from the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission where I held various positions, most notably as Director of Inspections and Licensing and the State Administrator for the Motorcycle Safety Education Program. During that time I served with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)as Region 1 Chair and Vice-Chair of the Engineering and Vehicle Inspection committee and member of the Task Force on Altered Height Vehicles and various other committees for 20 plus years. Currently, President of Central Jersey Rider Training, Inc. an MSF and NJMVC approved training provider. I starting riding at an early age and have been riding motorcycles for over 40 years.

Organizations
State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) Citizens Academy Alumni Association

Publications
Motorcycle Consumer News - March and April, 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper on The Effect of Tire Rolling Radius on Pedal Force Gain and Rollover Propensity of a Light-Duty Truck

Education/Credentials
Currently hold a MSF RiderCoach certification. Certified Public Manager certification from Rutgers University.

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