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Old 05-22-07, 07:04 AM   #1
DogBoy
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Learning to ride a motorcycle- skill transfer?

Yes, I know this is Bike forums as in Bicycle, not motorcycle, which is why I put this in Foo.

I've been thinking of getting a motorcycle for errands around town and the occasional joy ride. I have never ridden a motorized two wheeled machine before, and I'm wondering if anyone else out there can give me some perspective on the degree to which my skills learned riding a bicycle will translate to riding a motorcycle.
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Old 05-22-07, 07:08 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogBoy
Yes, I know this is Bike forums as in Bicycle, not motorcycle, which is why I put this in Foo.

I've been thinking of getting a motorcycle for errands around town and the occasional joy ride. I have never ridden a motorized two wheeled machine before, and I'm wondering if anyone else out there can give me some perspective on the degree to which my skills learned riding a bicycle will translate to riding a motorcycle.

Totally different skill sets. But the feeling of looking over your shoulder will transfer, sorta. You don't wear a sight restricted helmet in cycling.


Get used to a whole new ballgame, and tons of practice in parking lots. And falling over with 350+ pounds of steel, plastic, and petrol on one leg.

(I haven't even mentioned braking...totally different. As well ar steering -NEVER turn your handlebars in the direction you're going, or you'll fall over like a bad dream).
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Old 05-22-07, 07:18 AM   #3
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Clutch is on the right, front brake on the left - it takes a while to get used to, some people even switch their bike brakes around.
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Old 05-22-07, 07:33 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by scrapmetal
Clutch is on the right, front brake on the left - it takes a while to get used to, some people even switch their bike brakes around.
I think you have that backwards. (isn't rear brake the right foot, front brake the right hand? That would make the clutch left hand)

Anyway, I guess I figured that by riding my bike in traffic and learning to anticipate vehicluar behavior, the assumption that Murphy's Law is an absolute universal truth and that yes, that car IS going to pull out on you and being ready for it would make things a bit easier. Thanks for the wake-up call Serendipper. Oh, as to the steering, I'm well aware of the countersteering technique and have used it to save my postierior on more than one occasion on my bicycle. Also, I thought motorcycles were more in the 500 lb range?

Oh well...I guess I'll just wear the boots/long pants/protective jacket/gloves and helmet, take the MSF and see where we go from there.
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Old 05-22-07, 07:41 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
I think you have that backwards. (isn't rear brake the right foot, front brake the right hand? That would make the clutch left hand)

Anyway, I guess I figured that by riding my bike in traffic and learning to anticipate vehicluar behavior, the assumption that Murphy's Law is an absolute universal truth and that yes, that car IS going to pull out on you and being ready for it would make things a bit easier. Thanks for the wake-up call Serendipper. Oh, as to the steering, I'm well aware of the countersteering technique and have used it to save my postierior on more than one occasion on my bicycle. Also, I thought motorcycles were more in the 500 lb range?

Oh well...I guess I'll just wear the boots/long pants/protective jacket/gloves and helmet, take the MSF and see where we go from there.
You are correct and I am an idiot It has been over a decade since I drove a motorcycle. The gas is on the right and clutch must be on the left.
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Old 05-22-07, 08:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Serendipper
Totally different skill sets. (I haven't even mentioned braking...totally different. As well ar steering -NEVER turn your handlebars in the direction you're going, or you'll fall over like a bad dream).
I'd have to say you're wrong. I bicycle and bike. You are on 2 wheels - it's basically the same skill set. My bicycle brakes were backwards so I switched them to "motorcycle style" where right = front. That is your main brake regardless of a motor or not. As for turning, you countersteer on 2 wheels, also regardless of a motor or not. Either your bicycle skills are poor, or your motorcycle skills are poor, or both. I suggest more practice so you won't hurt yourself.
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Old 05-22-07, 08:05 AM   #7
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Only word of advice I have is start small. A big engine, inexperience, plus a little ego will get you killed quick!

The best thing to do is buy used. This will let you get used to riding and when / if you drop it you will be out a minimal amount of money.

As for how they transfer (bicycle to motorcycle) I really don't see too many similarities. Only big one is that you still don't have a cage around you like you do in a car.
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Old 05-22-07, 08:15 AM   #8
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Only word of advice I have is start small. A big engine, inexperience, plus a little ego will get you killed quick!

The best thing to do is buy used. This will let you get used to riding and when / if you drop it you will be out a minimal amount of money.

As for how they transfer (bicycle to motorcycle) I really don't see too many similarities. Only big one is that you still don't have a cage around you like you do in a car.
I take this to heart. I was planning to start in the less than 500 cc range. That's a pretty small bike for a 230 lb rider, but still plenty enough to get up to speed on the highway. Also, the no passengers until year 3 rule makes sense also.
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Old 05-22-07, 10:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lauren
Okay, I have both. And both get some serious seat time (I don't have a car). In fact, I got new tires put on the 636 and within the next week and a half put over 1,300 miles on them.

Start small. I am a HUGE fan of the 250 and 500 ninjas. I have a 250 and am looking for a deal on a 500 to turn into a rally/touring bike. The 250s are much easier to find cheap and enough power to get you around town (and around the country, I've done over 2K miles on a trip on mine). The 500 has a little more pep for passing on the highway, but you won't need or appreciate it for a while so I'd suggest the 250 just for ease of acquisition.

Suzuki makes a 500 but it's air cooled. For around town you need liquid cooling to keep it from overheating at stop lights. Many of the smaller cruisers are air cooled as well, so that's why I am not mentioning them plus I like sportbikes.

Your bicycling WILL help you, but take the MSF course so you can learn how they are different before you hit the street. Counter steering, dealing with traffic, and cornering will all be easier for you.
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Old 05-22-07, 03:35 PM   #10
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Cycling will help with the balance thing. The MSF course is highly recommended (motorcycle safety foundation). You get to learn how to operate the bike on their bikes and in a controlled atmosphere. You get to practice emergency stops, turns, going over a 4x4 (wood, not truck...) etc. In NY the course takes care of the riding portion of the license. Only 2 people dropped the bikes when I took the course (both at a stop, they just forgot to put a foot down when stopping....) http://www.msf-usa.org/
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Old 05-23-07, 06:47 AM   #11
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They transfer fairly well. But several things:

1) You've much more to learn, and it's much more dangerous.
2) I hope and pray you're not one of bicyclings ego maniac/idiots that think you own the road.
3) I wish you wouldn't do it. I always ask those that inquire about learning to street ride to not. I consider offroad the only safe way to learn, and just don't want to see you get killed.
4) Concrete is HARD. I mean HARD. It can KILL you.

Think long and hard about #3. Take the risks of bicyling, add hyroplaning, increase your average speed by maybe 4 times (and divide your available reaction time by 4!), remove the slack bicycles get cut (it's there, you'll see), and multiple the amount of time you'll be at risk by the added seat time. Just to start.

Realize this means you'll see more animals, oil spills, gravel and sand and etc and have much much less time to react to it. Too say nothing of a cage taking you out...

My kids ride w/me on road bikes all the time and my son and I ATV often. But none are allowed on street bikes...

I've been riding since I was 13 (I'm 48), and I still respect the street.
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Old 05-23-07, 07:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogBoy
Yes, I know this is Bike forums as in Bicycle, not motorcycle, which is why I put this in Foo.

I've been thinking of getting a motorcycle for errands around town and the occasional joy ride. I have never ridden a motorized two wheeled machine before, and I'm wondering if anyone else out there can give me some perspective on the degree to which my skills learned riding a bicycle will translate to riding a motorcycle.
The balance is the same until you start turning, but you can maneuver much easier on the motorcycle when at speed than on a bicycle. The motorcycle will give you much more mobility and freedom than the bicycle will, and most of the bikers I know who ride a bicycle feel much, much safer on the motorcycle than on a bicycle. Start small and used after taking the MSF course, and you'll be ready to go. Just don't expect that endorphin rush when you get home, that usually happens during the ride!
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Old 05-23-07, 07:31 AM   #13
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I know some people have already said it, but take the MSF course. I only have one other point to add. Don't ride without the proper gear. I see people all the time riding around in wife beaters and jeans. Just remember, being hot and sweaty can be fixed with a shower, crashing at 50+ MPH without the proper gear is fixed with skin grafts if your lucky.
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Old 05-23-07, 07:33 AM   #14
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I took motorcycle lessons once. It's a different kind of flying, altogether.

I'm not a motorbike guy. Partly because the two-wheeled similarity with my first love confuses me, partly because one of my best friends was in a *horrific* crash (and the legal aftermath was pretty ugly too), and partly because my instructor was a total prick.

If I travel at those speeds with that much danger, I want 4 wheels. Just a personal preference. I would have liked to get into the motorbike thing, but I know it's not for me.
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Old 05-23-07, 10:02 AM   #15
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These guys rock and have awesome street skills! Check out the pictures section. BTW - they practice in empty parking lots and empty streets, not in traffic.
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Old 05-23-07, 08:07 PM   #16
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I don't ride motorcycles all that much and the ones I have are all 600+ cc sportbikes unfortunately, which made for a very scary experience, especially going down 12th avenue in the middle of the day in brooklyn with the hassidic jews darting into the middle of the street w/o looking (nothing against those people), especially since I'm not used to wearing a full faced helmet, the peripheral visibility throws me off.
Turning fast is pretty easy but as a beginner, it was too easy to wuss out and slow down, which apparently made things a lot worse very quickly for me. Turning slow on the street is a lot harder, I never made a tight u-turn for fear of dropping the bike.

It might be different in the suburbs but in the city, I felt the margin of error was a LOT slimmer and less unforgiving probably because a bicycle occupies a lot less space and is much lighter than a motorcycle.

I don't know if I can say anything transferred over other than leaning into a turn.

Like others said, its best to take the course because a) you can snag your license right there and b) they can teach you things ahead of time about encounters and situations that you have no control over or that you haven't anticipated. Like, I've never stopped at a light on a very steep uphill and I'll have no idea what to do.
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