Jump to content

Weird Sensations


Recommended Posts

I have always been quite sensitive about bikes in that I cannot just jump onto any old bike and nail the throttle. Some bikes bring instant confidence, others take time to learn how to ride - and some I never become cofy with. This can be due to the whole bike or only its tyres - or any combination one can think of that involves whatever a motorcycle is built from right down to something like handlebar bend.


One of the weirdest bikes I've ridden was a 1987 Suzuki RG250 Gamma. The lack of low- and midrange power was annoying, the lack of linear power delivery even more so. The brakes were madly strong compared to what I was used to at the time and the bike was so light, so quick-steering and required so little lean for any given cornering speed it was all highly confusing for me back in 1988 when I also only had 7 seasons of experience. It was also scary to lean it far, and it's the only bike I hang off of. The actual cornering speeds were pretty decent, however. The lack of engine braking meant the brakes had to be used in places I normally wouldn't have to, and since the brakes were so powerful I often ended up having to accelerate just to reach my turn-in point!


Another weird sensation was with my Suzuki GSX600F when fitted with Dunlop D205 tyres. It demanded a lot more lean angle than normal for typical cornering speeds, yet once it had reached about 40 degrees guesstimated one could add a lot of speed without much more lean. Once I replaced them with bias ply rubber the amount of lean required became normal.


And today I went for a ride with the CB400SF to see how it really behaves - before I've only ridden it on worn Bridgestone BT090s on mostly moist roads. Now it's fitted with new Dunlop 253. Like with the RG250, it's hard to jugde speed since the engine screams like mad even at 5000 rpm - and it needs at least 8000 rpm to make what little power it has. For some reason I find it much easier to keep larger engines near their redlines than tiddlers. Anyhoo, the engine screams like it's going fast, visuals says I'm at a decent clip yet chicken strips are huge. Hm. Well, I can say one thing with absolute certainty; both speed and lean was higher today than ever with the Bridgestones, and those had zero chicken strips on the rear and just a couple of mm up front. I guess it's a good thing the tyres have plenty in reserve. And like with the RG250, the bike was taunting me for my slowness. Even though I cornered on the throttle virtually all the time because using typical entrance speeds were too slow, there was always the feeling of having lots in reserve.


The point of this message? Nothing, really, other than I'd like to hear if others have had similar experiences, ie. some bikes acting different than the norm in some way or another.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMHO a bike thats set up properly for a given rider is going to be a performer .


I like my bike (a 125CC 4T scooter ) high with a slightly lower end (front + 13MM back + 7 MM in height over stock +0 +0) as the stock tire height has the tendency to oversteer .


front and back sag/feel is also very important , my sus setup is on medium hard on the back and medium soft on the front to cope with the nasty potholes ,


also to slightly oversteer at bigger lean angles (>30) in a corner due to the geometry changes in the sus (front slightly lower back slightly higher during G loading in a corner)





the way TOTW teaches, IMHO It actually suits bikes that have a neutral(race) to slight understeer (for road riding) tendency in overall setup and design particularly on throttle and quick turn applications



Im guessing the CB400SF needs more than a simple tire change to be a performer (suspension and sprocket changes gonna cost some $ , front tripleclamp geometry changes... DIY??)




You can look up gemoetry changes on the archived honda webby :






and suspension changes on PVD:







as for other bike experiences , My friend has the same built but stock dimension performance tires and slightly more commuter grade suspension geared towards a city setting with no inclines



the near total lack of road feel from the suspension in a corner and alarmingly fast lean in rate from the stock geometry doesnt inspire confidence in me at any rate ,


coupled with the way the final gear ratio is geared(his is 120 VS mine at 130) , it accelerates noticably faster than my bike too, so throttle control on his bike is like walking on a razor edge to me.


He loves the feel , but its not my cup of tea ...




I think no matter how skilled one is, if the bottleneck is the hardware, one will still perform only to the level of the bottleneck and vice versa...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh... yes, the "weird bike" phenomenon. Will it quick steer? Will it ever be rid of chicken strips? Will it need to bend the laws of physics to pull a wheelie? laugh.gif


I hear ya - I think a lot of that sort of feeling comes down to how much one particular riding experience becomes ingrained within the rider. I'd say it just takes time to get used to the different bikes, but the time it takes could be very different. (The exception being a bike that is just plain setup wrong or has damage, etc. Like when I got my Gixxer back from the suspension tuning guru and it didn't feel so good on the 2-day back to back track days that I'd booked. Well, turns out it was setup with something like 40mm rear sag and 20mm front sag. If you ever want to be really frustrated and annoyed, and waste a bunch of money - I can point you in the right direction!)


Anyway, I think that if a bike is setup correctly (within factory specs) and is in good repair, then a rider should be able to ride it just fine (or if the rider can't ride it, it's not a problem with the bike). A problem could come up if the rider was to focus on a couple of things, like "I've got no feel at the front wheel" or "this bike turns too slow". Better to focus on what the bike is doing, that way you can learn more about it and change your riding style to suit. And it may require a big change in riding style. This fact might seem obvious, because a motorcycle is just a machine, and like all machines it will only be able to operate in a certain manner. Two bikes can be very different machines, and operate in very different ways. So I would say that the "weird bike" feeling really comes down to how adaptable the rider is, and how willing/able they are to change their riding style.


I suppose that I have been fortunate that I've ridden a whole bunch of different bikes, no less than 6 different bikes as loaners from the workshop, and owned 5 different bikes as well. Add to that the 50cc scooter that I used to ride for deliveries at work. Believe it or not, I would be able to swap between any of them and just ride - no problems. It did take different amounts of time to adjust to each bike. A really extreme example would be when I was out for a ride with mates, me on my GSX-R1000 and a friend riding my XR-400 motard. I had never even ridden the motard outside the city, above 60km/h. We had done a couple of laps of my favourite mountain twisties, and I swapped onto the XR400 because I figured I should see what it's like. Previously I'd only ridden it around 20, 40km/h corners in town, now I was going through 40, 60, 80, 100km/h corners. Jumping from one to the other sure felt weird, and I was not in tune with the motard at all with it's lower weight, lower power output and much higher CoG. That would be one bike that could be described "weird", but instead I just recognised it for what it was - a completely different type of motorcycle. It took another 3 hour ride in the twisties by myself on the motard before I figured it out and felt comfortable on all those different corners up to 100km/h sweepers. I was back to riding at my usual road speeds, which BTW was alot easier and required much less commitment than riding at the same speeds on the GSX-R.


So, remembering that we're talking about bikes that are in good repair - there's really not many "weird" bikes out there, just bikes that we haven't yet adapted to. (Although there could very well be some "weird" riders tongue.gif )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm on my 25th, I think, registered motorcycle plus I have ridden many loaners. I still find bikes to be uncomfortable different quite often. Looking at the CB400, however, it has 66kkm on the clock (41 k mi.) and the stock suspension is naturally pretty shot. Add that it even when new was made for 120 lb riders and that I am 220 lb and it's pretty obvious that the bike will not handle optimally. I enjoy the comfort of the soft suspension, but I much prefer the direct feel from fairly stiff suspension as it makes for clearer messages. However, the bike ain't worth spending money on in this case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...