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Caution - Noob Ahead


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Great forum guys - learning a lot!

To start out with, I own an '03 Ducati SS800. This is my first ever bike although I putted around a bit on a buddy's Katana 600 for a bit. I have put about 4600 miles on my bike since I bought it last May and they weren't the prettiest 4600 miles either let me tell you.


As with most new riders, I have an enormous fear of turns stemming from my fear of becoming road rash. I'm the guy that does the "kick the bike out from under you" turn thing. While I understand that physically that's one of the worst things to do, I can't seem to get past the fear of leaning over too far and falling over. I know it seems silly but it is what it is.


The other thing is I'm very sensitive to how my bike is handling and any little sense of slip causes me to tense immediately which is also a bad thing


I have at least a 1" chicken strip on my back tires, and despite the obvious ego drain I'm more concerned with how I can go about getting more comfortable on my specific bike, push it close to the limit but not all the way, recognize when I'm there, and how to correct if I go past.


Let's say for example I'm driving down one of the freeways here in Seattle. My thought coming up to a turn is "oh, ######!" Then my mind starts worrying about pebbles on the road, a poorly-placed crack or expansion joint, all the things that could go wrong kind of thing. And then yes there's the bike-kickout as I slow down from 70 to 55 or 60 going into the corner.


Similarly I have this necessity for needing to see where I'm going, and when I go for mountain road rides, with nice tight twists and blind corners and so on, I can't enjoy it as I don't know what's coming up and am unsure about how to correct or compensate for what's up ahead. I imagine going around a tight mountain corner even at moderate speeds (40 let's say) and there's a deer in the road or even something as inane as a strip of gravel. All I'm thinking is bad things and that in turn causes me to lock up, slow down and lose confidence.


So question number one - what is the best way (or at least a recommended way) to get familiar with how far over I can tip the bike before it becomes a casualty of pavement? And how can I determine my maximum turning speed? I'm assuming that if the tires start to slip radially I should NOT let up on the gas. If I start to slip linearly I should NOT hit the gas.


Question number two - what mental prep should I be doing at each turn. How do you guys deal with "what's around the corner" syndrome?


I would have thought after as many miles as I've put on my bike some of these fears and apprehensions would have gone away or at least reduced somewhat but to be frank I'm still chicken sometimes - call it self-preservation.


No I haven't read Keith's book but I will.


I would like to do some track days but the weather in Seattle is, well, not the best for winter or spring riding.


At this point, I'm after confidence in myself and my bike and impriving my technique. Knee dragging is a bonus but to be honest don't really care about that right now.


I'm looking for practical road techniques. The track for me is a ways off.




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#1. Get a dirt bike and ride it. You will lose alot of the fear of the bike moving around, because a dirt bike never stops moving and they still go. So the sensation of sliding and the bikes reaction to it will become normal for you. It will take time, so go easy and do a school if you can find one in your area. The MSF does dirt school.


#2. Don't! getting over the fear of what you can't see around the corner is good way to hit the ground, an RV, dear or any manner of thing in the road. Drive as far as you need to, to do track days.


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All of the things that you are talking about are EXACTLY what the school is designed to handle. I guarantee you in one day your riding life will change! Come see us as soon as you can, and it will not matter if you ride your bike or ours.


If you want, call me in the office, I'll answer any question you have on this, with any budget or other kind of restraint you have, we'll come up with a solution that will get you started, and in a logical progression.


How does that sound?



Cobie Fair

Chief Instructor


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heya sentinal I'm sort of in the same boat as you. I am hoping to gain the confidence and skill that I am lacking by hitting the feb school at Sears point. I'm here in Seattle also and to be honest with the way roads are around here lately I think It's a much better proposition to play it safe. One thing I do though is try to really concentrate on techinique. By the way I'm driving down for the school so If yer able to work something out to get into the class and feb not to soon hit me up.

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Keep in mind that the number of miles on your bike nor how many years you have been riding mean anything about ability. I have been riding for 5 years and have met guys who have been riding for 10-20 years that I can out do. I have also met guys with 1-2 years experience that give me a run for the money.

Motorcycling is a skill. Learn it. Practice it. I am in the navy and so am usually gone for 6 months out of the year. When I get back to home port first thing I do is jump on the bike, but not for some wild back road racing. I find an empty parking lot or a back road and go practice for a week or two and ease into my riding. The TOTW books are awesome and you will learn a lot from them. I still use them. Just remember to practice what you learn from the books or the schools. If it freaks you out going low in corners start off slow. Pick a curve and go through it at a comfortable pace. Turn right back around and do it again practicing what you have learned from the books. This helped me a lot. No two corners are a like so I felt over loaded trying to learn it all on so many different corners ( use curves and corners interchangably here). I was able to find a nice chicane with no blind curves in it. I started going through at about 35 mph. By the end of my practice session, about an hour, I was going through at about 65 and exiting around 80. Maybe it took me awhile, but I learned a lot and built a lot of confidence. I used a really backwoods road for this (I saw one car in the hour I was there). The tracks and schools are always safer to learn on and to go fast. If those aren't possible, $$!!!!, pick a good road with the most minimum traffic.

Good luck and don't get discouraged. It is a process.





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:o Squid, you sound almost like me. :lol: I have a 2004 Hayabusa. I ride down the interstate at 55-60 MPH :unsure: Cars zoom by me. I couldn't care less. I ride within my abilities. This is the first time I have been on a bike in 12 years :o ...

I am sure with time the confidence will come. I am on the east coast in Maryland. I would like to attend one of the classes on the west coast. I just want a little more info and maybe listen to Twist of the wrist cd.

For for right now, I will settle for flying around the corners in my S-Class.... It is a little more forgiving.

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Thanks guys for the input. Lots of experience speaking here and I appreciate it!


Thanks to Cobie as well. It was a pleasure speaking with you and taking time out of your day today. Looking forward to seeing you next month. Hopefully the weather will cooperate here over the next few weeks so I can get warmed up before school :P



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