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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 05:17 AM Thread Starter
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Brand new rider, loss of confidence after drop and maintenance question

Hi guys glad to be making your acquaintance on the internet. Sorry in advance for the silly newbishness.

I apparently typed a lot, hopefully that's ok.

Just found this little place searching the internet for some advice, as I do now and then and been doing for a couple years as I was preparing to get a bike. Just recently at the end of summer last year got one. Waited a bit to get one, thought I've wanted one almost since I started driving (36 now), brand brand new to riding. Just need some advice, possibly encouragement from people who have been doing this longer than me.

As I said, I scoured the internet to try to mentally build up tricks and skills before I was actually able to take the MSF course and then get a bike (had to wait until I could afford the class and the cost of a used bike, since I didn't want there to be too much time between passing the class and riding again). Despite the mental knowledge, it much different actually doing it when you've never even shifted a car before manually. I passed first try, though I got nervous and had to put my foot down during the box, but since I aced everything else, I still passed. Still annoyed me cause I was able to do it fine earlier in the day. Test anxiety? Had the concepts of clutch control, a bit of rear brake and head and eyes, but in practice I was still a bit finicky on the clutch and even though I thought I was turning my head, the instructor said it wasn't enough (though I really thought it was).

Anyway, on to the point. Got my endorsement, bought a 2009 GS500F used from a guy close-ish to me. Only a little over 3000 miles on the bike and from what I read it is supposedly a great starter bike. I am female, but quite tall (6ft) so it fit me well.

So as I work nights, the best time for me to go out and practice was the middle of the night on my days off (early mornings are hard when you wake up at 5pm to go to work during the week). Was very nervous both because I was still worried I wasn't skilled enough at turns and when to downshift and various other newbie concerns, and the fact I as going out at like 1am with no support, alone riding around to avoid traffic but still get experience.

I was getting a bit more confident, trying to trust what I learned in the class and online, throttle through turns, brake before the turn, counter-steering, etc. It's a lot to remember and really puts the stress on at first (I kept finding I had a death-grip on the handlebars and had to consciously loosen it). But then at the end of the warm season, out of the parking lot after getting gas at like 3am, I was a bit tired as I hadn't been sleeping well. I sorta half stopped at a stop sign in an empty parking lot, attempting to slow down just to make sure but not have to stop completely, and then the engine just cut out with my handlebars turned a little, probably because I wasn't paying enough attention and slowed down too much without pulling in the clutch. A stupid mistake. Needless to say the bike started falling to the right and I put my foot down trying to stop it since it was going down really slowly, but the bike was heavier than I expected and it pulled me down too. Knee hit the ground, but not hard, hurt for a few days but then it was fine, no lasting injury, and the worst that happened to the bike was the right front turn signal got pushed through the faring, though it still worked, and a few small scratches.

I was a bit embarrassed and angry at myself and when I tried to get the motorcycle up....couldn't even budge it. Then I was starting to panic a little, it being 3am with no one around. Was about to walk back to the gas station when two guys come running out of nowhere saying they were watching the whole thing (think there must have been a small bar close by. Lucky). I was super thankful but I felt like a fool when the one guy who said he'd been riding for years started to lecture me about turning and such. Not that I didn't appreciate it, just felt so ridiculously stupid for dropping it like that. He got it up easy and got it to start after I flooded the engine and everything seemed fine.

Then I was going to go out the next week and I found myself making an excuse "It's too cold, and I only have summer gear." That continued, me using the excuse of the seasonal weather until it warmed up again. I got all ready to go out and froze as I was opening my door. I thought, I dropped the bike, can I really be ok riding it? What if it drops in the middle of nowhere at night and I can't pick it up again? What if I can't turn anymore, what if I do something stupid and crash, not almost from a stop this time?

My confidence had gone from improving to zero just like that.

My doubts about my skill grew during the winter since the last thing I did when I stopped the previous year was drop the bike. And now, while I can rationalize the fears away on days I'm working or not riding, when it comes time to do it, I find myself starting to make excuses again. It really frustrates me that I'm letting this fear control me, since every time I see the bike sitting there as I get in my car I want to ride it. I've conquered fears before, gone skydiving multiple times, why can't I do this seemingly simple thing?

I know the only answer to getting over this is probably to "suck it up and ride, the fears will dissipate eventually." but I don't know if there is anything else I can do or if there is any advice out there.

Sorry if this is a stupid question.

Also, the other part of this long long post has to do with maintenance. I've never been very mechanically inclined, but I looked up how to change the oil and it seemed easy, and then I read how easy it is to strip the engine case or ruin things if you tighten the bolts just a little too hard and when I looked on my bike, the fairing seemed to be in the way (the videos I watched were for naked bikes).

So I'm more wary attempting this myself the first time. Also, since the guy I bought it from seems to not have ridden it much (he had other bikes) and most of the miles were put on by the owner before him, he had no idea when the oil was changed or if it ever had been. He hooked up a battery tender to it while it was sitting, and tightened the chain for me when I picked it up (he was a very nice guy and took the time to talk to me and help me load it up) and while it seems to run fine, I'm wondering if I should take it somewhere to see if there is any maintenance that needs to be done to it.

I took the seat off and the battery seems to have corrosion around the connection points, other than that everything "looks" fine, but I have no idea what to look for. Started up fine this year after a few presses of the start button (and some choke manipulation). Like I said, there's only about 3200 ish miles on it, so it's low mileage considering it's 8 years old. And maybe the fact that it is older but hasn't been ridden much is a problem in and of itself?

I did read the manual and sort of got overwhelmed and worried about the amount of things you are supposed to change out and adjust every so often (like the fuel line, lubing/replacing/adjusting the chain, filling the battery with distilled water, etc?), having never laid a wrench on anything with a motor, so now I'm wondering if riding the bike around might be damaging it or endangering me. All I know is that it runs well and brakes well and shifts well (though it does have a heavy exhaust smell, but that might be normal?)

As a car owner, I simply take it to the mechanic to get oil changes regularly and pretty much just do what they suggest, which is mostly changing out fluids and air filters and tires. It seems bikes are a bit different there? I guess you could take it every time, but the maintenance on a bike somehow seems more frequent than a car and possibly more expensive depending. Also there aren't many well rated bike mechanics around me (only one really that isn't a Harley dealership), ton of car places though.

I fully expect to try and learn how to at least change the oil since that seems like a good idea, but maybe having a professional look it over the first time might not be a bad idea?

I know this is a long post so if you read through it all, thank you so much! Thanks in advance for any help/advice. I'm sorry if this is a bit much for one post (also I'm wordy...)

Aly
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 06:59 AM
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Just for peace of mind you might start off by taking it to a dealer for your first maintenance and mention the battery terminals need cleaning. Then slowly read up and view all the maintenance needed for the future. Nothing wrong admitting your limitations. We all have them. You'll get there. Ride the bike until you can get in for service. Doesn't sound like you are putting that many miles on and today's oils can take extended use more than manufactures claim needs changing. So don't worry and start having fun. And...


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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:05 AM
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Agree with above. It would probably be worth while to have a dealer, or at least a local mechanic take a look at it

A bike manual like a clymer or Haynes will be more detailed and you will find there is a ton of maintenance you can easily do yourself with only simple hand tools


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:15 AM
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As far as dropping the bike, don't be too hard on yourself

If you scan the forum there are literally tons of threads where we recommend newcomers get smaller lighter used bikes

That is because almost every new rider drops their bike at some point

It is always something described as "stupid" though a more accurate description would be "just part of learning"

I personally have been riding for close to 20 years on and off and have dropped several bikes

Just a few weeks ago I was parking in my garage when my wife walked out to yell at me about something. Things got a little heated and I forgot to put the kickstand down

I leaned my 700+ pound V Star up against the wall. Thankfully it didn't hit the ground but I did scuff it up and ding a mirror

Was it dumb, yes. But it happens. We all do it


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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:20 AM
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Confidence will come with practice. Find a place away from traffic, like an empty parking lot and repeat the things that are giving you trouble, like turns and downshifting. Work on smoothness, not quickness.

It will take some time and not happen instantly, but you will improve after some time. It may not happen in 10 sessions or 20, just have fun doing it. Remember to practice quick stops and swerves on a regular basis, again concentrating on smoothness.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:23 AM
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As far as gaining skills

Go riding

Practicing in a parking lot is good experience, but you need to get out and stretch your wings a bit too

Find excuses to go riding. Head out to the store, go visit friends. Ride to work if you can

As you get a little more confident with the little trips start taking longer trips

Is there a friend, store, landmark, interesting park that is just a little (or a lot) far away? Riding is a great excuse

If your feeling really spunky look for a riders group in your area. I ride with my local American Legion, but there are tons of organizations

Most have a website and a mission statement, just find one that matches with you

Don't be afraid of being a noob. Announce it, own it and they will appreciate it. Many of the club members have tons of miles and experience and would love to impart some of that knowledge on someone new to the sport


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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:26 AM
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Sounds like you've got yourself headed in the right direction. You're thinking things out and taking precautions and that's great. Have fun and try not to overthink so much that it keeps you from riding the bike. I, too, am a newbie and a female and I know exactly what you're going through. I call it a love-hate relationship with the bike. When I'm riding, I'm in love and the exhilaration is unreal. When I'm not riding, I question my sanity. I've even listed the bike on craigslist (it didn't sell). I'm single and I own a home and a car and 2 dogs and 3 cats and the list goes on and on and I have plenty of responsibility to deal with without adding the additional responsibility of riding and maintaining a motorcycle. WHAT was I thinking??? The thing is, the bike adventure was MY choice and I'm doing it. As my sister often reminds me "find the joy!" Find a dealership you feel you can trust and take your bike and your questions to them. A battery tender is on my list . . .
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 08:07 AM
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Don't be so hard on yourself, sounds like you were doing just fine, and just had a minor drop. You need to get back on your horse, start out slowly but in an hour you'll feel just fine.

It happens to all of us, I dropped mine last year one day, similar circumstance, was pulling in for gas, the pump I was aiming at was out of service, I saw another one was open, went for a quick u turn instead of a well planned approach. I failed to look where I wanted to go, instead looked at a curb I needed to clear, ended up getting too close to the curb, decided I had better stop, went to stop and didn't get my foot down solid ( I'm blaming some gravel but it was mostly my fault) and OOPS, over she went. Nothing hurt but my pride but still I felt so stupid. My wife was at the next pump on her bike, looking at me wondering what they heck I did!

Go out and ride, the way to get really good is ride a lot, ride every day, ride everywhere you can, you'll get that confidence back quickly once you get going again. The safest riders are the frequent riders, the bike commuters, the daily riders.

Learn how to pick up a dropped bike, go on you tube and find the instructional videos, there are a bunch, they demo this at every bike show, usually a 130 pound woman picks up an 800 pound touring bike. Then they teach a few volunteers. It's easy if you know how, nearly impossible even for a weightlifter if you don't.

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 08:08 AM
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Yes you do type a bit

Couple of things:

Learn how to pick up your bike (google it)
Watch Capt Crash's videos. He is a regular here

and finally



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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:09 AM
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^^^^^ What they all said! ^^^^^

And as far as picking up a dropped bike, I like this video because it shows that you don't have to be a muscle bound 6' 2" tall person to pick up a dropped bike.



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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:29 AM
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Notice a theme here? We all do it. Even after you think you know everything and have done everything, you just might drop it again. Letting your guard down is the biggest cause. I had ridden 70,000 miles when I did my first and it was "stupid" as they say. Nice beautiful day of riding nearly 300 miles and pulled in to the driveway and stopped. Got off the bike and about ready to let go of the left hand grip when over it came. Some FOOL forgot to put the kickstand down. Embarrassed would be an understatement. I could just as easily flubbed a clutch release at a light and done the same thing. It does happen. Your task now is to put it behind you and continue your learning experience. Remember, education is expensive. Not all of that expense is in the form of cash. Time to ride again kiddo.

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:51 AM
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What everyone has said.

If my #1 worry was being able to right the bike if it fell over, I would just do it.
Watch the videos, study up then do it.

Get someone to help you lower the bike on its side in the yard, then pick it up.

The only way to get better at riding a motorcycle is by riding one.

If night was my best option, I would spend hours in the closest Walmart parking lot I could find. Ride in it every way you can. Always someone around at Walmart in the middle of the night, and the parking lot is lighted better than most.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:57 AM
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Aly, I've dropped every bike I've ever owned, and I have 25 years of riding. Consider it something you can check off your list of "things that happen with a new bike". 😊

But...one very important comment I need to make regarding your incident is not related to dropping it per se, but the fact that you were very tired and inattentive when you were out riding that night. That's the lesson to learn here. I've learned to never ride if I'm tired and can't focus 100%. There have been beautiful days I really wanted to ride, but didn't, because I was a little tired. If you're not 100%, just "wait until tomorrow" when you're rested.

As far as maintenance, sure, you can do a lot of it, but if you don't want to, that's fine too (as long as you have somebody do it). But the frequent things - e.g., oil change, chain adjustment, etc. - are probably far easier than many things you already do in your daily life. You just need a reference for your bike (service manual, or maybe even YouTube videos) to learn it, and once you do it, they will be easy.

Now that you've checked off "dropped bike", it's time to move on to the second item - get back out and ride! You'll remember immediately why you love it.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, I'm floored by how many people responded. To all of you, THANK YOU! Reading through each reply helped me more than I thought it would. Kinda puts it in perspective that's it's not the end of the world and really can happen to anyone. The suggestions, personal anecdotes, and encouragement were much appreciated.

As far as the maintenance, think I will take it to someone this time after all and then do as suggested and go through certain common tasks myself afterwards.

The video certainly helped as far as technique in picking up a bike, will have to see if I can get someone I know to help me try it for real.

And as far as the most important suggestion, will do. I'm gonna take my bike back out this weekend. Set a date, ride to a lot, and just go through the basics again to shed this feeling and prove that I do at least somewhat know how to work the bike still. Then just ride till I can just jump on and feel comfortable going anywhere on it. Use it instead of the car to see my friends and ride at least a couple hours every day off I have.

Again, thanks so much for all of the help and the warm welcome. You guys are great
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 11:07 AM
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Welcome to the forum from Chapel Hill.

Don't let that mishap get you down.

“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
― Richard Branson

Your GS500F is a cool bike. Go have some adventure riding it and post some stories and pictures on the forum.

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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 05:28 PM
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Welcome from Philadelphia pa. Don't be hard on yourself. I got my license a few years ago and bought a 04 gs500f I'm 6'1. I rode it for 6 month's I never dropped it .I bought a 05 boulevard c50 I rode it last season with no problem until December 27 (which is my birthday. ..lol) I went for a ride and I was going through a curve the ground was wet from the previous night and I wiped out going 30mph.i didn't get hurt too bad but my bike had some damage. I was and still nervous when I ride guess my confidence went down to zero but every time I take it out I'm getting better so don't give up or be hard on yourself .you took a safety rider course so you are in the right direction. Just keep practicing , I learn new stuff all the time and if you can look up ride like a pro he has a lot of technics. Keep US Posted.

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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 09:05 PM
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Welcome Aly
I don't have any more wisdom to part, I'm a new rider myself at 43, but every minute you put on the bike will be more enjoyable than the last and the bike will feel smaller and smaller (which is a good thing), till (from what other tell me) it will feel like a part of your body and you will move it around naturally and with confidence. I am not there yet, but I am getting there one ride at a time. I have about 350 miles under me since Jan when I got my BRC done. You can do this, be patient and positive and careful and we'll both become old time pros eventually and some newbie will ask share the same worries you feel now and you will cheer him/her on so ... I think it's awesome that you reached out here for some support. I did a ton when I was trying to figure out how to get started with MC given I knew nothing and got some really valuable guidance and encouragement.

Keep going!!! You got this!!!

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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunslinger View Post
....
I wanna sky-dive, haven't yet! Gotta try that!
Uh-uh! No way! Unless it's headed into the ground nose first there ain't no freakin' way I'd jump out of a perfectly good airplane!


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Welcome from Oregon.
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunslinger
I wanna sky-dive, haven't yet! Gotta try that!
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysLearnin View Post
Uh-uh! No way! Unless it's headed into the ground nose first there ain't no freakin' way I'd jump out of a perfectly good airplane!


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I always wanted to as well but not so sure these old bones can bounce too good now. No way am I attaching myself to someone else to do it though. It's all me or nothing and looks like nothing is going to when out.

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post #21 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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I wanna sky-dive, haven't yet! Gotta try that!
It's a great time. You'd think you'd get that falling feeling in the pit of your stomach, but you don't. Rush of wind, sudden jerk upwards, and then coasting down to the ground. Of course if the parachute doesn't open right, you might get other not so great feelings

I'll certainly keep everyone posted with how things go. After all the encouragement, advice, and well wishes, I'm really excited to take my bike out and ride! Need to just chalk this up to a learning experience, move on, and keep building skills. Can't wait for the work week to be over. Great group of people on here. Looking forward to participating on this board into the future
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post #22 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:10 PM
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Hi aly. You've got quite the story there but not an uncommon story, this happen to numerous new riders and they become very disheartened from their mistakes because they have not obtained the "discipline" of riding yet. you will make mistakes and you will mess up but the aim is to learn from them. as far as mechanical issues, if you are wanting to learn and do your own work, Youtube is a great place to start learning. watch a video, then if something wasn't explained, look up a video for that part. the best way to learn is to dive into it head on but have a general knowledge though of course or just follow the videos step-by-step. as far as confidence goes, you are correct the most common yet helpful advice is to just ride it. one thing you can do and what I strongly advise you to do, is to find an empty parking lot, or ask the instructor that taught your riding lessons if you can use their lot to practice on. do everything that you are not strong at. (self teaching will almost always be stronger than others teaching you.) when you want to ride, make sure you are awake, hydrated, not hungry, and obviously not under the influence. an extremely common and disastrous mistake that new riders make is worrying about everything that can happen while they are riding and letting it cloud there minds. while it is very good to be aware of what can happen you a should never let it cloud your mind and this is what it seems that you are having the experience of. just know what can happen, and just ride have a good time. the primary thing is to have fun and enjoy learning from your mistakes.good luck and if you have any questions that perhaps any of us can help you with, you have already found the forums but it doers get a little overwhelming, there are plenty of people here including myself that are experienced and are more than willing to help you.
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post #23 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 11:25 PM
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I agree that practice when you are rested is best. Daytime riding is better than night. Pad your bike with foam or rags where it will hit the ground when falling at slow speed so you don't worry about dings. Wear all protective clothing so you don't get dings.

And finally, you can learn more by a long day of doing over and over than just a few times several times per week.

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Do I have it together yet?
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post #24 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 09:01 AM
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Riding skill will improve, so as your confidence. I got benefited by wear high visibility gears, practicing on sundays between 6-10am (noted less crowded on road), choosing light weight models, less than 400lb (my first was honda rebel, put on 14,500 miles; now yamaha v star 250, 13,500 miles & counting). Still I cannot say I am good at with confidence, so staying where I am, May be less confident but I want stay within my skill limit, for now. "See and be seen" helps, no worries, you will get better, I always wear full gears, saved me multiple low speed practice injuries.
Hope this helps, cheers.
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post #25 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:32 PM
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I know you already know this but the only way to overcome your fears is to get out and ride. I see that someone else has already posted a video of how to pick up a bike so that should not even be an issue. I use that same basic method to pick up my 900 pound bike and I even lay it down intentionally solmetimes to do some kinds of maintenance when access is too hard using the side stand. For your battery, pull the cables off, clean the terminals, apply a bit of dielectric grease and install the cables securely. Do not overtighten since the terminals are just a soft lead and are easy to damage, but don't be afraid of getting a good connection. As far as the drain plug on the bike, yes aluminum casings can be damaged by overtorquing but it takes real talent to get a drain plug that tight unless you have Popeye arms. Just use a fresh crush washer and keep in mind that it doesn't take much beyond the first feel that you have reached the end of fingertip travel to get a good seal. If your bike has a torque spec for the drain plug, get a cheap Harbor Freight torque wrench and use it. It will be close enough and will put your mind at ease.


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2013 Victory Vision, 30,xxx miles
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