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...)