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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi riders, I am a newly licensed rider. Took the MSF BasicRiders Course, passed it and now own a 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. However, that course left a lot to be desired in convincing me I could safely ride on busy city streets. I'm all for big empty parking lots, but these are very scarce in my environment, so... Here's my plan, to which I'd love to hear comments. I got the bike home on a flatbed trailer; no problem. Home is a 53 acre ranch, not a working ranch; it's a retreat to get away from the madding crowd. It has 35 acres of pasture, which I lease out for hay operations. The 35 acres are flat, without serious potholes, ruts or obstructions, but it is grass, although recently mowed and harvested (meaning short). Not lawn, which is very dense, but grass, where the blades are well spaced from each other and the ground under is hard, that is, when it hasn't just rained.

My plan is to get a half-dozen red safety cones and set up my own range in a suitable part of the 35 acres, say a five-acre section that I have walked over looking for anything that might be dangerous. I plan to stay on my home range until I convince myself I can handle the bike in any typical traffic situation, say a couple of weeks, or more, of daily riding when the weather and grass are dry. I will then move out to lightly traveled country roads. I know grass, especially grass clippings can be a problem, but that is not what I have. I have pasture grass as describe above. Thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated.

perlboy
 

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I think you'd be better off in a fairly empty parking lot. Like a school on the weekend.

It harder to ride slow than fast. The bike is way easier to control at speed. But mistakes hurt worse, of course the faster you go.

I would buy cheaper starter bike so you don't hurt your feelings if you drop it. Wear some good protective gear. Start in a parking lot. Then find some back road and go for it.

I meantor is always a good choice if you can find someone willing to help.
 

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Caution is a good thing, but am not much of a believer in starter bikes; except for the desperately wealthy – on the other hand, without off-road tires, I think you’d frustrate yourself greatly trying to ride on grass/dirt. That much open-space is sure tempting, but the Vulcan is made for the street. Years/decades ago after a five year hiatus from riding I did just what your did – trailer the bike home, and rode in a tiny school parking lot… it got boring to be sure, but eventually I waited for a break in the traffic – Sunday morning as I recall – and then ventured out. Unless you live on an interstate; even if you have to putter about your neighborhood in 1st or 2nd gear, you’ll be reinforcing your MSF training… and soon it won’t feel like you are in foreign territory.
 

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5 acres of let's call it 'dirt'. A dedicated area where you can learn and build confidence in riding. One of the best things you can do to learn how to ride, is get in the dirt. 99% of what you learn there can be transferred over to the street. If you can afford it, get a used, beat to hell dirt bike, and go play. You'll be way ahead of the game that way.

You are correct about the MSF basic course. Think of it as a 'pre school' for learning how to ride. What you were taught and learned in the MSF, you shouldn't even have to think about. It should be natural or second nature for you. And that can only be gained thru experience.
 

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I am jealous of your situation. I learned to ride, on the city streets, on the day I bought my first bike. And re-learned a couple years ago, after about a 20 year hiatus, when I bought my last bike.

I like your plan of riding on your 53 acres. I predict that you are going to enjoy doing it so much, that after you start riding on the roads, you will continue to ride your dirt, for fun. Maybe, at some point, you'll even invite all your friends from MC Forums to come ride it with you.

However, I agree with the previous poster who suggested you don't subject your brand new Vulcan to that treatment. Here is a thousand dollar yamaha dirt bike, not too far from you: https://littlerock.craigslist.org/mcy/d/greenbrier-82-yamaha-it250/6995397499.html If you beat the **** out of it, it will still be worth $750. Don't beat the **** out of your new Kawasaki. 1) Ride the dirt bike on the dirt. 2) Ride the dirt bike on the country roads. 3) Ride the Vulcan on the country roads. 4) Ride the Vulcan everywhere. 5) Ride the dirt bike on the dirt.
 

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I think a parking lot would be your best place to practice skills on that bike. Not that it won't ride on grass, but you won't find much traffic on grass, either. Making maneuvers on grass in the way you need to make them on pavement can end you up with a busted butt or a busted bike; likewise if you make grass moves on the hardtop.

The fact is, besides learning your basic skills, particularly low-speed maneuvering, you won't really learn how to be safe in traffic anywhere but in traffic. Try to ease in to it by picking and choosing where and when you ride, but sooner or later you have to bite the bullet and ride in traffic or you'll be severely limited in your riding opportunities.
 

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the OP said:

big empty parking lots, are very scarce in my environment
perlboy
I don't know what all is in his vicinity, but I see that the nearest Walmart is 25 miles away. Are we suggesting he trailer the bike to a parking lot, ride the lot, then trailer it home again? Seems like one won't find much traffic in a parking lot either, unless it's at Walmart on a weekend.

I never did the parking lot practice thing, myself. What sort of lots do folks recommend? Retail Store? Factory? Government Building? Church? I have noticed that they hold the MSF courses in the DMV building parking lot, which is a substantial spread. Not sure how they would feel about free lancers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey johnnyvee, thanks for reply.

That Walmart 25 miles from Ola is in Dardanelle. It is never empty. Never seen it so. Never even close, with crazies doing all sorts of stupid stuff, often on cell phones. But... Dardanelle has a crisp, new community center with a very large parking lot, used only when an event is scheduled. And, drum roll, the Dardanelle Police Dept is one block south of CC. If you inspect with Google maps satellite view you can see a very long straight stretch of pavement SW of PD that appears to be striped for some sort of vehicular training. Don't yet know if it is for moto training, but it could be. Not DMV. That is not where Yell County AR moto learners get licensed. I believe it is for PD use. That CC lot is about as big as the MSF lot I trained on, 1.5 acres or so.

Now, I intend to ask permission to use both, but first, I need to do more self-training on my pasture, with my safety cones. This is not traffic training; it is to really, really master the bike. The little ring-dings I rode at MSF are not like my Vulcan, not even close. An RC at MSF matched me up with a 250cc that had handle bars so narrow (I have broad shoulders) that by arm was in a Z-bend to get a flat wrist. In fact, I could not achieve a flat wrist on that bike even with a neanderthal RC forcing my wrist flat. I restrained myself, but it wasn't easy. I asked for a different bike and was switched to one that was a better fit for me, but still not wide enough, not even close to my mountain bike or my Vulcan. So, I will venture out on highways 10 and 7 AFTER I do more basic work on my (dry) pasture. When I ride it with my mountain bike I have to peddle a lot harder to get through the resistance 4-6" of orchard grass provides. I'm assuming my Vulcan will experience the same resistance; a little more throttle for the same speed needed on tarmac. And no, I'm not a two-bike person, but I will not push the Vulcan anywhere near its limits. I can learn a lot in gears 1-3. We've had lots of rain over past few days so too wet to try out my theory.

Hey johnnyvee, I was born and raised in Chi :)
 

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Wait a minute, perlboy. I just took a look at Ola AR on Google Maps. It's a VERY small town. No disrespect intended, but are you saying you're concerned about riding around that neighborhood? I realize you are a new rider, but you should be able to handle riding around that town. If you're scared, that might be a good thing, but at least ride around town until you feel confident. There is nothing there to worry about. You're never going to get anywhere until you get some miles on your bike. Personally, from what I see of your town, there is nothing to hinder you in anyway. Just do it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yo ketchboy; you don't seem to get it. It's not the traffic I fear, at least not yet. I handle traffic just fine on my mountain bike. It's my Vulcan which I have not yet mastered, and I'm not too arrogant to admit that. I think it would be stupid on my part to attempt to master the Vulcan AND traffic at the same time, even in little old Ola, population 1,238, which has its share of cell phone addicted soccer moms, one of whom recently almost ran me over while I walked across a small strip mall parking lot. Ola and Danville (next town 11 miles away) have lots of those, and they are not suitable for rider training, even empty. I want to know, really know the bike and how to handle it, before taking it out on the road. What's the big deal about spending a few weeks riding around my pasture, doing starts and stops, up-shifts and downshifts, planned and emergency braking, ovals and figure eights, emergency braking on the straight and in the curve, before going out on the public highway, perhaps endangered myself and OTHERS? I want to be the best rider I can be and that MSF course just didn't cut it. The RC's I had were undoubtedly great riders, but as teachers, they sucked, and of course, the Vulcan is no toy.
 

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Yo ketchboy; you don't seem to get it. It's not the traffic I fear, at least not yet. I handle traffic just fine on my mountain bike. It's my Vulcan which I have not yet mastered, and I'm not too arrogant to admit that. I think it would be stupid on my part to attempt to master the Vulcan AND traffic at the same time, even in little old Ola, population 1,238, which has its share of cell phone addicted soccer moms, one of whom recently almost ran me over while I walked across a small strip mall parking lot. Ola and Danville (next town 11 miles away) have lots of those, and they are not suitable for rider training, even empty. I want to know, really know the bike and how to handle it, before taking it out on the road. What's the big deal about spending a few weeks riding around my pasture, doing starts and stops, up-shifts and downshifts, planned and emergency braking, ovals and figure eights, emergency braking on the straight and in the curve, before going out on the public highway, perhaps endangered myself and OTHERS? I want to be the best rider I can be and that MSF course just didn't cut it. The RC's I had were undoubtedly great riders, but as teachers, they sucked, and of course, the Vulcan is no toy.
You know, I totally forgot about the cell phone addicted drivers. Sorry. I almost got run over by one last summer too while waiting at a stop light. She decided to cram herself into the space I was already in. So....that being said, continue on with what you feel comfortable with.:grin:
 

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I see a LOT of phones in hand, when I do one of my slow speed ride-bys on my way to wait for the traffic light. I swear one day it seemed like HALF of them, and at least 1 out of 4. Of course, it is a traffic light, if they are going to do it safely, that would be the time.

I can't wait until the state or city puts a bounty on them. I'll get me one of those Go Pro cameras and catch the license plate contiguous with a nice shot of the driver peering into their small screens. Could easily catch me 100 per hour. I'll be able to retire!
 

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Hmmm.. well from the time of first post to the last of yesterday was about 8hrs -- plenty of time to have all the practice one needs where one can get it -- should be on the road (carefully) by now...

Ya just can't ride a bike on a computer...
 

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I would not waste my time playing around in a grass field. Get out and ride the damn bike. Find less traveled road and places you don't have to worry too much about handling your bike just getting yourself used to your machine.

Eventually, after a day or two find traffic, go into the city, or town and do stop and go traffic. You'll be surprised how quickly you pick it up. Keep telling yourself you can do this, you can do this, Fear is caused by the unknown. Once you've done something it isn't the unknown anymore. Get out and ride, you'll be glad you did.

Fast interstate riding is what I do most, very invigorating and learning how to quickly pass 18 wheelers is scary at first but as I said, just do it, you'll be fine..
 

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Don't overthink this.. the mechanics of operating a motorcycle are VERY easy no matter what the size, it's the road situations and traffic that you need to learn about in order to succeed.

Ride around your pasture for an hour or two, starting and stopping, turns etc, by then you will know how to work the bike well enough to take the turn out of the field onto the road and ride away. Take it easy and you'll be just fine on a lightly traveled road. That's when you will learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Ride to that nice big community center parking lot and ride around practicing tight turns etc, those are best learned in a lot so traffic isn't a concern, but you will also learn a lot on the ride there and back.
 
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