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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My youngest son is in his early 20's and while I have let him ride my 150cc scooter, he has never ridden a motorcycle. This morning he called me and asked if he could come over and if I would give him a brief lecture on how the controls work on my motorcycle and then asked if he could take it for a little ride, just to see what it is like. I admire self confidence, but I told him there was not a chance in the world that I would let him TRY to ride my bike. This young man has never driven a manual shift vehicle, had no idea what the clutch is for, and was surprised when I showed him that the front and rear brake have separate controls. On top of all that, my bike is a 920 pound Honda Goldwing! I've been trying to get him to sign up for the MSF Basic Riders Course and told him that after he passes that course he could buy a small motorcycle, and then later work up to something bigger and heavier, but that even after he passes the course on the 250cc bikes that they use, there was still no way I was going to let him try riding my Goldwing. On second thought, maybe this isn't amazing confidence, maybe its just youthful foolhardiness!

This episode today made me think about the first time I tried a Goldwing. I had been riding a Triumph America and had been riding motorcycles for about 25 years. The America weighs about 550 pounds, and while I safely rode the Goldwing, I was scared witless. It felt like a Buick on two wheels. I had no appreciation for all the bells and whistles of the Goldwing and all I could think about when riding it for a short demo ride was to not have it end up on its side on the ground. Several years later, when I was riding my Triumph Thunderbird, about a 775 pound bike, I took another demo ride on a Goldwing. Suddenly it didn't seem overwhelmingly big and I loved the way it rode. Not long afterward I bought my new Goldwing and have been happy ever since. I can't even imagine wanting to try a Goldwing or any bike of that size when I had yet to become a motorcyclist. I think what some of the earliest motorcyclists, riding those early Indians and Harleys that weighed about 150 pounds or so, would have thought if someone from the future had come back to their time with a Goldwing or a Indian Roadmaster. Would have been something to see!
 
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Nightfly
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The arrogance of youth allows them to dismiss the words of elders, for they cannot understand that which comes with age and speaks of things their youth won't allow them to understand.

I completely agree with your handling of the situation with your son. As someone who grew up on a small farm and learned how to handle a clutch not long after learning to walk, your son has no idea of the workings of such a device. A huge drawback when learning to ride.

Your son had no idea what he was asking of you. Probably he thought of it as not much different than riding a pedal bike. Riding a Goldwing is certainly out of his realm of control. I've been riding all my life and for me, I never want to ride a land yacht as large as the wing. Just not my thing.

I learned to ride on my dad's old knucklehead Harley, but before actually riding it, I worked on it, I understood the operation of it, I pushed it around the barn area and knew exactly how to operate the clutch, any clutch for that matter. Kick starting that thing was a learning experience in itself. So again, you did the right thing. If anyone needed to start small before going big is it people like your son. They have no idea.
 

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On The Road Again!
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Vito, I've been riding since 1968, including over 170,000 miles on a 900 BMW with everything, even pulling a trailer.
But when I rode my Goldwing for the first time, I was VERY intimidated by the weight and size of the thing. It still took a while to get used to it.
I can't imagine someone trying to ride a bike for the first time ever on a Goldwing.

Holy moly!
 

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Every time I'm asked how to get into motorcycles, I have the same pat answer: take the MSF beginner's course. I think it's the best way for a newbie to learn the basics. YouTube and Facebook are loaded with 'fail' videos showing the results of new riders crashing hard while attempting to ride new or unfamiliar bikes. And loaning out a heavy bike like your Wing or my Electra Glide? Absolutely not.

I've seen businesses advertised recently for private motorcycle rentals. One is called Twisted Road, sort of an AirBnB for motorcycles. I'm fascinated that there are people out there who would rent their bikes out to strangers. I can only think of a couple of people on the planet who I would consider letting ride my bike and even then I might not let them, much less someone I don't know.
 

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Nightfly
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Every time I'm asked how to get into motorcycles, I have the same pat answer: take the MSF beginner's course. I think it's the best way for a newbie to learn the basics. YouTube and Facebook are loaded with 'fail' videos showing the results of new riders crashing hard while attempting to ride new or unfamiliar bikes. And loaning out a heavy bike like your Wing or my Electra Glide? Absolutely not.

I've seen businesses advertised recently for private motorcycle rentals. One is called Twisted Road, sort of an AirBnB for motorcycles. I'm fascinated that there are people out there who would rent their bikes out to strangers. I can only think of a couple of people on the planet who I would consider letting ride my bike and even then I might not let them, much less someone I don't know.
I hear ya Bo. I would never let a stranger ride my bike unless they had cash money in my hand. I ride Jet ski and they too are available for rent here, all you need is to flash your driver's license. What that has to do with riding a jet ski I cannot say.
 

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For those of us who learned to ride before things like the MSF course and progeny, sometime it is a wonder we survived, but not so… First none of the bikes I rode had any Tupperware to speak of, and one of the first things we did with the EL was lay it down and learn to pick it up – indeed I’ve done this with every bile I’ve owned, including the Nad and the Ultra – until the Connie I just got; dang all that plastic is intimidating… as for weight, sounds like most of the rider here know it ain’t the usually the weight, it is the balance. IMO some of the most easy bike to ride are the modern cruisers – heavy, yep mostly, but weight carries low, they respond more slowly and with modern brakes (ABS ???), they stop too…

But we also build “dirt bikes” with way more ground clearance than 95% of their riders will ever need, looks kewl but ends up pushing the center of gravity up near the stratosphere, and the sport bikes can have more power than we ever dreamed of -- thank goodness for modern gumball tires… so if the MSF course does nothing other than teach respect for the machinery, it is well worth the small investment of time and coin… although, given that we all rode those bikes with little or no training, I’m not sure who is the more arrogant…

-- Larry
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When I was an MSF Instructor many years ago (I stopped teaching the program back in 2000) we would share data with the students that most of the deaths on motorcycles were either alcohol related or occurred in the first six months of riders without any formal training. I would tell them that while completing the Basic Course would not give them the skills of an experienced rider, it would give them the skills that should safely get them through the first few months of riding, during the time which their skills will become more automatic and improve their ability to manage the risks of riding a motorcycle. That still seems true in my opinion.
 

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All my boys took the course as part of getting licensed on their own even though they already knew how to ride at a young age. They all got married and no longer ride. But if they ever get back into it they have the license and the know how.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Stopping when married, or more commonly when the first child is born, seems to be pretty normal behavior. Just recently, a friend that I had helped get started in riding about 10 years ago just sold his bike. A long time bachelor he had married, and still was riding, but when baby one arrived his wife started to press him to give up on that "dangerous hobby" of riding a motorcycle. When baby number two came along, he caved and now I am down to zero riding companions. In one year I went from 3 riding friends to zero due to babies, illness and disability even though I am the oldest of the four of us. Years ago one of my sons was a rider, and we had the pleasure of numerous rides together including two, week long trips to motorcycle rallies in another part of the country. But then he quit, admitting that he primarily rode to have something in common with his old man, but now as a new father he felt it was time to give it up. A son in law was a rider for a few years, but I think my daughter pressured him to give up the bike when their first child was born. But now with this youngest son (my next youngest was already 19 when this son came into our life, first as a foster child and then as an adopted son) is eager to ride, I may yet have a riding companion again before age makes me hang up my helmet for the last time.
 

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We have friends who were in a slight MC accident and sold their bike then used the money to buy a washer and dryer. Safe but not very fast or comfortable. Many years later they bought a HD Ultra which was fast and comfortable but did not clean or dry well.
 

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On the MSF course...the main reasons I recommend the course is familiarization with the clutch and brakes, as well as learning how it all works together. The other item is how to look through turns (look where you want to go) vs looking at the ground during a turn, a bad habit I had for years. Understanding the clutch friction zone, laying off the front brake in slow-speed turns, counter-steering, etc, all the stuff you learn through the Experienced Rider's Course or any of the video series on those things (eg, Ride Like a Pro) are all things I recommend in addition to the beginner's course.

I took the course (second time) when I got to George Air Force Base in California in '83. I was riding a Harley pan-shovel with a slapstick handshift and no front brake. That was a neat trick, getting that bike through the course. My current bike has ABS, integrated brakes, etc, all the bells and whistles...it's a different world.
 

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We have friends who were in a slight MC accident and sold their bike then used the money to buy a washer and dryer. Safe but not very fast or comfortable. Many years later they bought a HD Ultra which was fast and comfortable but did not clean or dry well.

I think we all have “reasons” to give up riding… sometimes they are temporary reasons to sustain some family tranquility, sometimes it is just an excuse to free up time or treasure for another hobby, pastime or other activity. In my head I’ve ridden pretty much all my adult life – but in truth I’ve shelved the helmet for a year or two here and there once or twice… The last time for me was 2-3 years ago. Five or so years before I’d had an incident with a deer that whacked my Nad and took about 7-8 month for things to begin to knit (I still bounce just as high as I did when I was hyounger -- but didn't seem to land as pretty...), then a few years later I fell down the steps (winter frost) and that pretty much put paid on that – tearing up a tendon… was almost a year before I was allow to bend my much knee at all, so I sold my trusty Evo and said, that’s it – I was almost 70 then, I’m done I said…

Hey, but guess what… in the past 7-8 months mobility is coming back quickly – balance seems far better than I’d expected (mostly recovering from muscle-weakness I’ve been told) and there is a new-to-me Connie-C10 suffering through some get-acquainted exercises…

I don’t think folks should be pressured to ride – ever… We ride when we ride, but if you were ever truly afflicted with the urge, you probably still are at some level… whether one mounts up again, depends on lots of stuff…
 

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I don’t think folks should be pressured to ride – ever… We ride when we ride, but if you were ever truly afflicted with the urge, you probably still are at some level… whether one mounts up again, depends on lots of stuff…
Agreed. When it comes up in conversation, I tell folks that when the day comes that you're nervous or uncomfortable about riding for whatever reason, or you have commitments that make you uneasy about taking the risks of riding, that's the day to get off.

My first wife developed dementia. In the last couple of years of her life, I stopped riding (kept the bike), thinking that if I wrapped myself around a tree, it would fall to someone else to care for her. After she passed away, it took another six months before I went for a ride again. And boy, was it a good ride. You don't realize how much you miss it until you haven't ridden for awhile. (Second wife encourages me to go riding every day. You'd think she wants me out of the house or something...)
 

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On top of all that, my bike is a 920 pound Honda Goldwing! I've been trying to get him to sign up for the MSF Basic Riders Course and told him that after he passes that course he could buy a small motorcycle, and then later work up to something bigger and heavier, but that even after he passes the course on the 250cc bikes that they use, there was still no way I was going to let him try riding my Goldwing. On second thought, maybe this isn't amazing confidence, maybe its just youthful foolhardiness!
It's weird because the course is basically free in our state and there are so many places that offer the course. I feel there's no excuse for someone interested in riding not to do it!

I can certainly say it was well worth the $20 donation. I absolutely refused to ride my first bike until I had completed the course and I'm happy that I did. :) ...And yeah, at least ride a smaller bike for a little before you start swinging a leg over bikes that weigh half a ton! :grin:
 

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It's tough to get into a MSF or ABATE basic course around here. They are filled within days of being announced.

My GF learned to ride in a BRC about 4 years ago. I am amazed at how much better rider she is that me when I had 4 years experience (I was one who just bought a bike and "figured it out" on my own)
She also isn't hindered by testosterone, I suppose):grin:
And actually, the first manual vehicle I really operated was that 1995 Honda 600 Shadow, with 30 miles on the odo because my cousin rode it to my house from the dealership while I took my written permit test...What the hell was I thinking?

I also, first suggest a BRC to anyone asking me about starting to ride.
 

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All of this talk about rider courses is somewhat strange to me. There was no such thing when I was a kid. I bought my first bike and took it out on the city streets near my home and taught myself to ride it in 1968. 51 years and over 300,000 miles later, I'm still riding up a storm, so I must have done something right.
But....
Thinking back, one of the big safety influences for me was Roger Hull's Road Rider magazine. He always had great safety and "how to" articles in that mag. I read every one of them and took them to heart.

So, for my 51 years of safe riding, I can say "Thank you Roger Hull".
 

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boy, was it a good ride. You don't realize how much you miss it until you haven't ridden for awhile.

Yep, ain't that the truth -- when yer in a situations where life has you preoccupied, it is easy to put it on a back-burner... but once the skies clear, so to speak, ya start wondering...
 

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My 18 year-old son also has amazing self confidence. He has one year of riding experience on a 50cc scooter, one year on a 150cc scooter, and one year on a 300cc motorcycle. He wants to get his "Iron Butt" certificate for riding 1000 miles within 24 hours. The longest ride he's ever taken is 125 miles. He's never even driven a car more than 250 miles in a day.

Luckily, I own 25% of his Versys 300 and the title is in my name. So, I can stop him if I want to. We are going on a motorcycle camping trip in a few weeks where we'll put on about 275 miles in one day. If he still wants to do an Iron Butt after that, I'll let him do it, but I'm going to insist that I come with so i can keep an eye on him.

On a side note, he's never asked to ride my Goldwing. He did ask to ride my wife's BMW R1200R once. I said he could ride it in a parking lot. But, since he wasn't insured on it, he'd have to pay for any damage if he dropped it. I guess his amazing confidence was overshadowed by his amazing fiscal responsibility.
 
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