Friday, April 30, 2010


Help a brother out, y'all.

Zion's Paladin (
Hey y'all. I'm gonna branch OT here.

JAC, this is mostly to you, though anyone else can feel free to chime in. Not like I could stop you from doing that anyway. Smile

Anywho, I finally got off my ass and scheduled an appointment with the DMV to take the written test for my motorcycle license. Since I already passed the MSF course, the practical is over and done with. But I'm facing two concerns that I need some advice or suggestions on.

1) Riding jeans. I've found at least one good site that sells a wide variety, both in the amount of armor plating they offer, types of jeans and sizes, including mine. My cautious nature tells me to get as much armor plating as they'll put in, but I wanted to check with the experienced riders here on whether that's the way to go, or if there's armor plating in certain areas I should avoid.

2) This is the doozy. Riding a motorcycle is my first experience with a manual tranny ever. While I am very confident in my ability to handle a bike in terms of steering, braking etc., the throttle control and gear shifting is what's got me concerned. With a car, someone else could drive down to a parking lot, field or whatnot and switch places with the learner so they can get the necessary experience. With a bike, my only choice is grit my teeth and learn or rent a trailer to haul it back and forth while I get the necessary experience. This is where I need the majority of the advice and suggestions.

Woulda e-mailed you JAC, but my previous laptop had a glass of water run into it, and I couldn't find your e-mail address anywhere else.
Today, 4:33:35 AM

Real quick, ZP.

1) Riding Jeans. They are nice in very hot weather and I use Diamond Gusset brand, but an armoured oversuit or overpants is preferable like this.

2) Shifting. It ain't that big of a deal. The basics are;keep the RPM's between the engine dieing and the tachometer redline and all is well. The initial takeoff is the difficult part as there is so much going on all at one. A primary foible a new rider will make is while making a left turn across traffic: So much attention will be paid to a successful lutch/accelerator interaction that none is paid to the rate of acceleration resulting in either a) panic and freeze up while turning leading to collision, or b) a dropped bike in the middle if the intersection. Bear in mind you may "slip" the clutch as needed to learn a feel for it and it is always permissible to pull the lever back in after taking off. That second bit will save your ass from a lot of rookie screwups. I watch my brother damned near ride off a bridge 'cause he was concentrating so hard on letting the clutch out to take off without "killing" the engine.


Bill said...

It took me about 23 seconds to get used to shifting a bike, then it was as natural as breathing.  Now I borrow a friends automatic four-wheeler and I find the thing annoying.  Just get out and ride, you'll pick it up.  You should know that every bike has a particular power band, most four cylinders make more power up at the higher RPM range, singles make power at the low end, these are just general guidelines.  Figure out how your bike performs best, and Do Not do this in first gear, get into third or fourth and just wind it up through the RPM range a few times, see how it responds.

farmer Tom said...

What JAC said about slipping the clutch is useful information.

If you have ever had anyone tell you how to drive a manual transmission you've probably heard that you should never, never, never slip the clutch.

This is in fact not only wrong, but an opinion which can cause tremendous psychological difficulties for a beginner. 

All clutches must slip in the process of engaging. excessive slip will lead to premature failure, but careful limited slipping while taking off from a dead stop is a safe and useful part of maintaining control of the vehicle.

Once you are underway, never slip the clutch, until then, slipping the clutch so that you can maintain engine speed until the vehicle is moving is necessary.

BTW, I drove my Ford Ranger with a manual transmission over 200,000 miles with out replacing the clutch and I did it just exactly as I told you.

Bill said...

FT is right.  Do not think of using the clutch as wearing the thing out, just think of it as transmitting power to the bike.  You want to efficiently transfer power, the clutch can take quite a beating at low RPM's, it's heat that kills them.  And get used to making it through intersections in first gear until you're REALLY comfortable with shifting, as in barely thinking of the motions involved.  And when in doubt, twist the throttle!

Anonymous said...

It's like Bill said, the clutch: just do it and don't think about it. You'll get a feel for how much you can lug the engine and you won't even notice what you're doing. If you think about it, you'll only screw up.

This worked for my boys in the VW beetle too...

J3, $847!!!!

Mikesbo said...

Guest was me...

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Michael Maier said...

My Tour Master armored pants and jacket saved my ass about 2 weeks ago. I was doing 45 or so and I lowsided in some gravel. I went down hard, hitting my left elbow and helmet and messing the muscles in my right shoulder a bit.

The armor in the elbow worked and protected the elbow. To give an idea of the force, the armor drove into my forearm and bruised it up but good. But much better that than a fractured elbow.

Get good gear. God willing, you'll never need it, but I was able to ride home. Without all my gear, I really doubt that would have been true.

Michael Maier said...

And get a hold of "Proficient Motorcycling". It's a fun read and goes into the physics of riding as well as lots of info and techniques. I've had a copy checked out from the library for 3 years now. I re-read it every year. I should really by my own copy, but why spend if I don't have to?

JACIII said...

Excellent advise, MM. Also Keith Code's book do a good job of bringing home
how many things one actually has to keep in the air at once to ride a
motorcycle safely and well.

Claymore said...

I bought my first bike three weeks ago, and have been thinking about what gear to get too.   The bike is a 1980 GS550E - complete with Megaphone mufflers!  The local Suzuki/Kawasaki dealer was very informative and helpful.  I ended up getting a full face Scorpion helmet and will probably go back for a Textile jacket/over-pants. 

BTW, I also went to a HD dealer to check out what they had.  Everything overpriced and slathered with HD logo.  Right away a close talker comes up and starts quizzing me on "what I ride", and how I should trade up and become part of  "the family" and "join the brotherhood.".  It was all I could do to keep from laughing in his face.  I got out of there quick.

Nate said...

There is so much good gear out there.  Just remember... get motorcycle specific gear.  Don't get work boots and pretend they're good enough.  They ain't.  Bare minimum for riding a motorcycle.. I mean every time you get on:

Armored jacket
Full Faced Helmet
Motorcycle specific gloves
Motorcycle specific boots

Optional but highly recommended:

1 piece armoured riding suit
armoured riding pants that attach to the jacket mentioned above.

You don't have to look like a racer boy either.

Zion's Paladin said...

First off, let me say thanks to one and all for the advice and recommendations.  I am very grateful to JAC for posting it on his blog and equally grateful to everyone who responded.

In regards to shifting, it's likely I am making more of it than it warrants, but as I said, it's my first time dealing with a manual tranny and I have a cautious nature.  Sometimes, excessively cautious.  But your reassurance that it won't be as difficult as I think it will does relieve my concerns a bit.

Nate, I wasn't sure if your comment was directed towards my post but if it was, let's just say that your blog was one place I mined heavily in bike research. ;)   I've already got a good helmet, jacket, gloves and boots, all specific to motorcycle work.  I'm looking into pants because I'd like to go for the complete suitup.  A full riding suit may be further down the line, but right now, I've decided to stick with the individual pieces for below the neck.

Speaking of which, I encountered something rather odd when I took the written test this last Wednesday (didn't pass, but I can try again any time I want).  The following question was one I had to answer:

Smoking inside a vehicle when a person younger than 18 years of age is present is:

Legal, if it is your child
Illegal at all times
Not restricted by any law

Given that it's California, I don't imagine anyone will have trouble figuring out what the correct answer is.  What I found decidedly odd is that I had to fill out a test with this question when I am applying for a vehicle that it would be near impossible to smoke while riding in the first place.

Thing like these are why I don't bother defending California the state and concentrate solely on defending California the land mass.

Bill said...

I dunno about all that gear, all you really need are ass-less leather pants.

Claymore said...

Nate and JAC, Aside from shoelaces that might snag on something, why is it important to use motorcycle boots instead of regular steel toed work or pull-on boots?  Also what should we look for in motorcyle gloves? 

JACIII said...

Ankles. Good moorcycle boots have lateral ankle  protection.

Nate said...

And while we are aware that some work boots claim to provide lateral ankle protection... its not the same.

Some day soon motorcyclists will have something akin to storm trooper suits... except with cooler helmets.