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 The Scariest Day of My Life . . .

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tvpRich
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PostSubject: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 00:39

The Scariest Day of My Life . . . so far.
I've gone through cancer surgery, done a flip in a cesna plane and even bungee jumped,
but never have I ridden a freeway on a motorcycle.
Yesterday I bough my SWing in San Diego and had to trek it back home to Burbank (140 miles).
I've owned another scooter in the past and grew up on dirt bikes, but never have I ridden the freeways, much less at 70mph.
So as I do love the ride SWing gives me I had to get off the freeway frequently (12 stops total) to stop shaking from anxiety attacks.
My fear of loosing my balance and from speeding cars hitting me was overwhelming and I had a terrible 7 hours to travel what should have taken me about 3 hours.
I don't know if time takes the fear away, or if I was doing something wrong, but this fear was totally unexpected and I wonder if I made a mistake by purchasing such a big bike. (I know "Big" is totally respective to one's familiarities), especially when I compare to the many bigger motorcycles being driven by small women, zooming past me like I was standing still.
I'm not sure why I was chickening out so much to the point that I would get off the freeway and consider calling AAA to tow (carry) my bike home. Or even worse, turn back and give the bike back to the owner and tell him I made a mistake.
Also, by the time I got home (10pm) I was still vibrating from the engine & road noise and the wind, so much that I had a mini psychotic episode and felt I could hear thumping music all around me, even though as I checked throughout my area, that there was no music being played.
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a scary event!
I'm not sure if it was this bike (Honda SWing) or if this would have happened regardless which motorcycle I was riding?
Also note that I just checked my tire pressure and noticed that tires were half filled (15psi) which made steering feel extremely sluggish and heavy.
Any advise will be much appreciated.

Anyway, here's my new SWing and I'm proud, albeit a little shaken up.
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JeffR
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 01:57

Rich,

You should get used to it if you keep practicing. Maybe the tires only having 15 lbs of air had something to do with it too. I have never rode mine with the air that low. Maybe just ride on the slower curvy roads until you get more experience since I don't think it is the SWing. The SWing is a very smooth bike on the highway so just practice on the slower roads. Keep us informed too and good luck.
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mr fish
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 05:18

Sorry to hear of your bad experiance...The tyre at low pressure does make the bike harder to handle and will dent confidence... Take your time getting used to the bike on quieter roads motorcycling is like most things in life you need practice if you have to ride freeways a lot start by doing one juction trips then two and build up slowly to get confidence...Its easy to give advice but try to ride relaxed you wont feel the vibes as much when your tense you grip tighter.....I think what im getting at is its all confidence and that takes longer for some than others you've been through cancer surgery my friend the rest is as we say in the uk a piece of piss .....stay strong
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Cornishman
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 06:39

I agree with the other guys. Riding on under inflated tyres is awful. Try to anticpate the turbulance wash from vehicles and if necessary back of into clean air. Over here some of the roads are so narrow that an oncoming truck's bow wave of air pressure can hit the front of the bike with considerable force, scary if you're not expecting it.

Keep riding and practicing you'll get there.

When I see films and pictures of roads crossing vast areas of desert and plains over there I just want to ride them. You guys are lucky to have that.
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Opalsboy
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 07:04

Rich... welcome to Swinging. You are the man. Goodness, there are riders that have many hours of experience that dread Freeway riding. I am one of them. I do it, but only as a have to case.
When I bought my Swing a year ago, I took a friend with me to drive my truck home for me. There are no freeways, only quiet two lane drive. Great ride. I was so nervous that I only made it a few miles. I wound up in the truck watching the tail lights of my Scoot wind their way through the country. One year later, I can drive that same route with my eyes closed.

You have a beautiful scoot. Enjoy the view. Be careful. Just take the short rides until you get the confidence to relax on busy streets and freeways. That will come. I actually envy you a little. The learning stage is a fun time. You keep us posted on what is going on with you.

Any questions, just ask.

Gary
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Emeskay
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 07:42

Rich,

I am a (relatively) new Swing rider, and I remember my first rides last summer. I had my scooter delivered (bought it from my Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor, who was nice enough to pack it up and bring it to my house). I rode around my subdivision for two weeks until I got up the nerve to go onto the main road, which in no way resembles a highway. It took me about a two months of regular back roads riding to get up the nerve to drive to work, which is Washington DC. A year later, though, I have put more than 10,000 miles on my scoot, and have traversed back roads, gravel drives and highways. But I still despise riding the Beltway. I can ride it without any problems, but I still avoid it whenever possible.

The instructor I mentioned above told us a very wise thing...he said that he was teaching a twenty hour course, and some people just cannot learn to ride in twenty hours. That doesn't mean they shouldn't or can't ride...they should just take their time and make sure it remains a pleasure. I went to visit him recently, and he couldn't believe that I was the same rider in his class. That felt good, but not as good as a long ride on a curving road on a sunny 80 degree day on my Swing.

Enough, I think you know what I mean. Your reaction is not unusual.

Good luck, don't worry about the expressway, and take your time getting to know your scooter. As Gary said, any questions, just ask.

Mandy
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Opalsboy
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 08:24

John, here we say "Piece of Cake". Is "piss" a special flavor of cake on your side of the sea? What size piece is a suggested serving?

Gary
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MikeO
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 08:56

I echo all that's been said.

I still get the willies overtaking large trucks on the freeway - turbulance everywhere, especially in my stomach - but have learnt my maxi will get me through. So will yours!
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tvpRich
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 12:51

Thanks for all the confidence! It's a good feeling to know when you have a support outlet. I'll "piss" on it until I get the feeling real good!
Strange when you grow up racing off-road and it feels so normal, compared to street riding. . . but then again I haven't ridden or driven a car, for that matter, for a year now. Just got my license back last week from a DUI conviction a year ago. I suppose that too plays a part in my situation here.

Question: do I post this next question here -or- start a new post?

I'm takingf the California "lolypop" test next week and should I use my SWing or a friends Honda Shadow 250?
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masscoot
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 13:37

Rich,
First welcome to the site. After reading your account I was a shaking a bit myself knowing how scared you sounded. If you don't mind me being critical a bit you missed a very important step about riding, your pre-ride safely check! Its easy to do especially when the excitement of picking up your new scoot was at hand. I am glad to see that you are signed up for your motorcycle safety course or "lollypop" test as you refer to it. Embarassed Taking it a bit more seriously might not hurt you, in fact you will indeed learn things that will save your life. I too rode bikes off road many moons ago, the rules are different on the road than off! Bikes are invisible to most people especially the ones talking and or texting on the cell phone No

As I read your post again it is not clear whether it is the MSF safe riding course or just the motorcycle license test, could you clarify? It is mandatory in my state (MA) to take the test using a fully manual transmission motorcycle.

You have a slight fear that you "over-bought" in terms of the Silver Wing being too big or too much motorcycle. Rest assured you will be thankful for its power and nimbleness as you get used to it more and more with each ride. All it takes is practice, practice and more practice. Find yourself a large parking lot and do some practicing on your turns left and right, stops, slow, medium and aggressive. You will want to know how the machine will react BEFORE you need to apply those techniques. A word of caution about slow speed (sharp) turns, there is a trick to it. You need to apply a little throttle to engage the transmission while applying the left brake (a little). This should be practised only after you master your left and right turns. I could go on for many more pages but I'll leave you with a great book to read Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well the best $18 you'll ever spend! Good luck and let us know if you have more questions.
Ride safe!
Paul
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tankyuong
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 14:00

i was in cali last week and I even get nervous driving the freeway in a car. just stick to the slow to the right lane and you'll be fine.
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u p tom
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 14:59

The pre-ride safety check is a good idea. You would have discovered that the tires were low. They need to be above 29-35 lbs pressure or so. Squirmy tires would be very frightening ... and dangerous. A bigger windshield is also a good idea. Cuts the buffeting that comes with the OEM. The buffeting leads to fatigue quickly.
I have ridden the swing about 5 years now and about 65000 miles. Still get nervous. Still learning. The only problem is that I don't see many of you good people out on the road. You must be someplace else.
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tvpRich
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 17:00

Paul,
I'm taking the 'LolyPop" test next week. This is the only mandatory for Class-M1 License in California. I will also be taking the Safety Course (reservation made for next month). I'm actually gonna take Test using a friends Shadow 250cc. He rents his bike out for the "LolyPop" test for $100.

I've been going to Local DMV daily and practicing LollyPop course which at this point, I have found to be sort of difficult to stay within Lines on pavement, as you cannot see the front tire at all with SWing.

I guess it's more of a feeling and 6th sence. Kinda like when you drive your car up a narrow ramp and you "just know" where your front tires are from experience, even without seeing them physically.

A Pre-Check would have helped me with the low tire pressure and/but as I asked the Seller, he told me that he had the tires inflated properly and that they should have been slightly under inflated. Although I took his word for it, I should have, and do, know better. Now inflated @ 36psi, Steering feels like a dream. Just have to get used to the extra weight though. I'm used to a 350lb. Honda Big Ruckus.

TankYoung, You say to stick to the slow lane on freeway?
That's kinda what I'm doing. Although most motorcycle riders will tell you the opposite, to stay in the fast lane, because there's only one side to worry about there. Either way I've driven the freeway for 10 miles today and feel more comfy at that knowing that I'm close to home (I know most accidents happen within 5 miles of home).

p.s. check soon in the mods section here on forum.
i'm comming up with an idea for a Chiwauwa carrier ona SWing. LOL
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masscoot
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 17:39

Thats great news Rich, I just wanted to know that your head was in the right place (and not you-know-where Embarassed ). The front fairing does take some getting used to but in time it will be second nature. It is a heavy bike, it has gone over on me three times, two at a complete stand still and one in a walking slow speed turn. If it does go let it, don't try to muscle it back you will hurt yourself. Its also good to hear you are practicing, it can never hurt to be prepared.

I have to chuckle, one of the things you said you experienced was a loud thumping and thought it was a car stereo. As you know now it was your heart thumping in your chest! Do not worry, you will experience it again soon, only this time it will be followed by good endorfins as you pull the Silverwing through the twisties at a good 40 degree lean! Its a cool bike with capabilities that turn many heads. Good luck with your test and we will be looking for your mods!

Paul
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Cornishman
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 18:16

tvpRich wrote:
I've been going to Local DMV daily and practicing LollyPop course which at this point, I have found to be sort of difficult to stay within Lines on pavement, as you cannot see the front tire at all with SWing.

You should not be looking at your front tyre but you should be looking at where you want to go. Also if you look at the lines on the pavement you will steer towards those lines.
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exavid
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 20:50

If you can take the test on the Silverwing that would be easier than using a Shadow which adds the clutch and shift lever to the effort. Do some slow speed riding in a vacant parking lot for practice. In most states you can get a motorcycle learner's permit by taking only the written test. That might be a good idea until you get some time under your belt.
Riding that distance on half inflated tires would be a test for even a seasoned rider. With under inflated tires any bike is unstable and difficult to control. Freeway riding inside major cities isn't a heck of a lot of fun but it needn't be scary it just takes familiarity with your bike so you don't have to pay attention to it but can pay undivided attention to traffic and conditions around you. It's actually safer on the slab since there are no cross streets or left turners in front of you. I usually ride on the left most lane so I have somewhere to go if the bike acts up or I need to make an emergency stop. I avoid the right most lane because of the entering and exiting traffic.
Right now you need to get in the right mind set. Your Silverwing is fully capable to be ridden safely on any freeway in the country. You are fully capable to ride it on any highway in the country. Now all you need is a bit of practice and some confidence building.
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fournbt
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Thu 20 Aug 2009, 21:43

It does take practice and learning what the Swing will do. I know the first time i got on the interstate the wind was blowing around 25 MPH and the big 18 wheelers were going past me at 80 MPH or faster and getting that hard blast of air when they flew by I thought for sure that the Swing was going to flip over. It was scary. I learned that it isn't going to flip or turn over and as I relaxed (not leaving finger print indents in the grips it got a lot better. It not a big deal anymore. I usually stay in the right lane on the two way interstates which is what we do here in Tx so the faster traffic can pass.
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mr fish
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Fri 21 Aug 2009, 06:38

I would just lke to say that the saying "a piece of piss" is the same as a "piece of cake"except im more common lol although ive had some shocking cakes in my time
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Miro
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Fri 21 Aug 2009, 11:28

I usually avoid freeways if I could. It is just not as much fun as a nice back road. The disadvantage of course is that it usually takes longer to get to your destination. It is only disadvantage though if you are in a hurry. Also, most of the time there is a frontage road that is more or less parallel to a freeway.

I am pretty sure you'll get used to freeways really soon. SW is one of the most comfortable bike to ride freeway or not.

One more thing. If you think riding SW on a freeway is scary you should try Reflex.
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tankyuong
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Fri 21 Aug 2009, 12:04

Miro wrote:
I usually avoid freeways if I could. It is just not as much fun as a nice back road. The disadvantage of course is that it usually takes longer to get to your destination. It is only disadvantage though if you are in a hurry. Also, most of the time there is a frontage road that is more or less parallel to a freeway.

I am pretty sure you'll get used to freeways really soon. SW is one of the most comfortable bike to ride freeway or not.

One more thing. If you think riding SW on a freeway is scary you should try Reflex.
The thing about back roads or inner streets is a chance of getting robbed in california ,not as safe as other states.
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exavid
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Fri 21 Aug 2009, 13:28

Riding on inner city streets in any large city is unpleasant. Bad pavement, heavy traffic, darting pedestrians all contribute to make you want to be somewhere else.
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driftwoodpoint
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PostSubject: Re: The Scariest Day of My Life . . .   Fri 21 Aug 2009, 23:06

Oh Rich I know what you mean. I have the same bike as you, an 09 Red Silverwing. This is my 6th bike of my life. But I have always ridden back roads and just enjoyed puttering in the country. I think this is my fourth year with my scooter group in Richmond, IN. The first summer I rode with them I'm not sure I had been over 40 mph. They took off on state highways at 55 and I almost freaked. My shoulders and hands were cramping I think Rolling Eyes I actually dropped out several times. One of the guys said to just keep practicing at higher speeds. I took the advanced safety class in Cincinnati and that really helped.
I just took my first long trip a few weeks ago. Almost 2k miles and that was my first time on the Interstate. The first go at it there seemed to be a lot of traffic and I was watching everyone and it was tiring. Then the second time I just really enjoyed it. My first choice is not to go where there is a lot of traffic. I love the wandering in the countryside but there are times you need to get on main roads to get somewhere and you just have to spend the time getting used to it. But give yourself some time to relax....best to you. Smile
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