Motorcycle Forums » Lady Bikers

Need Ecouragement

  • March 1, 2012 12:45 AM PST
    Hey Ladies!

    This is my first forum post, but I need a little encouragement :)

    Last year I learned how to ride a motorcycle. I took the MSF course at Harley and did great. Mistakenly, I bought a 1200 Sporster right out of the gate. Of course, being a newby, I had issues like dropping the bike (4 times!!) and losing my nerve. A friend suggested I buy a smaller bike and practice on it before I try to handle the Harley. I did and got my practice in and then stepped up to the 'big girl'. At the end of the season, I was getting better and better. I was riding long distances with groups and going pretty well. I was still having issues though with stopping. I just couldn't get steady and was nervous everytime I got to a stop light. I'm not sure my problem is but I'm pretty sure it has to do with my history of dropping the bike. I'm just so afraid I'm going to keep doing it.

    Well to make a long story short, it's the new season and even though I'm very excited to get going again, I have this tremendous fear of starting to drive again. When I drive around in my car and get to a certain light or situation, I just imagine myself losing it on the bike. I know I'm psyching myself out, but I'm not sure I know how to handle it. I know it's good to have a little nervousness going because it keeps you alert. I can't get back on the smaller bike, because it's not running anymore and I don't have the funds to fix it.

    I'm hoping to get the bike out this Saturday and practice. I have my sister drive behind me in the car just in case something happens. We did it all summer last year LOL.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Thank you!
    Julia
  • March 1, 2012 1:20 AM PST
    Julia, being that I'm NOT one of the girls but feel compelled to respond... my wife is having her issues with her Sporty and she is just damn nervous and I think her nerves are what get the better of her. She really wants to get in the saddle with more confidence but I think she hasn't embraced the fact that most of us already know and do, we all know the inherit dangers involved in riding in any situation. The thing that most of us go through in our heads as we ride are all the trouble spots in traffic of stop n go traffic there is always a situation that pops up in your head when negociating certain situations. I think embracing the fact that you have to remain ever vigilent and on edge when in in sort of traffic is healthy but do NOT let it get the better of you. The first time you're so comfortable riding in such a situation is an opportunity for disaster!
    So keep up the practice, at some point you will figure out the brake operation and it's constant necessary use when riding in general. I'd say you were on the right path, just a lot more practice is probably what you need the most. A lot of us have been riding a long time like anything you just get used to the concept and the operating portion becomes second nature and we just apply our already tried and true riding techniques.
  • March 1, 2012 1:39 AM PST
    Julia,

    Fear and anxiety are two of the hardest things for a person to overcome in any aspect of life. Most people will say face your fears to overcome them and build confidence. For the most part that is true, but usually not as easy as it sounds.

    I'm sure you'll hear lots of "go back to the bike you were comfortable with". But there is no reason you can't get comfortable with the bike YOU WANT to ride. Practice, practice, practice and eventually it will become second nature. But please do in a safe / controlled environment!
  • March 1, 2012 2:06 AM PST

    I have just a quick answer to this.....Are You riding with boots that have even slightly slippery soles?  If this is the case then CHANGE THEM for ones with totally soft Gel Soles, you will grip the surface better no matter what kind of surface it is.....


    STOP thinking about making mistakes and start by leaning the bike as far as you can WITHOUT the engine running in your own driveway, see how far you can lean it without it taking you down, if it aint far then you have the wrong boots on...you "Should" be able to lean a bike around 40 degrees from upright and hold its weight easy, and take it back to upright, do this on both sides and see if its the same amount each side, once you know how far you can lean it-once you have very soft soled boots on-once you can take your gearchange foot off and put it to the floor while moving at slow speed-then you will get the hang of all of it...


    Keep the brake foot on the peg until you have stopped and lean very slightly toward the other side, but just very slightly, you will have the balance to keep it right ways up ok?  Practice without the engine somewhere the bike aint going to get damaged-even put a load of chair cushions down where the bike would fall to.....I reckon maybe you are not sure just how far you can tilt the bike without it going over...FIND OUT...and THEN go back out on the road and you WILL feel a load safer putting a foot down, and then both feet ok?  Of This I Am Sure.....


    See, and thats the SHORTER, QUICKER Version of what I wanted to say.....lol.....

  • March 1, 2012 2:06 AM PST
    Fear is good. Stop trying to overcome your fear and learn to embrace it and have it work for you. A healthy amount of fear (respect) will keep you safe and alert. Find a big empty parking lot and practice starting and stopping. Have your sister act as on-coming traffic. If you drop the bike, pick it up....get on it and try again. The bike is an extension of you....you are in control of its actions. If not convinced...sit down in front of your bike, have a heart to heart with it, get the vibes in the right order...then jump on that monster and ride!
  • March 1, 2012 2:12 AM PST

    The reason I said all that above is that I have a friend who now rides a rather heavier Harley than mine, she also rides a rather large VN Kwak, and she is just a slight built just over 5 feet tall...she used to have this trouble for around a year after she started riding, and that was on an NC400...


    Then we saw what she was wearing on her feet, we made her put soft soles on and it gave her enough of a boost to try what I said above about engine off and see how far you can lean it.....Do it safely, have someone standing by your side so they can stop it falling, but just do it without going anywhere first.....ok?


    Hope this helps in some small way.....

  • March 1, 2012 2:29 AM PST
    Jetman that is some solid advice brother, I will try this with the wife and get her more in touch with her ride... once her shoulder heals.
  • March 1, 2012 2:31 AM PST
    Thanks everyone for the responses! They're great suggestions and I really appreciate it!

    Jetman - My boots are Harley boots. So far, they are the only brand that I buy because I don't know much about other brands. I just bought a new pair that is a little higher because I'm a shorty and needed some extra lift :) I know they are not supposed to slip.

    I'll defintely will try the tipping exercise suggested and see how far I can lean the bike.

    Thanks again!
    J.
    • 130 posts
    March 1, 2012 2:32 AM PST
    Get out in an empty parking with an experienced rider and identify the problem. I did that with a new rider who was having trouble with dropping her bike in slow turns.
    When my daughter began riding I did the same with her so she could practice braking smoothly.
    The solution to your problem may be as simple as keeping your eyes forward.
  • March 1, 2012 3:09 AM PST

    I have always said that if you cant pick your own bike off the floor then its a bike thats too heavy for you....now just because thats the principal I go by dont mean its right for anyone else...


    In case any of you didn't know.....


    I am technically 3 limb disabled, I still ride my Harley as often as I can, I still ride it like I stole it!  But even with both my arms limited and my left leg limited I can still pick my Harley off its side.....


    First thing I did when I first got it all set-up to ride how I wanted it was to have help lowering it onto chair cushions...then after a struggle I picked the damn thing up on my own.....only then did I know it was mine!!! 


    I now have close to 40k on it, but please bear in mind, I have 2 bikes and 4 trikes and a couple of other vehicles.....for me to do the average miles of 15,000 miles a year it gets split between all those vehicles, so even though they aint done the miles that some do they do their share every year...


    I have all manner of boots.....my favourite boots to ride in are a genuine pair of German Paratroop boots made in 1941 and left on Guernsey when the Germans retreated and left everything behind.....I paid £20 ($32 approx) for them and they were only just broke in when I got them...they fit me perfect, whoever he was he had the same odd feet that I have as they fit me like a glove, I have had them 6 years now and they stilll shine up the same ..... They have very good and very rugged grip on them.....

  • March 1, 2012 3:16 AM PST
    Julia, go invest in a cheap pair of boots that have the very soft gel soles - they may be no good for riding with safety to your ankles but.....it WILL help.....TEST the soles by pushing a finger into the raised part of the treads, if they dont buckle under one finger - They AINT soft enough!!!
  • March 1, 2012 3:04 PM PST
    Julia, did you check out cheap boots yet?  Try soft soled training shoes, or track shoes, or jogging shoes or something, so you can feel the effect of a real soft sole...then go and find boots that have that kind of sole, trust me, it will work...
  • March 1, 2012 5:40 PM PST
    Julia,

    Welcome to riding. When I first started it took me 3 times to pass the MSF. (could have done it in 2)

    Whe I started riding I had no support system nor did I even know any riders. I did go around and sorry to say I found the Sportsters very top heavy and they did not fit me. I bought a VStar 650. The minute I sat o0n it I felt comfy. Again to each their own.

    Bottom line is GEAR UP! no sneakers! I dropped my VStar before I ever got out of the parking lot on day one. I was very happy to have on good boots & protective gear. (I'm a gear nazi)

    What I did was plan a route in my truck & then took off. Plan a ride on familiar roads without a lot of traffic.

    Make your route with lefts & rights and various terrain. KEY IS TURN YOUR HEAD WHERE YOU WANT TO GO! Look ahead and breath. It's hard not to get tense.

    Take a deep breath & even if you have to say it out loud look look look, slow before a turn LOOOOOOK LOOOK LOOOK then turn. As hard is it is speed to some degree is your friend, It's the momentum.

    I still have confidence issues & I have a ton of miles. I hate U turns.

    YOU CAN DO IT!

    KEEP YOUR HEAD UP another good tip.

    Look where you are going not where you are.

    Good gear does not have to be expensive but it will protect your hide. I beg to differ with Jet's soft sole thing. Have your SOUL in it but get sturdy COMFY boots.

    Feel free to PM me for more Ladies info. I have tons of sites with gear, etc.

    Take a DEEEEP BREATH and go for it! You'll do fine! Keep us posted.

  • March 1, 2012 10:46 PM PST
    Julia,
    I have been a passanger for years. Last year I took a rider course and got my endorsement. I did not have anyone to ride with. Find a local highschool (or other large) parking lot that is fairly empty. Spend a lot of time practicing starting, stopping, and turns. The lines for the parking spaces make a good box for u-turns. this will help you improve your skills and get you comfortable with your bike. When you are feeling really comfortable plan short trips down local back roads that have little traffic and the type of turns you want to practice on. The key is don't overwhelm yourself, take it slow and steady. Remember what you were taught, talk yourself through it, everything is a learning process. You will be on the highway before you know it !!!!
    • Moderator
    • 16755 posts
    March 1, 2012 11:39 PM PST
    There is a lot of great advice above. I will offer that reading your post it sounds to me that you have already psyched yourself into believing you will fail. You must say and believe that you can do it. Negative thought leads to negative actions, positive thought leads to positive actions. YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

    I like the soft sole boot idea, and will add that if you can not put BOTH feet flat on the ground from a seated position you are on a bike too tall for you. There are several ways to lower seating height and you could even add a little to the sole of your boots.

    Keep saying, and believing, I CAN DO THIS, I CAN DO THIS!
  • March 2, 2012 12:14 AM PST
    Juliat,
    Here is some advice that will help. At stops keep your weight on the bike by remaining balanced in the seat. Use your weight to balance the bike. That will make it easier to use your legs to keep things balanced. Practice makes perfect. At each stop put it in neutral at red lights and put both feet down. Once the light turns green you can shift into first and take your time getting things moving again. Just relax, and before long it will become second nature to you. One day you will look back upon these days and smile. I think all of us have at one time dropped a heavy motorcycle. Stay safe and enjoy it girl :-)
  • March 2, 2012 12:28 AM PST
    I appreciate all your encouragement! I practice so much, it makes my sister crazy!! I have a high school near me and all last summer and fall we were at the school practicing. I felt really confident when I was in the parking lot and then driving around town. It's those crazy stops at stop lights that get me. Especially when I'm coming up to it fairly quickly.

    I know I have to get back out and think positively. I'll look into getting the boots with soft soles :) It's just so great to have somewhere to go to get advise (I don't have any friends who drive a motorcycle).

    J.
  • March 2, 2012 1:15 AM PST
    you'll be fine... just keep at it and pretty soon you'll wonder what all the fuss was about! :-)
  • March 2, 2012 7:07 AM PST
    I did go around and sorry to say I found the Sportsters very top heavy and they did not fit me. I bought a VStar 650. The minute I sat o0n it I felt comfy.................. I dropped my VStar before I ever got out of the parking lot on day one. I was very happy to have on good boots & protective gear. (I'm a gear nazi)..................What I did was plan a route in my truck & then took off..................


    Can I Ask? and I dont mean to be too rude about this.....but how long have you actually been riding?
  • March 2, 2012 7:28 AM PST
    I am a new rider too, I dropped my sporty at a stop sign, it started to lean and I didn't have enough foot on the ground to stop it. We have since lowered the bike. No problem with stops. (only thing that makes me nervous now it turning and lots of traffic) No problem backing it up . We also put on a reduced reach seat. It doesn't feel as top heavy to me now. Could it be too tall?
  • March 2, 2012 7:52 AM PST
    Take a few deep breaths, relax and remember why your riding in the first place. This is the biggest motivation for me, nothing like going down the highway with the rumble under me and the wind in my hair. Blessing to you, sista.
  • March 2, 2012 7:55 AM PST
    I personally dont believe that ANY bike is too tall or too small for ANY rider.....but if you are new and you have progressed already to a Sportster you had better have the ability out on the road in traffic or you will simply become a statistic, or an organ donor...I am sorry if this sounds very blunt and direct but I believe in saying it how I see it.....or would you rather I candy coat everything I say and tell you that everything is going to be alright?


    I am not sure I am qualified to even give an opinion, HELL.....I am not even sure you should be reading what I write...maybe you should be asking the one who bought a bike because she felt comfy on it and then dropped it on day one...maybe she has better insight into the best advice ever, maybe she may even read this.....but I doubt if she got this far.....





    If you go read all the previous comments by EVERYONE in this message thread I feel sure that you will find something that is almost exactly the answer you would be looking for.....


    Yes, I Know.....Sarcasm IS the lowest form of wit.....
  • March 2, 2012 8:33 AM PST
    Jetman wrote...
    I did go around and sorry to say I found the Sportsters very top heavy and they did not fit me. I bought a VStar 650. The minute I sat o0n it I felt comfy.................. I dropped my VStar before I ever got out of the parking lot on day one. I was very happy to have on good boots & protective gear. (I'm a gear nazi)..................What I did was plan a route in my truck & then took off..................


    Can I Ask? and I dont mean to be too rude about this.....but how long have you actually been riding?

    I'm actually a fairly new rider compared to most. I started riding in May of 05. I don't proclaim to know it all by any means & sorry if I misinterpreted your "soft sole" post.  I ride alot tho. I had 18K on the VStar by November of 05 when I bought my Kingpin & now have 150K on it. I also had the pleasure of ring a Victory CrossCountry for a summer & put on around 18K on that bike.  I've been without a car for 3 years so my bike is my only source of transportation, rain or shine. I ride all sorts of roads mainly around Northern California & the Southwest,  but have gone as far east as Iowa on my own.

    When I started riding I knew NO ONE who rode so was entirely on my own. I took the MSF class and since have met people from all over the country & world. I ride with a diverse group of people ranging from sport bikers, dual sports & even scooters.

    To each their own on their choice of bikes. I just stated my experience.(Limited as it is)


    No intentions of hijacking the thread. Back to our regular scheduled programming.

  • March 2, 2012 10:33 PM PST
    The best advice is in the aboves, I think the Sportser is not a great bike but thats what you have, if you have a different bike thats easier to ride, then ride it till your confidence is at the top and switch bikes. I had a BMW that seemed to want to throw me on the ground the tork was terrible, I finally got rid of it went to a FJR 1300 nice bike a little top heavy when I walked into the Victory Dealer that hot summers day I spotted Queenie my current ride what a stable comfortable ride she is the balance is great she turns and handles even on the xway. Practice is best for any bike find a road that doesn't have alot of traffice with some turns in it take someone along on another bike and follow them stay focused and you will do great !
  • March 3, 2012 12:01 AM PST
    dollysgizmo wrote...
    I am a new rider too, I dropped my sporty at a stop sign, it started to lean and I didn't have enough foot on the ground to stop it. We have since lowered the bike. No problem with stops. (only thing that makes me nervous now it turning and lots of traffic) No problem backing it up . We also put on a reduced reach seat. It doesn't feel as top heavy to me now. Could it be too tall?


    This is so spooky that you wrote this because after talking to an experience rider, this is exactly what I'm going to do. I do have a reach seat already and I just bought taller boots. Now, I'm going to spend the extra money and have the bike lowered. I want to ride the bike and when I'm out on the open road, it's the best feeling in the world :) I think getting it to where I'm comfortable with stopping, I'll be where I want to be.

    Jetman- I really do appreciate all your insight and I don't think you're being rude at all. I'm former military and I believe in putting it all out there. One thing about motorcycles is that they are realistically dangerous and I don't want people to sugar coat anything. To answer your question, I got my license in May 2010. I rode a 250cc for few months and then graduated to the Harley in the fall of 2010. I winterized it in November, so it's been a while since I've ridden it.

    J.