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post #1 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 8:15 am Thread Starter
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Back in the saddle...

Now at 62, healthy and still possessing a youthful spirit, I return to cycling after a thirty year absence (once, dirt biker). With a good career in the bag, kids paid for, and a wonderful, supportive wife--but maybe a bit worried--I recently bought a new LT with all the perks. Now about to take my "beginner's" class, I will soon be licensed and ready for the open road.

The question (and request): If you were going to offer some general wisdom as to how to get back into motorcycling (on a big bike) safely, smoothly and wisely, what would that advice be? I am open to any and all suggestions. Should I take "advanced" classes; or should I just ride?

A bit of background: I am not technical but fairly coordinated and in good shape. Actually, I plan to use the freedom the LT offers to open up some new and pleasant horizons to help offset the jaded experiences accumulated over a long career in federal law enforcement. Hopefully, crime and criminals are in my rear view mirror.

I look forward to meeting you "out there."

-Clark
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post #2 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:01 am
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Thumbs up

First off, welcome to the Nuts Center!

I would recommend that after taking the beginner course you put on some miles and schedule yourself for the advanced class a little down the road.
The LT is heavy so your first priority is to keep up upright at low speed, below 5MPH, and when stopping (be sure to have the front wheel straight or she'll go down slowly). If she goes down don't try to stop her! It is a guaranteed hernia or worse. Just pick her up afterward.
It is a very enjoyable bike, very smooth, and you can ride her in all kinds of weathers, thanks to her protective fairing and windshield.
When you feel comfortable enough to play in the twisties just keep the RPMs above 4500 and she will surprise you with her (relative) agility.
Kathy and I often ride 2 up with a local Sports Touring club and have no problem staying with the pack. These ST riders are amazed how the LT keeps up with them on the local mountain roads.
There is no substitute for miles under your belt so go for it and enjoy!

Gilles & Kathy
BMWMOA# 154719
IBA# 71594
2011 Ostra Gray RT
06 Mercedes-Benz E350 Estate (parts and people hauler)
2012 BMW X3 (parts and people hauler)
86 Porsche 911 Cabriolet (my "new" baby)



For her I climbed the highest mountain!
For her I swam across the deepest ocean!
For her I walked through the largest desert!
And then she left me... She said I was never home!!!


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post #3 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:04 am
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Welcome!

Hey, Chuck, welcome to the site (wherein all things LT are revealed and there is a supportive community of other riders who love this bike), and welcome (back) to the wonderful world of motorcycling. Sounds like you paid your dues, man, so enjoy one of the rewards.

Good choice to take the instructional class to prepare yourself for riding. Personally, I would not plan to take the advanced classes yet. The important thing will be to begin to master the basic skills and knowledge on which everything else rests. The classes will give you a good start on that, but in the classes you will be riding a much smaller motorcycle with a much different "feel" than the LT. So, once you have finished the classes and are licensed I would suggest that you start out riding the LT simply to get its "feel." Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1) Initially the LT might "feel" top heavy. When you get above 10 mph or so much of that heaviness goes away.
2) The LT likes to be reved up. Keep it above 3000 rpm (some people would say even higher), and it is more responsive.
3) The brakes on the LT are magnificent, and it has ABS and interconnected front/rear circuits (Integral brakes), but by the same token you want to spend a lot of time getting to know how they feel and react.
4) Straighten out your front wheel before coming to a stop, and keep your head up and your eyes looking at the horizon. If your wheel is turned to left or right when you stop, the LT will lie down in the middle of the road like a tired elephant. Many of us have dropped our LTs in this manner. If you look down at the road or even the bumper of the car in front of you, will be more likely to turn the wheel slightly. If you come up to a stop sign or a red light and you want to turn left (or right), you will be likely to begin that turn as you stop because you want the bike to be oriented to the left (or right). You can orient the bike while you are slowing down, but if you stop without the front wheel being straighted out you are going to drop the bike. If you are going around a rotary, if you make a U turn, if you circle an object in a parking lot, if you turn into a parking space - if you are making ANY kind of turn and you stop, sing a lullabuy to the bike because it will lie down. What to do if you are in a turn and suddenly need to stop? Straighten the front wheel and use the brakes as necessary. It takes getting used to.
5) Many people recommend using both brakes as necessary to slow down, and then use the rear brake alone to bring the bike to a stop.
6) If the bike starts to lie down, let it go and step out of the way. Dropping the bike will not hurt it. Trying to stop the bike from dropping will hurt you. It weighs 850+ lbs and you have no leverage when it starts to go over.
7) Check out your regional forum, post an introduction there, and, if you are so inclined, see if there are others who will ride with you as you get to know the bike. It is MUCH easier for another set of eyes to identify little things that you may want to work on.
8) Ride and enjoy. It's a marvellous machine and will show more and more of its capabilities over time.

By the way, there is a wealth of knowledge available in earlier threads for folks who are new to the bike. Just click on the "Search" function on the blue bar and type in something like "advice for newbies" or "new rider advice" and you will find tons of other suggestions. Best wishes.

Bill
Guilford, CT
'99 Canyon Red K1200 LT - Buddah Bike
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post #4 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:04 am
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I Just Did the Same Thing in April

I'm 56 and had not had a bike since 83. Bought a new LT because the wife wanted to ride again and we now had a place to keep it.

I dropped the demo bike in front of the dealer then dropped mine twice in the first two weeks. No damage thanks to BMW's intelligent design of the tip over wings. None since in 3500 miles. (Knock on wood) I felt really bad till I got on this site and found that just about everyone drops it at some point.

Lessons learned:
1. Take the MSF course before you start riding it. I couldn't get in one for three weeks and I started riding anyway. Poor technique led to my drops. I figured I probably was never riding the right way when I started at age 16. Little Hondas are more forgiving than an LT.

2. Head up, eyes front and wheel straight when coming to a stop. Use front brake lightly if at all for the final stop.

3. At low speeds increase revs and put on some rear brake. I was amazed at the influence this technique had on the low speed maneuvering.

4. My reactions are not as good as they once were. I have to compensate by thinking farther ahead. When coming to a stop plan the stopping point ahead of time. Watch for loose stones, sloping pavement, oil or other debris. If your foot slips the bike does not have tip far before it is too heavy to hold up. If it does go too far don't hurt yourself trying to stop it. Just move your leg out of the way and let her lay down. It won't hurt her.

5. Find the videos on this site that illustrate the way to pick it up yourself. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me can point to them.

6. Get comfortable before you ride two up. I told my wife she had to wait till I had a 1000 miles before she could ride. The we went out to an empty parking lot and practiced starting, stopping, mounting and dismounting until I was comfortable. Glad we did because on our first ride we got stuck on the interstate in an hour of stop and go because of an accident.

7. Practice, practice, practice. When I was learning to fly I was taught that the majority of accidents occur with pilots that have less than 300 hours of flight time. I'm assuming that this applies to big heavy motorcycles too. I figure I need about 10,000 miles to be competent. I try to ride every day if I can to get my mileage up.

8. Start reading all the back posts here on the site. I learned a lot about the bike and the riding techniques needed for her. Don't get too excited about the discussions about various mechanical problems for several reasons. One, the guys that have a bike that is working fine don't post to tell you that every day. Second, there have been a lot of mechanical changes since it first came out and many problems have been fixed already.

9. Use the hydraulic center stand. At our age we don't need to be muscling it around. It is more stable than the side stand and all you need is to push the button. I only use the side stand fuel it.

10. Don't get in a sensory over load situation. This thing has a lot of bells and whistles. Master the basics first. I left the radio, GPS, computer, etc. off until I could handle the bike without thinking about what I was doing. You don't want to be looking down trying to change radio stations while something more important is happening around you.

11. Put more air in the tires. Consensus is front about 40-42 and rear about 46-48. I did it and the handling improved.

12. Use only soap and water on the windshield. It has a coating that will damaged by other chemicals.

There will be more from other riders far more experienced than I am. I emphasized safety because the average age of motorcycle drivers in accidents is rising as all us baby boomers buy the bike we always wanted and can now afford. Don't let me scare you off her. I found her kind of daunting at first but I persevered. Now I wouldn't trade her for anything else. My fun meter is pegged to the right.

Bruce

Bruce Buchner
2017 R1200RT Platinum Bronze Metallic
2012 R1200RT Fluid Grey Metallic (Little Girl) Traded on the 2017 RT
2007 K1200LT Storm Grey Metallic (Big Girl) Traded on the 2017 RT
2001 325XI 4dr Sold
1967 2000CS Coupe (Left it in Germany)
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post #5 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:07 am
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Probably not what you want to hear, but I'd find a good (used) 350 to 650 bike & spend (a) a weekend in an empty parking lot, (b) 20 or so hours on the back roads, (c) 20 or so hours in traffic - watching the mirrors/eyes, (d) go back to (a,b,c) with a co-rider, then (a,b,c,d) on the LT, finally, sell the smaller bike.

I had a lovingly cared for GL1500 that I swapped at a stealer for another bike. The GL was snapped up the same day by a fellow with a similar background to yours. The following weekend, he put his SO on the back & went riding with a large group. During that ride, he did an ROR (run off road - too fast for his skill level), killed himself, and crippled his SO.

Enjoy the experience, and I'll look forward to seeing you safely on the road one day..

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post #6 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:06 am
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Well Clark,

It appears all the bases have been covered...several times, so I won't go back into it, but just wanted to say that I look forward to meeting you down the road some day and we can share experiences of our similar past.

Jerry
Look in the wolf's eyes and what do you see--A guardian spirit or fierce enemy?
2008 FLHTCU White Pearl

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post #7 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:07 am
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by was
Hey, Chuck, welcome to the site (wherein all things LT are revealed and there is a supportive community of other riders who love this bike), and welcome (back) to the wonderful world of motorcycling. Sounds like you paid your dues, man, so enjoy one of the rewards.

Good choice to take the instructional class to prepare yourself for riding. Personally, I would not plan to take the advanced classes yet. The important thing will be to begin to master the basic skills and knowledge on which everything else rests. The classes will give you a good start on that, but in the classes you will be riding a much smaller motorcycle with a much different "feel" than the LT. So, once you have finished the classes and are licensed I would suggest that you start out riding the LT simply to get its "feel." Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1) Initially the LT might "feel" top heavy. When you get above 10 mph or so much of that heaviness goes away.
2) The LT likes to be reved up. Keep it above 3000 rpm (some people would say even higher), and it is more responsive.
3) The brakes on the LT are magnificent, and it has ABS and interconnected front/rear circuits (Integral brakes), but by the same token you want to spend a lot of time getting to know how they feel and react.
4) Straighten out your front wheel before coming to a stop, and keep your head up and your eyes looking at the horizon. If your wheel is turned to left or right when you stop, the LT will lie down in the middle of the road like a tired elephant. Many of us have dropped our LTs in this manner. If you look down at the road or even the bumper of the car in front of you, will be more likely to turn the wheel slightly. If you come up to a stop sign or a red light and you want to turn left (or right), you will be likely to begin that turn as you stop because you want the bike to be oriented to the left (or right). You can orient the bike while you are slowing down, but if you stop without the front wheel being straighted out you are going to drop the bike. If you are going around a rotary, if you make a U turn, if you circle an object in a parking lot, if you turn into a parking space - if you are making ANY kind of turn and you stop, sing a lullabuy to the bike because it will lie down. What to do if you are in a turn and suddenly need to stop? Straighten the front wheel and use the brakes as necessary. It takes getting used to.
5) Many people recommend using both brakes as necessary to slow down, and then use the rear brake alone to bring the bike to a stop.
6) If the bike starts to lie down, let it go and step out of the way. Dropping the bike will not hurt it. Trying to stop the bike from dropping will hurt you. It weighs 850+ lbs and you have no leverage when it starts to go over.
7) Check out your regional forum, post an introduction there, and, if you are so inclined, see if there are others who will ride with you as you get to know the bike. It is MUCH easier for another set of eyes to identify little things that you may want to work on.
8) Ride and enjoy. It's a marvellous machine and will show more and more of its capabilities over time.

By the way, there is a wealth of knowledge available in earlier threads for folks who are new to the bike. Just click on the "Search" function on the blue bar and type in something like "advice for newbies" or "new rider advice" and you will find tons of other suggestions. Best wishes.
Hey,

I noticed your post and your comment regarding orienting the bike from a stop for a left or right turn. I purchased my 2002 about a month ago and must admit that the bike takes a lot to get use to. Dropped it once in the middle of a two lane road. Started out on an up so had to keep the brake on to keep it from rolling back. Then took off and turned a left onto a small two lane road. The bike started went into the turn then just lost momentum because there was not enough room to cut the bike back into the curve. When you mentioned setting the bike for the turn from your stop what was you were saying exactly. Sorry! I'm about ready to chuck in the towel and get a moped!
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post #8 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:25 am
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Nothing to add but welcome back and welcome to our little corner of the bikers world.

Tony 05
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post #9 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 12:36 pm
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For a total K1200LT experience check out...
www.curvecowboyreunion.com
BUT HURRY !!! time is running out.

Stevie Shreeve
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post #10 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 2:05 pm Thread Starter
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Mucho thanks...

Many thanks for the very thoughtful, informative and helpful replies...

Now with my opening request "asked and answered," I will take your advice straight to heart, and in the end, I'll be the safer and better for this shared wisdom.

Great bunch of guys, you have proved to be...
But of that, I had no doubt!

-Clark
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post #11 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 3:06 pm
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Just one more thing. Keep yourself in good physical and mental shape. I am 67 years old and returned to riding mtcy's last year after a 10 year layoff.

All the previous threads say what to do when coming to a stop. It is the way of the LT like Bibles in a motel room.
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post #12 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 3:49 pm
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good luck

you bought the best bike on the road
and you have plenty of time to ride
the best teacher is plenty of miles....
the most dangerous place for an LT is in a parking lot or in your garage as far as falling down.....
if u come through georgia LTers are always welcome at my house!

Kip
99 LT
97 Shadow 1100
Jefferson, Ga
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post #13 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 5:13 pm
 
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Thumbs up

Kip, I may take you up on that offer the last week in Sept. as I am taking the LT from Southern MO. to Kingsland Ga to visit my son at the base there. Put the coffee on bud.
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post #14 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 7:26 pm
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Range work...

Clark..
I'm so glad to hear you're taking "The Course"... nothing like "BOOT" to get you squared away from the start.

Range work.... you'll learn at the "beginner" class... get out there and do it on the LT.. AFTER you pass the class.

Each exercise of the class is a "building block" for the next... I won't spoil the experience for you.. just remember them.

The LT, like the "round", goes where you are looking.
If you look down, the LT will obey.
If you look between traffic at the "clear space", the LT will obey.
If you look "down the road", the LT will too.

Brakes are like your rifle trigger... SSSSSSsssssqqqqQQQeeeeezzze them. The brakes will "sense" the speed of your application and speed and apply appropriately... but they do NOT account for any "lean" of the bike...(no accounting for windage).. remember you are responsible for where your rounds go...

When it comes to riding, I don't know your previous experience, but please, DO NOT take a passenger until you have had the bike in for the 600 mile service... that is not a big sacrifice to wait 12 hours.

"Welcome Home, Bro!"

...............
J.M.J...
Dcn Channing

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Last edited by cfell; Jul 31st, 2007 at 7:31 pm. Reason: update closing..
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post #15 of 15 Old Jul 31st, 2007, 7:29 pm
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Welcome, Clark. I was in the same situation a year and a half ago. I bought my 99LT after not riding for quite a while. It took me a little while to get used to it, but now I wouldn't trade it for the world and my wife loves it too.

Don't get discouraged and make sure that you use the side stand to shut her off and leave her in first gear when you do.

Enjoy and be safe.

Ray

Ray Rau
Brewster, NY
'99 LT - Champagne
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