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I'm closing in on getting my first bike. After hearing all sorts of stories about how motorcyclists have close calls all the time, I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to grow in skills and confidence with the nasty traffic that is Louisville. I supposed I'd have the problem anywhere though, really.

I've taken the beginner's MSF course, and that will probably help some. I also intend to be ATGATT. Anyone have any additional advice for a new rider to feel confident and safe just starting out? I don't want to start riding, get the crap scared out of me, and end up being to afraid to ride. I've been waiting sooooooo long for this!

Thanks!
 

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I'm in the same boat as you man. Imagine learning in Los Angeles ;-). ATGATT is the way to be, never get on the bike unless you're strapped. Also, be very cautious, all the time. Look out for everyone around you. Take an extra second at an intersection when the light turns green (make sure no one runs the red). Start learning and getting comfortable on the bike at low-traffic times (here unfortunately, thats not really until night). This way you can grow comfortable riding around by yourself or relatively few cars. As your comfort level increases, you'll find yourself more capable of dealing with other cars, and then traffic.

If you think of any thing while you ride, let me know (I get my M1 second week of March - SO EXCITED!)

Also, do NOT do anything stupid. Always keep a level head, and be systematic with intelligent riding. There'll be time for high speed turns down the line, you gotta crawl before you can run.
 

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Make sure the bike fits you and your confidence level. If it's too tall, lower it, then raise it back up when you build confidence with it.

What everyone says is true. Ride, ride, ride.

tk
 

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+1 on the riding.

The more saddle time you get in, the more comfortable you'll get.
Also, sport tires will give you way more confidence compared to the stock touring tires.

The more protective gear you get, the more confident you'll feel. Try to get all the gear in addition to a tight fitting helmet. (Jacket, gloves, pants, spine protector and boots) If you have leather gear, make sure it fits you tightly.

Ride like you're invisible.
 

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I know how you feel as last summer i got my first bike and its is alittle intimidating. I hauled it up by my parents who live out in the county and learned up there before i brought it back down to the city. My first ride in town here was very eye opening dealing with the traffic and those trucks get very big riding next to them and i work on them everyday.
 

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Ride.

Ride some more.

Then ride some more after that.

Repeat.
What he said.

... and there will be times that will scare the everloving sh!t out of you.
And what he said.

After riding more than 25+ years, I still have the rare occasion of having some dumbarse scare the sh!t outta me. Being prepared mentally for these moments is what keeps you shiny side up. :)
 

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Best thing I ever did was to take an advanced rider class. I took Reg Pridmore's class. www.classrides.com. There are several others, including Jason Pridmore's STAR school and Keith Codes California Superbike School. They all offer classes throughout the country, and rent bike and gear so you can fly in if you have to. Of the three mentioned, Reg's class is most geared toward street riding.

One class helped me practice better control and have far less fear. Riding more definitely helps, but having someone there to critique your form helps you break bad habits or form good habits before the bad ones start. Good luck and be safe.
 

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After riding more than 25+ years, I still have the rare occasion of having some dumbarse scare the sh!t outta me. Being prepared mentally for these moments is what keeps you shiny side up. :)
Hell, the worst for me was when I used to ride in a t-shirt. I once got a bee in there. OUCH!
 

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when i first got my bike, i was still getting all the papers together, so i rode around my neighborhood for a week or so. i think that helped a lot, maybe before you start dealing with the traffic, take the bike out to the country and get comfortable there. sounds like you are being smart about it, so i think you'll do fine.
 

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Hell, the worst for me was when I used to ride in a t-shirt. I once got a bee in there. OUCH!
Ugh. Yeah, just last year I got one down my riding jacket. No idea how that happened. I was stung 5 times before I could safely stop & get him out of there. :mad: Talk about a test of concentration!!!
 

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In my opinion, you should never be completely confident on the street.

There should always be in the back of your mind a little voice telling you that you are in danger. It keeps me from doing stupid things, keeps me constantly focused and vigilant in searching out potential problems. I try to enter every intersection assuming someone will pull out on me. Be ready.

But dealing with those things when they come up comes from experience and hours in the saddle. You develop a relationship with the bike, you know her and she knows you, and you work together to get home safe.
 

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get a small bike.

get an inexpensive bike.

the last thing you need to be worried about is manhandling a bike or what will happen to it if you drop it.

then go ride. avoid highways and commuting at first. There are A LOT of great roads within an hour of where you live. Get out of town and ride where the traffic is less.

confidence will come.
 

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Ride.

Ride some more.

Then ride some more after that.

Repeat.
This is a good start, but for even better results, I'd suggest some more riding.

Seriously. There's good videos, books and websites with techniques and advice, but all that is nothing without putting it in practice while riding. And if it's something you probably shouldn't practice on the road, do it in a parking lot. Practice until it becomes second nature, you don't want to be thinking about what to do in an emergency, you need to just do it.

I don't want to start riding, get the crap scared out of me, and end up being to afraid to ride.
I completely understand. A few short months before I got my first bike I was literally scared of them. Didn't want to ride them, didn't want to sit on them, and the only friend I had with a bike at the time told me I seemed scared to even approach them. The riding bug hit so I signed up for the MSF, but yeah, I was still scared and expected to scare myself out of it. ...I didn't.

However, being scared some is good, it's a reminder of your limits and a sign you realize that riding has its dangers. Those "fearless" squids you see popping wheelies without any gear or whatever don't respect that, and they'll pay for it.

One last thing: If you do have something happen, which could very well happen as a new rider, take it as a learning experience rather than a sign that you shouldn't be riding. I almost spilled the first day on my first bike, and within the first 6 months I dropped or lowsided 4 times, but with those lessons in mind I haven't had anything happen in well over 2 years.
 

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I'm in San Diego and I have been riding for a few years now, I can still remember the first time I rode on the freeway though. It was a little unnerving being around those big trucks and the wind blast is something you'll notice right away but you get used to it. I don't even think twice about getting on the freeway in heavy traffic now.

I agree with what others have said. Ride, ride again, and then ride some more. One thing I would add though, if you don't feel up to riding one day, don't ride. Listen to your body and your mind. Don't push yourself too hard, too fast at first. You want to be in the right frame of mind when you ride always.
 

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Ugh. Yeah, just last year I got one down my riding jacket. No idea how that happened. I was stung 5 times before I could safely stop & get him out of there. :mad: Talk about a test of concentration!!!
ARGH BEES!!! :mad: The last time I lowsided I had to limp my bike home since it was up in the mountains, no cell reception for miles and no traffic to ask for help. As I'm limping it home, suddenly I feel a sharp sting in my neck. Then another. Then another. Some stupid bee got itself caught in the neck of my jacket and kept stinging my the whole time I'm riding 20 miles thru twisty mountain roads with a busted gear shift and clutch.
 

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I'm closing in on getting my first bike. After hearing all sorts of stories about how motorcyclists have close calls all the time, I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to grow in skills and confidence with the nasty traffic that is Louisville. I supposed I'd have the problem anywhere though, really.

I've taken the beginner's MSF course, and that will probably help some. I also intend to be ATGATT. Anyone have any additional advice for a new rider to feel confident and safe just starting out? I don't want to start riding, get the crap scared out of me, and end up being to afraid to ride. I've been waiting sooooooo long for this!

Thanks!
Try just riding around your neighborhood for several days before you venture out into heavy traffic. Get used to stopping at stop signs and watching for cross traffic, people pulling out of their driveways, pedestrians, etc. Practice starting from a dead stop immediately into a turn and then stopping again just as you are pulling out...lots of spills with beginners doing this. Watch out for gravel or slippery stuff in turns.

Anticipate that every other vehicle, especially those approaching from the front or side, is going to try to kill you. Be prepared to swerve or stop if they turn or pull out in front of you but don't slow way down and encourage them to do just that. Make sure you use your turn signals and make even more sure you cancel them after you turn...don't confuse them.

Start riding in traffic on a Sunday morning. Get used to keeping up with the traffic when it is light and relatively sane.
 
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