All Gone Wrong.....from dream to fear...

by Kim

Hi, I wrote several weeks back about my excitement to get into motorcycle riding. I even bought a lovely purple Yamaha V-Star 650...sitting and waiting for me to take her out on the first ride.

I eagerly with childish excitement, waited the day my motorcycle safety course would begin.

The day came and I was one of two students. I was instructed the old Yamaha 400 was going to be mine and I nervously climbed aboard, to discover my toes only barely touched the ground. Never could I move that bike backwards to park it, the instructor had to drag it backwards.

Nevertheless, I was brave and determined. The instructor would tell us what to do, and his eyes and his help was always on the older gentleman in the course, as this was his second time taking the course and he was nervous. I was nervous too, but determined. I wobbled and warbled but was able to get the stuff done. Till, suddenly, splat...the engine stalled, I couldn't hold it up and down went the bike. That was day 1.

Day 2,

I was doing tight turns, and looking down at a stick, and down went the bike..again!! That dropping of the bike I understood, because I was looking down. Lesson learned...the hard way.

Then, in the afternoon, I was instructed to sit outside the bike saddle and lean my shoulders out because I needed to put more weight into the outside to be able to do the tight handlebar circles. It was going very well, until...something happened and the bike fell down on the inside, hurling me over its side and slamming my head into the pavement, cracking the helmet. I needed to get a new helmet and I was beginning to taste fear.

I went and got a new helmet and came back because my partner told me on the phone there was no quitting. But, he was very concerned that I was not able to put my full feet on the ground. He was very worried.

All of these "falls" happened without my instructor seeing them, as all of our riding, my instructor paid attention only to the old man. So, never was he watching me and able to tell me the clutch was in too far or there was not enough friction...or speed. I was just teaching myself and it was hurting!

Then, the clutch broke all together and class ended as the instructor had to take the bike back to his house to repair. It had come loose from the inner makings of the bike, and now I was worried. What if that happened during some fast maneuver, I would be killed!

Day 3

I showed up.

on this day we learned counter turns, and fun stuff, but then we went back to slow maneuvers so that we could get tested for the skills portion for our license.

The clutch was obviously fixed and so here we were again, doing tight slow work....splat...there went the bike again.

and once again, the instructor didn't see.

and off we went on the road to do our skills test in front of the government agent.

Needless to say, I was terrified, any tight turns and I knew the possibility existed that somehow, we could suddenly go down. So, I went so slowly, and used my feet a bit to tap the ground and hold up the bike on turns and so, of course I didn't pass.

I got home that night and was a ball of nerves. I am bruised, sore knee, head ache, terrible loss of confidence and think that I should trade in my V-Star 650 for a 250 or just throw in the towel.

I did mention this to the old man that was in my class with me and I told him I wasn't cut out for this after all.

He told me that the first course he was in, there was a girl put on the bike I had been riding, and on the first day, she fell off the bike 6 times, cracking her helmet and having to get another and on the 2nd day, she fell and broke her arm and had to be taken away in the ambulance.

I was shocked, then very hurt thinking that the instructor never thought to consider that maybe there is something wrong with the bike or maybe it is just too darn big for ladies.

Anyways, I have 3 hour credit with my instructor, but I am now terrified. He has said he will lower the seat on his bike, that he will give me private lessons. he also said that he was sorry he hadn't spend much time with me, but that I had grasped all the exercises so well and had shown ability to maneuver through all the obstacles so that each time I fell, it was a very big surprise to him.

This is a nice young man whom loves his motorcycle, and is just starting out giving instructions. He has no money, and a crappy bike.

But, I am afraid to get on his bike, even if he lowers the seat, but I am also very afraid to now get on my v-star 650. I could use either bike, but the thought of either bike scares me.

I am bombing around my farm with my old Honda CT-70 and loving it. But the thought of anything bigger than a 250 has me worried now.

Both my partner and the motorcycle shop advise that if I was to sell my 650, I would regret it because after a few months, I will have outgrown the 250. They also advise that the Yamaha V-Star 650 will be so much easier to ride and that I will be amazed how well it handles. But, I am now looking at its floor boards and worry how I am going to be able to use the clutch and breaks in the forward position, and it is still a big bike.

Bluntly, I am in panic mode now.


Please let me know your thoughts. I am very brave. I have shown cutting horses and won championships in Canada and in the US. I have ridden and shown jumping horses. I ride quads. I can do this...but..when given the opportunity, it didn't work for me.

I can handle your suggestions. I am also very very interested in your thoughts on how a 650 v star handles.

I am 5"4, and weigh 125 lbs.

Warm regards.


Comments for All Gone Wrong.....from dream to fear...

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Apr 23, 2010
RE: All Gone Wrong.....from dream to fear...
by: former 250 owner

I can't tell this....I bought my 09 Rebel 250 in October and rode it daily! Everywhere! I had NEVER been on a bike expect as a passenger when I was about 13 with my dad. As an adult, I have driven ATV's and our Tyrex UTV. No other experience with bikes.

Three days ago, I bought a Suzuki Boulevard M50 800cc. I was nervous getting on it - it looked like a monster compared to my rebel! I rode it after my husband got it home. I was so nervous, but within 30 minutes, I was riding better than I did with the rebel. The extra weight made for a smoother ride. The wind didn't blow me all over the place and I felt like I could actually pass someone if I needed to. The bike is 244 lb heavier than my rebel....and although the rebel was an awesome starter bike, I am thrilled to be on this 800. I am only 5 foot tall, so this bike was lowered (the springs) by 3/4" and my riding boots have a thick soul so it all works out.

It is so great to have a bigger bike and I agree, you will regret trading down. Keep your 650 and I bet within the year, you will be trading UP. :) Happy riding!

Mar 25, 2010
Female Instructor from Ontario

Kim from Canada,

sounds like a lot of things were happening. I gotta tell you the bike is not a huge bike to learn on. Yes there are smaller ones, but a 400 is OK. You could have learned what types of bikes they offered before you took your course. Or did you want a cruiser style because that is what you had at home. Sometimes the instructors will do that, put you on something that you have, or want to buy. If you were trying to put both feet on the ground, well that would be your first mistake. Did your instructor not teach you the ready position? if not, question him on that.

It sounds like you were frustrated, and I'm sure so was your instructor! I read a few excuses, but that's normal from new learners who are having a problem. I'm sure you were avoiding him when he was trying to coach you. I can hear it now, you make me nervous, I can do better when your not looking. Take it from a seasoned female instructor.

Bike size - I'm smaller in height by 3 inches, by first bike was a 1200 - which I learned on. So, stop with the excuses.

Re the instructor - 3hrs, GREAT! If your terrified, again that's telling me that you refuse to learn from him. How bad do you want to ride? If bad enough, throw away your pride and learn, and do not fight him.

Re a young stud that wants to help you.. Mmmmhhh is he a qualified instructor? if not, your learning or could be learning all those bad habits.

And being a horse rider, I've taught a few, you will have a tendency to look down, and your hands will sometimes get confused as your used to the reins, also you have to learn to steer the bike.. those few things I remember from my previous horse people. So the question is how bad do you want to ride. If it is yes, than relax! Stop fighting the instructor, stop listening to your husband, and just be try and have fun.. It does get easier.. Oh yeah, we are not Martha Stewart's, we have to practice to get better.. So if your thinking you should be good in a few hours, or days.. That's a lot of pressure on yourself.. Good Luck!

Mar 22, 2010
Don't Worry
by: Lynn - SW FL


I am 5-1" and ride a VStar 1100. Before taking the MSF class I only rode 125cc dirt bikes, back in the day. Don't panic, you will see the 650 VStar will be a dream. Yes, it feels different with floor boards, etc. but you will quickly adjust. Trust me, I know from experience. Don't sell that bike!

Mar 21, 2010
Don't Give Up on Riding or Your Bike
by: Rene L.

I like all of the other ladies who have commented am soooo sorry to hear about your experience. As I was reading I was reminded of my experience one year ago when I took the MSF class, not one, not two, but three times! In my case, it wasn't the bikes or the instructor, it was me and the fact that I had only ever ridden on the back of my boyfriend's bike and after about one hour on the bike in class made a beginner's mistake and lost my nerve.

I won't go into the whole gory story, but after being politely asked on the day 2 of the class only after one hour to leave, and then being told by one of the instructors that "riding was not for everyone" I licked my wounds and decided that the only person who would decide whether or not I rode was Me!

I set aside my pride and my fear and got back on the horse. The second time I took the class I did not pass the test, but also did not get kicked out and was not so fearful.

The third time, on the day of the test, it rained. We were given the option to come back another day, but I decided, what the hell, took the test and passed! By the way, the instructor who was in charge of the test that day was the same instructor who had kicked me out the first time I took the class.

I ran out and bought a brand spanking new Suzuki Boulevard S-40, which is a 650. All of the experienced riders told me not to waste money on a 250. Boy were they ever right. After riding the 650 1 year and 1 month, I traded it in for a C-50T which is an 800. That was 4 days ago and I am loving the bike, and now understand that a bike that is a bit heavier is also more stable.

So, get yourself an experienced instructor (MSF classes and those offered at Community Colleges are good options. Harley offers their Rider's Edge course. Didn't take that one but I understand it is a bit more expensive and a bit longer - more time on the bike. I understand your reluctance to take your bike out until you regain confidence and comfort on a smaller one. Another good reason to give yourself the chance to take a real course.

Take some deep breaths and keep us updated! If I could do it at 53, anyone can, lol.

All the best,


Mar 20, 2010
Dont Give Up the Dream
by: Anonymous

As I read your story my heart really goes out to you. Thinking that you are on your way to riding you own bike is such a thrill.

I'm sorry that you had a terrible experience in the "safety course" you took but it sounds to me like you did not receive any instruction at all and the person(s) teaching absolutely should make sure the bike you are using fits you properly. How can you learn to ride, stop, turn, brake properly if your feet cant touch the ground?

Hang on to the bike you have now and practice in some empty parking lots if you can and I really would recommend taking another safety course if there is one in your area because if you can get the proper instruction you will be more confident. Try checking different motorcycle dealers in your area for information of safety courses. You will also meet some people who are in the same position you are as a rider which makes you feel better as well.

Please don't give up. You will be glad you didn't. I promise.

Mar 20, 2010
Re: Fear
by: Patti

It was not you, it was the instructor and the bike. You can ride a 250 without dropping her--You can ride any thing as long as your feet fully touch mother earth. I am 5'2" and weigh 150 lbs and am 65 years young Dancing on your toes are for ballet dancers--not bikes. I ride a Honda Shadow 750--first time in 30 years-back on a bike. Took about 30 minutes to get over the butterflies-can I do this? Your instructor, wasn't one. Take your bike out and have your husband watch you. Fear will keep you from doing something you love. Worst thing that could happen--you would have to pick her up and get back on her. Good wisdom from the horse world. You can do it, you are destin' to be wow--woman on wheels.

Mar 20, 2010
Hang in There!
by: Dianne

As I read your story there were a couple of things that jumped out at me. First was the number of times that you might go down without the instructor being aware of it. Second was that another person (regardless of gender) was in two similarly serious accidents on that same bike. That would suggest that there may also be something wrong with the bike such as poor clutch adjustment or some such thing.

I have a Yamaha Virago 700 which isn't particularly heavy, as bikes go and easy for me to have both feet planted fully on the ground. Even with that advantage I had an incident where the kick stand wasn't fully engaged and the bike started to go down. It was hard as hell to hold it at all and we weren't even moving! My point is that not being right fitted on a bike, especially when you're just learning, is as dangerous as not having the seat properly adjusted in a car or similar thing that may impair your ability to control the vehicle.

Don't give up. I know your confidence is shaken now, but try to find a bike to practice on that is suitable to your height so you get to spend your time learning instead of being terrified, also, get another instructor! He may mean well but he isn't the right one for you. If he can't devote his attention to more than one person you're getting ripped off. A few positive experiences will help restore a lot of your self confidence and you will enjoy riding you cool purple bike.

Good Luck!

Mar 19, 2010
by: Anonymous

Having a bike that fits is the most important 1st step in riding.. find another instructor.. use your bike, if it fits you good.. and keep trying.. I am 5'5 and was 120LB(30 years ago) and I have always ridden big twins. touching the ground and a good balance.. you can ride anything!

Mar 19, 2010
Take a Different Course!
by: Melban

I'm 5'4" 120 lbs and I ride a BMW f650GS. I took my motorcycle class through the community college here, with certified instructors. It sounds like you need a different class. Make sure your class is MSF (motorcycle safety foundation) certified. Or I would look into a class through a motorcycle shop. They usually put you on a smaller bike (250cc) and really teach you the basics like u-turns, emergency stopping and avoidance, etc. I wouldn't trust your instructor if he can't teach 2 students at the same time. In my course, there were 2 instructors teaching 20 of us, and not one student got hurt!!

Mar 19, 2010
by: tumbleweed

A great book that taught me slow maneuvers is "Proficient Motorcycling" by David Hough. If you really think you dig riding, then get a smaller bike to beat the crap out of until you "get" It.
And girl, you have a sweet bike!

I've been riding for 40 years, and the awareness of how fragile our bodies are against the big hard world at high speed is with me on every ride. What is also with me is the serene freedom I feel when I'm on a clean, twisty wide open slab. Bliss!

Mar 19, 2010
Dont Give Up
by: Michelle

Hang in there baby!!

I too was scared. I took the safety course and I was 2 of 10 guys including my husband who took the course with me for support. I did everything great except the tight turns I always put my toes down. I was so afraid to drop the bike! (I dropped my girlfriends sporty 2 times)

I got a 250 Ninja practiced in my neighborhood for along time and went to parking lots every weekend. Just doing turns and stops. I have since upgraded to a Harley Vrod and love it. I sold my Ninja on craigslist in a week. It was a great learning tool.

With my Vrod, my husband would ride me over on my bike to parking lots on the weekend and watch me practice my turns and stops for as long as I needed. The cones are a great idea too. The more you do it the more you will feel how easy it really is.

Don't give up I just took my bike out for the first time this season 2 days ago .... I was scared I was going to forget how to do it but it just came back to me like an old friend!!!

Mar 19, 2010
You CAN Do This..
by: Kell

I am also very sorry that you went thru that nightmare...that instructor needs to find another job. You HAVE to be able to stand flat footed with your bike. Check with your States Public Safety Department to see if they offer the class. I finally broke down and bought my own bike after years of being the "bitch on the back"! I was sick of asking to go ride. I actually took the Motorcycle Class twice just to really get confident. And it was the best thing I could do. I started out riding the block once a day every day after work.Just feeling my own bike. You can do this just practice and get into a better class.

Mar 19, 2010
by: LISA




Mar 19, 2010
Do It or Regret It
by: Jenn

Suggestion: Follow your partner in the car, and let him ride your bike to a vacant parking lot (doctor's office on the weekend). Now you take the bike and just get used to it! I learned on a 1450 cc Harley softtail in a parking lot on a weekend, then I took the rider safety course. I passed with no problems. You can do it! I've seen a 5'3" woman on a full dresser! Just get confident with YOUR bike, and it will make all the difference in the world!

Mar 19, 2010
Your Fear Will Pass
by: Lisa

Kim - I'm so sorry to hear you had a bad experience with your instructor. Shame on him! He should have noticed the bike was too tall for you - its absolutely not safe if your feet can't touch the ground. A good fit is a MUST for safety and comfort! I ride a VTX 1300 Retro but I started out on a 250 Rebel. I've also had a 750 Shadow. I've been riding for about 10 years. I ride year around and went on a 1700 mile vacation last summer and a 1500 mile vacation year before last.

Take YOUR bike to a large empty parking lot on the weekends and just ride around the parking lot. Make left turns, right turns, circles both ways. Practice stopping, starting, walking. It might be a good idea to get some little orange soccer cones from WalMart and set them up in a straight line about 50 feet apart and weave through them, back and forth. Try this for several weeks and you will have a new love for your bike and lose a lot of your fear of riding. Two weeks ... you'll see a big difference.

I wouldn't waste my time or money on going back to that same jerk instructor. If he wasn't paying attention to you, he doesn't need to be an instructor! You've got the basics, you can pick up the rest on your own. Do you have any friends that ride? I'm sure they can give you more pointers as well. Watch the "Ride Like A Pro" video from a police instructor from Florida. He talks a lot about friction control and you can get lots of good tips from that video.

Please don't let your dream fade away because of fear and what's happened. You're gonna fall over from time to time, its just gonna happen. Everybody that rides has fallen over - they might not admit it ... but they have. As you gain confidence on your own bike, you will relax and enjoy it more and more each ride.

My husband is a safety instructor for the Patriot Guard Riders and also for the American Legion Riders. We have safety practice at least twice a year. Practice, Practice, Practice and don't let it intimidate you.

Don't give up your dream of riding! Take your time. Make sure that your feet can touch the ground even on your new bike. Just an idea but you can have your seat cropped and lowered about 2 inches so that you will be able to sit flat footed.

Best wishes to you. Let us know how you're doing.

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