How do you keep from getting discouraged?

(New York)

Okay, so my fiance and I bought our first motorcycle...

He is 6'2/220 and I am 5'4/125, so he was insistent on not getting anything smaller than a 650, and thus we settled on a Vulcan 750 (to later discover that it was one of the fastest cruisers Kawasaki ever made).

So anyway, fiancee is riding it all around (he had dirt bike experience so it only took him a few days to get the hang of the street bike).

I went out for my first attempt at this (having virtually no experience with a manual transmission anything, except a foot-shift ATV that doesn't require clutching). And my experience was this:

VROOM!....*stall*.....(swear)....about 3x. I was finding it rather impossible to coordinate the throttle and the clutch, the throttle on this bike seems especially touchy (or maybe its normal...?). I obviously didn't want to take off too fast and have disastrous consequences, so I guess I'm a little afraid of the "gas."

This continued until I lost my balance on the down-sloping parking lot, while being severely annoyed at the random cars pulling into and then out of the parking lot for no apparent reason literally every 5 minutes (its an abandoned parking lot, no idea what they were doing)...and down went the bike (very gently, not a crash, like I just decided to lay it down in slow-motion...I felt it going down).

But at least I was strong enough to pick it back up by myself (I'm relatively small but pretty strong, I work out a lot).

So now I'm rather discouraged. Fiance says that I'm being silly, and I will admit that I have strong tendency to give up on things I'm not good at right away (an ego/pride issue, I guess).

So is this normal for a beginner, or am I hopelessly clutch-impaired? I definitely don't want to take the MSF course right away, because I will definitely choke and it will result in an epic fail (after which I would be mortified and refuse to have anything to do with it). I suppose I'm just wondering if its normal to take a long time to get used to the throttle/clutch if you've never really had any experience with a manual transmission.

Comments for How do you keep from getting discouraged?

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Jul 15, 2011
Similar Experience
by: Joanne

All I can say is, take the MSC now!!! OMG, what a huge difference it will make. I too am totally new to motorbikes. My husband of 20 years thought he'd be a great teacher. HAH!! After a brief, here's this, and this is that, and let's go for a four hour cruise in the country, and what do you mean you don't know where neutral is, I put the bike in the garage and told him to stop talking to me!! I didn't touch the bike until after the MSC a week later. I came home from the course and we took that drive together as soon as I got home. I still have a lot of learning to do (this forum really helps) but I had to figure it out with the assistance of a purely objective instructor. I also did not develop my husband's bad driving habits that he most definitely would have passed on to me. You don't have to know anything to take the course. Besides me (forget my 30 min. lesson prior to the course- it did more harm than good), there were 3 more people in the course who had never touched a bike. We all passed, and one of the two finishers with a perfect score, was a young lady who had never even been on a bike before. Take the course, trust me!!

Jun 15, 2011
Don't Get Discouraged
by: Anonymous

Personally, I think if you can borrow some time on a smaller bike, really, a DIRT BIKE, would be really helpful. With a dirtbike, you won't be worried about making marks if you fall down (they're supposed to look beat up), and if you do a little gentle off-pavement riding, you will get a better sense of balance - just a sand pit or grassy field will be enough. Also, they are geared lower and won't stall as easy.

I recommend this for all riders, female, male, youth or adult.

My first bike is a Honda 230 dual-sport - a street-legal dirt bike. Love it! But I am going to get a slightly bigger street bike this year or next.

~ Aili

Jun 14, 2011
Not a Happy Instructor
by: sassy2731

I'm sorry you had an instructor that was apparently not happy with the job. Because most love to ride and want to teach you with a great passion and want everyone in the class to pass and enjoy riding as well. Apparently your instructor was not happy with their job or their self and do offer the extra one on one help. Those that need more help will get it and those that seem to get it quicker just need that extra practice. I always recommend the class I took over 5 years ago and the get great feed back on them and still get great reviews on the class or people that give it so I keep on recommending them.

Jun 14, 2011
Keep Going
by: JoAnn

I wish my class would have had that 2 hour preview. It definitely would have helped me. I had to leave the ride part to come back later when I achieved some level of comfort. I never rode anything before and I was terrified. I begged them for some one on one and offered to pay but the woman that runs the Western NY class was totally rude and unwilling to help. This was even after one of the trainers offered to do one on one.

Not all Motorcycle courses are created equally I guess.

Jun 13, 2011
by: Lynn - FL

In our area they added a 2 hour Pre-class course to learn the absolute basics. It is highly recommended for riders with no experience with clutches or riding.

I agreed with all the other ladies' advice too.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You are obviously very determined so everything will fall into place with practice & knowledge.

Jun 13, 2011
Stay the Course
by: Wanda

You will be scared. You will make mistakes. In time, your fear will subside, and you will get better. The MSF course will make you a better rider sooner than any amount of practice on your own. I do recommend riding around a few times in the yard, pasture, vacant lot, etc. in first gear, with little to no throttle, to get the feel of it before going over to the MSF course, just so you get that initial wave of fear out of the way before class. The instructors will teach you everything you need to know, and you'll be a safer rider for having taken the class. The important thing is to stay with it. Let your fear guide you and keep you safe, but don't let it prevent you from learning to ride. I just learned to ride last summer. Every time I ride, I master a new aspect of it. Early on fear and self-doubt crept in, but I pushed them out of the way and persisted. Often times, I would take three steps forward and one or two steps back when it came to learning to ride, but that is still forward progress. On my early rides, I would focus on fixing my mistakes from the previous ride. I would fix one thing and start doing something new wrong, but finally, after a year and about 1800 miles, it is all coming together. I've heard at 3000 miles is when it really all "clicks," so I am looking forward to reaching that 3000 mile mark. Good luck. I know you can do it. Riding is such a wonderful adventure. It is so worth it to work through your fear and mistakes to learn to ride well. See you on the road!

Jun 13, 2011
by: Anonymous

When I took the MSF, the highest scorer was a guy who had never been on a bike in his life,

Jun 12, 2011
by: Anonymous

Well okay, maybe I was a little premature in calling myself clutch impaired. I went out today for half an hour (after much hemming and hawing on my part) and got it started , rode for about 10 feet (feet-on-pegs), and stopped (up and down the driveway) four or five times (ha, I win clutch, screw you!). I'm feeling rather triumphant over my small victory :) Though I have discovered a new challenge: not rolling the throttle while braking (hmmm....). So my next goal is to graduate out of the driveway into a (different) parking lot by the end of the week.
As for the MSF class...

There are a lot of conflicting opinions about it. I have heard a lot of people say its great for beginners, they go slow, etc., but I have also heard from an equal amount of people that it is NOT for rank beginners, that it goes too fast for someone who has never ridden before, and that a very large number of people who go it it with zero experience fail. And also, this may seem rather silly, but....I had a really, really awful experience at driver's ed when I was a teen. Absolutely horrible instructor who screamed at every one of the kids, told us how stupid we were, etc., which is still haunting me to this day at the ripe old age of 24. Seriously though, I was absolutely terrified of driving for years because of that man, and I guess I'm still gun-shy in regard to driving instructors because of that. That being said, I would rather look like an ass in front of my fiancee for a while first. :)

Jun 12, 2011
Don't Give Up
by: sassy2731

Please don't give up. I was a passenger with my hubby for over 30 years and finally decided at age 45 that I wanted to try and ride my own. The hubby put me on a HD Sportster and I could never get the clutch thing figured out. Guess that maybe because I had never even driven a car with a clutch because i have been with an automatic transmission mechanic and hardly realize that manuals even existed. Anyway being a passenger did help me some as I would watch my hubby when I rode with him. Finally in May of 2006 I took the basic rider course. Best thing I have ever done. The class took everything very slow and they used techniques to teach you how to use the clutch and how to feel it. I was able to ride after all on the 250cc in the class. Then the hubby bought my own Sportster in August that year cause I was too scared of the size on the Fatboy that he wanted me to ride. I couldn't believe and he could either when I got on that bike and went for a ride with him in the neighborhood. He just didn't know but I was scared to death to go out on the main roads, but I did after a few rides I started building my confidence up. I still after 5 years of riding and now riding that Fatboy plus my Roadking, do dump my clutch too fast and kill the motor on occasion, but I have also noticed that some of the men we ride with that have many many years experience also do the same then I don't feel so stupid any longer, but I do get a bit embarrassed. So please take the BRC and then try your bike again and just take baby steps to learn, don't think you have to do just like the guys and just jump right on and go. Take your time and learn from the pros. I couldn't learn from my hubby either and probably never would have. He was even amazed when he saw me ride the first time after taking the course as he had given up on me learning that clutch thing. LOL. Please don't just give up, just go take the class. Now in Texas the BRC is mandatory to get your MC license. I think everyone should take it. Experienced riders should even go and take the advanced riders course. You learn a lot more than anyone thinks they will. I have had some long time riders that just never got their mc license go take the course and came back and told me that they learned so much from the course. Good luck on your learning, but don't think you are the only one that ever had trouble learning cause you ain't. Many more than you know had trouble too. I do know first hand that the BRC class does help! Now go and take that class and get into the wind for also Wind Therapy.

Jun 12, 2011
by: Anonymous

Please don't put off taking the MSF course this is where you learn about starting out it goes very slow the instructors start from sitting on the bike to pushing the bike to starting the bike and so on they are very patient and glad to get you started the right way. It's easier to learn it the right way than to unlearn the wrong way. This class is for beginning riders so please go.

Jun 12, 2011
Two Suggestions...
by: Sandra

and you probably won't like them!

1) Learn from the experts; not a significant other. Even if he is patient and kind (my own husband is fearful for and over-protective of me) it is much easier to take instruction without ego issues if your instructor is JUST your instructor. Besides, the instructor has more experience and helpful hints than a rider. Did you learn to drive a car before you took driver's ed? (I know, bad example - as a farm girl I was driving the farm truck around long before drivers ed...) Instructors instruct; boyfriends/husbands/friends don't always know how to explain the techniques they grasp as easily as breathing.

2) Try a different bike? A confidence builder - perhaps a 250 cc something; but something smaller and less intimidating. I am NOT saying you cannot handle a bigger bike. I am saying you need a confidence builder! With a little patience and careful shopping, you should be able to pick up a good "learner bike" at very little cost; after that, you can work on deciding if the Kawie is the bike for you, or if something else entirely "fits" you better.

I have a Suzuki C50 Boulevard (800cc) and absolutely LOVE her - it's a "fit" thing! Just yesterday I had an opportunity to throw a leg over several showroom bikes while mine was being serviced and was AMAZED that the C50 is the ONLY Suzuki I felt "good" on. The only other bike I tried that would even be an option was a Yamaha V-Star...and not EVERY style of even that model. I cannot stress enough that it's a "fit" thing. If you are not comfortable on your Kawasaki due to height, weight, balance, controls handling, etc., how are you supposed to get comfortable enough to just pick up your feet and ride?

Just my two cents...good luck and DON'T GIVE UP! Once you have mastered it, you won't understand how it tripped you up so much just starting out.

Jun 11, 2011
Don't give up!
by: Jean

Don't give up yet! Take baby steps to your new experience. May I suggest going to 'Ride like a Pro' website by Jerry "Motorman" Palladino. His videos are very helpful. He has several YouTube video's and also a DVD for very beginners. He and his wife show what steps to take and how to take them to learn the art of riding. The rest is just practice, practice, and then just for giggles and kicks, more practice. Perhaps a parking lot that has no slope at all would help also.

Good job on being able to pick up your bike! Just don't grab the front brake; if your front wheel is turned and you grab the front brake, then the bike will drop. I learned and still ride an 1988 vt800cc Honda Shadow. (not a misprint, they built those for 1 whole yr.)

I started riding last fall, first time ever to straddle my own bike. I had watched "Motorman" and it really helped me to know which steps to take and how to take to do them.

The other ladies on this site will be able to help you a lot with suggestions and helpful advice.

There were many times that I wondered if I was ever going to learn how to ride, but between this site, hubby, and the videos, I am now able to ride on the interstate with confidence. And you will too! Hey, if I can learn this 'art', then I know that you can too.

Happy riding!

Jun 11, 2011
Welcome to the club!!!
by: JoAnn

I'm in the same place you are. I don't mean to laugh but your story is so funny, especially about the cars pulling in and out. Doesn't that piss you off???? I can still only go straight (no turns) and refuse to get out of the parking lot. I've been out maybe 3 times.

I took the MSF course and was counseled out on the first riding day because, like you, I had never ridden ANYTHING on two wheel with a motor and I was scared out of my mind. I will be going back but not before I have mastered the basics on my own. At my rate, I'll go back in 10 years, lol!

All I can say is that everyone learns at their own pace. Don't push yourself or let yourself be pressured. Just do what you can and then go home and have a shot of something (not necessarily kidding there). My first time out I actually rode for about 7 minutes before I started to hyperventilate and had to go home.

I am terrified of the throttle. My boyfriend is very patient -- he's been riding forever and doesn't push me at all. He even has a Welcome mat on the side of my bike, lol! I just figure I'll do what I can when I can and I'll get there eventually.

I have to add though, I too usually will give up easily when frustrated. I'm not used to not being able to do something right away and this bike thing really makes me angry. I'm pretty ballsy and will try anything and out of all the things I thought about before deciding to ride, being afraid was NOT one of them. I don't know how to deal with it.

Keep me posted. I'm sure you'll do fine. Heaven knows you'll probably be riding before me.

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