The importance of slow speed maneuvers...

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The importance of slow speed maneuvers...

#1 Unread post by koji52 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:15 pm

Well, it's been three weeks since i bought the vrod and yesterday I was finally able to title, register and inspect the bike (damn the DMV for closing at 4 on the weekdays).

Now that I am completely legal on the road, I decided today that i'd spend a few hours in a parking lot practicing slow speed maneuvers. Wow does this bike need counterbalancing to do tight turns. The bike itself is as long as one parking space is wide and the turning radius is pretty wide, so simply turning the handlebars and looking to where you're going to end up does not do it for this bike (that was a nice handling benefit i enjoyed with the sportster). By way of some background info, I can pull slow speed maneuvers on the sportster just fine. Single parking spot perimeter maneuvers are easily done on a sportster. The vrod needs to be leaned over significantly to pull a uturn within two parking spaces. All in all, I'm able to work figure eights within two and a half to three parking spaces... i feel like a brand new rider all over again with this. :oops:

Anyone with longer bikes have any tips on slow speed maneuvering?
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#2 Unread post by zeligman » Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:33 pm

Captcrashidaho had a video on it where he recommends - and I've also read it other places - that dragging the rear brake in slow speed maneuvering helps 'stiffen' the suspension and keep the bike a bit more upright.

I'm still working on those parking space maneuvers - not great with the figure 8 yet, but making smaller and smaller radius turns every day with more skill and confidence! (im riding an 02 suz volusia vl800).

Tried the brake stuff - i think it helped but im not sure yet.

:frusty:
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#3 Unread post by Velocity » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:26 pm

Slow speeds are where I need the most work, I think. Every time I go out, I take some time to start and turn and stop, start and turn and stop, start and turn and stop. I live on a quiet block where I can go around the block clockwise and counterclockwise with little or no traffic before I go out on more heavily traveled roads. I too am working on tight turns, u-turns and figure eights.
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#4 Unread post by koji52 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:33 pm

yea man...slight pressure to the back break is good to let you give more throttle and keep the bike upright. I watched a few of his youtube videos on slow speed maneuvering and it worked for my sportster but doesn't work well with the vrod. The wheel doesn't turn as much as it does on the sporty and the bike is significantly longer. Counter balancing and leaning the bike over is the only way to make the tight parking space figure eights. I'll check out his site and see if there are any other pointers i haven't tried. Thanks.
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#5 Unread post by zeligman » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:33 am

let us know what you discover :)

I could use all the help I can get!

-Z
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#6 Unread post by CaptCrashIdaho » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:34 pm

Start big, work small. One of the issues is that expecting to jump in and pull 18ft circles is a recipe for disaster.

Dragging the rear helps, but equally important is clutchwork! Clutch is your buddy and you need to be comfortable using the friction zone to mitigate the throttle.

Vids at: http://www.HowzitDoneCrash.com
I meant to do that.

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#7 Unread post by Velocity » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:48 pm

CaptCrashIdaho wrote:Start big, work small. One of the issues is that expecting to jump in and pull 18ft circles is a recipe for disaster.

Dragging the rear helps, but equally important is clutchwork! Clutch is your buddy and you need to be comfortable using the friction zone to mitigate the throttle.

Vids at: http://www.HowzitDoneCrash.com
I love your web site and your videos, Captain.

I don't expect to jump in and pull 18 foot circles... but I believe 'the box' in the BRC is 20 feet across. I took the course about a month ago, and had a chance to pace out 'the box' when I was again in the vicinity of the course location today. If my pacing was accurate, it was 20 foot across and 60 feet long.

I did it once, so I know I can do it again. I'm on a different bike now, but not on a much larger bike than the course bike (Kawasaki Eliminator 125 then, Yamaha Virago 250 now).

I just need to re-learn the skills on my new bike, I know, and I'm definitely not starting out trying to pull 18 foot circles. I did the 'walk the course' thing today so I would know what I was shooting for down the road.
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#8 Unread post by RocketGirl » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:23 pm

Velocity wrote:Slow speeds are where I need the most work, I think. Every time I go out, I take some time to start and turn and stop, start and turn and stop, start and turn and stop. I live on a quiet block where I can go around the block clockwise and counterclockwise with little or no traffic before I go out on more heavily traveled roads. I too am working on tight turns, u-turns and figure eights.
+1

Cool! I do something similar before I head out for my first ride of the day. I go around the block to check that the bike and I are working well together. It's usually mandatory when the mornings are chilly like 40 or 50-degrees; it helps to warm up the engine by going around the block a couple of times.

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#9 Unread post by zeligman » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:41 pm

so, about two weeks since the original post, and - after riding a lot the last two weeks, went back to the plot today. I didn't walk and mark the distance, but I gotta say that it ALL felt more comfortable, I turned much tighter, slower, counterweighted, etc, only put the foot down once, and felt so much more in control of the bike.

The extra two weeks of riding hard - meaning, challenging myself a little more each day, has made it MUCH easier to feel the limits of the bike and my riding. Of course, i could get overconfident and end up standing there looking at my bike on its side in the lot fairly easily, but i try to remind myself about that daily.

I'm making turns in the width of two parking spaces - haven't hit the 8 quite yet, can do it in either direction singly, but not put them together yet - maybe next week! :)

but the extra time on my bike made a HUGE difference. Also, all the starts and stops in town/traffic make turning feel more natural.

Cap Crash - you're our HERO! :D
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#10 Unread post by Rogero » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:50 am

Couple of follow-on questions...

I got my first ever bike a couple of weeks ago. I was riding 5-10 miles every day to build up some comfort level. Then after a week tried to do a u-turn on a country road. Ended up on my butt again with some scrapes on my bike. Arhggh!!!!

Question 1: Obviously one week in was too early for slow speeding. When would I be better trying it? Or maybe now is the right time, but I should start with bigger circles in a large parking lot or something?

Question 2: this was the second time where I got going too slowly and tipped over. I have a Harley Softail (aka heavy am-fm). Anyone have any tips on how not to go down once a tip over starts? In both cases I got the bike stopped. In the first, the shock of falling sort of froze me and I just went down. The second time I felt it coming and tried to not go over but the bike is so heavy I couldn't hold it. Then I got my arm down to try to prevent the bike from hitting. Right - holding 800 lbs falling with my arms. Wailed my arm on the concrete instead... Thought I might have broken it. Obviously the wrong strategy! But what's the right one?
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#11 Unread post by PacificShot327 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:19 pm

Rogero wrote:Couple of follow-on questions...

I got my first ever bike a couple of weeks ago. I was riding 5-10 miles every day to build up some comfort level. Then after a week tried to do a u-turn on a country road. Ended up on my butt again with some scrapes on my bike. Arhggh!!!!

Question 1: Obviously one week in was too early for slow speeding. When would I be better trying it? Or maybe now is the right time, but I should start with bigger circles in a large parking lot or something?

Question 2: this was the second time where I got going too slowly and tipped over. I have a Harley Softail (aka heavy am-fm). Anyone have any tips on how not to go down once a tip over starts? In both cases I got the bike stopped. In the first, the shock of falling sort of froze me and I just went down. The second time I felt it coming and tried to not go over but the bike is so heavy I couldn't hold it. Then I got my arm down to try to prevent the bike from hitting. Right - holding 800 lbs falling with my arms. Wailed my arm on the concrete instead... Thought I might have broken it. Obviously the wrong strategy! But what's the right one?
This is why so many people on this forum support starting off with a smaller motorcycle.

I won't speak for others, but for me, it was more important to be proficient at slow speed maneuvers than most things. Any chump can get on a bike and go straight. But your slow speed riding is very important.

Once a tip starts, depending on your seating position, you can use your legs and hips to prevent the fall. Don't try to use your arms. You can hurt all kinds of things (as you found out) like that, including your back.

There was one instance in which I was making a u-turn on a local road a few days after I got my bike. I screwed up and was real close to dropping it, but instead I gave it a little more gas and whaddya know, she stayed up! That was my biggest problem in the BRC, actually, making tight u-turns. I never gave it enough throttle. So if you feel yourself tipping over a big, give it a wee bit more gas, but keep that rear brake covered so you can tighten up the turn a bit.

Definitely spend a lot of time in the parking lot. I got my bike in January. I weight about 120lbs, 130 on a good day. I am admittedly scrawny, no insulation at all. After work, I would ride down to the local Target (shifts ended around 2am, so it was terribly cold) and just spend time weaving in and out of the parking spaces, practicing emergency stops, etc. Not only is it good to practice those skills, it's good time to "bond" with your bike. You get a much better feel for how your motorcycle behaves when you dedicate that sort of time to slow speed riding.
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#12 Unread post by jstark47 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:43 pm

Rogero wrote:Or maybe now is the right time, but I should start with bigger circles in a large parking lot or something?
+1
Bigger circles. You have to counterweight at slow speeds - heavily weight the outside peg, get your weight shifted off the seat to the outside, and turn your head waaayy around towards where you're going. Try to run a constant throttle setting using the clutch to control speed. Dragging the rear brake a little can help. Start with bigger circles to get a feel for the technique and the balance points, then gradually reduce the circle.
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#13 Unread post by zeligman » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:18 pm

Hey Rogero - I can't speak to technique yet, i'm only about a week ahead of you, but I will say - KEEP doing it - You will notice a big shift as you get more confident on the bike and know it's limits.

I started much bigger circles - even then i had my foot down way too much, and it was a fairly big empty lot, so if i felt nervous, just added throttle and straightened up. I'm actually amazed at the difference two weeks of riding made.

one thing at a time - I also practice quick stops once a week -

i ve been lucky about not dropping the bike, but the other day was AMAZED - i'm an extra large guy (extra extra) - and the brakes on the bike were so powerful that my butt came UP OFF THE SEAT. it was fine b/c it's low enough to the ground that i just stood up and kept it balanced between my legs.

but i could see how easy it is to go over the bars. good reminder.

interestingly enough, no skid when I did that either.

-Z
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#14 Unread post by koji52 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:15 pm

well i figure i'll follow up on this thread...

Starting big and developing your skills to a smaller circle or U is the way to go. Multiple hours on the bike and two tanks of gas later, I'm finally getting the feel for being able to pull sharp u-turns (around one parking space). This took significant counterweighting.

Rogero, go to a parking lot and get a feel for the balance of the bike. Pull big circles at slow speeds where you don't have to lean the bike. You'll get a good feel for how to balance your ride. THen move to counterweighting. With the "get-to-know-your-bike" time, you'll eventually get the feel for when you're bike is about to go over or if you just need to adjust your weight...just put your foot down and support with your leg. Don't grab the front brake when your counterbalancing. If the bike does go over...get clear. Engine casings, bars and pipes can be replaced (as much as I hate saying that), but your leg can suffer significant damage if you just let the bike fall on you.

I have a little over two years under my belt on a bike with a relatively high center of gravity. I just moved to a bigger bike with an incredibly low center of gravity. I figured it'd be easier, but the size, length and probably the size of the fat rear tire of the bike has made the learning experience a whole new ball game. It took me many many hours of circle after circle...figure eight after figure eight to finally get the bike's behavior down. You'll get it. Give it time and practice practice practice. Slow speed manuevering will save your a$$ in tight situations where you have little room and little time to react.

Edit: To add, my one parking spot u turns are not from a stop and it traces along the outside of the spot, so it's probably more like 1.25 parking spot. I still have to master the whole lean your bike over at a dead stop and go. Cap'n crash makes it look easy...i am no where near doing that with my 650-700 lb bike.
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#15 Unread post by zeligman » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:24 pm

ok - WHOLE new ballgame... dammit! got a mustang seat and installed it last night. got on the bike today, and its COMPLETELY different. I'm about 3 inches higher and 2 forward, and it shifted my center of gravity radically!

My seating positioning is better, especially with the backrest, but it was like i had erased the last 3 weeks of all the hard work I'd done.

grrrrumble... back to the beginning.

I almost dropped it today... was so close i partially hopped off the bike. In the lot, felt totally different, like back to zero again. even at stop lights, had a harder time pulling out and turning - where before new seat had that cold.

EVERYTHing is different now.

i had to adjust handlebars - b/c the added height made csteering really hard. then, after riding again, realized i had to adjust clutch and brake position too - plus mirrors.

im honestly not sure a cushy tushy is necessarily worth it, but i'll give it a week or two.

I know learning the bike is fun - and that feeling of confidence when you can really 'feel' it is fantastic, but I was just there, and then poof!

any advice would be welcome.

-z
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#16 Unread post by RhadamYgg » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:26 pm

zeligman wrote:ok - WHOLE new ballgame... dammit! got a mustang seat and installed it last night. got on the bike today, and its COMPLETELY different. I'm about 3 inches higher and 2 forward, and it shifted my center of gravity radically!

My seating positioning is better, especially with the backrest, but it was like i had erased the last 3 weeks of all the hard work I'd done.

grrrrumble... back to the beginning.

I almost dropped it today... was so close i partially hopped off the bike. In the lot, felt totally different, like back to zero again. even at stop lights, had a harder time pulling out and turning - where before new seat had that cold.

EVERYTHing is different now.

i had to adjust handlebars - b/c the added height made csteering really hard. then, after riding again, realized i had to adjust clutch and brake position too - plus mirrors.

im honestly not sure a cushy tushy is necessarily worth it, but i'll give it a week or two.

I know learning the bike is fun - and that feeling of confidence when you can really 'feel' it is fantastic, but I was just there, and then poof!

any advice would be welcome.

-z
Little things - even less than a seat change can make a bike feel really different.

Wearing the liners in my overpants changed my feel for my new bike completely - and I ended up dropping it twice.

I'd love to try a bunch of different bikes, but it is a little scary knowing how different one bike can be with slight mods compared to entirely different bike.

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#17 Unread post by PacificShot327 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:29 pm

RhadamYgg wrote: Wearing the liners in my overpants changed my feel for my new bike completely - and I ended up dropping it twice.
+1

When I got my bike in the winter, I usually had 2 pairs of pants... underneath my riding pants. :roll:

On the first day of decent temperatures, I decided to just wear shorts under my riding pants. Boy, what a difference!!! It made a huge impact on my position and posture, just that half inch of layer missing.
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#18 Unread post by zeligman » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:02 pm

so - it is typical then? advice ladies and gents - should i give it a few weeks?

-z
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#19 Unread post by blues2cruise » Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:59 pm

zeligman wrote:so - it is typical then? advice ladies and gents - should i give it a few weeks?

-z
Yes, give it a bit of time.
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Re: The importance of slow speed maneuvers...

#20 Unread post by motorman2 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:23 pm

I practice slow speed maneuvers all the time. I cant believe I am just now finding this thread, pretty cool cause I love slow speed skills practice.

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