My Stories


My Stories

Honda CB Models …. Specifications …. Rider Photos

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This is a section devoted to my stories of riding, from the first day out and how I learned and what I did to learn to other hopefully enjoyable stories as well.

 

WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR: (May 26, 2001)

This is one of my very early posts for advice on what to get. I didn’t know at the time that only 3 weeks later I’d own a bike! Could it be that on May 15th I turned 30 have anything to do with it? Nawww


Looking for advice and/or opinions on what “1st” motorcycle to buy
after years away from riding.

Years Ago: I owned a Honda Magna 500cc V4 years ago but didn’t have
the skill or experience to ride it properly, it was too heavy and
powerful for me at the time, thus I dropped it going around a corner
and it scared the $#@ out of me; so I made was the right decision and
sold it before I hurt myself or another. Since then, I haven’t been
able to ride again from that scare, but I’m ready again now. :)))))

I call myself a new rider because I want to get into this properly, a
V4 muscle cruiser wasn’t the right way and I’m looking for a
125cc-250cc bike to “get back into the saddle” again. I got motorcycle
fever in my blood it looks like and it won’t not let me ride again. 🙂

What I am looking for is:

– 125cc-250cc bike that doesn’t weight a lot, is fun to ride and easy
to handle and is reliable that I can get on the used market. (I’ll go
250cc-350cc is the bike is light enough)
– Available in “good” condition for $1500 or less
– I can fit on (6’4″ tall)
– Standard or Duel-Sport class chassis

I have been looking at the Kawasaki GPZ 305cc, the Yamaha XT225
Serrow and even the Susuki GN125/GN250cc ones, but if you have another
opinion let me know. The orginal reason I bought the Honda Magna 500cc
was I could fit on it. (though a little more room wouldn’t of hurt).

Any recommendations on what bike to get?

Thanks for your time,

Mike

 

Hey I got one! (June 14, 2001)

I’m sure you have heard this all before, but its me this time and
I’m a little excited about that. 🙂

Picked up the classifieds this morning and saw the following AD:

80 Honda Hawk 400, low kms, new paint, runs great, $800 obo

Wow, $800obo and it runs great! So I called, arranged a time to
beat the other potential customers and drove over and it was mine for
$700. :))

Bike has 20k on the tach, but has a new rebuilt engine with less
than 10k on it. Looks in super shape and I definately feel I got a
great deal for the price.

Any opinions on this bike? Anything to look for right now on it? Any
comments to share?

Thanks so much for all the support here. :))

Mike.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

CHAPTER ONE: My 1st 2 Days of Riding, What I did and how I started.

I thought posting a review of my first 2 days riding would be of
interest to new riders and to (maybe?) bring back memories for
experienced riders as well.

My bike is a 1980 Honda CB400T Hawk, 400cc Standard Bike (photo
coming soon). It is in excellent shape, just waxed it up and polished
it too. Figure if I treat it with respect it will do the same for me.
With 20,980km’s on it total; 10k or lower on a new engine it has now,
or so I was told when I bought it. My CB400T has been mistaken as a
750cc Nighthawk so it must look close to one.

Ok, on with the story!

Pre-Riding: When I got it I wanted to get comfortable with it so while
I waited 5 days to get my helmet I started it up and got comfortable
with the controls, the feel of the bike and manually “rode” it around
a bit to get used to the weight (400lbs). Also washed, cleaned, waxed
and polished it up beautifully too. 🙂

1st Day of Riding (2 days ago):

Our garage is located in a back alley with loose rock/gravel, pot
holes etc, so I didn’t feel confident to ride it down under its own
power but did manually ride it down under leg power. I was a little
worried because my last riding experience ended in me droping the bike
on a road just like this so I wanted to be cautious on my first time
out. Ok, so there I am on the street with the bike, turn it on, check
eveything out and I’m ready to go! I have someone follow/lead me in a
car as well to be safe. After about 5 stalls I get going, trying to
remember everything from my MSF course I took 6 years ago at the same
time! haha. BTW I picked a time (2-3pm) that didn’t have many cars on
the road and this road is a residentual one too. Stopped at a Stop
sign and stalled again about 5 times (that’s REALLY fustrating!! haha)
and got going again. I think I was riding between 20-40km/h so I
really wasn’t going all that fast and didn’t care really since I was
learning at the same time.

The one thing about riding a bike again for the first time is that
you are on your own, there isn’t anyone in your “passenger seat” to
inspire any confidence in you, or telling you that you’re doing
something wrong like I was, Re: Stalling a dozen times.

After a short ride I felt I learned enough that day and did a manual
U-Turn (in neutral) and proceeded my way back, stalled again at the
stop sign and was feeling better about my skills (other than the
stalling) to get upto 40km/h on my way back! 🙂 Didn’t want to ride
the rock/gravel alleyway so I rode it back under manual leg power to
the garage. I was very excited and felt A LOT more confident that I
felt going out and that night I couldn’t wait to ride again!!!

Ok, what was I doing wrong? (ready to laugh?) I was drop shifting it
into 1st gear from 5,000-6,000 rpm and (anything less than 5k and it
would stall) at 5-6k I’d go from 0-20km in less than a second!
Realised this when I got home and asked a driver of a standard car
about the problems I was having! hahaa. I can laugh about it now. 🙂

TOTAL distance traveled: 2.1 km (you gotta start somewhere!)

2nd Day of Riding:

I again manually rode it out to the road and planned a longer route
that would be all residentual streets and at 11am – Noon not many cars
too. Ok, after a good refresher course on riding standard I was set!
Again I had a car follow me for safety. Well, as any stardard drivers
will tell you, you will stall untill you find your clutch “sweet spot”
and yes I did about 5 times trying to find the spot where I let the
clutch out and give it gas at the same time and not to burn the clutch
as well as not to let go of the clutch too fast (reason I stalled 7
times). Well, I finally got it and boy WAS IT A SMOOTH start! Much
smoother than drop shifting it into 1st! hahaa.

Hey, this was great I was riding it and wanted to try from a stop
again. Well, I was getting MUCH better, only stalled it 5 times! haha.
And I was off again! Decided to try my first shift upto 2nd and that
went well! My bike (CB400T) has SIX gears so I had to find when to up
and down shift so I was “smooth”. Upshifting is a lot easier than
downshifting, let me tell you! haha. Well, got upto 30km in 1st and
shifted to 2nd, I was at 40-45km and is it me, or does it LOOK like
you are going FASTER than you are in a car? 40km/h in a car doesn’t
look THIS FAST! haha. So I had to down shift to turn a corner up ahead
and shifted down to 1st at about 30km, and I think it was just a touch
too fast? to do it because the bike did a little engine breaking I
didn’t expect and ended up at around 20km. (I am still learning so I
don’t know how fast you should be going to down shift and its OK at
that speed, any tips? Comments? Help? Would be appreciated).

Did the corner successfully and pulled off to the side to try going
again at 0km without stalling. And I only stalled ONCE this time!!
WOOOHOO and off I went again! I was learning a whole lot and having a
great time doing it! It was becomming even MORE FUN than before!

To shorten up a long story I did about 5 laps and learned more about
when to up shift and down shift (still have A LOT more to learn still
though) and was getting REALLY GOOD at not stalling that much.
Sometimes I would stall once, other times not at all! :)))

I changed gears at: 1st Gear: 0-20km, 2nd Gear: 21-40km, 3rd gear:
41-60km, 4th Gear: 61km-? (Didn’t go much above 60km, but felt I was
80% confident going 60km/hour). Does this shifting pattern sound
right? I would down shift when my speed was the same as a lower gear
(i.e. from 2nd to 1st, when in 2nd I was going 20km).

When I got back I felt good enough to try the rock/gravel back alley
out and rode the last 1/2 of it!! Hey, I was ESTATIC when I parked the
bike!! hahaha. :))

TOTAL distance traveled: 9.4 km (my personal goal was to double
what I did but I did even more!).

So, today is day #3! I can’t wait to get out there, feel the wind
in my face and learn more. Still be residentual streets today but I’ll
see if I can do even more distance.

THINGS TO WORK ON:

1. Turning off my turn signals sooner
2. Not slowing down WAAAYYY before I need to and creeping up at
10-20km/h to a stop sign.

Thanks for reading it, I know it was a long read. If you have any
tips or advice PLEASE let me know it.

Happy riding!!

Mike LePard
1980 Honda CB400T Hawk

 

CHAPTER TWO: My 3rd Day of Riding

I Took a break from riding the bike yesterday because we had a BBQ
and I had a few beers and I WON’T ride while under the influence.

Today was my 3rd day of riding. This time I tried to concentrate on:

1. Turning off my turn signals sooner
2. Not breaking so far in advance of a stop sign
3. Smoother clutch action
4. Smoother up and down sifting.

Plus trying to gain as much experience as possible and have FUN at
the same time, after all that’s why I want to ride in the first place.
haha.

On my 1st day I did 2.1km, 2nd day I did 9.4km so I wanted to go
longer and further than 9.4km so I sat down at my computer and used
www.mapquest.com and mapped my local area out to use residentual roads
only, printed it out and made a circut I could follow as many times as
I liked.

Since I just moved here I didn’t know what any of the streets would
look like or the challenges I would face I asked my roomie to drive me
around the circut I made and payed attention to stop signs, yield
signs, intersections, hills, school zones, and park zones etc. Plus I
would have more “familiarity” with the route too. I guess this is what
race track drivers do when they “walk the track”.

Came back and was set to do it ON MY OWN! Yup, out there by myself
riding for the first time! I was ofcourse excited and nervous too (who
7wouldn’t be right?). To get my confidence up I did the WHOLE
rock/gravel back alley under power and that felt good. Another MAJOR
goal down in 3 days for me! 🙂

I didn’t do that bad at all today, in fact its the BEST riding I’ve
done so far! Didn’t stall very much at all and my up sifts and down
shifts are definately getting much better. 🙂

One circut of my route consisted of (approx.):

13 Stop Signs
4 Yield Signs
LOTS of intersections
8 School Zones
5 Park Zones
LOTS of right and left turns.
Some 55-60km/h straights
a MAX 30km/h tight curve
Lots of up and down hills

Weather: Cool with sunny breaks and quite windy.

If you map it out in your head you can see it was a pretty big
circut. in fact it took 30-45 minutes to drive it once in the car.

Overall I did learn A LOT and I’m A LOT more confident on the bike
now too! 🙂 in fact I’m quite fine riding at 60km/h in 4th gear
getting blasted by the wind now. 🙂 Not bad eh?

I did the circut 2.5 times and it took me a little over 1 hour and I
covered another 36.5 km!! and ofcourse had a great time doing it!

With all the stops I am getting a lot better with not stalling the
bike and with the clutch action too. I even had an uphill stop and
start on the circut to practice that too. Since there were lots of
turns, slow zones and intersections I got to improve my skills more in
those areas too. I even had to swerve and avoid twice, once when
someone decided to open their car door after the crest of a hill (was
going about 50km at the time) and again when a Mini-Van didn’t see me
coming an wanted to turn into my lane and realised it at the last
second. Both incidents I feel I handled well and did good. 🙂

I stalled when I was at a stop sign and had a Volvo behind me and
kept my cool, waited a second and restarted the bike and didn’t stall
a second time. 🙂

I learned to handled the bike better in a head wind going 60km/h.
Better by compensating for the wind (more gas needed) and leaning into
the wind a bit helps too.

My turns are going good, all the turns I made and I only did two
turns I feel I could have done better on but didn’t get into any trouble
at all on them. They were not turning as sharp as I would have liked and
ended up too close to my side of the lane after the turn.

I feel I could use a pair of better boots or riding boots. I am
wearing hiking boots made of heavy canvas but after awhile shifting up
starts to hurt because there isn’t enough padding on the boots I’m
wearing in the toes.

A few tips I learned out there too: Don’t loosely hold the handle
bars when you are accelerating. Don’t try to use the clutch and the
turn signals at the same time either.

Most of the time I know what gear I am in, but sometimes I forget if
I’m in 2nd or 3rd depending on speed, is that normal?

Again, sorry this was so long but thanks for reading it and hopefully
enjoy reading it too.

Happy, Fun & Safe Riding!

Mike LePard
1980 Honda Hawk CB400T

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Hitting the Main Roads, Traffic lights and 100km traveled.

In my on going stories of riding a bike from day 1 we arrive in
Chapter 4. 🙂

The weather in Calgary sure isn’t very good yet, with highs of around
11oC and everyother day rain its been hard to get out everyday. Today,
the high (again) was 11oC with rain (again) in the evening. So I
figured I’d wake up a 8am and hit the road around 9am before the rain.
Its been 2 days now that I couldn’t ride from the crappy weather and
other obligations and I’ve been very excited to get back into the
saddle again.

Yesterday I got an extra key made for my bike, I figured even if it
cost me $25 for another key It would be cheaper getting my ignition
lock changed incase I lost it. Good news is it only cost me $4 at the
Honda Motorcycle Dealership. Seems NO ONE will cut motorcycle keys in
the malls or even at WALly-MART (I hate that store!).

My goals for today were to get on the main roads, deal with
increasing amounts of traffic and traffic lights rather than just stop
signs on residentual roads. I felt prepared to try the main roads and
even the Trans-Canada Highway (in Calgary, its just a main road
though, don’t like the name fool you, but it still is the Trans-Canada
Highway, just speeds are only 60km/h not 110km/h in town. I also
wanted to concentrate on shifting more smoothly, not looking at the
RPM gauge as much (specially when you start to go in 1st gear).

My BIG goal for today was to ride 100km!

Well, I started off in day 3’s long circut to get used to everything
again and to practice a little at the stop signs before I hit any main
road. After doing the circut 1.5 times I missed a turn to continue on
the residentual road and ended up on a main road instead. No biggie I
was prepared for it and was going to do it anyways that day.

Handling traffic, changing lanes, dealing with traffic lights that
NEVER seems to be GREEN when I got there and drivers who I REALLY
WONDER HOW they got their licence in the first place wasn’t so bad.
in fact, in the 100km I did on the main roads I only stalled twice on
the main road!!! :)) I’m very happy about that one. I even got to the
stage I didn’t even have to LOOK everytime at my RPM gauge when I
start off too. 🙂

I had a blast today and I felt good riding, though I remembered in
my head from Jenner saying to me “don’t get too cocky or comfortable,
that is when something will come up from behind and bite your ass”
haha. Had to deal with a fire truck turning from behind me on the main
road and did it with flying colours too! 🙂

Had 2 bind/ignorant/$%# drivers today who thought motorcycles don’t
deserve a lane to themselves. The first one wanted to go faster than
me (I was doing 35km in a 30 school zone) and it was a main road but
only 1 lane and he decided to speed pass me on the LEFT on a solid
yellow line in a school zone! I kept my head cool on that one, at
least he didn’t hit me.

The 2nd was at a stop light on the main road (3 lanes) and I was the
front vechile on the very right hand lane. I was in my proper lane
position and a car squeezed up beside me and I first thought they were
going to make a right turn on the red and were waiting to go. Well, my
light turned green and I went and they went straight as well. Talk
about lane sharing with a car! Dumb car driver! So I eased off and let
him pass me so he wouldn’t turn into me. Couldn’t hit the horn soon
enough though. Dam. haha.

So now my circut consisted of 4 main roads in sort of a right
turning rectangle. I need to try some left turn lanes in my next
outting, I thought doing right turns would be fine since it was my
first trip into the main road world. haha.

On other notes, I need to get myself something even more WARM. At
11oC without the wind it was pretty cold going 50-65km/h. Any
suggestions?

It started raining a little so I came back home since I don’t
have any rain gear.. Any suggestions there?


Thanks again for reading yet another edition to my story/report on how
I started riding.


Mike LePard
1980 Honda Hawk CB400T
http://www.totalmotorcycle.com