Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling: Appendix 2

Appendix Two: New Rider Stories.

First Ride Stories

We all started somewhere. Be it on a farm, in a parking lot, a back alley or side street. These are the stories of 2 riders to show you that everyone is nervous, everyone makes mistakes and everyone finds their feet in the end. You can and you will too.

“I can’t believe I still had these. These are my first ride stories I actually posted on a newsgroup over 25 years ago. Anyways, it will give you an idea on my first experiences (first hand as they happened). Enjoy!” – Mike


Total Motorcycle Mike’s Story

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 Suzuki GN125/GN250cc ones, but if you have another opinion let me know. The original reason I bought the Honda Magna 500cc was I could fit on it. (though a little more room wouldn’t have hurt).

Any recommendations on what bike to get?

Thanks for your time,




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 definitely 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. :))

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 dropping 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 everything 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 residential one too. Stopped at a Stop sign and stalled again about 5 times (that’s REALLY frustrating!! 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 up to 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! Realized 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 got to start somewhere!)


2nd Day of Riding:

I again manually rode it out to the road and planned a longer route that would be all residential 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 standard drivers will tell you, you will stall until 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 up to 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 up to 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 becoming 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 ECSTATIC 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 residential streets today but I’ll see if I can do even more distance.



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 and mapped my local area out to use residential roads only, printed it out and made a circuit 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 roommate to drive me around the circuit I made and paid 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 of course excited and nervous too (who wouldn’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 definitely getting much better. 🙂

One circuit 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
  • 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 circuit 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 circuit 2.5 times and it took me a little over 1 hour and I covered another 36.5 km!! and of course 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 circuit 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 realized 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 10°C and every other day rain its been hard to get out everyday. Today, the high (again) was 11°C 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 in case 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 residential 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 circuit to get used to everything again and to practice a little at the stop signs before I hit any main road. After doing the circuit 1.5 times I missed a turn to continue on the residential 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 license 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 every time 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 Jenny 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 circuit consisted of 4 main roads in sort of a right turning rectangle. I need to try some left turn lanes in my next outing, 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
Total Motorcycle Website


New Rider: My 5th Day on my Honda Hawk. Story.

Does riding ever get boring? Gez, I hope not, atleast I don’t want to know if it does since I’m having a BLAST! 🙂

Took off this morning around 10am and had fun for hours. Took at few new main roads to spiffy up my skills and even have a few stories to share on my little trip today too. 🙂

The first thing that happened was I RAN OUT OF GAS, well not totally, but just had to switch on the reserve. Thanks to reading a few stories yesterday on this NG about running out of gas, what to look for when you are and what do to made me look like I KNEW what I was doing! basically, I was in the right turn lane stopped and the bike was having problems idling and it stalled. I didn’t know at first it was out of gas so I tried to start it again and it didn’t go. I used the choke but that didn’t help either, so I figured I was out of gas.

I pushed it up onto the sidewalk (out of the way of traffic) and took a look into the gas tank, humm, don’t see any gas in there, so I figured I was 99% right and switched it to Reserve and backed it out onto the street. Fired right up again! Thanks NG and for everyone sharing the story yesterday about running out of gas, saved me today!

So, off I went to a gas station and filled it up. It drank about 8.5 liters of Premium gas (didn’t want to over flow it, wasn’t sure how high I could go in the tank, I think about 1.5 liters more would be MAX). Cost me $5.60CDN. WOOHOO. (gas was 71.6 cents a liter for Premium grade). I read in the test report on my bike that it gets 329 kilometers per 13 liters of gas. (not bad!)

Another thing that happened was on the main road I stopped for a red light (in the far right lane) and noticed a Harley rider behind me (he didn’t seem to acknowledge my waves) and when the light turned green I stalled and almost immediately got going again, but not FAST enough for the Harley rider, he super accelerated and passed me on my left! Nice guy, gez thanks, no respect for other drivers even other fellow motorcyclists? Quite disapointed overall there. Oh well, 1 bad apple don’t spoil it for everyone.

On a good note I gave and received my first few waves today to other bikers out there! Was great and I was happy to have felt part of the community! 🙂 Thanks to all motorcyclists who wave at other motorcyclists regardless what you ride!! 🙂

Another great thing that happened was someone joined up with me to ride for a little while on a very custom chopper. We rode in different lanes and chatted at the stop lights. He (never found out his name) made the bike himself and it was a bike that has LOTS of style and charater to it. Great guy and it was fun talking to another biker.

Hey, I was impressed! 🙂

Only stalled a few times today in my travels. I’m getting better at the clutch and in riding. I wanted to go further today but I heard my chain squeeking and I think I’ll have to take it in to get lubed up (since I can’t tell if I have an O-Ring or non-Oring chain) but I’ll buy some oil (10w-40 was recommended) while I am there and give my bike an oil change for good measure. Also still need to take it in to get it looked all over by a mechanic.

Nothing seems wrong with it but why not be sure right? I want to take care of it well.

I bought a PVC rainsuit yesterday from the Army & Navy store ($6), it folds up small, but still doesn’t fit under my seat (dang). Not much room under there at all so I bungie corded it (in a sealed ziploc) to my passenger seat. Guess I’ll have to look for some side bags now.

Challenged myself today by riding on more main roads longer and different ones (still in a circut, just an ever increasing one). Also got gas for the first time, had to deal with being out of gas and felt a great sense of motorcycle community out there too! 🙂

Have fun out there and thanks to all on this NG and the new riders as well for giving me inspiration like Zoe, William (thanks for the gas tip) and all the others as well. 🙂

Have fun and ride safe!

Mike LePard
1980 Honda Hawk CB400T
Total Motorcycle Website

Well, my 6th to 9th Days goes like this: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

Just changed the oil yesterday (first time for me!!) since I bought it 3 weeks ago. I wanted to do is ASAP because I didn’t know when the oil was last changed, and oil being the life blood of an engine I felt it important. So I did a full oil change with the filter and all. I took a trip (by car) to the local Canadian Tire store and because it was my first time attemping an oil & filter change on ANY vechile I asked for help. Ok, didn’t ask for help AT FIRST (that was second), but grabbed an oil change pan ($10), looked around for oil (did some research and decided on 10w-40) and found some nice car oil to go into my bike. So I asked at the automototive help desk if 10w-40 was good for a motorcycle and he said sure (wasn’t too convinced
though, any opinions?), also asked if they had a filter for my bike and my bike was ACTUALLY in the computer and I got a part number for
it. Now, if THEY told me they had a motorcycle section with motorcycle oil in it that would have helped! So I found 4-stroke motorcycle 10w-40
oil there ($1.70 liter) as well as my filter ($8) and got rid of the car 10w-40 oil ($2 liter).

Well, thanks to the Clymer Honda 400-450 Twins 1978-1987 Service/Repair/Maintenance Manual I got an idea of what do to. 🙂

The first hour was trying to figure out WHY my bike’s oil bolt wasn’t in the same spot as the photo! Then figuring that the only bolt it could be was it. (I didn’t want to unscrew something that was wrong). After asking another fellow who was taking apart and fixing a car engine in his back yard what he though he said “yep, that there is the one”. Ok, another 30 minutes goes by trying to unscrew the bloody stuck on bolt and even after squirting it a few times with WD-40 it wasn’t gonna budge! So, back to the other backyard mechanic for a ratchet wrench (hey, they work WONDERS!), ok, got it off in 30 seconds! Offered the guy $2 but he wouldn’t take it. The filter box bolt was even harder to get off, but after a learning it unscrewed the
OPPOSITE way vs. the oil bolt I got it off. Yes, I had the oil pan setup right under where all the oil was going to pour out. haha. ‘;)

Ok, all this near black (if not 100% black) stuff comes pouring out.

After it drains out of the oil bolt hole I take off the filter box and more comes out right into the oil pan. 🙂 Reading and following the instructions I clean the filter box up, replace 2 gaskets and the new filter and screw everything back together as I found it. Pouring the oil in (hey, this stuff looks a LOT cleaner than the stuff that came out!!) also the old filter was pretty black and was quite gungy too, I was all set. Turning the bike on, letting it run and checking for oil leaks. Success!! 🙂 I bet she appreciated the new filter and oil job.

The Clymer manual says to replace the oil EVERY 1000KM is that right? Seems REALLY short, any suggestions?

While I was out there and being a brave little backyard mechanic I wondered about the disk break fluid level. Since I bought the bike I didn’t see any fluid in the little (high/low) window on my handle bar so I assumed it was clear. I REALLY wanted to double check this (breaks are important I feel) So I took the cover off the disk break fluid box and noticed THERE WASN’T ANY! Completely dry in there! OH GOD. Now what!?!

So I read my Clymer manual on how to bleed the breaks and change the DOT 3 break fluid. After another trip to Canadian Tire I got the break bleed kit ($16), DOT 3 Break oil ($4) and some gloves too ($2).

Well, I was a little more confident and set things up (double checking still) and got ready to bleed my breaks. Well, I was right, there really WASN’T much break fluid left at all in there! About 6″ of it in the break line I think, it was quite dark and had a lot of dirt in it too. Was I lucky to change it now? I think so. So, after pumping the front break level I was flushing out this old stuff and I could see the new stuff replacing it. I’m not 100% sure if I was doing something wrong but it took at least 8 fill ups of my disk break fluid box to get the air bubbles out and even then there was the smallest amount of micro-bubbles in there. I was running out of the 750ml of DOT 3 break fluid I bought quickly so I figured that it would be ok since there
were very few micro bubbles in the clear drain hose (maybe they were JUST in the hose outside the sealed break lines? I donno) and cut it
off there, did the system back up, fill up to specs the fluid box and tried the breaks out. Took the bike on the road and SUCCESS! I got better breaks and it worked too!! 🙂

So there you have it, what I’ve been doing for the past 3 days taking care of my Jazmine. 🙂

I’m sure she appreciated it and will take good care of me too.

Mike LePard
1980 Honda Hawk CB400T aka. Jazmine


Welcome to Chapter 10, 11 and 12 of my new riding career. Lots to talk about so sit back and have a good read. 🙂

Day 10: Trip Downtown

I figured since we were going downtown (to the Greyhound Depot) to buy tickets for next months 2 week trip I would follow my g/f behind her in her car and take my first trip into downtown.

Taking routes never rode before by me I of course was a little nervous dealing with the stop/go of downtown traffic, all the hazards of riding in the downtown core and trying to follow them all at the same time.

It was a busy Wednesday afternoon with lots of traffic (is downtown ever not busy? haha). Seems her sister (navigator) wasn’t that great at navigating so I got to take some extra streets and even a little trip in a 70km/h on ramp / highway / off ramp section. I have to give credit to my g/f, she did as best a job as should could as leader, its hard sometimes to follow/keep up in downtown traffic but I did alright getting to the Greyhound Depot. As mentioned we took the Long way in, though and around downtown so I did more riding then I though I was going to be doing in this new “hostile” environment. Took about 40 minutes to get to the Depot and we got our tickets and all. I needed to sit down and relax for a few minutes before heading out again (is downtown riding stressful or what?). We needed to go shopping in the downtown mall so off we went again though downtown streets and I was more relaxed this time. 🙂

After shopping for 2 hours we made our way out of downtown and back to a liquidation center (to buy some bargains!) so more fun riding! 🙂

I was really happy that I decided to venture out into the Downtown core, it is much different riding and you really have to keep even more alert than ever. Seems 1/2 the cars are on cell phones, and the other half not paying attention as they scurry from point A to B. It was quite warm outside and I was soo happy I was riding and not in a car!!

I felt my 5 hour adventure by bike was a success! I only stalled ONCE and only on the exit of a parking lot! 🙂 Did well on shifting and slow speed riding (still want to get better at that) as well as riding about 10 feet at a time, stopping and going again. 🙂


Day 11: Riding at dusk.

I wanted to go out ALL DAY that day. I had the need to ride, I wanted to feel the wind and the turn of the throttle by my wrist. Maybe you know the feeling? Where you NEED to ride before you go to bed? Well, at 9:25pm off I went, I didn’t want to go far, just wanted to try riding in the dusk and enjoy the ride out there. I have to say its much different riding when its getting dark than riding in the light. Not as much fun I think and while I was having a good time and was sort of relaxed I really didn’t feel all that comfortable out there (I think it was my jeans I was wearing, they had a boot cut
rather than a straight cut and the pant cuffs were catching on the riding peg at a stop).

It was neat to see my “dashboard” lights of the Tach and Speedo as well as my headlight lighting the way. 🙂 I think people don’t see you as well on a bike when its getting dark. Not that anything happened just felt that way. At least I’m not wearing anything black.


Day 12: Riding the “little” highway!

Well, today was the day!! I wanted a challenge and my g/f told me to go try the highway. So, off I went, did a big loop up to the highway to warm up and get my courage up to par to do it.

Riding along on 14th Street coming up to the off ramp to the highway I was excited and a little nervous. I knew it would be at least 70km/h to merge into traffic and I picked today (Sunday) to try out the highway because it would be less traffic so that gave me confidence as well. Well, it was 80km/h, and I was up for it, I did 65km/h before and felt comfortable doing it so 80km/h wasn’t that far of a stretch and was easily upto 80km/h and in 4th gear. Its amazing just how much power my 80′ Honda Hawk CB400T has as it ate up the speed from 20km/h to 80km/h as fast as I could shift, not that I was shifting hard. Mostly I was under shifting in the 6,000 rpm range (max torque at 7.5k and HP at 9k) but WOW what power.

“cruising” at 85km/h was a neat feeling! WOW, this was new, neat, exciting and ofcourse you remember and repect where you are and what you are doing. So, I payed as much attention as I could to being safe.

I figured I would get off at the 1st Street turn off but decided to keep going and get off at the 52nd Street Turn off (total ride on the highway about 66 Blocks!!). Well, after 1st Street it turned into a 90km/h zone! So, up I went into 5th Gear and was riding along at about 90-95km/h. Hey, I was actually COMFORTABLE doing this speed! It wasn’t that I was out riding my limits, or pressing my luck, but by concentrating on BEING SAFE and RIDING SAFE I was able to do it and not sweat it. Yes, I was a little nervous since this was the FASTEST I’ve ever rode before but it felt good and natural doing it. The bike liked it a lot and didn’t complain at all. Hardly any vibration from the engine going to the pegs and bars, just enough to remind you you’re not riding in a car.

Took the 52nd NE Street exit and made my way back on a major road (32nd Ave) and when I got back I was very happy I was able to do all this and be confident about it as well. 🙂

Had a problem with my bike when I got back to my alleyway. It stalled a few times idling in Neutral and in 1st gear with the clutch in at a stop. Not sure what it was exactly, but I think the engine overheated (does this sound right?). At first I thought it might be fuel, but I filled up only 100km ago and when I switched it to reserve the bike stalled again at idle.

I took it back to my garage and checked the oil (in case I didn’t add enough when I did the oil change or something and it looked fine (I added 2.5liters of oil as per maintenance manual). When I changed the oil I used 10w40 so 30°C+ temperature riding ather would be ok (it was 34oC today). The oil was thin but the engine was quite hot still at the time when I check it. After letting the engine cool down (about 10 minutes) the bike started up and idled fine again. So I suspect it just overheated. I will be checking the spark plugs soon. Any other suggestions?

Thanks for taking time to read this, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to Zoe for all the inspiration and confidence, I enjoy reading her stories and think she is a great rider.

Mike LePard
1980 Honda Hawk CB400T


Year 1: 5,000+km’s

From my first 2km ride to racking up 5,000+km’s in just one riding season (4 months) I have to say, WHAT A BLAST!





Zoe Wolf – 1996 Suzuki Savage LS 650, “Helios”

“Zoe was another rider who started out at the same time I did. I found her stories really good and they really helped boost my confidence to read them. I hope you enjoy them! I doubt Zoe even has a copy of her experiences so if this is you Zoe reading them, let me know what’s happened to you since.”


My New Bike!


Yes, mine is the same color! (1996 Suzuki Savage LS 650, “Helios”)

Should be riding some time next week after DMV/NYS Inspection! I can hardly wait!


My first day on my first bike

Following Mike’s example, here is my report on my first ride on my first bike! (I took the CSC MS course in May, passed my road test 5/30, haven’t ridden since then or before May).

About 7:30 PM I decided to go riding. The traffic had died down and it had cooled off a little. The weather here is really hot (80s) and muggy but I wore my JR pants and jacket anyway,(vents open FWIW at the slow speeds I went!) gloves, and of course full face helmet, visor down (at least the visor is vented). Got used to the clutch in the driveway, sort of nervous, very sweaty, finally got out of the driveway. I’m getting used to the greater power of the 650 over the 250s in MS class. It is a bigger difference than I expected. I stalled several times, something I never did in class! Just went around a few blocks, quiet, residential, neighborhood, very little traffic, lots of stop signs and corners. It was far from a stellar performance, all 2 point something miles (no trip odometer), and I decided it was enough for tonight. Nothing bad happened.

Good points: Got into 3rd gear a couple of times, improved on turning off the turn signals sooner, and cornering tighter. I went riding on my own! Braking went well, used both at the same time, gently, no emergency stops though.

Things to work on: Shifting a little rough but just need practice. Tomorrow I think I will wait until it cools down a little more, I was drenched, but not willing to compromise the safety gear. Hot and sweaty and uncomfortable didn’t help. I did have fun though! I stopped in a parking lot to practice but I had an audience and decided to take off after a little rest. Will look for a bigger lot tomorrow too. I found neutral instead of second gear a couple of times and forgot to go down into first at a stop, but remembered before I started off again. It’s one thing remembering what I learned while sitting at the computer but quite another while on the road! I need to work on throttle control too, accidentally rolling back while stopped and not giving it quite enough gas when starting off; I’m being a bit too timid I guess.

That’s all for today, will report back after tomorrow’s ride!


Day 2 on LS650 Savage


This evening I went out on my first bike for the second time. This time I went 10 miles in about an hour. It was MUCH better than the first time and nothing really bad happened. I decided to ride to the post office to mail some bill payments for starters. It is all quiet side streets with stop signs. That went well. I parked and left the lights on while I crossed to the mail box since it was dusk. I was hot in my full gear but much better than the first time. Even felt good, in a strange way. I rode around side streets, up to third gear (on my bike recommended shift speeds are 12 (2nd), 19 (3rd) 25(4th) 31(5th) but I was at 30 in 3rd. MS instructor told us to listen to the engine. I have no tachometer. It seemed OK. Found neutral a couple of times instead of 2nd but not as much as before. Found 3rd instead of 2nd once or twice too. Practiced downshifting, still a little soon, some engine braking (unintentional). Better at canceling turn signals but still need some work. Better mirror checks and head checks. Went to the church parking lot and did some big circles and figure 8s. Got better at cornering, some still a little wide but most OK. Braking maybe a bit

soon for stop signs, but braking technique still OK. Less fear. More fun! Kids on bicycles were racing me on a side street, I beeped at them

as I was taught and passed them (they had been winning!). Beeped at a friend’s house too. Soon I will write my recollections of the CSC MS course. I know some of you were interested and it will help me recall what to practice next. Oh, my poor bike. I pushed the starter instead of kill switch when I got home. Ouch! But I know the rules and I won’t apologize to you (I did to my bike though).

Ride safe and have fun!

Suzuki LS650 Savage, “Helios” (Screamin’ Yellow)

Day 3 on Suzuki LS650 Savage (beginner)

Day 3 on LS650 Savage Helios, 8:30 PM to 9:50 PM (1 hr 20 min.) Mileage 1791-1813 (22 miles).

It seemed like much more! I don’t think that can be right. Guess it is. Time includes suiting up and pre-ride check, also gas station stop. I went around a few blocks, stopping, starting, shifting better, no more neutral instead of second. Went down along the Erie Canal, back up to the gas station and got gas! I pulled up to the “Pay First” pump without thinking, so I had to run in and give them money to hold, then added gas, realized it wasn’t full yet but the pump was off.

That’s OK. Ran in again and got my change. A guy at the gas station in one of those beat up cars you have to avoid on the road said, “Nice bike. I like the color (screamin’ yellow). Are you in the Kingsmen? (A local MC club) Is that a 500?” I got to tell him it was a 650 and no, I’m not in the Kingsmen.

That was fun!

I rode back down along the canal, north, to a side street to a church, stopped, and turned around, since it was getting dark. Went back along the canal again, and home. I actually relaxed my shoulders! I got my first wave! I gave one in return (awkwardly as I was about to downshift, signal and turn). Saw another bike and waved, but they didn’t (was it a Harley?)

In general I rode pretty much in the middle of the lane or left wheel track. Got up to 45 mph, getting used to thumper vibrations in 5th gear. Did very little lugging this time, I am getting the feel of the road speed matching the gear speed. As I rode all along the canal, I got my first bug-spattering,  thank you full face helmet! I love my helmet, Arai Quantum/f with the vented face shield and other vents. It is so clear that once I had to check to make sure I had the shield down, and I could feel a nice breeze on my face. When I first went helmet shopping I thought a full face helmet would be really uncomfortable but this one is great. My JR pants and jacket are very comfortable too. I like the vents in the jacket and the plentiful pockets.

Overall, it was more like fun and less like work than Days 1 and 2, and I was grinning ear to ear by the time I got to the canal side roads. Good thing I had that face shield or my teeth would be full of sand flies! I encountered some stupid people in cars, splitting lanes on my right when I was turning left, I guess that’s pretty standard, they figure you don’t take up a full lane so they go for it. A guy started backing out in front of me (pretty far ahead) so I “mweep-mweeped” him and he stopped, so I proceeded. I got behind a truck with a trailer and gave it plenty-o-room since it kept speeding up and slowing down for no apparent reason. I was grateful when it turned. I mweep-mweeped at some stupid kids on bicycles going the wrong way down my lane and they didn’t even move much, but I had enough room to safely pass. I saw some baby ducks crossing the road in the opposite lane from me, I hope they made it across safe and sound! The canal is just beautiful at dusk.

One canal side road I was on for quite a while is gently winding and 30 mph limit, so that was very nice for me to get more comfortable riding on. The other canal side road limit is 50, but I wasn’t quite up to it yet, it feels so much faster on a motorcycle and then there’s that thumper vibe to get used to, not too bad though. I got up to about 45.

There was no traffic though so I wasn’t holding anyone up. I am looking forward to Day 4! This was a great way to relax after the work week, which is just what I was hoping for. I’m so glad to be riding!

Ride safe and have fun!



Day 4 on LS650 Savage

Hello everyone. Here is my synopsis of my fourth day of riding.

Day 4 on Helios, 8-9 AM, 1817-1830 miles

Just got back from my first morning ride, 17 miles. I did the canal side loop again. I got up to 50 mph (fastest yet!). Lost focus turning off the 50 mph road with a car behind me, didn’t downshift enough, missed the turn (right) and safely pulled over. Refocused and continued on. It’s already 80
degrees here!

When I got back towards home, side streets, stop signs, traffic, turns, lost focus again on a turn and put my foot down (why? no idea except I didn’t look where I wanted to go) regained focus and went home. This evening is practice in the parking lot and stops, starts, and turns again to gain more skills.

Nothing bad happened but these were my lessons for the day, focus, focus, focus!


8 PM -8:30PM 1830-1834 miles

Went out to practice stopping, starting, cornering, shifting. I was feeling a bit less confident, and somewhat tense. Stalled when I started from a stop making a right turn, bike started to fall and I caught it. YIKES! Practiced some more and called it a day. Have I regressed? Was I overconfident? Just a mental thing? Try again tomorrow! I guess just like anything new, there are good days and better days.


Days 6 and 7 Riding LS650 Savage Helios

Monday 7/2/01 Day 6 on Helios 1850-1853 mi 7:15 PM – 8:30 PM

Took Helios to the shop for NYS inspection. Nervous, why? My feet were cramping up even before I left. When I turned left, there was a pickup truck in my lane facing me! It was stopped, at least, and no traffic, so I went around. Didn’t dump on the gravel in the cycle shop lot. Passed inspection, had a nice visit with Tom and his bud. $6.00 and lots of compliments on my bike and comments (?) on my gear. Maybe I looked a bit “geeky” to them, but I said it was for safety. Made it home OK in spite of the dozen or so pedestrians crossing a side street at a snail’s pace in front of me with cars parked on both sides. I was ready to come to a stop in the middle of the block. I Beeped at them and they just waved, didn’t hurry up! Silly people! My feet were still cramping so I came home

(Tuesday I slept right through riding time)

Wednesday, 7/4/01 Day 7 on Helios, 1853-1857 miles, 11 AM – 12 noon

Today I went straight to the church parking lot to practice. I started to relax after a few minutes of stopping, starting, long lazy ovals right and left, circles, figure 8’s. I practiced visual directional control (VDT or Turn your lazy head and look where you want to go! a la MS instructor). I am still a little shaky on turning from a stop, so I practiced left and right turns from a stop, using the parking lines as guides for the “street”. There was a fair amount of debris there after yesterday’s farmers’ market but it wasn’t a problem. I provided some entertainment for a man who sat on his porch and watched me for awhile. No stalls, no dumps! (Knock on wood) This is definitely the right thing for me to be doing right now. I stopped and put it in neutral a few times to shake out my hands due to constantly covering the clutch, which I believe is the right practice in slow speed drills. I am also
getting better with slow speed throttle control. I will do these drills again next time I ride, weather permitting, since there are thunderstorms predicted. I didn’t do the canal side loop due to holiday traffic. The church is only two blocks from home. As I was doing figure 8’s, another yellow Savage rode by!

I still get a little kerfuffled as I suit up to ride, and as I sit at the end of my driveway ready to pull out, but I am getting more control over that. I remember something my MS instructor taught us, to visualize ourselves riding well ahead of time, making the turns neatly, etc. I am practicing that and it really helps. I guess it’s a combination of excitement and trepidation that gets my adrenaline going. He also recommended using the pre-ride check as a “cooling off” period if emotional, and I am doing that. It helps too.

Ride safely and have fun!


Pictures is hundreds on bikes arrayed in a wide, bright parking lot.
The sheer variety of bikes out in the parking lot was impressive.


New Rider, Day 8

I took my dogs for a short walk first, about 20 minutes. Then I calmly suited up and did my pre-ride check. I was fine! Not overconfident, just relaxed and alert, very focused. My parking lot drills had also given me confidence in my starting from a stop, turning, and leaning abilities. I turned out of the driveway no problem and rode my canal side loop. On the 50 mph stretch I did about 40 mph. It is very windy this evening (in addition to the motorcycle wind). There was only one car that passed me safely right away so my slow speed wasn’t a problem.

As I rode I was thinking, push a little left, go a little left on the turns in the road (gentle curves). Also “relax your grip and breathe”, although my grip was pretty relaxed but I was breathing a bit shallowly, this helped remind me. (Thank you Kris10) “Sit up straight” and other such things. Just conscious about the details. Also encouraging things like, “You’re doing fine”. “This is better!” Smiling against my cheek pads. And so on. I was pretty relaxed and confident, while still careful and alert. When I made the turn near the church where I turn around, there was large pickup in the oncoming lane, no problem, and a little boy on a bicycle racing the truck, in my lane, not looking where he was going, not looking at me! I had plenty of room, so I communicated with a beep and he rode safely to the shoulder and I rode safely by.

I stopped at the church to shake out my hands, but they didn’t need it! And back I went towards home. On the 50 mph section a truck was behind me but gave me plenty of following distance, and although I was only going 40, chose not to pass me when the opportunity was there. I thought, OK, this is my pal. Oh yeah, they’re all trying to kill me. Neither thought made much impression, I was fine.

On the 30 mph stretch, there in the road, walking slowly across, was a large deer! I slowed and looked for more since they often travel in pairs or groups, saw none and continued on. A little further ahead was another large deer, off the side of the road about 10 feet, looking at me with a very quizzical expression, ears perked! She stayed still as I passed by. I knew she saw and heard me! Back in town a car with the thumping bass was behind me, no problem. I did great! Much better, more confident, relaxed during cornering. I waved one car on at my block so I wouldn’t have it behind me as I turned into my driveway. Voila!

Another good ride and more confidence. In the morning weather permitting I plan more parking lot drills AND a canal side loop!


New Rider, Day 10

Finally I got to ride again after a few days! It gets better every time.

Day 10 on Helios, 8:30-9:20 PM, 18 miles

It was a beautiful, cool evening with a lovely sunset and a stiff breeze. I went out a little later than usual after having a great telephone conversation with an experienced rider friend who lives very far away and taking my dog to the vet to get his shots updated. I went to “my” parking lot for a few circles and figure 8’s to warm up after not riding for a couple of days, and entertained a few onlookers. Then took my usual route, planning to go on further this time. I forgot the way to the Creek side loop I found the other day, and ended up at a busy highway I was not yet feeling ready to tackle (4 lanes, 55 mph and LOTS of traffic) so I did a U-turn and took my usual route. It was lovely seeing the pink sunset reflected in the canal water’s surface. The ride was the most enjoyable one yet. It was pretty uneventful except that there was a lot more traffic than usual and I was riding in the dark on the later half. It was nice and cool, and I even got a little chilly with the vents in my jacket open.

I saw three other motorcyclists, one I didn’t wave to because there was traffic and cars turning so I was paying attention to that; also the other bike was turning. The second one I waved to but couldn’t tell if it was returned. The third one was ahead of me on the street! That was the first time I rode behind another bike (except in class when we did the group ride).

I still thought “look, lean” but seemed to do less thinking and more just riding than usual. Also, I had an interesting experience when a car in the oncoming lane was making a left turn, I “automatically” thought, “Get a commitment out of ’em” meaning, be ready to stop in case he cuts in front of me. My MS instructor used to tell us that. He didn’t cut, and I saw that he was stopped, so I continued on, but I was ready for the eventuality. The voice of the instructor came to me when I needed it!

There were also several rude car drivers out tonight, one passed me crossing a double yellow in a 30 mph zone, and I was doing 30. It was good to have that one out from behind me though. Others went around me when I was stopped to make a turn, and I know I wasn’t stopped too long or anything. At least none of them really endangered me. NO deer or other animal sightings tonight either.

Zoe Wolf
Megarider No. 663


2023 Harley-Davidson Road King Special


Sunday Morning Ride

Today’s Ride July 22, 30.8 MI/70 min.

Breaking Out of “The Loop”

This morning it is cool and quiet, so I went out for a ride. I was determined to go beyond my previous canal side loop. I filled up with gas and off I went! I came to a sudden yellow light and stopped quicker than usual from 30 mph in third gear, no problem (in town).

I rode along the later half of the usual route, down towards the country section, to the traffic signal, and beyond! It started raining, but wasn’t pouring, so I continued.

I passed my usual turnaround loop, to the traffic signal, and went straight ahead! I followed the road to a T, then turned right and continued until the sign stating “Road Closed ahead”. It was a good place to turn around, so I did a U-turn there. Time for more parking lot drills, I was a little shaky on the U-turn but did it well enough, within the road’s edges.

I went back the way I had come, some nice gentle curves in the road and some hills, too! My first hills! I was doing 45 mph in a 45 mph zone comfortably, decelerating, looking and counter steering into the curves then accelerating through them. Still some cars passed me but all were polite and legal about it today.

I saw another motorcyclist and we exchanged “the wave”! I don’t know what it is about that wave, but it makes me grin every time.

A mini van backed out in front of me so I pulled in the clutch and braked a little, the van stopped, indicating that I had been seen, so I Predicted that it would stay put and Decided not to stop, but to go around it and Executed a mild swerve to ride around it. I was ready to Decide one of two actions and the process really worked (SIPDE). In seconds all that went through my mind.

Later a squirrel walked into the road, so I beeped at it, which seemed to confuse it. Not wishing to squash said squirrel, I braked a little and slowed, it ran off the road and I continued on. It was difficult to Predict what the squirrel would do, they’re so unpredictable. If squashing it were the safest thing, I would, but I’d rather not and the car behind me was far enough back not to present a hazard from such a slight slow in my speed.

So, I was back at the traffic light at the edge of my former comfort zone, stopped behind a car. I looked in my mirrors, checked around the intersection, and looked down. There was a fork in the road. I laughed but loud, a fork in the road! (I’m easily amused, I guess. I wonder if the people in the car could hear me? ) It was a kitchen utensil with a white handle right in front of me. I avoided it when the light turned green and continued back home.

At the turn to my street there is construction going on. I was making a right turn from the green light into a small intersection (reduced lane due to construction) littered with loose stones. There were two manhole covers recessed about two inches deep that I wanted to avoid, and traffic in the oncoming lane at the corner, stopped at the light. I chose the path I wanted to take, about 3 feet wide, and took it slowly and comfortably without thinking I was going to hit the cars or looking at anything other than “where I wanted to go”. This was a small victory for me, since I just did what I knew I should without getting nervous about it. A week ago I think I would have been less confident making that turn.

Reflecting back, I wasn’t keeping track as well as I should have of the cars behind me, one passed and I didn’t realize it until it was next to me. I hadn’t noticed it signaling to pass before it did. Check both mirrors more often. More parking lot drills next time. Learn about squirrel psychology and watch out for forks in the road! 🙂

~~ “> Zoe Wolf
)) ))

’96 Suzuki LS650 Savage, “Helios”
Megarider No. 663


New Rider, Year 1: 1000+ miles!

Hi everyone.

I’ve been doing a little lurking here lately, not much writing. I just want to let you know that as my first season as a new rider I’ve logged 1035 miles on my yellow Savage. I just got back from a short ride and realize the season here in WNY is coming to a close.

Thanks to those who gave me good advice about gear and my first bike back in May, and who read my detailed accounts of nervousness, cramping feet, moving vans, umbrellas and squirrels, and forks in the road – not to mention beeping! – and encouraged me to overcome that initial – trepidation!

Relax your grip and breathe! You can lean further than you think you can! Look where you want to go! Keep on the throttle!

I hope to get a little riding in yet this fall before putting Helios to bed for the winter, and look forward to putting lots more miles on next

Thanks again,

~~ “> Zoe Wolf
)) ))

’96 Suzuki LS650 Savage, “Helios”
Megarider No. 663

About Michael Le Pard 10692 Articles
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