Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling

Appendix Two: First ride stories.




First Ride Stories


Rider: Mike Le Pard
Rider: Zoe Wolf


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




Mike Le Pard

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


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.

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
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
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
11oC and every other 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 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

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, astleast 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 bloodly
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 atleast 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 apprecaited 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 ofcourse was a little
nervous dealing with the stop/go of downtown traffic, all the hazzards
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 Looong 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
mintues 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 stressfull 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 centre (to buy some bargins!) 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

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. Atleast 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 comming up to the off ramp to the
highway I was excited and a little nervous. I knew it would be atleast
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 was’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 virbration 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 maintenace manual). When I changed
the oil I used 10w40 so 30oC+ 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

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

“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!


Here is a link to view my new motorcycle’s twin:

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

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!


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

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


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 countersteering 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
out 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 –

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 6871 Articles
"Mr. Totalmotorcycle". Owner and Founder of Total Motorcycle. Supporting over Motorcyclists and Motorcycling for 21 great years. Total Motorcycle is my pride and joy and being able to reach out 330 million people has been incredible but I could not have done it without the support of my visitors, readers and members, thank you so much! You are making a difference to millions of riders worldwide. Thank you.