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Old 03.08.2012, 10:05
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Learning to drive a motorcycle

I am planning to get my driving license for motorcycle and I am wondering how hard it is.

I have my B-license since 1993 and have a lot of driving experience in cars. The main difficulty I see is, of course, to learn to handle the motorcycle and more specifically changing gears - although I have mainly driven manual cars and know how to deal with a clutch.

How many driving lessons would you need to go safely out on the road?
I understand that I can apply for a Lernfahrausweis but don't like the thought of going on the road unprepared :-)
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:20
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

Driving a bike is nothing like driving a car, forget everything you know about cars and start from zero. Key points are:

- Planning in advance. Bikes don't forgive the small mistakes and when driving your mind has to work 120% at all times and calculate your moves in the next 30 seconds or so. You always need to assess the situation in front of you and have a clear plan.

- Bike control, especially braking. This is the hardest to master, you brake with you right leg (rear wheel), right hand (front wheel) plus if you want to stop faster you change gears in addition, so it takes a while to master these commands.

- When i got my a license my friends told me "there are bikers who fell from their bikes and bikers who will fell from their bikes". Always wear good clothing and gear, take it easy and learn to drive SLOW first and you will enjoy the limits of the bike when you are more confident.

Happy cruisin'!
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:22
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

Guys please! First of all it's RIDING a bike not driving one!
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:22
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

I think this kind of question is hard to put a number on as it is different for every person.

I would really recommend you take a course though, because a motorcycle is so much different than a car, and so much more dangerous. I feel like I drive cars better now that I've driven a motorcycle. Going fast is easy, going slow is hard, and that is where a good course will focus, giving you slow-riding skills and emergency skills (thresh-hold braking, object avoidance, etc).

Also, do some research on different kinds of bikes as some have very nice features (for example ABS brakes, or a nice even power) that can help ease that beginner period, as you're getting the hang of all that shifting. I think it also helps to know your own limit and respect it. It's okay to be learning, and better to acknowledge that, than push it and end up dead.

Please, please, please, also invest in some good safety gear. I shudder every time I see someone whipping around in flip flops, a skull cap helmet, or tshirt and shorts. Even if you are an amazing driver, we all know that every country has it's bad drivers, and you might just meet one one day.
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:37
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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How many driving lessons would you need to go safely out on the road?
I understand that I can apply for a Lernfahrausweis but don't like the thought of going on the road unprepared :-)
What sort of bike do you see yourself riding?

In the UK I was riding a 125cc bike after one day's CBT course. After that I bought a 125cc and was allowed to ride it with only the car license + the CBT certificate. Once I got used to the bike's handling etc I did my theory test, and applied for my practical test, I failed the first time because I was a bit too slow (Mr cautious over here) and most importantly because I didn't do a life saver check in one of my left turns (I always do that now). I passed with flying colours the second time and went on to a restricted (25kw) 600 cc Bike. I didn't ride for too long and you automatically get a full license after 2 years but I haven't ridden a bike since...

I would recommend a Honda CG125, it's the learners favourite and is very forgiving, I wouldn't push it above 90km/h as it's a bit unstable.

Everything else you will learn as you go but I would also recommend that you forget everything you know about driving cars.
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:44
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

[QUOTE=V__;1624947
- Bike control, especially braking. This is the hardest to master, you brake with you right leg (rear wheel), right hand (front wheel) plus if you want to stop faster you change gears in addition, so it takes a while to master these commands.[/QUOTE]

+ you need to know how to do all three together.

If you can afford it, do invest in a ABS-equipped bike. Being a beginner, it WILL save both yours and the bike's paint jobs more than a few times.
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:54
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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+ you need to know how to do all three together.
+ 1 to that...

He will learn all this when he does the training though to be honest, so no need to start telling him things now.

Braking is generally 80% front brake 20% back brake or a % close to that... A lot of beginners will end up locking the back wheel as they would try to brake with their foot which will inevitably send them sliding down the road... other one is locking the front wheel when it's wet... Touch wood I haven't experienced neither of those problems when I was learning

Engine braking is only useful in general riding situations, but in an emergency you haven't got a chance to engine brake, and pressing the clutch will more than likely make you slow down longer than help as you might tense up and keep the clutch in which means a longer distance to stop... If you want to stop on the flat just hit that front brake as hard as you can without sending yourself over the handle bars (with a little help from the back brake) and when you slow down enough start pressing the back brake more firmly, at least this is how I was taught
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:58
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

I don't ride a bike myself (would like to one day though) but just wanted to add to this conversation that one of my colleagues at work passed his motorbike licence test and the first bike he bought was a Harley-Davidson.

What a guy!
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Old 03.08.2012, 10:58
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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just hit that front brake as hard as you can without sending yourself over the handle bars
Not always as easy as it sounds
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:04
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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Not always as easy as it sounds
Very true!

But in fairness I have never even come close to sending myself over the handlebars. The CG125 has a bit of a cruising riding position, and there was no way I would have gone over unless I hit something, and the CBF600cc was so heavey (around 200kgs) I can't see braking really hard sending me over the handlebars, I guess I naturally let go a little bit just before the front wheel locks (and no it didn't have ABS)

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I don't ride a bike myself (would like to one day though) but just wanted to add to this conversation that one of my colleagues at work passed his motorbike licence test and the first bike he bought was a Harley-Davidson.

What a guy!
Mid-life-crisis much? lol
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:07
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

I also wanted to add, that my partner and I originally considered motorcycles as a cheap mode of transportation. In the end, my helmet cost more than my last car, and riding equipment + Motos has been to date our biggest financial investment. The safety stuff is expensive, but essential, so consider your financial situation too as you weigh in on this decision. If you can't afford to do it safely, now is not the right time.
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:08
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

Riding a bike is great (I've got a 750), specially when you respect speedlimits and other users.

You'll have to think about what are going to do the other users, it will save you some scary moments...


And if you like speed, think there's some good speedcircuits outside Switzerland. (can't tell you about it, that's not my cup of tea)

Be careful and have fun, Switzerland is a nice country with all those mountains
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:18
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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I also wanted to add, that my partner and I originally considered motorcycles as a cheap mode of transportation. In the end, my helmet cost more than my last car, and riding equipment + Motos has been to date our biggest financial investment. The safety stuff is expensive, but essential, so consider your financial situation too as you weigh in on this decision. If you can't afford to do it safely, now is not the right time.

It's not cheap but doesn't have to be that expensive, I agree all the safety equipments are necessary etc, but as far as I know the only thing required by law is a helmet. It would look silly if you're riding a small bike with all the leathers, boots, back protector when you're not gonna go faster than 50km/h... I'm getting old though so I won't get on any geared bike without at least a leather jacket and stirdy boots on. As for scooters and small bikes I think a helmet is all that is needed.
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:24
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

Key points:

- depending on your age, you can get a big bike. That's not a bad thing nor a good thing - I would aim to qualify for the full license if I could
- I think you still need to do the basic training courses....do that ASAP
- when you're choosing a bike, look at how you can pass your test on that bike. Manoeuvre tests are easier on certain bikes and harder on others
- get a friend with a bike to come with you when you collect your bike. That helps
- the BIGGEST point is this: your mindset MUST change. You can put yourself into danger with a simple oversight or decision.....think ahead, assume you have not been seen....this only comes with experience to a degree.

I'll give you an example. Many years ago on a dark night, I was able to go through some stationary traffic (going across me) as the light was green. I appeared from the other side of the traffic and was hit by a car. While it was not my fault, I contributed significantly to that incident. Thankfully, there was no damage to me or my bike but the foglight and wingmirror of the car that hit me were hanging off......I learned an important lesson there and want to share it with you as a good example of what not to do to survive.
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:27
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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you brake with you right leg (rear wheel)
Not always, some bikes are right shift and left brake!

Here, you normally take a course AFTER you have some riding experience, not before!

So, get someone to give you some lessons in a parking lot, start with starting and stopping, and only use first and neutral. Practice turning. Afterwards, start using other gears.

Tom
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:28
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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Please, please, please, also invest in some good safety gear. I shudder every time I see someone whipping around in flip flops, a skull cap helmet, or tshirt and shorts. Even if you are an amazing driver, we all know that every country has it's bad drivers, and you might just meet one one day.
Will definitely do so. We have many motorcycling enthousiasts in my family and I have seen too many cases of falling people, where also with good equipment people have fallen really hard.

My plan is to buy first a helmet + gloves + jacket + trousers + boots
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:31
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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If you can afford it, do invest in a ABS-equipped bike. Being a beginner, it WILL save both yours and the bike's paint jobs more than a few times.
One of my requirements for a bike is to have ABS (guess I have been working in insurance too long).

I don't plan to go for a 125 cc but something like a 600 cc. It doesn't need to be fast but I don't want something that sounds like a lawnmower.
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:31
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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My plan is to buy first a helmet + gloves + jacket + trousers + boots
Oh yeh forgot to mention gloves in my previous post!
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:32
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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I shudder every time I see someone whipping around in flip flops, a skull cap helmet, or tshirt and shorts.
Well, I don't ride wearing flip-flops, but t-shirt and shorts, sure, though I generally wear a jacket too (and always gloves).

Tom
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Old 03.08.2012, 11:32
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Re: Learning to drive a motorcycle

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Engine braking is only useful in general riding situations, but in an emergency you haven't got a chance to engine brake, and pressing the clutch will more than likely make you slow down longer than help as you might tense up and keep the clutch in which means a longer distance to stop... If you want to stop on the flat just hit that front brake as hard as you can without sending yourself over the handle bars (with a little help from the back brake) and when you slow down enough start pressing the back brake more firmly, at least this is how I was taught
My first ever bike that I started to learn how to drive was Moto Guzzi 500 Falcone (ex mil) this thing was so heavy to turn my shoulders would hurt for 3 days after each ride and braking was a story of it's own...Unless you were shifting down the bike would just keep on going The brakes were pretty useless but it was 1972 bike so...

But shifting down and pressing the clutch really fast perform engine braking won't make you stop slower, it will help...Of course with newer bikes you don't quite need it but it is always good to know you never know when you will need it.

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I don't ride a bike myself (would like to one day though) but just wanted to add to this conversation that one of my colleagues at work passed his motorbike licence test and the first bike he bought was a Harley-Davidson.

What a guy!
Well, as a defense to your colleague, I learned how to ride on a as big but more difficult bike than a Harley, after that I got a 150cc city scooter, after that a Vstrom 1000 and I can honestly say that the smaller bike the more dangerous it is in general... Of course I wouldn't recommend getting a Harley as your first bike but if he is pulling it off...
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