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BMW Motorcycles (aka Beemers) and the Competition
Have an interest in BMW motorcycles or just motorcycles in general? Discuss the line of BMW motorcycles and how they may compare to the rest of the competition in this forum!

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  #1  
Old 05-12-2009, 01:18 PM
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So, how hard is it to learn...

how to ride these things?

And why in California is it more expensive to taking biking school after the age 21? 18-21 is like $150, and for 21 and older its 250?
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:23 PM
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how to ride these things?

And why in California is it more expensive to taking biking school after the age 21? 18-21 is like $150, and for 21 and older its 250?
It is easy to learn. Hard to master.

The state-MSF class is the way to start. I would guess that California subsidizes the cost of the class for all riders, but more so for the high-risk 18-21 age group.
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:29 PM
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Yep.. MSF is a good start and you'll know at the end of it whether riding is right for you.

Beyond that, buy a small bike and make friends with safe riders that don't mind taking you under their wing for awhile.
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:29 PM
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It is easy to learn. Hard to master.

The state-MSF class is the way to start. I would guess that California subsidizes the cost of the class for all riders, but more so for the high-risk 18-21 age group.
Very good point. Its VERY easy to learn. But no matter how many years you have under your belt, something could always go wrong and you will never master it to that point.

Take the MSF course. They have courses that are also for experienced riders. The more practice and time you spend riding the better.

I paid $350 for the MSF weekend course here in NY and at the end of the course i got my license. It also served as a point reduction/ discount.
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:24 PM
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And why in California is it more expensive to taking biking school after the age 21? 18-21 is like $150, and for 21 and older its 250?
People make more money after 21...
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:33 PM
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Very good point. Its VERY easy to learn.
I'd even disagree on this. It's amazing how much dexterity it takes (left hand clutch, right hand front brake & throttle, left foot shifting, right foot rear brake) and now much different it is from doing anything else. It's easy to learn to ride in a straight line....I'm probably still faster on mountain roads in my car, and I've got 8 years of mountain road motorcycle riding under my belt. Probably always will be. Riding, of course, provides a better experience when doing so, however.

I remember it being a big milestone when I could actually take a mountain road corner marked at 35mph *at* 35mph! I think it took 4-5 weeks to get to that point. It can get frustrating at first.
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Old 05-12-2009, 03:41 PM
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It's definitely not like learning to operate a car. I say operate because most people don't really know how to drive a car, they know how to operate it at best.

As Kris said, get with some PATIENT experienced people and ride with them. You can see how they set up for a particular corner and learn from them. They need to realize you're green and dial it back to keep you safe too. This is where the patience comes in. You can't learn from them if they're a half mile ahead of you. Riding with two people is best, one behind, one in front. The one in back can observe and critique while the one up front can lead you thru.

Anyone can ride a bike straight, but that's about as rewarding as driving in your car on I5 for 4 hours at the speed limit. It is the corner where the reward is.

The same key principles of good driving technique translate to good riding technique, and vice versa. Look ahead, way ahead. Be smooth on the brake and throttle and steering. Always brake in a straight line. Pay attention to 360 degrees around you for excellent situational awareness. Getting "red mist" is very easy when riding in traffic. You will get fixated on the car in front of you rather than looking thru it and farther ahead. You need eyes at every angle and this is what is tiresome in the beginning.

Leaning into corners is the hardest adjustment for new riders I think. You can't turn without leaning and the faster you go, the more you need to lean. Figuring out just how much to lean is also important. It's a weird feeling until you trust the bike and yourself. At slow speeds it's not a biggie to adjust your line mid-corner, but when you're going faster you want to setup for it and hold your line thru. This is where experience will improve your rides. You can only learn by lots of practice!

MSF Course before u buy something. You may find that it's not for you, but hopefully you'll find that you're a natural.

@Kris and the dexterity thing. When I started riding I could never remember to clutch in for downshifts as I approached a stop or for a corner. Why? Cuz after driving a manual car forever, your natural instinct is to push your left foot down. Well, that's where the shifter is, so now you find yourself with an abrupt downshift.

Unlike cars, the controls on bikes are not standardized for turn signals, lights, horn kinda stuff. On Harley's the left signal has one button on the left, right on the right, and they self cancel. On other brand bikes that I've ridden, there's one switch on the left grip that does 2-3 things, left/right/cancel. It's easy to forget to cancel the turn signal, which is sending the wrong signal to cars around you.
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Old 05-12-2009, 03:45 PM
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As Kris said, get with some PATIENT experienced people and ride with them.
You know Kyle Breton, right? Our Membership Chair?

When you called me on Sunday we were out riding - he just got his first bike, a Ninja 250, and I was leading him slowly up Palomares Rd in the East Bay .
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:46 PM
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Thanks guys. I appreciate the input.

I'm still deciding whether to do this or not. Either way, I'll end up on a bike no matter what -- its just a matter of deciding which one.

My alternative is getting a mountain or road bike and do like I was doing about 6 months ago which was commuting to train station from my apartment, which is less than a mile, then taking 2 trains to Universal and biking it to work which is about 3-4 miles. The only problem I have is that I work the swing shift, and the last train I need to take stops running at 2330, which is around the time I get off. The first train runs pretty much all night long except there is only 2 of them on the rails. One going one way, and the other going the other way. So assuming I get out at 2330, I won't get to the train station until 0015, if I'm lucky? Train comes around 0035-0045, and it takes about 40 minutes to get to the last stop. So by then its 0110-0115, and still need to ride a train another 5 miles, or bike it in the ghetto.

To much of a pain in the ass.

My next alternative is the motorcycle. But after adding the cost of the actual bike, plus gear, training fees, insurance, it will be pretty pricey. So I'm stuck in between a rock and hard place.
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by LuvThatSam View Post
My next alternative is the motorcycle. But after adding the cost of the actual bike, plus gear, training fees, insurance, it will be pretty pricey. So I'm stuck in between a rock and hard place.
A beater car is cheaper and safer than a bike, no doubt. You generally get better gas mileage on a bike, but the TCO would take many years to get close to that of a beater car all things considered.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:36 AM
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I'd even disagree on this. It's amazing how much dexterity it takes (left hand clutch, right hand front brake & throttle, left foot shifting, right foot rear brake) and now much different it is from doing anything else. It's easy to learn to ride in a straight line....I'm probably still faster on mountain roads in my car, and I've got 8 years of mountain road motorcycle riding under my belt. Probably always will be. Riding, of course, provides a better experience when doing so, however.

I remember it being a big milestone when I could actually take a mountain road corner marked at 35mph *at* 35mph! I think it took 4-5 weeks to get to that point. It can get frustrating at first.
I somewhat agree with you on this. With me, it kind of just came to me. I never really had a problem with dexterity.

And you are 100% about the whole riding in a straight line thing. Just about anyone could do that. I remember when i first started riding it scared the living crap out of me everytime i was going to approach a twisty... That is definitely where the challenge starts.
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:28 AM
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So, I missed the intended purpose of this bike, commuting, at night, thru the ghetto. Gas is cheap again, personal safety is a high priority, I'd find a cheap reliable commuter car instead.

You can probably spend $1000-2000 and get something that will work for this purpose.
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:59 AM
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It does sound like a beater car might be more cost effective, and riding late at night after a long day at work may not be the funnest thing, either.

But, the neat thing about a bike is it can serve as a cheap commute vehicle and a fun weekend toy.

Really, it's not hard to learn to operate at all. Mastering it around corners is not the same thing, and I'm still a complete noob there (but it's still fun), and I'm probably faster on most twisty roads in my car.

The reason the MSF course is cheaper is because it's REQUIRED for people under 21 to get their licenses. People over 21 can get their permit, ride around, and then take an on-bike test at DMV. People under 21 can't do that, so the state has a regulation that caps the cost for the required group. It's a great introduction to riding in a safe environment, though, and you likely get insurance discounts, so it's worth doing IMO. Oh, and taking the MSF course at any age exempts you from the DMV on-bike riding test, which they say is much harder.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:39 AM
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Oh, and taking the MSF course at any age exempts you from the DMV on-bike riding test, which they say is much harder.
And, just like the road test in a car, it's f'n stupid. The hardest part is maneuvering your bike around a penoir shaped marking on the parking lot. You need to keep your tires between two painted lines, go around the circular part, then do it in the opposite direction. All of this is a very slow operation and has nothing to do with vehicle control on the street.

You show you know hand signals, which BTW i highly recommend using all the time, and then you ride down the street and shift into 2nd gear. Turn around and go back to the parking lot. There, now you're a licensed motorcycle rider. Fend for yourself and good luck!

I took mine on a Harley 1200 Sportster and it was incredibly difficult to maneuver around the penoir. A 250 Ninja would be much easier.

Avoiding this waste of time is worth the MSF entry price.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:48 AM
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I took mine on a Harley 1200 Sportster and it was incredibly difficult to maneuver around the penoir. A 250 Ninja would be much easier.

Avoiding this waste of time is worth the MSF entry price.
I passed it on my 97 VFR, which was very difficult as well - big sport-y bikes don't like to turn slow!
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:51 AM
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I passed it on my 97 VFR, which was very difficult as well - big sport-y bikes don't like to turn slow!
How did you practice? I got some chalk and drew out the penoir to scale at the 49'ers practice site parking lot and rode around it for an entire afternoon the day before my test.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:57 AM
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How did you practice? I got some chalk and drew out the penoir to scale at the 49'ers practice site parking lot and rode around it for an entire afternoon the day before my test.
I didn't, really. I went to the DMV when it was closed once and went around a few times. Just showed up after about 6 weeks of riding on my permit and managed to pass .

I took MSF to help me regain my confidence *after* I crashed 7 months later.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:00 AM
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I took MSF to help me regain my confidence *after* I crashed 7 months later.
The first time, I went on a 7000 mile road trip, that helped.

I'm still working on it after the 2nd time, but I'd say I'm 90% now. Road trip!
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:10 PM
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So, I missed the intended purpose of this bike, commuting, at night, thru the ghetto. Gas is cheap again, personal safety is a high priority, I'd find a cheap reliable commuter car instead.

You can probably spend $1000-2000 and get something that will work for this purpose.
Having a second car is not an option at this point. I have a reliable car already, but we are getting rid of it. Tough times. I was hoping the motorcycle would be the cheaper alternative. I found a couple of Ninja 250's for about $1200-1500. But with the cost of equipment and traning, it'll add up to too much.

So I'm gonna drink my can of suck it up and buy a mountain bike and just do the not so desirable commute.
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:39 AM
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Having a second car is not an option at this point. I have a reliable car already, but we are getting rid of it. Tough times. I was hoping the motorcycle would be the cheaper alternative. I found a couple of Ninja 250's for about $1200-1500. But with the cost of equipment and traning, it'll add up to too much.

So I'm gonna drink my can of suck it up and buy a mountain bike and just do the not so desirable commute.
Keep looking and you will be able to find a 250 for about 1k. Another 300 for the course and another 300-500 on a helmet and gear (online you could find some great deals)

Bikes require very little maintenance and are very economical.

Dont give up just yet.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:33 PM
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Keep looking and you will be able to find a 250 for about 1k. Another 300 for the course and another 300-500 on a helmet and gear (online you could find some great deals)

Bikes require very little maintenance and are very economical.

Dont give up just yet.
Thanks!
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:42 PM
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And, just like the road test in a car, it's f'n stupid.
Don't even get me started on the car road test.........I wanted to hurt whoever designed the test after I took it. I can't believe they actually give you a license after that joke of a test. No wonder we have the idiots we have on the roads today!
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Having a second car is not an option at this point. I have a reliable car already, but we are getting rid of it. Tough times. I was hoping the motorcycle would be the cheaper alternative. I found a couple of Ninja 250's for about $1200-1500. But with the cost of equipment and traning, it'll add up to too much.
If money says no way, I understand, but don't be afraid to look at older bikes too. FWIW, I picked up an 82 Kawasaki KZ750 w/ 11,000 miles for all of $575 for my first bike. In pretty decent cosmetic shape, started first time every time, never gave me any trouble. For a short commute, don't tell Kris, but I wear jeans and a heavy leather jacket with gloves. You really don't NEED a full suit for a commute - but you do need to be hyper-aware and plan for the worst from every driver. I would like a full suit, but I'd be kidding myself to think that I'd suit up for my short rides anyway.

Anyway, it doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. You would enjoy the torque on an older, bigger engined bike anyway. Just a thought.
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Old 05-15-2009, 06:30 AM
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If money says no way, I understand, but don't be afraid to look at older bikes too. FWIW, I picked up an 82 Kawasaki KZ750 w/ 11,000 miles for all of $575 for my first bike.
I was browsing Craigslist yesterday and found a 95 Ninja 250 for $400, it needed a new rear tire and the carbs needed cleaning. My brother went to check it out and he'll probably pick it up this week. Sure it has over 40K miles, but for $400?!? You can pick up a brand new tire online for $120, and the carbs are a DIY job if you want to get your hands a little dirty. Now he'll be getting somewhere around 50 mpgs for under $600...
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:02 AM
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I was browsing Craigslist yesterday and found a 95 Ninja 250 for $400, it needed a new rear tire and the carbs needed cleaning. My brother went to check it out and he'll probably pick it up this week. Sure it has over 40K miles, but for $400?!? You can pick up a brand new tire online for $120, and the carbs are a DIY job if you want to get your hands a little dirty. Now he'll be getting somewhere around 50 mpgs for under $600...
For $400 + parts and fixes, when he is done with it he can set it on fire and drink a PBR while he watches it burn. The 250 is a great starter bike, but he'll probably get bored of it quickly. [which is fine at that price!!]
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:07 AM
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The 250 is a great starter bike, but he'll probably get bored of it quickly. [which is fine at that price!!]
+100000000000

For $400 i would go for it as a starter bike.

LTS, that is what you should be looking for!
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