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first time on highway....scared!

Posted by ninja250 (My Page) on
Fri, May 16, 08 at 22:22

ok, just to give a quick introduction. I am originally from Germany where I went through the strict motorcycle class to obtain my license, I had already been riding often downtown, outside town and even on the autobahn (NO SPEED LIMITS!!) but then during one class I ended up having an accident and have been scared ever since to hop on again. Now here in the US I finally worked up the courage and took the MSF course and passen (yay me), I then also practiced for quite some time on a parking lot with my new 08 250 Ninja and then hit the tight roads in my neighborhood with lots of tight turns and stop signs to get good practice on that. As braver as I got I decided to hit the highway from just one exit to the next, I did fine with merging (even though one nice driver just wouldn't let me merge and I had to slow down quite a bit)...BUT here is where I got worried, the wind didn't bother me as much and the handlebars didn't shake too much, but it felt the entire time as if my motorcycle would wipe out from underneath me...you know, the feeling that you get when you lean really low in a fairly fast turn...I am just wondering if this is normal or I am just paranoid or if something is actually wrong???? I eventually wanna go to work (about 20 min on highway) and don't want to feel like that all the time, it is scary :-s


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: first time on highway....scared!

Not sure what you're talking about but not everybody should be riding. Compared with Germany, US drivers are far less skilled and far more careless.

However, it's your "braveness" comments that bother me -- and your comments about your machine's behavior. If you're not confident in your own abilities and/or your machine's, please don't do this.


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

Just to be safe have your bike checked. Air pressure in the tires, shock/spring settings, etc.

Also, are your tires "scrubbed in"?


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

It sounds like the bike is not highway worthy. This really low lean in a fast turn thing....your not on a race track, on the road you need to ride in a safe manor. I see these metric riders on one wheel at 90 or so I dont think you are doing this with the jitters on a on ramp but its something to think about. John


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

The Ninja 250 should handle well enough, unless there's something wrong with it. Since your bike is new, it's probably in good shape as long as you have not wrecked it, and that you're sure the tire pressure is right (Tire pressure is much more critical to a bike's handling than a car's.) Sometimes the lighter bikes with fairly narrow tires will react more abruptly to road imperfections, such as cracks that are close to parallel to your line of travel. A lot of it could be your own uncertainty. Sometimes new riders want to over-control the bike -- react to its every small movement -- rather than just focusing on where they're going, relaxing and letting it find its way.

But the main thing is, you do not want to be on a high-speed road feeling uncertain. Don't rush yourself. Ride some on a lightly-traveled two-lane highway where you can gradually get up to 55 mph or so and get used to the feel of the bike at speed.


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

In my opinion, your 250cc Ninja is a little too small for expressway riding. it is being pushed to its limit to maintain a 65 mph speed and it may not be behaving well at that speed. There should be no shake in the handle bars, just the ususal jolts from road roughness and at speed, the front suspension should be absorbing most of the road shocks.

At first, try riding on highways were the speed limit tops out at 55 mph. Develop a feel for your bike and get to know your comfort zone, before tackling the high speed stuff.

Do one other thing. Check the alginment of the front wheel with the rear. The contact spots should align as near perfect as possible. The rear wheel can be adjusted a bit to alter this alignment. For a quick test, run through a puddle while maintaning a straight line, then stop and look at the tire tracks. The rear tire should be tracking exactly on center with the front. You can create a temporary puddle in a oarking lot with a bucket of water.

Interesting ride feel can develop when the wheels do not track each other. The bike will behave differently in a right hand turn compared to a left hander. There may be a strange steering input (feeling) when a bump is encountered.

Check the rear shock absorbers. (I'm assuming your bike has the conventional two-shock setup.) These shocks should be as near alike as possible. If one shock is sacked out and the other is not, there will be rear wheel steering input when going over undulations especilly in curves. If one shock bottoms out bfore the other and you weigh more that 200 lb, there can be dangerous rear wheel steering in corners. (When one shock bottoms before the other, or damps more heavily than the other, it may distort the swing arm throwing the rear tire our of alignment with the front.)


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

It is good that you are recognizing the feelings you are having, you need to talk to yourself when you are feeling like this. Tell your body to relax. Keep talking yourself out of the scared feelings you have, especially since they are not based on reality. Good luck


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

A Ninja 250 is not to small to ride on the freeway. Lots of people do cross country journeys on the little Ninjas. Some of the IronButt SaddleSore records are on Ninja 250's. But the bike is small, and has a fairing so it may be tossed around by the wind a bit. I remember my first highway run passing a semi, the wind shear practically blew me into the ditch!

Take your time, you will get used to it, just do not rush into riding beyond your comfort zone. If you have friends who also ride, let one of them take your bike out to see if something is wrong. I would check the tire pressure first, but there could have been something missed during factory inspection, like say loose head bearings. If the bike checks out ok, then maybe start doing some riding on two lane highways, little bit slower and not as intimidating.

The Ninja 250 is an excellent starter bike. They hold their value, so if and when you want something bigger, you will get your money back. Do not let anyone tell you that the little Ninja is not a "real" motorcycle, it is. It is just that bike are so much faster and more powerful now, that people forget that bikes like the Ducati Mach 1 was one of the fastest bike back in the Sixties, and was a 250cc.


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

Baby steps, take baby steps. The highway is a total different experience then the back roads. Like the theory of look where you want to go, if you don't you can target fixate and wreck, get yourself to calm down because if you are nervous then the bike will be more shaky and that could cause you to wreck. When I first started riding on the highways I had to tell myself to calm down and yes the bike was shaky, now I jump on the highway and the bike and me are one and there are no problems. Usually the beginning of the season I will have some of those old feelings until I get used to the bike again, Good luck, be safe.


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RE: first time on highway....scared!

Yes you are right.All will be scared at the beginning.Once you get confidence you will not care and you will be feeling bad about past also.
There will be some sort of scare to start a new work at any time and for any one.Don't worry go head.Don't ride too fast.


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