Advice on riding - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
Riding Proficiency Tips and suggestions for improving the rider's safety skills and riding techniques

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post #1 of 30 Old 10-03-2015, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Washington, the state
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Thumbs up Advice on riding

Two books will be excellent: Buy David L. Hough's Mastering the Ride: More Proficient Motorcycling, 2nd Edition. Read it and re-read it. Keith Code's A Twist of the Wrist Vol. 2: The Basics of High-Performance Motorcycle Riding (or A Twist of the Wrist II: The Basics of High-Performance Motorcycle Riding) has Code's Survival Reactions--reactions that are natural, normal, and the wrong thing to do. Good book to own, but OK to see if your local public library can get it, maybe through an interlibrary loan. I didn't find the original, volume 1 TOTW as useful.

Parking lot practice. Not just riding easy on safe roads. Find an empty parking lot with the lines painted at right angles, not angle parking.

1--On the long straight lines, just idle in 1st gear and slip the clutch. Ride slowly. Lightly touch the rear brake only and ride very slowly. Now up to slow. Now down to very slow. Continue this until you feel smooth at straight slow riding allowing the clutch to slip (it's in an oil bath and made to do this) and using only the rear brake when riding very slowly.

2--Make s-turns on the painted cross lines. First make s-turns that are 4 parking slots wide. Very important--turn your whole head to look where you intend to go. Do not look where you're going; look where you need to go. Make more s-turns 4 slots wide. Now make s-turns 3-1/2 slots wide. Do it again. Now 3 slots wide. Again. Now 2-1/2 slots wide. Again. Try for 2 slots wide (usually 14'). If you need to slow, slip the clutch and maybe drag the rear brake. Do not use the front brake when turning very slowly--good way to dump the bike. A bit more clutch stands the bike up. Too much clutch kills the engine while your turning--crunch. A bit less clutch engagement lets the bike drop into the turn.

3--Make circles in the lot. Turn your whole head all the way to the side to look where you want to go. Make circles 4 slots wide, both left and right turns. Expect one direction to be easier than the other--that's normal--but make turns equally both directions. Now 3-1/2 slots wide, left then right. Now 3 slots wide. Now 2-1/2 slots wide both left and right.

4--Make eights. Just like circles & s-turns, but now one circle left and a connected circle right (or vice versa). An eight. 4 slots wide, then 3-1/2, then 3, then 2-1/2 slots wide.

5--Stop. Turn the front wheel all the way to one side. Start ahead and make a 90 turn from the stop. Do it the other direction.

6--Look on the web site for the class you'll take and the riding exercises and the exam. Practice as much as you can.

7--Practice taking off from a stop in 2nd gear. It isn't recommended, but we all have done it inadvertently, and you will too. You must not start off in 2nd in traffic, kill the engine, and dump the bike in front of traffic. Get the feel for it.

8--Make short stops. Nothing scary. Get up to 15 mph or so, then smoothly apply both brakes. Stop straight, smooth, and short. Give the rear brake some pedal, then ease off as the bike pitches forward and weight comes off the rear. In the last few inches as you stop, give the rear more pressure. Give the front progressively more pressure as the weight transfers onto the front tire. Never ever stomp the rear brake pedal. Never jam on the front brake. If you skid the rear (and don't have ABS), hold the pedal down, don't release it until you stop. Hough explains why. If you skid the front, release and reapply less abruptly. When coming to a stop in traffic, concentrate on stopping and getting one or two feet down. Then look at traffic. Or, stop and look at traffic at the same time. Then get out from under your dumped bike, pick it up, hope no one you know saw you, and ride away blaming the bike.

9--Countersteer. Traveling 15 mph or so, in a safe location, press forward just a bit on the left grip. This will make the bike turn left. Pull back on the left to straighten. Press forward on the right grip, you'll turn right, pull back on the right to straighten. Find some tar spots, fallen leaves, or make some chalk marks, and swerve around these. Push on one grip then on the other to swerve and return to your original path. Always countersteer to turn the bike when you're traveling more than a walking pace. Countersteer harder to turn sharper. Countersteer into wind gusts.

Very important--keep your eyes up. Keep your line of vision up toward the horizon. Do not look down. You will go where you're looking. Look down and you'll be more likely to go down. Look at the safe route to ride. Look at a pothole and hit the pothole. Look at the safe path between potholes, and you'll ride the safe path. In a curve look at the turn exit as one of the first movements you make beginning the turn.
greywolf, V-Tom, uncaged and 6 others like this.

"Older people who are reasonable, good-tempered, and gracious will bear aging well. Those who are mean-spirited and irritable will be unhappy at every period of their lives.

"Let each of use properly whatever strengths he has and strive to use them well. If he does this, he will never find himself lacking."

Marcus Tullius Cicero
44 B.C.

Last edited by PTRider; 10-03-2015 at 12:43 AM.
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post #2 of 30 Old 10-03-2015, 10:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: North Carolina
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Wow, TONS of great information! Thanks a lot, especially for the 9 exercises! There's a perfect parking lot to do all this in that's a nice easy ride from my apartment to go practice all this in. I'll make sure to pick up the books as well. Great recommendations, thanks again!

'15 DL650 XT
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post #3 of 30 Old 10-04-2015, 12:13 PM
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This is what I get for not reading your post more clearly. Lots of below you already know since you have been riding your bike! I will leave it as is....good luck!

Lots of good info here already. OP, I am a newbie as you are and I also have a DL650 (Non-XT)....

Just my thoughts...


1. Don't get on that bike until you get the MSF done. Have them deliver it and put it in your garage. You must know the basics which is what you will get from that first MSF course.

2. The bikes you use at the MSF will be absolute babies compared to your bike. Throttle control is an absolute MUST. Do that rocking back and forth drill with the clutch and the friction zone on it before you even begin to ride forward. You will find the throttle in first is very torquey.

3. I stalled my bike once and almost dropped it. I DID drop my bike in a parking lot when I thought the kickstand was down. Luckily hardly any damage. Now when I go to the side stand, I act like I am still riding and brace the bike with my left leg as if the stand is never down. Getting on and getting off should be really thought about.

4. 1st gear on this bike is a very short period of time and most of the time unless you are completely stopped requires zero throttle. If you are at a stop, you should be in first and you want to give it gas and EAAAASSSSEEEE off of that clutch. You will be jerky and stall if you don't ease off the clutch in first. Sometimes you will find yourself continually squeezing the clutch to just grab a little engine to move forward. Sort of like Engine-Clutch-Engine-Clutch ....just enough to coast. I stalled a bit in the beginning in first. Just prep for it.

5. Careful of scratches on the tank. My jacket (huh?) made a scratch when I had a stall. I need a tank pad. I also had a key that was sharp that scratched the area aou

6. You may hear a "clunk" at times from your brakes when you are going downhill. Not to worry, that is normal. It should rarely happen but does.

7. These bikes do have a wind noise/buffeting problem. Wear earplugs. The problem can be substantially reduced with some replacement parts/add-ons.

8. Related to the above, I have done the following on my bike after having it 2 months. (lol)....Givi Airflow wind screen (best addition), Mirror extenders, Fork brace, Center stand (installing today) and crash guards. I bought a cheapo cargo net which works well in a pinch. I really want a hard case.

9. Consider after market options before buying farkles from your dealer. My OEM center stand was about $100 more than the one from SW Motech. The crash guards too.

Let me know if you have questions....Newbie to newbie. Ride safe!

Last edited by cavenger; 10-04-2015 at 12:16 PM.
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post #4 of 30 Old 10-04-2015, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Washington, the state
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Critically important. ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME. ATGATT.
Full face helmet that fits just right. SHARP Helmets - Fitting Guide
Abrasion resistant riding jacket with armor for the spine, shoulders, elbows.
Abrasion resistant riding pants with armor for the hip bones & knees.
Abrasion resistant riding gloves with armor for the knuckles & palms.
Boot that protect your ankles without laces that can get into the chain.

Here is just one example of why: shattered knee - first crash | Adventure Rider

I DID drop my bike in a parking lot when I thought the kickstand was down.
I've developed the habit of always tapping the sidestand forward with my left foot before I put the bike's weight on the sidestand. A stand that isn't fully opened against its stop won't hold the bike.

Fork brace, Center stand, crash guards
Items at the top of just about everybody's list.

"Older people who are reasonable, good-tempered, and gracious will bear aging well. Those who are mean-spirited and irritable will be unhappy at every period of their lives.

"Let each of use properly whatever strengths he has and strive to use them well. If he does this, he will never find himself lacking."

Marcus Tullius Cicero
44 B.C.
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post #5 of 30 Old 10-05-2015, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: North Carolina
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Thanks for the advice! First thing, I am an absolute believer in ATGATT. I don't ever want to *need* my gear, but there's always a chance, and I happen to like all my limbs.

I was out of town for my anniversary this weekend and wasn't able to do any of the exercises that PTRider suggested yet, but I plan on doing them all regularly for a good while (and probably every so often, just to make sure I haven't lost a step). There are a lot of similarities in the learning process between learning to ride a motorcycle and learning to fly a plane (something else I'm in the process of doing). And there's an adage among pilots: "A good pilot is always learning." I feel like the same is going to prove true for riding a bike, and I'll need to always make sure I'm proficient in my basic techniques, and not get comfortable and complacent in normal day-to-day riding.

As far as gear goes, I've got a helmet, jacket and gloves. For now, I've been wearing jeans and hiking boots for riding, but I'm going to a local shop today to get boots, and to look at some pants. Here's what I've got currently:

Helmet: Bell Vortex - Full face, DOT and SNELL M2015 rated. Got a guy at a local shop to help me get the right fit, and he did a great job doing so.
Jacket: Tour Master Advanced - High-vis color. Textile. CE-approved shoulder, elbow, and spine armor. (Going to need a different jacket for summer though)
Gloves: Scorpion SGS - TPU knuckle guards. SPS palm sliders. Kevlar stitching and panels. Very grippy.

I'm not 100% sure about boots, so I'm going to try on a bunch of different kinds to make sure I get a good fit, with good ankle stability and protection.
As for pants, I'm probably going to try to find a good pair of over-pants, because I ultimately want to do a decent amount of commuting on my bike, and I work in an office where slacks are expected Monday-Thursday.

Any suggestions for either boots or pants would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for all the advice so far! I'm trying to soak up every ounce of knowledge I can, and you have both helped me greatly!

'15 DL650 XT
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post #6 of 30 Old 10-08-2015, 02:48 AM
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A lot of good advice offered in this thread. Perhaps it should be a sticky to help any new to V-Strom riders? If not the whole thread, then a summary of the important points. Maybe old news to most but to the newbies and those returning to biking, can learn / re-learn from these valuable pointers.
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post #7 of 30 Old 10-13-2015, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: North Carolina
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Glad to see this get pulled out and sticky'd! Tons of great info for new riders. It has certainly helped me a lot!

'15 DL650 XT
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post #8 of 30 Old 10-16-2015, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2015
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Newbie to newbie

This is great advice. I had never even ridden a motorcycle until Sept. 19 at my rider course. I have read all of the books and have been working at the drills mentioned. I dumped my bike twice. Once at a stop sign; I was in second gear instead of first. And once and once during parking lot practice; I believe I grabbed the front brake at slow speed.
Here are my additional newbie suggestions: Read Total Control by Lee Parks and to read or view Ride Like a Pro as it focuses on slow-speed handling skills. Also, I downloaded version of A Twist of the Wrist II online. You can also view a 95-minute video version of it on YouTube.
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post #9 of 30 Old 10-17-2015, 10:58 AM
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Location: Slovenia, EU
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On a parking lot:
DO NOT do no throttle/clutch only bullshit on takeoffs. Start has to be energetic. Not the wheelie style but energetic enough to straighten bike up (that's what it will do every time you apply throttle)
Learn immediately not to do a duck walking. When bike is at full stop foot goes down and when bike starts to roll foot goes up. follow first advice and you won't have to drag foot on the ground.
Learn emergency stopping ASAP. Use both brakes. It's ok if rear locks, do not let front lock. Front brake always with two fingers only. This is your default already installed ABS. If you grab front brake with full fist you're going down. You'll get a feel how hard can you brake.
Do parking lot in rain. Do it. You have to get at least basic feel on tires and brakes in wet.

On the streets:
Go after you master parking lot and gain confidence, not any sooner. In traffic you have to be concentrated on all idiots around you and you do not have a time to think how to do basic maneuvers with bike.
Read Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider's Handbook. Great book made by best traffic riders. Bible for people who want to live long on motorcycle. Watch roadcraftnottingham instructional videos on YT.
Have a friend with you, let him ride behind you and let him point out your mistakes, advise you how to behave in traffic, teach you how to survive. He has to be over 40 yrs old with some practice, you don't want some hothead testosterone filled street racer to teach you. That will come later.
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post #10 of 30 Old 10-17-2015, 11:40 AM
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V-Strom brakes are designed for occasional dirt use so are not very powerful. Four fingers may be needed for maximum braking.

Pat- 2007 DL650A was ridden to all 48 contiguous states. I didn't quite make it to 17,000 miles on the 2012 DL650A.
Nicknames I use to lessen typing, Vee = 2002-2012 DL1000s. Vee2=2014-2016 DL1000s. Wee = 2004-2011 DL650s. Glee = 2012-2016 DL650s

Please vote in the poll on what Strom(s) you have at
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