riding

How Confidence Affects Women and Motorcycling

Me, feeling supremely confident on my '12 Street Triple R. But it wasn't always that way.

Me, feeling supremely confident on my '12 Street Triple R. But it wasn't always that way.

Learning to ride a motorcycle is certainly about confidence. The majority of mine came from learning to ride the right bikes and increasing my skillset dramatically from bike to bike.

But there was always a small chunk of it that came from me telling myself that I could and "eff it". If something happens, I'll deal with it or call for help or whatever. I'm not going to be afraid of it anymore.

But keep in mind, that absolutely has to be within reason like when I decided to take the Ninja 250 to work instead of my scooter. I just went the 40 minute route to work (avoiding busy thoroughfares like Van Ness Avenue and Steep ass hills like Gough Street). I had already been commuting on my scooter to work for a year. This wasn't a huge jump from what I had already been doing. It was totally realistic given my experience and what I had been doing previously.

Me in 2006 on my first "long" ride outside of San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, a whopping 50 minutes one way!

Me in 2006 on my first "long" ride outside of San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, a whopping 50 minutes one way!

This article says what I've witnessed and experienced personally in my 15 years of riding and helping other women learn to ride and talking to them about riding. And certainly my work life too. Why aren't we as confident from the get go? What is it about many of us (not all, I know, but more than most I'm sure) that holds us back from succeeding other than some of the most common mistakes new riders make ?

When all of our ducks are in a row, we still feel like we don't deserve it or are that good. I still feel like I'm terrible at riding at times. I'm terrible at nailing my lines every time I go riding, I'm terrible at braking. I'm terrible at cornering. I mean, okay I'm not horrific in that I crash every time I ride, but when I do go out I'm constantly critiquing myself and trying to figure out what I could've done better to take that particular corner better/faster/smoother. Is that just a regular aspect of riding? I'm guessing many of my male readers are going to argue that "of course, I think that too".

But how many of you think that way in your everyday life as many women have experienced per this article?

Riding as many of us know is 90% mental, 10% physical (that's why YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PICK UP YOUR MOTORCYCLE to ride it).

I recently joined this cool interactive panel of my fellow women riders about how we got into riding and some of the barriers we ran into along the way. There are some really great tips and advice here that I think many of you can relate to:

https://www.cake.co/conversations/HKn99Mb/a-panel-of-women-who-motorcycle-what-it-s-like-in-a-sport-with-a-bad-boy-vibe

So if something is holding you back, what do you think that is?

Mesmerizing Video of a Rider Mastering the Machine

It doesn't matter what you ride. Watch this video and you'll learn a thing or two about riding your motorcycle, I guarantee it. Smooth lines, perfect setups, a wonderful pace and exquisite technique. I found myself sitting on my couch leaning left and right to see if I could keep up with him.... ;-)

Motorcycle Etiquette

brammo_empulse As a city girl, I find myself surrounded by a variety of motorcycle / scooter riders. I can honestly say that I've never seen people ride the way they do here. 

I've gotten used to seeing the whole No Helmet, No Gear thing, given PA's lack of a helmet law. But what is really annoying is the lack of motorcycle etiquette (including scooters) that I'm used to experiencing. In addition to general lack of pedestrian and driver safety really. But I suspect that sort of thing is common in most big cities.

Tonight, I was riding home just a few blocks from my house about to pull into a gas station on my right. I'm going maybe 10-15mph and these two bikes pass me on the left inside my lane. I've NEVER had that happen when I rode in San Francisco. Ever. The one time I had someone pass me on the right while out riding my ride leader yelled at him for being such an ass (and doing that to other riders as well, not just me).

The attitudes about motorcycles and scooters here are far less serious and seem whimsical at best. I guess it's a difference in attitudes that are specific to this region. I don't know.

But what I do know is that I'll never be ok with it. And if you're one of those people who like passing your fellow motorcyclists in their lane WITHOUT permission, you're not only risking my life but yours.

QnA: How Do You Handle the Weight of Your Bike?

A woman rider asked me recently about how do handle the weight of her bike as a new rider.  Initially, she had questions about the Daytona Lady Stars, and whether they would help her get both feet down comfortably on a Ninja 250. When I do wear my Daytonas (but not all the time), they only allow me to have both balls of my feet on the ground. So most of the time I use one flat left.

2012_triumph_street_tripleR

"So with the boots, I'm able to put a foot down. How do you handle the weight of the bike? I meant like when you're parking or in situation where you need both feet to roll the bike?" - Mango 

I'm assuming that you can get almost one flat left or a full flat left down. If this is the case, then you will always, always keep your right on the rear brake for stability, no matter what. As long as your right foot is on the brake, your bike won't go anywhere.

Continue to practice braking as perfectly Smooth as you can. Pretend you're entering a contest for the best braking technique and the grand prize is going to be a million dollars. The only way you're going to balance the motorcycle without dropping it is really finessing and perfecting your braking so you don't stop and release too soon or grab all at once.

As far as parking, get off the bike. There's nothing wrong with having to park the bike while walking next to it. In fact, if I never did this I wouldn't be riding my motorcycle today because I can't park unless the pavement is completely flat. If there's even a slight slope I always get off and park. Most of the time I find it faster and a lot easier to manage. When you do park, lean the tank on your hip and walk the bike backwards. I have a blog post here that shows what I mean with a few pictures.

Keep practicing, and try not to think about what others will think or say or do. It's all about You riding your motorcycle, not them.

 

 

Philadelphia Women Riders

philadelphia women motorcycles meetup groupI've created another Meetup group to bring together women who love riding motorcycles. You may or may not remember (Bay Area) Moto Girls, which I ran with my friend Aleks a la Moto Shop. Check it out, join and let's ride once the ice melts!

http://www.meetup.com/phillymotogirls/

 

Learning to Ride All Over Again, Almost

IMG_6322-e1410834763834.jpg

There's nothing like riding a taller, heavier bike to help you remember what it was like to learn to ride a motorcycle for the first time...  A few months ago, my husband bought this beautiful bike; a 2007 Triumph Speed Triple. It's completely stock, as far as the suspension and it's totally set up for his height and weight (5'10", 210lbs). Definitely not designed for someone of my size!

When I set out for a long day ride on Sunday, I had to forego riding my trusty steed, because it wasn't holding any air in the rear tire. I found a couple of cuts on the surface of the tire so I was worried that it wouldn't be very safe for an 8 hour ride. I was a little worried about taking his bike out since it was only my 3rd time riding this Speed Triple. The first time I took it I only rode to work which was a 15 minute ride to and from home. The second time was a few miles further to the Suzuki dealer for an oil filter. Piece of cake compared to an 8 hour, 270 mile day ride.

2007_triumph_speed_triple_green2

This bike is 1/2" taller than my SV (31.5" v. 32.1") that I have to wear my Daytonas, which give me maximum vertical height. It also weighs another ~30lbs so it's more top heavy as well. I definitely wanted to have as much stability as possible since I hadn't ridden his bike this much before. Due to the way the bike's engine is situated, I find myself sitting up much higher too. It reminded me of driving my dad's '82 Suburban back in college when I was used to driving my little '90 Honda Accord.

It definitely reminded me of the first time I rode our first motorcycle, a 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250. It felt heavy, awkward, and tall. Ha! If only I could travel back in time and tell the woman in this picture what she was was in for:

2003 Kawasaki Ninja 250

I found myself doing things a little differently so that I could maintain control of the bike at all times. (I was terrified of dropping it, I just knew that my husband would be *very* sad if that happened) So I tried to be extremely strategic and conscious at all times of how I was riding, stopping and parking. Since I can only flat foot with my left ( I can barely get two toes down), that meant extremely smooth braking and making sure that I didn't stop on any weird slopes that my left foot couldn't reach. I also found myself using curbs to my advantage, especially at the gas station for filling up. Left foot on the curb, right foot on the rear brake. For some reason, I kept forgetting to kick back my sidestand before shifting into 1st gear. Rookie move!

2007_triumph_speed_triple

I also had to jump off the bike every time to park it since it was a little harder to back up with one foot due to the extra height. Fine by me, since I do it all the time with my SV unless the pavement is perfectly flat. There were also a couple times where I couldn't just follow my friend Brian into the parking lot. The first pic above, for example, I parked the bike there after he rode into the parking lot to the right which was *all* gravel. Although, later in the day we met a brief gravel road and I miraculously made my way through it.

So my natural inseam is 28.5". This bike is 32.1" inches; almost 4 full inches of additional height than my own inseam. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone was SO worth it, I had a blast and CAN'T WAIT to go riding again with it. (although my husband may disagree.... heheh).

After awhile, I felt far more confident, and more importantly I was having SO MUCH FUN. Damn, this bike is evil. Because all you can do the whole time is scream in your helmet; "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!" I can't be trusted on a liter bike, so I'll definitely be getting new tires on the SV soon to make sure I keep my driving record as clean as possible :D.

If you're looking for a fun, semi twisty route outside of Philly, take a look at the route my friend and I took to Shamokin, about 275 miles round trip.

 

Best beginner bike for a woman?

San Francisco Ninja 250

".....My friend (who's 22 years old, 5' 1", 100 lbs) recently got a 2007 Ninja 250 and after having it for 2 months she told me she wishes she got a bigger bike.  Basically, I want a bike that I will be happy with for at least a year and will be able to comfortably ride with a passenger without having the performance of the bike being thrown off (as I've heard can happen with a 250). I'm also looking for performance and speed. I'm not trying to do any street racing by any means, but I do want to have a bit of fun with my new toy when it's appropriate....."

I found this question posted on Yahoo Answers regarding the best beginner bike for a woman.  Does it matter if you're a female vs. male beginner? Should the recommendations be any different? Personally, I Loathe the term "woman's bike". It implies that you need something special and you can't possibly ride any of the other bikes out on the market, which is simply not true. But that's a different blog post....

Each rider is different. Based on this person's question, I suspect that her motives for riding are a little bit misplaced. If she is worried about 'keeping up' with friends on group rides and 'getting bored' with a Ninja 250, I have to question her friend's experience with that bike. You should NEVER try to keep up with your friends, or any group ride for that matter. That can get really dangerous, very quickly. My guess is that the friend who's bored has less than stellar cornering skills. I guess it could be that she's a very quick learner and she's mastered her entry speed and cornering abilities in a short period of time. However, that's pretty atypical from what I've seen.  

I don't know, is that jumping to conclusions? I always wonder if people who say they're 'bored' haven't really explored the capabilities of the Ninja 250, or the bike they've become disillusioned with. When I upgraded, I wasn't bored. I just felt ready for something a little bigger for freeway riding and trips.  I don't know how anyone can, considering how f'ng awesome that bike is in corners! 

What advice would you give to a woman asking this question?