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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

Alrighty, about two months ago, me and some friends went into a local ducati dealership. Looked around, sat on some bikes, rubbed the tanks like they were women.... Started visiting about 3 times a week, making engine noises when I walked around the office, sitting up at 4am staring at youtube videos, and that's all I'll admit for now. It does get worse. These ducatis are crack, worse then cigerettes. I had to have one.

So yeah, two months later I have my Ducati 695 dark sitting outside. Only thing is, I live in Manhattan, I'm new... I tell myself I suck at riding, and I'm a little nervous about every move I make. Taxi cab drivers are just cruel, there are hundreds of variables within every street, and its a little difficult for a newbie driver. That being said, every day I go out, I spin it around the block for hours and I'm getting much better each time I take to the streets. I feel much more comfortable every trip, but I find myself doing things out of paranoia.

#1: I ride the brake everywhere. Taxis and people come and stop and go crazy, I'm too afraid to let go of it. I ALWAYS have my hand on that brake, never take a finger off. Is this a bad habit to develop? When I get out on open roads will this hurt my performance?

#2: I still suck when making tight turns going slow. The bike is so heavy. I sneak into central park to have a tiny lot open to myself so I can practice low speed turns, but I'm so nervous to drop my new bike. I feel very steady and confident when tooling around the city, but small 360s going below 5mph... My feet are always down. Is this something I should practice? Or can I get by not knowing how and learn this through time? Again, I'm still not sure where this skill is needed, but in MSS, a lot of our time was spent with this... i.e. the Box. I'm very smooth with small turns at avenues, into parking spots, but damn, that box is tight. I'm down to practice, but not at the expense of dropping her. (I named her Catie, by the way. Shes good to me.)

#3 I hate these mirrors. Again, with all the variables in NYC, they don't do crap. There is so much going on. I flip my head around so quick to grab a glance, but cars stop so fast ahead I have zero time to check around me. Also the glasses I wear are shady, so I miss like 10 degrees to the side of my face. Anyone have this problem? Are different mirrors enough to rely on in NYC traffic? Anyone have glasses and know what I'm talking about?

Anyways, I'll chill for now. I have many more questions and desperatly want to get my skills up so I can be safer and more comfortable on the bike. My worst fear is that I made the wrong decision being a newbie NYC driver. Please tell me I'm wrong.

The forum rocks, thanks for the help in response,
Ryan
 

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Welcome!! :)

I'm a newbie too- went from never TOUCHING a bike to picking up a new S2R a couple weeks ago.

As far as paranoia dropping the bike-have you considered putting frame sliders on? I'm seeing prices between 100-150 for a set-much cheaper then repainting a tank, getting the bike dismantled to repowdercoat the frame...etc etc.

I actually just dropped mine for the first time last weekend (doing a very slow, sharp parking lot maneuver.) I may have had a horseshoe up my ---, but the only parts of the bike that were scratched (nothing actually broke) were the rear passenger peg and the brake lever. It IS possible to drop it and not have to look at $1100+ gas tanks or spending thousands on getting the bike stripped down to repowdercoat the frame, etc.

As was stressed to me, please only ride geared up (helmet, gloves, jacket, boots, etc) the way i tipped my bike, i would have probably have sprained my ankle at a minimum without gear-and that was a less then 5 mph accident that involved no one else!

Sounds like your comfort/experience level is probably above mine... so i'll stop my post here for someone with much more know-how to chime in :)
 

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Hey there, welcome.

First let me say that you'll probably get more feeback and local info on the local NYC forum section of the boards.

As far as riding in the city, you didn't make a mistake buying your bike. Riding in the city just takes getting used, the more the you do it the easier it gets. There are plenty of things to watch out for so if you ride like you're invisible and everyone's trying to kill you, and you make sure you always wear gear then you're off to a good start. I live in Brooklyn and I think the roads and drivers there are worse than in the city, so much so that when I'm in the city I feel nice and relaxed while riding.

Covering your brakes isn't a bad thing, I always cover my front brake, rear not so much. As long as you don't ride with the brakes engaged you're ok.

I'm sure other local folks will chime in with way more advice than I was able to give so until they do, just take it easy and have fun. Don't attempt the FDR just yet!
 

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#1 - Covering the brake is good - riding the brake is bad.

Means the brake light is on always and you are wearing the pads and overheating the rotor , which will warp!

#2 - Tight turns. Practise these and learn to ride/slip the clutch. This will give you more control. Tight turns like a circle often need you toilean outwards and lean the bike inwards.

#3 - Mirrors. I probably use the same mirrors as you do on my S4. (teardrop shaped ?) I find them fantastic but I altered them to get maximum view.

I moved them out as far right and left as possible - close as possible to the grips - a few mm's makes a difference.

I moved the stalks till they are almost parallel to the bars and then angled the mirror to suit. There is something to gain in the aspect of the mirror due to its shape.

BTW: Do not totally rely on the mirrors - use your neck to turn around and take a cautious look . Never alter course unless you are very sure you are safe to do so.
 

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Welcome to the board, and to motorcycling!

Learning to ride in a city definitely presents it's own set of challenges as ideal practice places are probably scarce. Posting to the NYC forum may give you not only better opinions on NYC specifics, but also good places to practice your skills and other riders to meet and ride with (eventually).

#1 - Learning to cover the front brakes with a couple of fingers (without applying them all the time) is a good thing. It reduces braking time when it's necessary. Riding the brakes all the time is bad. A constant brake light can confuse drivers behind you, or cause them to ignore it.

#2 - Having your feet down on tight turns keeps you from counter balancing. Your feet should be on the pegs and your weight should be on them, allowing the motorcycle to lean independently from you. The bike leans, you stay straight. Slip the clutch to go slower and keep the engine speed up. Don't forget you can drag the rear brake too.

How necessary is this skill to regular riding? I'd say not very from my own experience, but your mileage may very. It's probably more useful in the city where space can be limited, and there is that old saying - It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Practice circles that you're comfortable with, then make the circles tighter in small increments. Don't worry about riding within the "box" right away.

#3 - If you don't like the stock mirrors and can't find an adjustment that works better, you might consider switching to one of the several aftermarket mirrors available. I don't recommend relying completely on any mirrors, no matter how comfortable you feel with them. Glancing over your shoulder should be a habit. You don't have to see very clearly in the space between your glasses and the helmet, just enough to see a car.
 

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Shooter said:
#1 - Covering the brake is good - riding the brake is bad.
I would actually recommend covering the CLUTCH over the brake. From the MSF course, bad things happen if you panic and grab the brake first...cover the clutch, pull it in and then apply brakes.
 

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Like others have said, covering the brake but not applying it is a good idea (IMO-I never agreed with the MSF on that) to reduce your reaction time, same for the clutch, but the brake is more important.

Slow speed maneuvers are tough on a Ducati - there's not much turning radius and they're geared really tall. You can change the gearing (down one tooth in front, and/or up two in the rear) to make it a little easier in traffic, but you'll really learn more by taking a trip out to the country. Get a map and find a road that runs along a river and you should have lots of fun. (Yeah, I know it'll take a couple of hours to get out of NYC to get there.)

As for mirrors, I really like the CRG bar end mirrors. They make the bike a bit wider, but AFAIK you can't lane split in NY, right?

Oh, and welcome to the sickness! [laugh] [clap]
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Everthing noted... thanks for all the input. You guys are killer for helping out a newb.

I'm going to still cover the break, I had a taxi drop 4 or 5 yards in front of me to let some passengers out. Musta been 30mph-0mph in 2 seconds, holding the break saved me already. (And I give everyone as much distance as possible for NYC roads)

As far as tight corners, I'm thinking about renting a beater and just going buck wild on it. Although its not my bike, maybe I can squeeze a good lesson on it for future reference. I deperatly was to get my skill levels up so I don't hurt myself on these streets. I want to be ready if anything comes my way.

And was far as mirrors, I'm going to look into aftermarket, but I do the following sequence, look in front for distance, then quickly crack my head to the back right whiplash style. Look ahead and do the same to my backleft. So far it seems cool.

I'm sure I have more questions, this community is the shiz.

Ryan
 

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You said "taxi stopped 4 to 5 yards in front of you and you were travelling 30mph !

IMHO - you are following far too close and are not " making " enough space around you. A fraction of a seconds inattention in the danger zone you were riding while you check out the babe on the pavement will have you in the taxis' trunk or up its exhaust pipe in a flash.
 

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I bought a 96 M900. Not sure on the mirrors on the 695, but mine were the "Mickey Mouse ears" type.

The previous owner(s) kept them on for 8000 miles. I rode 200 miles and swapped them out. They were horrible.

I could only see my armpit and shoulder. Nothing more.

I put a set of Napoleon Barend mirrors on. They're like $50 for the pair or something. World of difference.

It made a really nice rearview and, in my opinion, makes the bike look really nice. They visually "lower" the profile of the bike by over a foot. I think they look great. Best mod I've made to date.
 

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+1 on the CRG bar-ends. The concave design takes in more behind you while taking up less room and lowering the profile (and they don't vibrate!)

+1 on turning your head. Look around you. As much as we all rant and rave about other drivers and how they don't pay attention, if you are looking for a space with your head, many drivers will take notice. It just gives more signals to other people on the road. No one can see your eyes in the coolest mirrors.

+1 on giving proper space to the cars in front of you. If the driver ahead of slams on their brakes, you might not have enough time to react. And, even if you do, there's a chance the person driving an SUV behind you can't stop as quickly as your bike and will hit you from behind.
 

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Shooter said:
You said "taxi stopped 4 to 5 yards in front of you and you were travelling 30mph !

IMHO - you are following far too close and are not " making " enough space around you. A fraction of a seconds inattention in the danger zone you were riding while you check out the babe on the pavement will have you in the taxis' trunk or up its exhaust pipe in a flash.

Unfortunately in NYC if you give them more room, another taxi/car/van/motorcycle, what have you will cut into that space. SO there really isn't much of a buffer zone driving/riding in NYC, especially Manhattan, there is typically about 2 yards! No joke.

rgury,

When riding in the city, I always cover my clutch, and probably 1 finger on my front brake. I'm in NYC as well, my first bike is my 620 I got 4 years ago. I had an advantage in that I learned to ride my bike out in northwest NJ out on empty country roads until I felt comfortable enough to bring my bike home to NYC. At that time I lived in The Bronx and it was easy for me to jump on the Bronx River Parkway up to the Sprain and to Bear Mtn.

I ride in the city as infrequently as possible, in fact I got my bike to ride OUT of it.

As far as practicing tight turns at low speed I recommend picking up a copy of Lee Park's book, Total Control.

As far as getting in practice riding, I suggest getting up EARLY and going across the GWB and going up the Palisades Parkway to start, and riding as much as you can outside the city in a relaxed setting and I have no doubt that you will magically notice your fingers not covering the front brake anymore ;)

if you have any more questions, post up in the NYMMC forum, or feel free to drop me a line, I can suggest routes to ride.

-Michelle

PS Welcome to the addiction.
 

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If you don't like the stock mirrors (I dont) you can experiment with cheapie chinese stuff. I bought a pair from a no brand bike shop that I like well enough to use all the time. Downside is the chrome rusts very quickly. Buoght another pair ($25) and painted them black. See how long this lasts.
 

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hey Ryan,
I'm in NYC (UES), and its a bit tricky ridin in manhattan. few things help me. i cover the clutch and brake, you never know when someone is going to pop in front of you. IMHO the down side to covering is that you have less of a grip on the bike, and NYC man eating potholes and the uneven pavement on avenues makes it a bumpy ride. i also stay away from buses...they'll cut you off without hesitation. i think they're worse than cabbies.. I like ridin on weekend mornings, traffic is calmer, a good time to practice. Good luck...

JP
 

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howie said:
Unfortunately what Michelle says about leaving more room is true. Her other advice is spot-on too.

It happens everwhere but I dont care if I am first there (to wherever we are all going) as long as I get there. Its funny how some people always have to be in front of the next guy even if there is a nice big hole behind him that they can drop into safely.
 

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Lots of good advice here. Also, remember to drive a little aggressively. It's actually safer, especially in NYC. The other drivers can smell fear like dogs.

Oh, and when jumping onto the sidewalk, make sure you hit the curb as close to a right angle as possible and rev the engine to get people out of the way. Works great when heading for the tunnel in rush hour. I even drove past a cop on the sidewalk on my turbo Harley one day and he didn't even bat an eye.

Man, I'm glad I moved to SoCal.
 

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silentbob said:
Oh, and when jumping onto the sidewalk, make sure you hit the curb as close to a right angle as possible and rev the engine to get people out of the way.
or just use the handicap ramps on the corners like I do. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ahh, great words, thanks for the 16 responses. Really killer, guys.

During the last few weeks, I have been getting a lot more comfortable in Manhattan... I do tend to notice I have to drive a tad more aggressively then I initially expected, making decisions before I allow someone to make them for me. I really want to go about this experience as safe as possible, it seems even for a newb driver, being a little assertive is the way to go.

My only fear remains that someone can/will crash into the back of my bike with all the quick stopping, that said I'm investing into a spine protector before I ride again. (I do have some great gear, but I didn't know my jacket didn't have one until I did some reading on here.) It's also nice to have everyone doing under 40, so if I do take a spill, it won't be at 70mph on some highway. For some reason I'm not afraid of broken bones on the front/back of a taxi or hitting the road, its much more getting run over. I really fear that.

And as far as mirrors, I can see the benefits of highway, rural driving... but not for the city. There is always something in both my blind spots, and nor can I track anything... even if the mirrors were the sizes of barn doors. So I check my space up front, crack my head back right. Do it again for the left. Then change lanes. Hehe, I just have to plan 5 or 6 blocks ahead of time to get from one side to the other. I'll invest into them side mirrors that hang off the bars, but that's just to get them stupid ones off the front.

You people are some fine folk, hopefully I'll fight through time to be a vet with this city.

-Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Shooter said:
It happens everwhere but I dont care if I am first there (to wherever we are all going) as long as I get there. Its funny how some people always have to be in front of the next guy even if there is a nice big hole behind him that they can drop into safely.
Also want to add... If you give even a LITTLE bit of space up here, just barely enough for a taxi length, and its GONE before you can blink your eye. Cut throat traffic moves. You have to keep it at a certain distance to preserve the most space you can.

Potholes the size of basketballs that fall 2-3 feet down are seriously there. Luggage has been pushed up into my stomach on a number of occasions, now I rise off the seat at the sight of any pebble.

-Ryan
 
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