From Dirt to the street-

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#1
Hello.
Ive been riding trail bikes and racing for 21 years now. I have had a vintage street bike, an old Kaw triple that I have been tinkering with the last 3 years or so. Its just about ready but Ive been nervous about putting it on the road.
I know alot of you probably ride street as well as dirt. I have never ventured out on the road, other than a few short test rides of friend bikes and such. My wife keeps telling me Im gonna die. She knew a few people that died on bikes growing up. We were discussing the issue, and a couple of weekends ago, no less than 3 bikers died on Maryland roads alone.
My own brother cautions me, after racing MX for 15 years, he rode on the road for a year or so until he had too many close calls.
Problem is, I dont get to ride my dirt bikes nearly enough, and I think if I had the old triple on the road, it would be cool to run around the neighborhood. Im not talking long tours or anything, just messing around a bit.
Have any of you had bad experiences riding on the road? Can it be done safely? I know its almost always the other guy and theres not alot you can do about that but I just cant make up my mind.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Neil
 

Danman

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#2
Just like in the dirt. Wear the proper gear. It may be hot (you can get vented stuff but the way), but when your not scrubbing gravel out of road rash you will thank yourself. Falls on the street hurt a lot wore than dirt. Be aware of what is going on around you. Also, take a Motorcycle saftey course. It will save you on insurance and will help teach you some of the things you need to know about riding on the pavement. I think it can be safely, but there are always those few incidents when a fatality occurs. Would you be safer in a car, Yes. I think that buy paying attention to what others are doing around you and wearing gear you can minimize the risk and have some fun.
 

mx547

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#3
their warnings are not exaggerated. i have a vintage dual-sport bike that i restored to road-worthy condition. i ride it about twice a week to work or the store or sometimes just to play around the neighborhood. one day when i rode it to work (two miles, one way), i had two cars pull out in front of me. when i was a kid, i used to ride street and i got hit twice. both times i ended up in the hospital. so i know from experience the danger involved.

when i ride, i try to be aware of every vehicle around me and i always assume that they don't see me and are going to run over me. it's not a fool-proof method but it does increase your odds of survival.

headlight and helmet always on.
 
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#4
I had a 91' CBR600F2 in 92' and had ridden MX many hrs every month in the 80's. My fealing is with offroad riding, at least in my case, my main danger is myself and not grabbing to much throttle. But as you've heard, on the street its almost always the other guy.

I sold my CBR for several reasons, but a big one was all the close calls I had. I would'nt mind having another street bike myself, but I would make a rule to never ride during rush hour, and when riding at night I'd do everything to avoid going through major intersections. When I had my bike I religously followed the advice I still remember from the drivers liscense manual, which stated to do a little zig zagging when approaching intersections with opposeing traffic. That way your headlight doesn't blend in to cars that might be behind you and thus give someone thats wanting to turn left in front of you, the impression your still further away than you really are. In AZ thats how most street bike riders get there trip to the hospital or the big track in the sky.

All the close calls I personally had were from people forgetting I was in the lane next to them. Which always amazed me since I had a fairly loud Vance & Hines exhaust. I quickly started making myself as hard to miss in this situation aswell. Even if I was in heavy traffic and stuck riding next to a car I would accelerate as far forward as I could and then slow back up, then speed back up again. So every so often I would be popping into the auto drivers line of peripheral vision. If I didn't do that, and I would ride say even with the drivers door or further back, hell forget it, I'd have people come into my lane once or twice a week. I'm not big on getting real excited and making a habit of flipping people off, as a matter of fact I almost never flip people off driving my Bronco (I just lay on the horn if its a close one), but I was giving the bird when I had my CBR like it was going out of style. I always rode very mellow around cars too. I'd wait untill nobody was around to take the tach to 12,500rpm, or maybe do a few short wheelies.

If I had a family, I'd plan on being as careful around cars as possible, and even then I don't know if I'd personally get another street bike. In my case not having a family would make it slightly more possible. Good luck! And watch out for the morons in cars.
 

wsmc831

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#5
Hey Bad, nice bike! I bought a 91 F2 in 92, just sold it a few months back after 45k miles and 3 years racing it at Willow Springs.


Nothing wrong with streetriding if done correctly, with the best gear you can buy. I've got almost 65k miles on the road so far, only a couple minor accidents, all with proper gear on, all injury free. Best way to see the country imop, been to 12 western states and canada more than once on trips, much more fun than cars!

just get a manageable bike and get out there!
 

mx547

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#6
Originally posted by 2stroke
Im not talking long tours or anything, just messing around a bit.
the long tours are probably the safest.
 
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#7
I've been riding a road bike 5 days a week to commute to work and back for about 7 years. Never had an accident, but on average I would probably have someone in a car cut me off/not see me about once a week. Nothing serious though.

As others have stated above, I'm always very alert as to what is happening around me. I ride near the centre line so I am visible in the drivers rear and side mirrors (and oncoming traffic), I always have the headlight on.

I generally only ride up the middle of traffic if it is at a standstill and there is plenty of room. I also never exceed 20Klm/hr when doing so.

If there is space I will ride slightly in front of the vehicle in the next lane, else far enough back that I'm not in their blind spot. I always ride with long pants, leather jacket, boots, gloves, and helmet (even in summer).

When travelling in a dual lane and approaching an intersection, if another car going in the same direction is turning, slow down to ensure no vehicles diagonally opposite (which you can't see and they can't see you due to the other vehicle waiting to turn) don't attempt to turn across your path.

Always look down intersections and streets when approaching to ensure no one is running a stop sign.

Slow down in the rain.

Out of all that, I think the most important thing is to make sure you are visible, and don't ride like a maniac.

Even with the near misses from time to time, I still love riding on the road.
 

wsmc831

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#8
...and riding slightly faster than traffic is a good idea..imop. I'll risk a ticket to make sure cars don't come up from behind.

and police must not mind, haven't had a ticket in over 6 years...and even that was a nothing ticket for 15 over in a 55 in Nevada.
 
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#9
Lots of good advice here, I went from dirt to street and still ride both using my VFR 750 as a daily driver untill its really cold or icey.
Going from dirt to street the hardes thing for me was understanding the power of the front brake. On the street you need to YANK the front brake to the handel bar, no, the bike wont flip and the front tire will not lock up and skid as it dose in the dirt, the rear will get light under heavy breaking so try to only use the rear brake for slow speed breaking and use down shifting with the front brake for most braking. In a panic brake, its a handfull of front brake only, hitting the rear brake will cause the rear tire to lock as the weight transfers forward and when a rear tire locks, it will try to come around and see what all the fuss is about, not good.
Other than that is making your self visable but putting your bike in the sopt wich often means a mix of lane position and following distance. When you see cars that might pull out into the road in front of you, make eye contact with them to make sure they see you. Ive been down like 4 times and only got hurt once on my first street bike becuase I drove it like an idiot. Yeah people still pull out on me and cut me off, most of them see me and still do it, but knowing how to handel the bike and use the brakes and my dirt bike experiance makes short work of most of it. On the interstates as was said, you have to "walk" other cars by your spot. I like extra following distance in the interstates but around here, if you leave a car lenght, in front of you, they will put a car there, so as a car comes by, I accelerate with them just infront of the door and "walk" the car to the back of the car infront of me to say, This is my space, dont pull in on it, and they as they go by I resotre my following distance. Extra following distance is important, not because you need it, a motor cycle can easaly out stop a car by almost half the distance, but becuse the people behind you need it to stop and not run YOU over. If you ride street for a while you will start to get those alarms in your head that warn you of a potentially dangerous situation and how to avoid or minimize the threats. I find riding slighty aggressivly especially on interstates is also the best deffense, it keeps you moving through the traffic and in everyones attention.
Where your gear, riding jacket, long pants, good boots and GREAT gloves, a good helmet, not the best, but a good full face. Riding dirt bikes has also helped me stay up a few times many riders may have gone down, it helps me not fixate on obsticales but look and ride through them instead.
Get used to your bike and then take it out and have fun, I LOVE riding my street bike almost as much as I love dirt riding and I hope to never give it up.

Words of advice barrowed from pilots:
There are Old riders and there are Bold riders, there are no Old Bold riders.

Is your bike a 2 stroke tripple? those are cool, I have a 1972 Yamaha 250 2 cyl 2 stroke I am getting ready for my girl friend to ride on the street, those things are a blast! Noting like blowing a little smoke on rode and seeing peoples heads turn from the ding ding ding ding, Baaaawhaaaaaaaaaap!
 
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#10
One difference you will notice with street riding is that the bike steers differently. On a streetbike, you need to countersteer - i.e. push on the left side of the handlebar to go left. In other words, if you turn handlebars to the right when you are at speed, you will go left. And if you don't countersteer, and try to steer just by shifting your weight, you won't be able to change directions very quickly.

This seems strange at first, because dirtbikes change direction so easily. countersteering is unneccessary. I'm guessing that with a streetbike, the wheel are heavier, and are rotating more quickly, so that there is more gyroscopic effect.

Some good books about street riding are Keith Codes' "A Twist of the Wrist" series. He has a video, too, which is pretty good.

Personally, I like the dirt better. What's nice about the street, though, is that you just get on and go. No loading up the bike and gear. No hosing down the bike when you are done. Good luck.
 

gwcrim

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#11
Going from offroad to onroad you are far better prepared for the unexpected than someone with no offroad experience.

In the last couple of years, I can think of at least two incidences where I saved my skin on the street with reflexes that were developed well over 20 years ago.

Plus I can ride my Sportster places that no right minded street only person would even remotely consider. Like up a logging trail in the West Virginia mountains.

If I had to give out one piece of advice only:

Ride like they can't see you........ because they probably don't!
 

Hokie

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#12
10 Rules for safe road riding:

1. Everybody on the road is an idiot and is out to kill you.
2. They DON'T see you, ever.
3. Don't ride over 75% of your ability level, that extra 25% is what will save your hide when you need it.
4a. Volvos, mini-vans and nowadays SUV's are your worst enemies. The drivers are too preoccupied with beating the kids to notice you.
4b. The Volvos are the WORST.
5. Wear proper riding gear all the time.
6. Wear proper riding gear all the time.
7. Wear proper riding gear all the time.
8. Wear proper riding gear all the time.
9. Wear proper riding gear all the time.
10. Wear proper riding gear all the time.


Go have fun!
 
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#13
" Volvos, mini-vans and nowadays SUV's are your worst enemies. The drivers are too preoccupied with beating the kids to notice you.
4b. The Volvos are the WORST."

LOL good point, I still have a much worse time with minivans than with SUVs and all other cars combined, what the hell is with them? The drivers are sitting at a cross rode as you come up, look right at you and pull out at the last possible second and have the most disgusted dissapointed look on their face when you smack into them. Its like they hate thier vans and want some one to total them but not hurt them so they can move up to an SUV or maybe,,,,,,,, a Volvo?????

Oh and at intersections and toll boths, stay out of the middle of the road, these spots are host to some of the worst collections of oils, greases, and slipery tar like goo on the face of the earth. Look closely and you can see wooly manoth, saber tooth tiger, VW bug, and ohter unfortunate bikers carcass entrapped in the toll both tar pits!

OMG! almost forgot the first 20 mins of rain! after a hot dry spell of 3 or more days, the first 20 mins of rain is like bikes on ice. Just try to stay off the road, after the first 20 mins or so the oil runs off and your fine but man look out.
 
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#14
Sorry, that should read:
"most disgusted dissapointed look on their face when you DONT smack into them"
 
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#15
Wow lots of great comments Thanks!
Yeah, it is a 2stroke. Its a small one, a 350 triple. I should probably take the baffles out after inspection. It REALLY loud then that might help with letting them know Im there.

They dont have a reputation of being the best handling bikes but theyre not as bad as the 750 triples. Get the massive crank on a 750 triple spinning, and you will NOT make a corner. super gyro effect.

Ive been putting around the parking lot nearby to get the feel of everything, and Ive taken it on short sprints around the block here and there. I agree that its probably good to have MX experience. I would think nothing of tearing ass across a field on it. Doesnt feel that much different than the bike I race vintage class on, which is also an old Kaw.

My brother told me about one time his side stand came down, and he was not able to make a corner. He straigtened it out, and went off the road. He wound up in a corn field, but didnt wreck it. He told me that if he hadnt had the MX experience it would of been alot worse.

I think I will just be in complete defense mode and like some of you said, consider EVERYONE a threat. When I get the hang of it, I am going to have to fight the urge to go as fast as I can whenever I can, because thats pretty much what Ive been doing on the dirt. I see guys out there on sport bikes who BLOW past me on the highway, and I just cant believe it. ONE little slip and they would be a spot. I think Ill just try to cruise around.

Ive had a few good wrecks in the dirt, but so far only broken a leg and ripped up a knee. One time, I hit a HUGE rut left by a 4X4 and dumped it over and went tumbling across the ground about 40 feet. GOt skinned up a little but if it was on the street I would have been a mess. So, Ill have to get some good gear. OH boy maybe some LEATHER pants! LOL! something in bright green maybe...