I’m pretty much finished my motorcycle lessons. Action Motorcycle  has really done a good job giving me the basic skills I need to ride. I’ve completed my motorcycle skill assessment and had the “supervision required” and “no faster than 60 km/h” restrictions removed from my learners. And I took my very own motorbike out for its first ride today- the picture below was taken at about the mid-way point on my ride.
But I’m not quite ready yet to take my ICBC road test…
I’ve been sick all week, so that means I didn’t get the chance to put any practice miles on my bike. When we did our road-ride today, I still felt clumsy: pre-occupied with the mechanics of riding a motorcycle instead of the finesse necessary to complete a road test. My instructor gave all of the students in my class the green light to proceed to the evaluation (i.e.: we are “safe”), but pointed out things we might want to work on first. All of us had room for improvement, and only one of us elected to take the evaluation immediately- the guy who was on his second time through the road skills part of the class, and who had failed his first ICBC road test.
After our road ride, I accompanied one of the instructors in the truck as another student completed a road evaluation- basically, a “simulated” version of the road test ICBC will run. I learned a bunch of things, things I should know before I ride the actual test.
My original plan was to book my road test immediately after completing my classes- that is, I might have been taking the road test this upcoming week. That isn’t going to happen now: my revised target is to have my full Class 6 license by sometime in June. I’m not really disappointed: I want to do this right, and I don’t feel ready. Action will give me the evaluation I skipped today on an upcoming Saturday- I’ll probably call them after next weekend and book it for the next available Saturday. Then assuming that goes well, I’ll book a road test.
So what do I want to work on as I ride over the next couple of weeks? I want to get all of my stops to be smooth- right now, I’m getting about 2 out of 5 of them well-balanced and relaxed; the other three I’m less balanced than I’d like, stopping early and “footing” up to the stop line, and similar things. Similarly, I want my starts to be consistent: I’m better with this task, but there are still times when I wobble a bit. My lane positioning on left turns needs some work, so I’ll be practicing that. In general, I want at least several hundred kilometers on my bike over a couple of weeks under a number of different conditions.
So what did it feel like to ride my own bike for the first time? In a word- fantastic! Some of the things I was most unsure about turned out great. Some examples:
- Shifting: the Vulcan has a full “heel and toe” floorboard shifter, which means you don’t shift with just your toe like on most bikes. I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d pick that up- but in practice, the first time I shifted it felt perfectly natural, even easier and smoother than on the lesson bike I’ve been using. Within a couple of blocks I was shifting more consistently than I had been on the lesson bike
- Weight: my bike is at least twice as heavy as the lesson bike- over 630 pounds. And when moving it around with my legpower, I really felt that- plus the balance felt imposing, like there is much more there to fall. Once I had about 15 minutes on my bike, however, the weight “disappeared”. I found the balance, and with the Vulcan’s low center of gravity it feels steady as a rock
- Power: The lesson bike I’ve been riding feels like it is hitting warp 8 when I’m doing 70 km/h: it is actually kind of intimidating/scary in its own right. I hit 70 on the Vulcan and it felt quiet and steady as it did at 50. To be clear, these aren’t even close to highway speeds- however, I feel a lot more confident that I could get going at freeway speeds without feeling out of control
I need lots of practice, and will have to find some time to get some low speed maneuver practice in. Getting the bike up my driveway was… interesting. I will have to get better at that!