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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Motorcycle Riding: Day 1 [Mar. 3rd, 2007|05:32 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick

Back from 5 hours in the sun in a huge parking lot running motorcycle drills. Good times.

It's trippy how far you can lean in corners, how much you can swerve, and just how generally stable they are, even at pretty low speeds. All very impressive.

Even more excited now to go buy one.... I'm thinking Monday. Enough people have been recommending the BMW F650GS as one of their recommended beginner bikes, it looks like what I want (or rather, it doesn't look like something I don't want), and I haven't heard anything against it (anybody?), so why not?

Regarding ABS brakes --- I'm sure a sizable percentage of motorcyclists would abhor such a modern offense to the purity that is traditional braking systems, but would anybody non-religious about the issue give me the pros & cons regarding ABS on a motorcycle? I'm sure one con is that I could get into bad habits with a linked/smart braking system (I assume ABS implies linked?), hindering my ability to ride traditionally-braked bikes? But other than that...? Any major cons? If not, safety comes higher on my list than purity of tradition, and I'm inclined to get the ABS option. Any viewpoints to make me think otherwise?

[User Picture]From: henry
2007-03-04 02:05 am (UTC)
that's a bitchin bike. abs will be a hindrance in gravel/ice/loose conditions, otherwise there's no reason not to get it.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-03-04 02:11 am (UTC)
I don't intend to offroad or ride on ice. Gravel might a possibility (on a street), but I don't imagine in the quantities you're thinking about.

That said, is there a switch to turn it off? I know my car has one, but only for low speeds (say, to get out of mud), and at high speeds it auto-switches back on.
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[User Picture]From: crucially
2007-03-04 02:18 am (UTC)
you mean the anti spin for the car, not the abs surely?
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[User Picture]From: henry
2007-03-04 02:23 am (UTC)
This review says there's a switch.
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[User Picture]From: henry
2007-03-04 02:29 am (UTC)
...although that's for the 2001 model. I would guess it's the same for the 2007 though, looks like the '05 and '06 both had the switch too.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-03-04 02:30 am (UTC)
Ah, thanks!
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[User Picture]From: henry
2007-03-04 02:32 am (UTC)
Here's more info about their ABS then you'll ever need to know.
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[User Picture]From: matthew
2007-03-04 04:58 am (UTC)
There's a switch to turn it off on the GS when starting the bike (hold down switch, turn on bike) it stays off until you start the bike again. You don't want ABS on loose surfaces.
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[User Picture]From: wildilocks
2007-03-04 02:19 am (UTC)
I am still amazed that you USAians can just jump on a 650 straight off the bat. We have to have two years on a 250cc or less [in the UK, it's 125] before we can apply for an open license, and we have to sit another exam as well!

Please ride safely... your roads over there are awful, and a real danger to motorcyclists with all the potholes and patched up bits!
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-03-04 02:33 am (UTC)
Interesting... I didn't know there were such restrictions in AU/UK.

Yeah, SF roads suck. I've since gotten used to it, but I remember when I first moved here from Portland, I hated the roads for months.
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[User Picture]From: srattus
2007-03-04 07:26 am (UTC)
my first was an 800.

brad will do fine. you need some power here to stay out of trouble in traffic.
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[User Picture]From: girl_on_a_stick
2007-03-04 02:22 am (UTC)
The cons of ABS come mostly from people who are advance level riders, those who ride on the track, want to be able to "feather" their braking in corners, or those really comfy with their wheels slipping a bit from lots of dirt riding experience. For a beginner rider who will do commuting and distance type stuff I think they're just fine. I'm not sure I'd want them on a bike I was planing on taking off-road much, but that's a personal preference, there's plenty of people who love them on the GS who do off-road with it.

It's a pretty spendy bike for a first bike, just make sure you're okay with that. Chances are, you're going to drop this puppy a time or two in the beginning. If having it fixed is no biggie, go for it, just make sure it won't break your heart because it happens to all of us when we're learning.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-03-04 02:29 am (UTC)

Yeah, I fully expect to drop it or do something stupid to it. I don't think I'll cry.

Btw, Henry in a comment above says the ABS has a cut-off switch for off-roading. (not that I plan to, but who knows...)
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[User Picture]From: girl_on_a_stick
2007-03-04 02:33 am (UTC)
Sweet. No go out and rent Long Way Round and you'll appreciate the BMS' capabilities even more.

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[User Picture]From: kahoki
2007-03-04 04:05 am (UTC)
Hurray for the Long Way Round - whenever I mention it to people, not too many have seen it, or read the book. Trivia wise, it is a bit of a boost for Charlie Boorman, as I looked back at all of his dad's movies that he was in and reflected on how much he aged from Deliverance to Hope and Glory.
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2007-03-04 06:57 am (UTC)
here's my commentary- (so you ARE getting a bike)

nice first ride- you *will* feel bad when you drop it ;)
(and you *will* drop it sooner or later)
never forget- there are only two kinds of new motorcyclists-
those who have not gone down, and those who have not gone down yet.
with that- don't cheap out on a helmet- Arai all the way-
they come in different sizes to fit your head, and the one you get should feel very tight the first time you put it on (it will adjust to your head)
leathers will protect you from road rash, but won't do shit for any broken bones, so do whatever you feel up to in that regard.
judo-style learning to fall and roll would be good here.

i've never ridden a bike with ABS, but i would think in line with others have said-
it would only be a hinderance off-road or if you're super-skilled on the track, backing it in to corners and such.
(note that abs can do nothing to you slipping the rear out due to downshifting)

but yeah- i would get ABS if it was an option, as well as the heated handgrips- you can't wear big thick gloves and maintain the proper feel, so your hands will get cold in all but the hottest weather.

but the thing that i think is most important?
you *need* to do some off-road riding.
it's important to get a feel for how the bike feels when it's sliding around underneath you-
so when that happens unexpectedly on the street you don't freak out.

in that vein, you might want to look at an enduro/motard?
(it's what i would get for SF)
the 650gs is a very nice bike, but it weighs 387lbs
lighter bikes are much more nimble, which i think would be very important in shoot-and-squirt driving in SF-
if you want to lean that way, the current shit are the Huskys- 50-state street-legal out the door:


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[User Picture]From: scosol
2007-03-04 07:13 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2007-03-04 07:21 am (UTC)
i'm sorry- you don't even need to see such things- but oh my good god.

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[User Picture]From: scosol
2007-03-04 08:12 am (UTC)
also- i should mention- i know you're taking the msf course-
but target fixation is no joke

i'll tell you why i dont ride anymore, and will not again unless it's racing on a track.

i'm coming down a straight downhill onramp, staying in the right lane because i'm heading through an interchange i think i know- ironically heading to the ducati dealership to schedule service-
i come down, accelerating, come up over the rise, somehow missing the 35mph sign.
i'm doing 110 at this point.
as i come over the rise, i see a hard left, and think "oh shit, this is not how i thought it was"...
i was immediately hard on the brake, but saw myself heading right towards the right wall.

target fixation took hold- i had slowed to about 50mph when i hit, surely slow enough to make it around the corner-
but i was looking at the wall
and i hit the wall
EXACTLY where i was looking at it.
i fell on my left side and had deep gashes to my knee, and my calve looked really cool like a football-
the entire thing was a big scab with the hairs on my leg making dimples.

why is this important?
because i'm an *expert* driver.
absolutely expert.
put me in anything with four wheels and i tear shit up.
and i've had a good amount of off-road motorcycle experience-
but in my 10+ years of driving experience i had never experienced that level of things.
and i never lost traction on my bike before i crashed it.

one of the first things you learn when driving hard is to "look ahead" and "look where you want to go"-
the mental mechanics are the same both in a car and on a bike, but somehow because of the intimate connection when on a bike, target fixation is amplified incredibly.

the feeling was surreal- "the bike won't turn", "i can't turn"

hell i'll just dissuade you-
errands in the city?
get a twist-and-go like dina- shifting a bike fucking sux on most SF streets where you're stopping often, going slow, uphill etc-

you want to go fast?
sell your accord or whatever you've got- get an A4 3.0 or something- or one of the new BMW 3-series-
shit the 335i is about equal to my M3.
which is plenty car for me- and that's saying something :)

jeez- not meaning to curse you, but it would be a shame for you to end up as a stain :)
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[User Picture]From: feignedapathy
2007-03-04 02:28 am (UTC)
ABS isn't going to hurt you if you're fresh on a bike. I've found that most people who have issues with ABS are those who have really become used to older style braking systems.

Pretty bike.
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[User Picture]From: thewalkingman
2007-03-04 02:32 am (UTC)
I don't know about beginner bikes, but as the son of a dad in a biker gang, and having been around motorcycles most of my life, I can confidently say that Beamers are fantastic bikes. Hondas are quality as well.
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[User Picture]From: matthew
2007-03-04 05:03 am (UTC)
ABS has already saved my ass on at least one occasion. Like was said above it can be a hinderance on the track. On the street however it's something that you don't want to be without if it's an option. The ABS can react and reduce braking power when you hit a patch of oil way before you'd even know that you were going down. It's especially useful in the wet.

ABS does not imply linked brakes. You'll have to check the specs on the bike.
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[User Picture]From: klev_i
2007-03-04 06:42 am (UTC)



If you wish to walk simply - take with ABS.

You wish to be the racer, - take without ABS.


[It Is translated by means of "translate.ru"]


Если хочешь просто прогуливаться - бери с ABS.

Хочешь быть гонщиком, - бери без ABS.


[Переведено с помощью "translate.ru"]
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[User Picture]From: iamjosh
2007-03-04 06:51 am (UTC)
From the internation Motorcycle show:

BWM section included a couple of television screens playing videos. One of the most interesting ones we saw demonstrated the advantages of anti-lock brakes when trying to stop on wet surfaces. In the video, a street was covered with water and hay, and professional drivers tried to stop at speeds ranging from 25-55 mph. Basically, without ABS all the drivers would have skidded out, even at fairly low speeds (they were stopped from crashing by outriggers installed on the bikes). However, on bikes with anti-lock brakes, the drivers were able to make fairly smooth stops.
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From: djwatson
2007-03-04 08:47 am (UTC)
I would recommend against a NEW f650GS ... you're going to drop it, probably multiple times, and one that already has a little road rash will make you feel much better, and won't drop the resale 3-4k right off the bat.

ABS? If you're only going to be on the street, go for it.
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[User Picture]From: mendel
2007-03-04 04:55 pm (UTC)
F650? No. It's a BMW that isn't powered by a BMW, so why bother? The F650 exists to take money from suckers that want an R1200GS but can't afford it, and still want to show their friends their BMW.

If you want a dual-sport, take a look at the Kawasaki KLR 650. Even then, I'd consider getting a standard as a first bike, even if you switch to a different bike at the end of the first season. You might find after a year of riding that you never wanted to hit dirt trails but did wish you had more freeway speed or long-trip comfort, in which case you'll have been really glad you didn't get an F650 or KLR.
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