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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so my Hammer S is my very first cruiser, but let me back up just a bit, and you'll more easily understand my apprehension and thusly, my questions here.


I also own a sportbike, and LOVE it. I have no real issues riding it, cornering, leaning... none of that. I don't hang off (I don't believe in knee-dragging on the street, it is both unpractical & unwise anywhere except the track), but I can lean it well to match the turn I am entering. Short wheelbase, grips significantly closer together than a cruiser, lighter weight, all-around more flickable.

Now I hop on my new cruiser and I noticed a few things on my maiden voyage.



From a stop (say turning at a red light):

Initiating a left turn, from a stop, I run WAYYY wide. Nearly curbed the front tire twice in my first two turns. I feel at low speed that if I turn the bars too sharply, the bike is just gonna tip right the hell over. Remember... I'm not accustomed to the low speed weight of this bike yet.

From a stop, right turn:

Still run a tad wide, in one case went about 3" or 4" over the double-yellow to complete my turn. Again, the trepidation of getting the bike going from a stop, letting out the clutch smoothly, swinging my feet into position (I'm used to lifting them up and "hooking them" back on a sportbike's pegs), AND finally concentrating on my turn.



In a left turn lane, on a left green arrow:

This one was alarming as it snuck up on me. Unlike the previous issue I wrote about earlier, in this case I had more runway, so I was able to get up in second gear... countersteering is now in effect to a greater degree, and a bit more speed helps to compress the suspension as it grips for the turn. If I were leaning like this on my sportbike, the turn would have had no issues, but on this longer, heavier machine with a 250 tire on it... I realized about halfway through the turn that I was NOT going to make it at my current angle. The curb was coming and this was gonna get ugly... so I pushed harder on the left bar and leaned it so far that it SEEMED as though I could have been knee-dragging I was soooo low. This over-correction kept me mostly in my lane, but I overshot it by about 3" or so, which meant I was over the white line, but did not hit the curb on the outside of the lane.


Another tidbit to add is that prior to this purchase, my ONLY experience on a large cruiser was all of ten minutes, and in a u-turn (left) I did in fact drop the bike, and that has left me with a paralyzing fear of slow, tight turn maneuvers on most any bike. While I can handle my sportbike well i all instances, I tend to shy away from u-turns, insisting on going halfway around a block if I am able, in order to avoid doing them.


So now that we have the situations laid out, hopefully you understand where my hesitations or "fears" come from.

Here are the questions/situations I'd like advice on:

1) I truly love cornering on my sportbike, so there really isn't a blanket fear of cornering to contend with, at least at decent speeds, but on my Hammer I feel as though I need to go unnaturally far with my lean to do a medium speed turn. Is this abnormal to feel like this?

2) The paralyzing fear I have of low speed, tight turning maneuvers has got to go away for me to practically live with this style of bike. I plan to spend a LOT of time practicing in a huge empty parking lot, but the initial fear still must be contended with. Locking, or near-to-locking the wheel in either direction and initiating a sharp turn from a stop to low speeds... how best to get into doing this properly?

3) If anyone here has transitioned from a sprightly little sportbike to a cruiser, can you help me understand how to adjust to the different dynamics? I surely cannot keep running into oncoming lanes without making life interesting for others on the road. I also need to understand the leaning angle limitations of this type of bike.



I should mention also that I did in fact take an MSF course, and did swimmingly well. But while most can say "a bike is a bike is a bike", a 250cc Rebel used in the class is absolutely NOT like a 700+lb Hammer at low speeds. Over 15mph most everything feels the same, but the long wheelbase and extra weight do play a part in very low speed moves.


Any advice is welcomed, thanks in advance.
 

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OK...You may think I am being a smart-ass but honestly I am not....You need to find a large parking lot and go there and ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,and then....ride some more. You should feel as though you are a part of the bike...not a lump perched on top of it. Always remember the addage...the bike will go to where your nose is pointed....Practice some "box" turns and get your confidence up...Yes, this bike will handle differently...but it can and will respond and handle quite nicely IF you give it the attention it needs....Have fun and good luck...PS....stay out of traffic until you have the basics mastered...you will get yourself or someone else killed if you don't.....Paul
 

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One of the other things, along with lots of practice, is yur Hammer is a total different bike than a sport bike. The first time I rode a Vic in 05 the thing I noticed and it took a bit to get used to it was the way that it steered/handled at slow speed. The steering felt completely different. I am sure it has something to do with rake and trail and I do not pretend to understand that stuff. Once I got used to it, didn't take long, no problem, until the next time I got off my Wing and rode the wifes bike. It comes down to what you are used to, and now riding a different animal.

I had the same issues on my Wing when I first got it. Pull away from a stop to a right turn, found myself going WAY wide. Practice with a little neutral zone, and build confidence. In a short time everything was under control and I was dragging footboards in turns that were shakey at best at first.

I don't have much experience on a sport bike, but they sure look like one could have a ball with one, not to mention getting into trouble(with the law) in a hurry!!! Maybe that is why I never bought one, then again----
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK...You may think I am being a smart-ass but honestly I am not....You need to find a large parking lot and go there and ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,ride,and then....ride some more. You should feel as though you are a part of the bike...not a lump perched on top of it. Always remember the addage...the bike will go to where your nose is pointed....Practice some "box" turns and get your confidence up...Yes, this bike will handle differently...but it can and will respond and handle quite nicely IF you give it the attention it needs....Have fun and good luck...PS....stay out of traffic until you have the basics mastered...you will get yourself or someone else killed if you don't.....Paul


I appreciate the response, but I already put this in my original post... I plan to spend a lot of time in a parking lot close to me, practicing and familiarizing myself with the new bike.

What I need to know however, is are there any tips to help me ease into it, cuz dropping it in a parking lot is still dropping it... and I'd rather avoid that ;)
 

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OK...Guess you didn't like my response...well you are going to love this one. Take one of the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Federation) courses..they offer several variations and the help that experience riders can give you would be worth every cent invested...Did you ride the Hammer before you bought it..? I didn't think it would be that different but hey....I ride dirt and a Vegas Cruiser not a crotch rocket.....
 

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Bandit, I can empathize with you. My XR is my first cruiser and I had to get my synapses rewired in order to do exactly what you are concerned about. Here is how I got a cruiser to do what I wanted it to do: 1. Look where you want to be. As one forum member sez: "The bike goes where you point your nose." I find I even have to look more to the extreme of the turn. Example: In a right turn, I look to the right edge of pavement. 2. Body steering is very helpful. Example: In a left turn you press down with your left foot and your right leg presses against the tank. That reduces the pressure you apply to the bars. 3. Buy the DVD, Ride Like A Pro and practice what you learn. That will be the best investment you (and any rider) can make.

Once I got all that into my brain, I now have a great time doing the twisties in my area. Once I was riding with a freind who has a Honda ST1300. When we approached some twisties, he politely let me lead, thinking he'll ride my slower ride. When we came to a rest stop, he admitted he thought my long, low cruiser wouldn't fare well in the twisties and also admitted that he couldn't keep up with me and realized why I bought a Cross Roads instead of another brand of cruiser. FYI: The body steering technique is a big help, especially when working twisties.

Now, take this old timer's advise and go out and have some fun with your Hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, I did ride the Hammer before buying it, and fell in love with it.

As mentioned, already went through MSF, and I do have plans to attend the advanced rider's course, although I planned to do that on my rocket, not on a cruiser. Looks like I'll have to do both now.

Yes, it is entirely different going from a rocket to cruiser, especially in the turns.

On a sportbike you are gripping the tank with your thighs (no way to do this on a cruiser), and in turns you slide forward, slide your butt halfway off the seat, drop down a bit so your head is nearly parallel with the grip, and lean the bike to turn. You don't have the same ergos on a cruiser, so you cannot use the same body position.

On a rocket, you never sit upright in a turn, this is bad body positioning for the bike and can make turns more difficult, but on a cruiser you almost have no choice, so you must retrain yourself on the new style.

I was just hoping to pick up tips on how to find that new style.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bandit, I can empathize with you. My XR is my first cruiser and I had to get my synapses rewired in order to do exactly what you are concerned about. Here is how I got a cruiser to do what I wanted it to do: 1. Look where you want to be. As one forum member sez: "The bike goes where you point your nose." I find I even have to look more to the extreme of the turn. Example: In a right turn, I look to the right edge of pavement. 2. Body steering is very helpful. Example: In a left turn you press down with your left foot and your right leg presses against the tank. That reduces the pressure you apply to the bars. 3. Buy the DVD, Ride Like A Pro and practice what you learn. That will be the best investment you (and any rider) can make.

Once I got all that into my brain, I now have a great time doing the twisties in my area. Once I was riding with a freind who has a Honda ST1300. When we approached some twisties, he politely let me lead, thinking he'll ride my slower ride. When we came to a rest stop, he admitted he thought my long, low cruiser wouldn't fare well in the twisties and also admitted that he couldn't keep up with me and realized why I bought a Cross Roads instead of another brand of cruiser. FYI: The body steering technique is a big help, especially when working twisties.

Now, take this old timer's advise and go out and have some fun with your Hammer.


Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?
 

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Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?
Oh yes, tire width definitely affects cornering characteristics and so does air pressure. Make certain you have the recommended or a couple pounds more.

I'm not familiar with the Twist of the Wrist video, but I do read Keith's articles in bike mags. I think Ride Like a Pro would be helpful because it involves cruisers and tourers to demonstrate that they are capable of doing what sport bikes can do.
 

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Thanks a lot, I appreciate the advice! Is "Ride Like a Pro" similar to "A Twist of the Wrist" by any chance? I use Keith Code's books and videos like a bible for sport-riding, but things do indeed change for cruisers.

My assumption is that the longer wheelbase plus the fat 250 tire is to blame for the radical change in how it feels, am I correct?
You figured it out. That was going to be my response to you. As Paul M said take it to a parking lot and ride the hell out of it. It takes a little time but not much to get used to the wide tire.

Whatever you do don't ride it like your sport bike on curves until you are very familiar with the ride. Counter steering will become second nature on your bike.
 

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Ride like a pro

A sport bike and cruiser have only 1 thing in common and that is 2 wheels. The Ride like a Pro DVD will teach you slow speed maneuvers through several exercises. Each spring my wife and I setup the course in a parking lot and spend a couple of hours just practicing remembering from the long winter. One of the exercises uses pylons. Just get a dozen tennis balls and cut them in half. Easy to use and easy to store when you are done.

Invite a couple of friends to join you and pretty soon it turns into a friendly competition and everyone ends of a better rider.

Have fun and be safe!

Larry
 

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Practice, practice, practice. :) The different rake, longer wheel base, and wider back tire, like you said, takes a bit of getting use to. Don't be afraid of it though.

Something I had to get use to, because I was use to HD's, was the lack of low end torque and a very different feel to the throttle. One day I'll get the cams and controller to correct this. I felt like a newbie cause I kept stalling the bike when taking off from a stop.

Every time I get a new bike; It takes a while before I get confident on it.

You might try unplugging your O2 sensors (about 6" from the sensors) to help with the throttle. It helped mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Oh yes, tire width definitely affects cornering characteristics and so does air pressure. Make certain you have the recommended or a couple pounds more.

I'm not familiar with the Twist of the Wrist video, but I do read Keith's articles in bike mags. I think Ride Like a Pro would be helpful because it involves cruisers and tourers to demonstrate that they are capable of doing what sport bikes can do.
Yes, tire pressure is dead-on to factory spec.

I see a Ride Like a Pro Vol 5, ad says that it has all from Vols 1-4 plus new stuff, so that should work. Also added another of his DVD's as well. BIG thanks for the heads-up, he seems to be addressing the basic issues I have. I saw some clips on youtube
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You figured it out. That was going to be my response to you. As Paul M said take it to a parking lot and ride the hell out of it. It takes a little time but not much to get used to the wide tire.

Whatever you do don't ride it like your sport bike on curves until you are very familiar with the ride. Counter steering will become second nature on your bike.
Thanks bud, I will be setting aside a lot of time when our riding season opens back up. I have a huge empty lot less than a block away thumb up

A sport bike and cruiser have only 1 thing in common and that is 2 wheels. The Ride like a Pro DVD will teach you slow speed maneuvers through several exercises. Each spring my wife and I setup the course in a parking lot and spend a couple of hours just practicing remembering from the long winter. One of the exercises uses pylons. Just get a dozen tennis balls and cut them in half. Easy to use and easy to store when you are done.

Invite a couple of friends to join you and pretty soon it turns into a friendly competition and everyone ends of a better rider.

Have fun and be safe!

Larry
Great suggestions, I will do just that. I have a group of buddies who might want to 'play' after this long & brutal winter.

Practice, practice, practice. :) The different rake, longer wheel base, and wider back tire, like you said, takes a bit of getting use to. Don't be afraid of it though.

Something I had to get use to, because I was use to HD's, was the lack of low end torque and a very different feel to the throttle. One day I'll get the cams and controller to correct this. I felt like a newbie cause I kept stalling the bike when taking off from a stop.

Every time I get a new bike; It takes a while before I get confident on it.

You might try unplugging your O2 sensors (about 6" from the sensors) to help with the throttle. It helped mine.
Thanks!
 

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I had the same problem when I got my Gold Wing. A friend that is a Ride Like a Pro instructor told me the following.

By the way - use 2rd gear for this. The wings 1st is very low.

It works ! I spent a long time in a big parking lot doing this until I felt confident knowing where my pegs will drag in the turns.

*****

Take the info and learn from it, or fight it and don't learn from it. I am not going to get into any kind of discussion about it here.

Lack of faith in bike not falling over... this is one of the EXACT reasons why we are going to do the following.

Here's what I show / tell people who are finding difficulty in laying the bike over and performing tight turns... (we're going to step away from tight turns for right now, but we will get to those very quickly)

My first suggestion is going to sound like I have never ridden a wing before....

Make sure you are on pretty level ground, then...
Get the bike moving and get into 3rd gear as soon as you feel comfortable. Once in 3rd gear, let off the clutch, brakes, and throttle. The wing has plenty of torque AT IDLE to do what we want to do. I know this is a foreign concept, but I finally shutup and trusted the drill team instructor when I learned this and after a very short time I learned the wing has amazing power.

Spend a little bit of time doing easy smooth, NON-TIGHT turns. Get used to how the bike feels when transitioning from left to right turning (again, not tight turns).

Once you get a bit more comfortable, do some "cone weave's" --- the goal here is not tight turning, but a quicker transition from left to right turning. (again - 3rd gear, no brake, throttle, or clutch)

Once that feels comfortable, NOW we can BEGIN to think about turning circles. Again, we are not trying to turn tightly, just consistently.

Everybody takes about the figure 8's... rubbish. Not ready for those yet. I want you to think about what you are doing, not start a figure 8 and have to stop halfway through and think about what to do to go the other way.

Do 10 "static" circles. (Keep going around and around in the same direction until you have completed 10 circles.) This gives you the chance to get the best body to bike position. As you are turning, you can make slight adjustments with your body position and where you are looking. Once 10 have been completed one way, do ten the other way. I do not want you to worry about doing exactly 10 circles, don't worry about counting them... you'll know when you feel like going the other way.

So the current plan....
1. Get used to 3rd gear without throttle, clutch, or brake
2. Get used to quick transitions - cone weave style
3. Perform Static circles

If you can not drag your pegs throughout the entire circle, repeat steps 4 and 5 until you can drag an entire circle.

4. Perform more aggressive quick transitions - cone weave style
5. Perform static circles

If at anytime you feel you are falling over, just give her some gas.

See, by using 3rd gear you take the human error factor almost 100% out of the equation. Once you get comfortable with performing dragging peg circles CONSISTENTLY (and only then) we can discuss the ride like a pro style controls for tight turns.

I want you to get used to dragging your pegs in 3rd gear. Listen to the sound, learn what that feels like. You will become VERY familiar with how far you can lean your machine simply via sound of peg drag and position of foot on dragging peg.

The above will get you started. We want you to get used to the machine's limits before your really push it in tight turning.


Side notes:
1. if you ware concerned with dropping your machine, put some of the foam pipe insulation around your crash bars
2. once you are ready to look at tighter turning... from your waist up, stay vertical (bike leans, but you do not)
3. WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR --- I AM NOT liable in any way, shape, or form for your actions on your machine, which you are in 100% full control over.
4. if you intend on getting to the point where you are doing super tight turns, eventually you will screw up a bit and drop your machine. It's just a question of when. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! Anybody who tells you they have never dropped their machine doing this stuff either hasn't been doing it a long time, or is full of it. Even the cops drop their bikes from time to time. It happens, do not let it freak you out.
5. Suggest setting up video camera so you can review what you have done. What might feel good, may not look good. I don;t mean looking cool, I mean you will see things in the video that you will want to work on.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I had the same problem when I got my Gold Wing. A friend that is a Ride Like a Pro instructor told me the following.

By the way - use 2rd gear for this. The wings 1st is very low.

It works ! I spent a long time in a big parking lot doing this until I felt confident knowing where my pegs will drag in the turns.

*****

Take the info and learn from it, or fight it and don't learn from it. I am not going to get into any kind of discussion about it here.

Lack of faith in bike not falling over... this is one of the EXACT reasons why we are going to do the following.

Here's what I show / tell people who are finding difficulty in laying the bike over and performing tight turns... (we're going to step away from tight turns for right now, but we will get to those very quickly)

My first suggestion is going to sound like I have never ridden a wing before....

Make sure you are on pretty level ground, then...
Get the bike moving and get into 3rd gear as soon as you feel comfortable. Once in 3rd gear, let off the clutch, brakes, and throttle. The wing has plenty of torque AT IDLE to do what we want to do. I know this is a foreign concept, but I finally shutup and trusted the drill team instructor when I learned this and after a very short time I learned the wing has amazing power.

Spend a little bit of time doing easy smooth, NON-TIGHT turns. Get used to how the bike feels when transitioning from left to right turning (again, not tight turns).

Once you get a bit more comfortable, do some "cone weave's" --- the goal here is not tight turning, but a quicker transition from left to right turning. (again - 3rd gear, no brake, throttle, or clutch)

Once that feels comfortable, NOW we can BEGIN to think about turning circles. Again, we are not trying to turn tightly, just consistently.

Everybody takes about the figure 8's... rubbish. Not ready for those yet. I want you to think about what you are doing, not start a figure 8 and have to stop halfway through and think about what to do to go the other way.

Do 10 "static" circles. (Keep going around and around in the same direction until you have completed 10 circles.) This gives you the chance to get the best body to bike position. As you are turning, you can make slight adjustments with your body position and where you are looking. Once 10 have been completed one way, do ten the other way. I do not want you to worry about doing exactly 10 circles, don't worry about counting them... you'll know when you feel like going the other way.

So the current plan....
1. Get used to 3rd gear without throttle, clutch, or brake
2. Get used to quick transitions - cone weave style
3. Perform Static circles

If you can not drag your pegs throughout the entire circle, repeat steps 4 and 5 until you can drag an entire circle.

4. Perform more aggressive quick transitions - cone weave style
5. Perform static circles

If at anytime you feel you are falling over, just give her some gas.

See, by using 3rd gear you take the human error factor almost 100% out of the equation. Once you get comfortable with performing dragging peg circles CONSISTENTLY (and only then) we can discuss the ride like a pro style controls for tight turns.

I want you to get used to dragging your pegs in 3rd gear. Listen to the sound, learn what that feels like. You will become VERY familiar with how far you can lean your machine simply via sound of peg drag and position of foot on dragging peg.

The above will get you started. We want you to get used to the machine's limits before your really push it in tight turning.


Side notes:
1. if you ware concerned with dropping your machine, put some of the foam pipe insulation around your crash bars
2. once you are ready to look at tighter turning... from your waist up, stay vertical (bike leans, but you do not)
3. WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR --- I AM NOT liable in any way, shape, or form for your actions on your machine, which you are in 100% full control over.
4. if you intend on getting to the point where you are doing super tight turns, eventually you will screw up a bit and drop your machine. It's just a question of when. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! Anybody who tells you they have never dropped their machine doing this stuff either hasn't been doing it a long time, or is full of it. Even the cops drop their bikes from time to time. It happens, do not let it freak you out.
5. Suggest setting up video camera so you can review what you have done. What might feel good, may not look good. I don;t mean looking cool, I mean you will see things in the video that you will want to work on.


Excellent and informative post, thank you.

Do you think that 3rd gear is a bit high on a Victory? I'm assuming the power level and gearing from my Hammer to a Goldwing would be quite different.

I know 1st gear drills can be tricky due to a twitchy throttle (but honestly, that's where friction zone work comes into play) and a higher gear can work with being less twitchy if any throttle input or back-off is required.
 

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Short and sweet....
A 250 tire bike handles like a pig at low speed, and the need to counter steer at low to moderate speeds is counter intuitive, but needed. Once you get used to it however; it works well. Fat tire bikes are a class unto themselves, and normal tire width cruisers are nothing like them. All that said, a Hammer is a good feeling bike at any speed once you reprogram your mind
 

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Kevin - when are you coming out here to do the cam party in So Cal ????
Not sure.....Lost 3 of the four canidates, and then the supply if cams dried up until the end of this month. Need to start from scratch
 
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