Again, I’m not a motorcycle expert, but I’d like to share my experiences of riding as a newbie.
I took the safety training course on a 250cc Honda Rebel. There were about 12 students in the class, some had experience, most had not. Five of them were under 18, which was kind of weird, mostly in that I’m this old dude, and I’m a rookie too.
When we first sat on the bikes, it was, by comparison to a bicycle, huge. Once we got them going, they were pretty easy to handle, bigger than a scooter or moped, but distinctly more powerful.
The instructors took us through some exercises to get acquainted with the clutch, throttle and breaks. Pretty soon, we’re putt-putting around a big parking lot, weaving through cones, and so on. Passed the test, got my license, now I’m ready.
Of course, getting psyched up for a new endeavor like this involved a lot of talk with experienced guys at the Lit Lounge or with my son, the Marine, who’d had bike for a few years now. What style should I rent, a cruiser, a sport bike, how many CC’s, and so on. Don’t want to get too much power before you’re ready, so they advised. The talk about all those CC’s was daunting.
When I check out places to rent, the only place that had a 750 cc Honda Shadow (the agreed upon size for a rookie like me) was on the side of a hill right above a very busy boulevard. I scoped out the bike, much bigger than the little 250 cc putt putt. But getting out of that very small parking lot, and I’d be on steep grade going up to God knows where, or down to the 50mph traffic. I passed on that one.
I went to the Lawless Harley dealership from which my son bought his Blackline. I knew that they had a pretty huge parking lot where my son took a spin around before closing the deal. That lot would give me some time to warm up, familiar territory, like the safety training center.
When I got there, I found two minor surprises. One was that they didn’t have anything in their rental pool less than 1600 cc’s (although Harley measures their engines in cubic inches). The other surprise was that the giant lot next door was torn up with a new building under construction. I had no place to “warm up”.
I went with the Heritage Softail Classic at 103 cubic inches, roughly 1600 CC’s.
The leap in power from 250 CC’s to 1600CC’s was more than what experienced riders would advise. I’m probably not as scared as I should be, but I went for it. It turns out I could use the parking lot at the movie theater next door to warm up.
So, here are my impression the first time on a hallowed hog.
The thing is a beast, weighing in around 760 lbs. Trying to wrestle it around to my “take-off” position was a struggle. But, as soon as I applied the throttle and let out the clutch, the burdensome weight disappeared. I didn’t experience any overwhelming difference in power. As long as I didn’t slip the clutch or crank the throttle, I was good.
The dealership is in a fairly empty area that used to be farm fields and a network of roads had been put in decades ago in anticipation of large scale industrial development (which didn’t happen). So, the road was wide open with little traffic. I went in five mile circuits around the flats, getting used to the beast. Things were going well. So I decided to branch out and get onto busier streets.
Now I’m starting to realize the power of the Harley. When at a stop light, I’m in front, the light turns green, and I give it a bit of throttle, shift, and into second, and more throttle. Within seconds I’m several car-lengths ahead of the cars in the other lanes. Going through several lights this way, the acceleration was consistently smooth and quick.
For a first time out on such a powerful machine, I went much further than I’d anticipated, through the hills and country-side.
I was hooked.
Another first impression is that a Harley is a big vibrating hunk of metal. Not that it makes you think that right off the bat. But at the muscles fiber level, my body sure knows it and has to respond to all that micro-movement. After four hours of riding, I’m wiped out. Driving in my “cage” on the way home, I was super-relaxed, and I was a vegetable the rest of the day.
When at the gym, finding multi-muscle group exercises is ideal as more of your body is engaged with each rep.