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I had thought for years about riding a motorcycle and finally decided to bite the bullet.



I've gone about it by the book: I signed up for the beginner MSF course, but by 2pm on Saturday (after Friday evening in class), I got off the bike. The instructors were terrific and very encouraging, but as they acknowledged, the range was the tiniest one in the state and I found myself overwhelmed with trying to figure out all the moving parts: I was having a terrible time shifting, and operating either the throttle or the front brake (rather than both) while also navigating the course and watching out for my fellow students. I felt like I just needed a stretch of straight road that I could ride up and down again and again so that each part of the mechanics of riding could sink in and build on themselves. I live on just such a dirt road, so I decided to get my permit, then get a bike, then come back for (the instructors suggested) the intermediate MSF course and then get my license.



Research led me quickly to the TW200. Given my size (I'm about 110, 5'2" with short legs) and the kind of riding I expect to do (I'm not looking for speed and have no aspirations of doing technical trail riding, but I'd love to be comfortable having fun on snowmobile trails and feeling secure on the many hardpacked dirt and paved country roads all over my area (Southern Vermont), I didn't need anything terribly powerful, and I didn't want to invest a fortune in anything. The TW seemed like the perfect choice and, as demonstrated by this forum, it's beloved by all who ride them.



I brought my bike (a 2010 with 1300 miles on it) home on Monday and rode it up and down my road 3 times that afternoon, and just tried to do that again now. What's the problem? I'm scared of it. I've already (gently) dropped it twice, once on Monday (and I had to wait for someone to drive by b/c I couldn't lift it myself) and just now before I'd even made it once down the road. This time, I did get it back upright, but it took all my courage to just get back on the bike and bring it back the 50 yards home. I'm thoroughly intimidated by the bike's weight and, yes, even by this small bike's power.



I'm certain, having done a little bit of posting in the forum pre-purchase and having read a lot of peoples' posts, that there are many of you who will offer me words of encouragement. I am grateful for the desire to do so, but what I'm hoping for is concrete advice. For example,



- Should I have started out with a mini, mini, mini dirt bike that I could easily lift up and that wouldn't hurt if it fell on top of me just while I'm figuring out how to operate one of these machines?



- Are there any tricks or strategies any of you who, like me, discovered you were much more fearful than you thought you'd be?



- Am I silly to be intimidated by even this machine? Any women my size out there?



- Whether my private road idea was fine, but a private dirt road, with sand, rocks and hills (and without a wide space in which to turn around in) may be part of the problem (i.e., does pavement give people confidence that dirt can't?)



Thanks in advance.
 

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A smaller bike (like a 50cc) would be worse. The TW is the bike for you.



The TW, even for experienced riders, is known to have a sub-par front tire for gravel riding. And if your tire pressures are too high as well it'll only add to the issue.



The TW was my first bike. I took it to a neighboring, paved parking lot and road it a lot there taking turns and accelerating and getting a good feel for it. I still pick spots on the ground as I'm riding on the road and swerve around them to keep up on reaction and control. The pavement is a confidence builder!! The gravel will take it away.



Practice makes perfect. Grass is probably better than gravel, but pavement is where you need to be. That will allow you to focus on juggling the brake, clutch, gear shifter, throttle, turn signal, horn, high beam, etc. rather than worrying about the next bump in the grass or the next rut in the gravel.



You went and jumped on the bike hoping it'd all go smooth. After a couple falls, some frustrations dealing with the throttle and levers, it didn't go that smooth. You lost confidence in the process. Now it's the uphill battle. Physically you have it, it's a mental game now. Don't worry, you're not alone.



Relax your grip. A death grip is not needed on the handlebars. Your operations will be smoother when relaxed.



But most importantly, get to a paved area where your brain can focus on the hand/foot operations, not the bad manners of the bike on the gravel.



***EDIT: by paved, I don't mean the open road with other vehicles. You need to master these skills before sharing the road with others. What I meant was a large parking lot, dead-end road with no traffic, long paved driveway, etc.
 

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- Should I have started out with a mini, mini, mini dirt bike that I could easily lift up and that wouldn't hurt if it fell on top of me just while I'm figuring out how to operate one of these machines?



Yes. Not a mini but something like a CRF100F may be better. The main disadvantage you have on the TW is weight, as you mentioned, and the fact that there are more things that can get broken. However, the TW is still a good bike to learn on.



- Are there any tricks or strategies any of you who, like me, discovered you were much more fearful than you thought you'd be?



The main trick is to practice. Take it one step at a time.



- Am I silly to be intimidated by even this machine? Any women my size out there?



Any bike can be intimidating to a beginner. Take your time and you'll get it. My teenage niece took a few tries to get it, but now she can ride my TW fairly well.



- Whether my private road idea was fine, but a private dirt road, with sand, rocks and hills (and without a wide space in which to turn around in) may be part of the problem (i.e., does pavement give people confidence that dirt can't?)



Stick to the dirt until you are 1000% confident. Try to find an open field or pit to ride in. Somewhere that you have plenty of room to maneuver and no worry of other vehicles.



Thanks in advance.
 

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Nice. REAL nice. First two responses are conflicting - Dirt vs. Pavement. Grass is good if you are falling a lot; dirt is a NO NO and will feel wishy washy and can be unpredictable to a new rider. Ride around in a grass field until you feel like youre having fun. Then do that some more - practice stopping, starting, etc. Then move on to parking lots once you have the hang of it.



On dropping the bike - TRY THIS - if the bike is laid down, stand as close to the bike as possible where the tank meets the seat, FACING AWAY from the bike, SQUAT with a STRAIGHT BACK, firmly grip the frame under the seat with your left hand and the handlebar with your right. Then stand up, pushing back as the bike rises. A woman your size can EASILY stand a hog weighing twice as much as TW using this method.



Do yourself a favor if you havent already - buy a set of leather chaps and jacket plus a FULL FACE helmet. I mean, unless you dont like your face and skin, and would like to donate them to the latest pavement painting project. Then by all means dont. It will also keep the bike from burning you if it falls over on top of you.



-sS
 

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You've only dropped it twice? You RAWK!



Seriously, keep at it. Drop it. Pick it up. Repeat as needed. I guaranty within 2 weeks you'll laugh at yourself for even thinking of quitting.



The TW is the perfect learner's choice. My wife is exactly your size, worked through the same fears, and cost me most of my spare brake levers. lol. Don't give up.



Don't make us come over there...
 

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Everyone has to start somewhere. Reading your post makes me smile because I think I am a macho biker. However, I started riding when I was 13 and put 6000 miles on a Honda 50 in my back yard. I don't know how many times the bike threw me, but it was in the hundreds. On the other hand, I did learn how to handle a bike during the 2.5 year I was limited to my back yard. As soon as I got my license, I graduated to a 250 Scrambler and I thought that was about the fastest thing out there. Little did I know how little and gutless they really were. 150 bikes later I ride a Goldwing 1800 and two TW 200's. I love the T-dubs and I think of them as little bikes now, but I've been thrown more from them than any of the other bikes I have owned. Of course, all of the tumbles have been pilot error, and none the fault of the machines. That said, I have taught a couple of gals how to ride and they do have a different challange then the guys. First of all, they usually aren't as strong as guys, and secondly you don't hear too many gals yell "hey watch this" just before they jump off the roof of their house. So I have found that girls prefer to as you say ride the straight line. It is my opinion that the straight line doesn't do to much for developing motorcycle skills. What I usually do with someone very new to riding is teach the basics, clutch, throttle, brakes. I usually will do this on a straight line, but as soon as they look comfortable with the controls enough to add some turns, I lay out a rather large figure 8 and have them turn left around one circle of the 8 and right around the other one while coming to a full stop and then restart where the X is formed between the circles of the 8. It gets boring fast, but it will develope quickly the basic skills you will need to handle the bike. As you get more comfortable, you can speed up, and yes you will have those moments where you find yourself not in 100% percent control. Those are the times that you will actually develope the skills that may one day save your life.
 

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Hi CMC, do you have a local motorcycle shop? If you do go down there in a car,tell them you are new to motorcycles. They will help you,they want your business. Do not give up,it takes time. It is all in keep your balance. Us guys may have had a head start, like on skateboards,bicycles, and water-skiing. I know you can do it. Keep us posted on how you are doing.
 

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i say paved road. tires stick better.



too much power? use less throttle! you can do this, dont be afraid of that pig just get out there and putt for a while. i remember feeling how you do right now... granted i was a little tyke on a tote goat, but the feeling is the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm loving your responses! They've all made me smile, or take a deep breath, or laugh out loud. Better yet, all of your thoughts and suggestions are helping me to think strategically about the next time I get on the bike.



Biglefti: You're absolutely correct: pigs will fly before I fly off the roof of my house! And your caution about relying too much on a straightaway is duly noted. As you said re teaching your women friends, however, I'd like to reach a modicum of comfort with clutch, gear shift, brakes, etc., before starting into figure 8s. By the way, one of the problems I've had is finding neutral. And I mean I've had a ton of trouble finding it. Am I drawing too much on my car-driving experience (i.e., I learned long, long ago not to ride the clutch in my car and so it's weird to do it on the bike). Thoughts on that?



Rodney & PGillis: Until you suggested that I ride on grass rather than gravel, it never occurred to me that I might be able to take advantage of the huge and newly hayed field on my road. I've already left a message with the owner to see if he'd mind my using it as a training ground. Thanks for that.



Pgillis: Your comment about my grip is something I suspect I'm going to come back to again and again, especially since I've freaked myself out a couple of times by suddenly realizing that I'm revving the engine without intending to at all, the only good thing being that I had an equally strong death grip on the clutch.



Secretstash: One of my MSF instructors demonstrated that lift (after I gently dumped my bike during training
), and I watched some YouTube videos of it, as well. Getting a firm footing on sand/dirt/rocks proved difficult, however, particularly since both times the bike was already on a little bit of a downward slope -- which is partly why I dumped it -- the ground had fallen just a hair away from my foot. I found that turning the front wheel and handle bars up and lifting with them, although I felt unsteady doing it, at least put it upright. (And I have already learned to immediately turn the fuel valve and ignition OFF when I dump it). I do, however, plan to practice the lift you've described when I have it on grass. As for chaps, it's not something I really thought of before, I can't afford to to throw a lot of cash at biking attire before I'm sure I have the you-know-whats to stick with this.



lizrdbrth: Glad to hear about your wife's experience. If I thought I could get you guys over here to help me shake off my fears, I'd do it in a heartbeat!



OvertheHill: The closest bike shop is roughly 30 miles away. I'm headed there tomorrow to try to get a proper fitting full face helmet (turns out the new S I got with the bike is too big; I need an XS or an XXS or maybe even a youth sized one (!) if I can find one that isn't ridiculous looking). I'm not sure what you mean, however, by guys in school with cycles. ??



Very grateful to all of you for your time, enthusiasm, good humor, support and suggestions.



CMC
 

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Another GREAT suggestion - Have someone tighten down the throttle-stop screw for you (or do it yourself?) That will do a thorough job of keeping you from going too fast for your skill level. When you get comfortable; adjust it back a little to add more speed.



-sS
 

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The hay field would be perfect It helps to have the manual car experience, but when people get nerves they grab so on a bike you lose the flow as so much is in your hands. When you get in the field get to 2nd or 3rd and cruise for awhile to find the throttle response then go up or down 1 gear only for a while longer. This way you will get the clutch action and timing (it does come down to timing) do that til your BORED then play through more gears. I would say 1hour will do it. Put it away, wipe the smile off your face repeat the next day and it will happen faster, and so on til you start to hunger for more travels. What you have been dreaming of is different than the reality it will come to you. The neutral is just pain like most things the more you want it the harder it is to get!!
 

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@ CMC



At the MSF course that my Wife and I took last year, the #1 reason I saw that people were dropping their bikes was from GRABBING the front brake either in a turn or even on a straight - since you said you had a 'death grip' on the handle bars this may be a contributing factor...



Using 1 or 2 fingers on the brake lever helps to some extent, but you must squeeze the the lever smoothly, progressively increasing the tension as the bike shifts its weight forward, thus giving you more traction on the front tire, helping you to stop.



Also try to get in the habit of using the foot (rear) brake always. And the suggestion on doing figure 8's until your sick of them is +100 - start out slow and very wide and brake before the turn - One gal at our MSF course rode increaingly well until the last test and grabbed the brake in a turn and BOOM down she goes.



Keep safe and keep trying.

 

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ATGATT. It keeps your parts bagged for the EMTs.



CT70H. Best first bike for a vertically challenged individual ever.
 

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You already received plenty of good advice but I have to chime in.

I am 104, 5'4" and let me tell you, this is exactly the right bike for us! But don't be fooled by those who say that it's as easy as a bicycle. They say that because they are big and tall, but I never had that feeling until after a lot of miles on my TW. It is small and lightweight, but the engine is pretty rough and it might take a bit to modulate clutch and throttle properly. If you had a scooter of the same size you wouldn't have any problem at all - but when you are learning and find yourself in the wrong gear it is just not easy.



Practice is everything, and I swear that while for the first year I could barely touch the ground, now I put my foot down flat and even bend the knee a bit. I didn't get any taller, it's just that over time you learn how to sit on the bike and control it with your body. Something that helped me boost my confidence a lot was working on the bike (I have old TW's that needed lots of repairs and maintenance). I learned to move it around at ease and take it up and down the stand by myself. You just get used to it! I may still have a tiny knot in my stomach before leaving for a long trip, but then when I sit on my TW I feel at home.



I usually ride on tarmac so I can't tell you anything about trail riding, which is entirely another world (where you are supposed to drop your bike a lot), but I can recommend a few videos that really helped me understand a few things - look for "Motorman" Palladino on Youtube. He got me thinking, if he can do that with that kind of bike I can do it with my TW no doubt!




Oh, and this is me practicing for my motorcycle license: video (had to adjust the idle much higher, otherwise on that TW125 I couldn't do that in first gear for the life of me! lol)
 

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Can't really give you much more advice than what others above have already given, but a couple of weeks ago I dropped by TW twice...while nearly standing still. I've been riding for years and it still happens. And mostly likely will happen again. And that's why I shouldn't buy anything expensive...I might drop it!
 

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I'm loving your responses! They've all made me smile, or take a deep breath, or laugh out loud. Better yet, all of your thoughts and suggestions are helping me to think strategically about the next time I get on the bike.



Biglefti: You're absolutely correct: pigs will fly before I fly off the roof of my house! And your caution about relying too much on a straightaway is duly noted. As you said re teaching your women friends, however, I'd like to reach a modicum of comfort with clutch, gear shift, brakes, etc., before starting into figure 8s. By the way, one of the problems I've had is finding neutral. And I mean I've had a ton of trouble finding it. Am I drawing too much on my car-driving experience (i.e., I learned long, long ago not to ride the clutch in my car and so it's weird to do it on the bike). Thoughts on that?



Rodney & PGillis: Until you suggested that I ride on grass rather than gravel, it never occurred to me that I might be able to take advantage of the huge and newly hayed field on my road. I've already left a message with the owner to see if he'd mind my using it as a training ground. Thanks for that.



Pgillis: Your comment about my grip is something I suspect I'm going to come back to again and again, especially since I've freaked myself out a couple of times by suddenly realizing that I'm revving the engine without intending to at all, the only good thing being that I had an equally strong death grip on the clutch.



Secretstash: One of my MSF instructors demonstrated that lift (after I gently dumped my bike during training
), and I watched some YouTube videos of it, as well. Getting a firm footing on sand/dirt/rocks proved difficult, however, particularly since both times the bike was already on a little bit of a downward slope -- which is partly why I dumped it -- the ground had fallen just a hair away from my foot. I found that turning the front wheel and handle bars up and lifting with them, although I felt unsteady doing it, at least put it upright. (And I have already learned to immediately turn the fuel valve and ignition OFF when I dump it). I do, however, plan to practice the lift you've described when I have it on grass. As for chaps, it's not something I really thought of before, I can't afford to to throw a lot of cash at biking attire before I'm sure I have the you-know-whats to stick with this.



lizrdbrth: Glad to hear about your wife's experience. If I thought I could get you guys over here to help me shake off my fears, I'd do it in a heartbeat!



OvertheHill: The closest bike shop is roughly 30 miles away. I'm headed there tomorrow to try to get a proper fitting full face helmet (turns out the new S I got with the bike is too big; I need an XS or an XXS or maybe even a youth sized one (!) if I can find one that isn't ridiculous looking). I'm not sure what you mean, however, by guys in school with cycles. ??



Very grateful to all of you for your time, enthusiasm, good humor, support and suggestions.



CMC




Personally I'd say try not to think so much about it. I mean think about what you are doing step by step but too much analysis won't help. As far as the fear, remember that the fear is NOT in the bike or the riding, it is strictly in your head so you can handle it. Keep your confidence, you CAN do this and I think part of the problem might be you are making it harder in your head than it really is.



Dropping the bike is not failure, giving up is. You won't likely get seriously hurt unless you are going fairly fast or run into (or get run into by) something. Anyone who rides much will drop a bike, usually you just get scraped at worst.



Anyway, hope this helps.
 

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Lots of comments, but one stands out above all.. The Honda CT70H is the answer. The H means hand clutch model with a 4 speed. On a ct 70 h you can learn all the brake, clutch, throttle techniques without weight or height concerns. Find one and ride it. For the type of riding you are talking about doing the ct70h would be your ticket.
 

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Ok girl, take a deep breath. We are the same height and I bought the tw because of it's versatility and seat height. Woman to woman I can say that you will get there with practice. You are doing the right thing asking for help and this forum is amazing as are the people on it. However, no matter what it is simply time in the saddle. Confidence comes from practice. There are youtube video's that show the correct way to pick up a tipped over motorcycle and many of them use a woman to demonstrate. When you have someone with you just lay your bike over on the lawn and practice this til you know you can do it. Don't give up. The type of riding you want to do is exactly what I do and love. Every time I go out I learn something new. I rode as a kid and just took it back up later in life and felt like I was starting all over. Continue with parking lot drills and then just take some easy straight forward rides to build confidence. Soon you will be a member of the dirty girl club. Good job!
 

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I can't really add much to the good advice already given, but remember everyone digs chicks on motorcycles (that sounds silly coming from an Englishman), persevere and you will be the most interesting person in your neighborhood.



Nobody was born with the ability to ride a motorbike, and we all made and still make mistakes.

It will all fall into place before you know it.



Remember that all the advice and encouragement you need is here at your fingertips.
 

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I think you are going through normal stuff that most if not all of us have gone through.



I started ride at age 9 on dirt bikes, and I'll tell you I had no real training beside dad yelling at me to go faster. My first time riding my Suzuki 50 wasn't even a ride. I remember standing on the left side holding the handle bars and clutch pulled in, since my dad had just pulled up and left it in 1st gear for me. Well the next thing I know is the bike takes off runs over my foot, I fall back and give it full throttle and drags me a good 20 yards before I let go. I can't tell you how many scared/stupid things I have done. I have forgotten many times, when first riding on the street, to put the kickstand down and layed the bike on it's side, and I was in highschool. My friends all laughed at me and I just said "Isn't that how your suppose to do it?"



Anyways, what I'm trying to say we all have been where you are and it is a learning process. The few adventures you have had about dropping it and being intimadated will end up making you a better rider in the end. Yes, I have many bumps, but just remember to learn from your mistakes.



Hang in there!!

fletch
 
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