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Deliver Me From Ignorance: Riding 8 years; how do I judge what's "correct" for me?

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Deleted member 4372

Greetings—

I'm newly retired. Have been riding about 8 years, moving from a two-stroke Suzuki to a Honda Nighthawk then a Wee Strom. Three years ago picked up my NC with DCT.

Here's the question: Without much experience, how do I judge what good ________ (Fill in the blank) is?

For example, I really have no idea what "Good handling" is, I just know what my bike can do.

Or, "Is the wind I feel normal or extremely bad?" I have no basis for comparison.

Suspension adjusting? What's good? I know the numbers I've read here on the forum, but at the end of the day the suspension gurus say "Set it where it works best for you." "Best for me?" It's ALL best for me as far as I can tell: I simply don't know any different.

How do I know if the chain is making noise when I wear ear plugs when riding? How do I know if the noise is normal?

I've ridden many thousands of miles over the last 8 years and loved every minute of it: perhaps that's my guide? But I do like having things set up correctly: I simply lack the knowledge or the butt-sensitivity or ??? to know what "correctly" is.

When I had the Wee Strom, I went to a Suzuki forum and found the Pacific Northwest section and asked a similar question, concluding with "Anyone living within 100 miles that might help me understand what things should feel like—as opposed to my impressions that may have no connection to what Suzuki or anyone else sees as a good setup?" No replies.

I'm sticking my neck out there and I don't know if the questions I'm asking are answerable. But my gut says "This bike can do more. YOU can do more. Your lack of experience is holding you back." Thus this thread/request/perhaps odd series of questions.

Hope it makes sense.

Many thanks,

Rainier
 

rymech

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Hey Ranier,

I've been riding just 5 years and I've had the same question, I just didn't really know it or put it into words.

My answer to each question that would pop up was found in forums like this one. I also found every passing year of experience is really teaching me a lot.

Basically, I can say two things on this subject. Because of the broad nature, it will unfortunately sound a little like the answers you have found already. First: reading things from the experts (gurus) is an excellent start. Gaining some insight from someone else's experience will point you in the right direction for finding your answer. Second: your experience you gain every year will begin to shape your understanding.

Experimentation leads to a lot of results in terms of "feel for the bike" and riding conditions. It seems like you're on the right track by really wanting to know the answers. You need to take that curiosity - and the direction you've found online - to the bike. Try riding without earplugs for a few miles, have a friend swap bikes with you and listen to the chain from behind. Try a shaft driven bike vs your chain driven. Feel for when the tires get squirrelly in different conditions and on different surfaces. Check out a few different suspension settings and make good mental notes as you put the bike through it's paces.

It comes down to paying attention - In my opinion. Really your on the right track, and often there is no right answer other than "If you enjoyed your ride then you're doing it right." I think you should focus on what type of riding you do, how to adjust the bike to that type of riding and feel it out.

Best of luck!

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ld_rider

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I've ridden many thousands of miles over the last 8 years and loved every minute of it: perhaps that's my guide?

Yes! ^^^^

As far as actual riding goes....Check out a weekend riding school in your area with a focus on street riding techniques (rather than racing).

If that isn't practical for you how about a nice textbook on the subject?

If all else fails, doctors have pills that can help with the anxiety ;-)
 
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Mainsail

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Greetings from Kitsap County. I got mine almost fully farkled and I do very little freeway riding.

I have a lot less experience with motorcycles than you do. I don't worry too much about what is good or better, only about what might be bad. So far the only grief I've found with mine (2012 w/manual trans) is the seat (minor annoyance with sliding forward) and the bolt head down near my left leg that keeps catching my cuff when I try to put my leg out (like, what the heck?). The seat annoyance isn't annoying enough for me to address it immediately and that bolt hasn't caught my pants cuff so firmly as to make me drop the bike; so I'm good.

Don't over-think it. Just enjoy the bike and as you ride you may notice some things you'd like to adjust or change.
 

Red Rider

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I guess I’m in the camp of; if you’re enjoying your ride/journey and adding smiles to the miles, then you’re “doing it right”. Uneventful doesn’t necessarily have to mean boring or dull. On the other hand, if you need something more in the way of experience or a challenge then change it up. Try new things, settings on the bike, routes traveled, etc, to stretch your skills. Another thing that might add some pleasure to the whole motorcycling experience for you - though it may sound counterintuitive, is to read more. There are some great reads on motorcycle travel, tinkering, and such that give you ideas and insights that you didn’t have before. Grab a subscription to a good motorcycle magazine (I’ve had several - down to just Rider now) and I would bet you’ll really enjoy the stories, the bikes, the rides, the comparisons, and the tech talk. All will again enhance your own experience once back on your own bike. It will also help to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Don’t know what else to say except keep having fun! If it’s not FUN, then something really is wrong! :cool:
 
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Deleted member 4372

thanks, all, for the above. As to reading, I'm an inveterate researcher. So I discovered David Hough and read all his books, and not a few articles, before I even threw a leg over a bike.

Subscribed for awhile to Rider and MCN. learned a lot, but again: how do you know what the writer means when he says for example "The bike was firmly planted"? I can guess. I can think "That might be the description for the way the NC tracks a curve like it's a slot car."

I like what I'm doing. But being an inveterate researcher, I know things could probably be even better.
It's that I'm referring to: how do I find that "even better" even if "better" is largely subjective?

Or when a rider says "I bought a new windscreen because I didn't like the turbulence over my helmet"—OK: I feel that wind and assume it's normal. Perhaps it could be improved (I did add a winglet at the top of the windscreen and I think it has changed things for the better.) Perhaps it's already good. I have no basis of comparison.

I typically ride alone. One buddy, on an FJR, has taken a few trips with me. He's never offered to let me try his bike (although he has ridden mine on occasion at my invitation.) I'm of the belief that I'll ride another person's bike only if invited. My own bias there.

anyway, I recognize the ambiguities and subjective nature of what I'm asking. I appreciate your ideas and suggestions and I have no problem doing my own research, since that means I get to go riding again and again and again!
 

happy

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Find some riders near you where you can gather together and ride together. I think that's one way to learn about the bikes and compare.

Suspension set right will be firm and comfortable and still hold the road very well.

Wind blasts is entirely personal. It depends on your build.

Power and torque. It's up to your riding style. Don't let anyone tell you more is better. Only handful of advanced riders can actually use all those ponies in real life riding situation.

Ergonomics. It's again personal preference. Comfort to you may be torture to someone else.

Ride more. Think less. Life's shorter than you think.

Ride safe.

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jimmy da vig

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If you have good tires, balanced with the proper pressure the NC is a very good handling bike. So's the Wee Strom. No real need to search for anything better.

Here's why. The best handling bike I ever had was a Ducati. It would absolutely rip. If it was on nice smooth road. Throw in potholes, tar snakes and assorted debris, you know, real life roads, and it would beat the shit out of you. The front would maintain road contact but it would send shocks to your wrists, elbows and shoulders. The rear would beat up your lower back.

I'm perfectly happy to give up cutting edge suspension for a bike that handed well and is comfortable on a poorly maintained road.

If you want excellent wind and weather protection look to a R100RT. Of course they don't make them anymore. But it does set a baseline for excellence.

If a chain and sprockets are bad you can hear them even with plugs and a full face helmet. Better to just examine them when you lube or adjust the chain. Keep the chain to the loose side of specs. Rotate the chain and look for any kinks as it rolls past. This is a sign of improper care. Check that the teeth aren't hooked.

Don't over think this stuff. You will learn by osmosis. In say 250,000 miles you will have a good grasp on what you want. The bad news is that requires multiple bikes in the garage. Ask my wife, she can tell you.
 

potter0o

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I like the comments I have read so far. I think rider training exposes you to different environments. From those environments you may learn things or ask questions of people who see you and can make recommendations based uniquely to you. I think a lot of people modify things because something is bothering them. If it doesn't bother you, I think you are good. The seat bothers me...but not enough for commuting to invest in it. I may at some point do something about it but in 4th season...meh...

Good luck :)
 

halfmt1

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I believe you're thinking too much, motorcycling is about feeling. It's good to have knowledge but in the end it's about how you feel on the bike. If there is something that does not feel right to you, adjust or change it.
I have been riding for 33 years, I've had a few bikes over the years, i have three at the moment (soon to be Four). I have them because each one makes me feel different when I ride them. I guess what I'm trying to say is, when you go for a ride and get where you're going, but really don't want to stop yet, that's where you want to be. If that makes sense.
 

SilverRocket

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There are a lot of limitations to a bike of this price range. If you want to improve one thing you might be better off buying a bike with fewer limits (will always cost more).
One example would be the suspension. Walk your NC700 forward, from the left side, and then hit the front brake and see how much the front end sags when coming to a stop. That doesn't happen on most modern sport bikes or touring bikes. If you want to compare to a bike that doesn't dip like that but still tracks well, I believe there might be a high end BMW with an electronically adjustable suspension for 3 times the price of the NC.

I've sat on thousands of bikes since the mid-80's when I started riding and have probably ridden 50 different bikes in that time. I think a lot of this might be figuring out what you want from the bike. Do you want a bike that will need to be comfortable on the freeway? A lower speed limit highway or road? A twisting canyon?
What is your style of riding?

As far as telling what is normal you might just need to start riding more bikes, experimenting with different windscreens or even seeing if there's a way to try different helmets while riding.
I had a friend who was having no issues with his 2007 Ninja 250 until he rode my 2008 250R and could feel immediately how soft his brakes and suspension were. Ignorance was bliss in his case, but because he never did any canyon riding he never realized how poor his brakes were. And when I rode his bike I knew mine were better, though I didn't know anything about "brake feel" until I rode a Triumph Daytona at a demo day.
 

b_rubenstein

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I believe there might be a high end BMW with an electronically adjustable suspension for 3 times the price of the NC.

I have a R1200GS and it's worth every nickel. Load it up for touring and push a button to select rider & luggage and it levels out the bike. Get into a twisty road and hit a different button to firm up the dampening. The NC really doesn't come with any user adjustable suspension settings. It probably takes less time to change out the rear shock than adjust the preload. The NC is nice enough for me to have kept it, but glad I don't have to use it for long trips.
 

scotseam

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Ranier. lots of good advice here. Handling, braking is a very personal thing. One riders perception may vary from another. Trust your experience.
 

drdubb

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I think you are very legitimate in your query. I returned to riding in 2010, on a Nighthawk 750. Sold that for the NC in 2015. The key to this bike is to have decent tires, properly inflated and just ride. I for one, don't have a clue to "planted" etc. I did upgrade my suspension, but not sure if I can really tell you its better. I adjust my windscreen by raising my hand as I ride and try to get the air to flow over my helmet. Getting the wind off your body and head increases your endurance. Chain, I just lube it after a ride about every 300 miles. I adjust it per the owners manual. Power, I miss the passing ability of the Nighthawk, but I just adjust how I ride. Its fine. I'm old, don't need to go too fast. Getting there is the key. I change the oil and filter regularly and I've done one valve adjustment. I like farkle until I get the bike like I want it, then think about selling. Research all you want, but don't let it get in the way of riding and relaxing. Lots of common knowledge out there that is not too wise.
 
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Griff

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I made two significant changes to my former NC700X when I had it. These changes were made prior to other modifications that I made that didn't work. I have documented those changes elsewhere on here.

The first change was to Michelin PR4's. They immediately improved leaned over grip and part helped to cure a vague feeling with the front end whereby it tended to push a bit especially in the wet, leaned over. I also reduced the rear tyre pressure from 42 to about 37/38 psi. Imho 42 psi is for pillion carriage.

The other change was to the suspension. In short I raised the rear of the bike and lowered the front slightly. To achieve this I increased the spring preload on the shock to raise the rear. I then raised the forks in their triple clamps about 7mm. That had the affect of lowering the front slightly. The end product of these changes (for me) was a motorcycle that gripped well leaned over and which had a more confident feel to its front end with quicker steering.

My riding style would be brisk and occasionally hurried. I tend to favour twisty backroads.
 

flyinfree.00

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I made two significant changes to my former NC700X when I had it. These changes were made prior to other modifications that I made that didn't work. I have documented those changes elsewhere on here.

The first change was to Michelin PR4's. They immediately improved leaned over grip and part helped to cure a vague feeling with the front end whereby it tended to push a bit especially in the wet, leaned over. I also reduced the rear tyre pressure from 42 to about 37/38 psi. Imho 42 psi is for pillion carriage.

The other change was to the suspension. In short I raised the rear of the bike and lowered the front slightly. To achieve this I increased the spring preload on the shock to raise the rear. I then raised the forks in their triple clamps about 7mm. That had the affect of lowering the front slightly. The end product of these changes (for me) was a motorcycle that gripped well leaned over and which had a more confident feel to its front end with quicker steering.

My riding style would be brisk and occasionally hurried. I tend to favour twisty backroads.
How long did your PR4s last at the lower pressures? Also what was your riding weight?

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Griff

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How long did your PR4s last at the lower pressures? Also what was your riding weight?

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I honestly cannot remember the mileage that was achieved on the PR's as my records were passed on to the new owner. However I do not recall that there was any significant difference because of the lower tyre pressures. My riding weight is 86/88 kg depending on time of year.
 
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