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 Motorcycle Safety
 General Discussion
 How do you keep the speed under control?
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tmoldovan
Junior Member
36 Posts


Lincoln, NE
USA

Honda

Shadow 750, ST1300

Posted - 08/17/2013 :  9:51 PM Follow poster on Twitter                      Like
I've ridden a 500cc bike for about 5 years, ('81 Honda GL)
It was heavy and somewhat anemic. I had never taken it on the interstate, and even on 2 lane highway, it would shake at around 70 mph.
Going too fast was therefore never an issue.

I've since graduated to 750 Honda shadow. This one definitely has more giddy up in town but its (weakfish) 35 HP engine shows it's weakness on the interstate, especially when riding two up. (When it's just me, it's ok, it can work its way up to 80-90 which is plenty fast for me. I rarely go over 80, especially as things start getting windy and buzzy.)

But... I had a chance to ride a Triumph Tiger 800, rated at around 95HP, and while it is considered "mid size", I was doing 66 before I knew it, 86 a few moments later, and finally reached 92. The bike itself didn't seem to care. Everything on it was smooth and I couldn't tell the difference between going 60 and 80.

So... How do you make sure you're not going faster than what you consider safe, if the bike is giving you as much as you'll take? (Open highway, no traffic, things starting to get comfortable...)

Am I just getting a little intoxicated with power?

scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6949 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, ID
USA

Honda

XR650L, 790 Adv R

Posted - 08/17/2013 :  10:23 PM
Let me answer this indirectly...

My first bike was a 100cc Kawasaki. I think my Craftsman lawnmower has more power than that bike had, and it's not even self-propelled. When I rode that bike, I was used to giving it full throttle just to get it going. So when somebody let me take his Suzuki 350 two-stroke out for a test ride, I started off in the same way and was pretty soon going so fast that I almost couldn't get it stopped before running out of road. I seem to remember several test rides on faster bikes where similar things happened, before I got a bit wiser.

Fast forward to the present day. I have two bikes, one with less than 40 horsepower (XR650L) and one with close to 100 horsepower (KTM 990). When I'm riding the Honda XR, I can crank the throttle wide open often without going too fast, although I can't get away with that for very long on city streets. When I ride the KTM, most of the time I don't open the throttle more than 1/8 turn. That's good enough for nearly all riding that I do. And unless I'm trying to pass somebody, I rarely bother to downshift at speed either, because it accelerates pretty well even in higher gears.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you spend time on a more powerful bike, you learn to respect the added power available at the twist of the right wrist and you don't crank the throttle open unless you really mean it. If all you've experienced is lower-powered motorcycles, you're more likely to stick with the habits that you've developed on those bikes, because you haven't learned to respect the added power.
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D R
Advanced Member
1053 Posts
[Mentor]


Northern, Virginia
USA

BMW

R1200RT

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  1:40 AM
One of the fundamentals taught in the BRC is to always keep your right wrist low when gripping the right handgrip. Doing so helps to avoid accidently giving too much throttle.
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  8:35 AM
"Am I just getting a little intoxicated with power"

Yes, and if you don't "sober up" you will find that your intoxication will result in bad things happening. Unreasonable speeding or riding too fast for conditions tends to result in negative outcomes. The phrasing of your post indicates that you are flirting with passive self destruction and that you need to seriously consider the motivations behind what is potentially a lethal problem.
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Daddio
Male Advanced Member
775 Posts
[Mentor]


Calera, AL
USA

Suzuki

Bandit 1250

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  8:50 AM
In the immortal words of the great philosopher, Joe Walsh. "My Maserati does 185. I lost my license, now I don't drive."

That power is there for you to enjoy that extra uumph when you are two up. It is there to give you confidence when traffic all around you is moving at 80+. It is there so you do not always have to worry if you are in the right gear for a quick acceleration or if you need to climb a grade. It is a comfort feature to be appreciated and not abused.

Don't end up like Joe or worse. The only thing you need to control is your right wrist. That will control your speed. You can still enjoy the power.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2083 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  11:59 AM
quote:
How do you make sure you're not going faster than what you consider safe...
As I ride I scan my surroundings. Every few scans the scan includes a look in the mirrors and a glance at my speedometer as I go from one mirror to the other. On roads where there can be pedestrians what I consider safe has the speed limit as my max. My speed has to be safe for everyone.

BTW, my 35hp baby, if not watched, has no problem making a 55/65 mph highway speed limit a distant memory. Hence my need to frequently look at the speedo. I have never been a good judge of speed.
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tmoldovan
Junior Member
36 Posts


Lincoln, NE
USA

Honda

Shadow 750, ST1300

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  1:42 PM Follow poster on Twitter
Thanks guys, I really appreciate all you advice.

I did not know about wrist positioning. Having started out on dirt bikes, maybe the heavy throttle is one of the bad habits that carried over.
Will definitely practice gripping the throttle low.

And right, on city streets, I find it easy to stay in the safe range, as there are so many things to scan, and there are lots of reminders to keep it safe.
I appreciate your advice for when I'm out on the open road.
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kacinpa
Male Advanced Member
802 Posts
[Mentor]


Lansdale, PA
USA

Triumph

Sprint GT

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  6:23 PM
quote:
Originally posted by tmoldovan


But... I had a chance to ride a Triumph Tiger 800, rated at around 95HP, and while it is considered "mid size", I was doing 66 before I knew it, 86 a few moments later, and finally reached 92. The bike itself didn't seem to care. Everything on it was smooth and I couldn't tell the difference between going 60 and 80.



If you got that reaction from a Tiger 800 DO NOT test ride a Street Triple, Speed Triple, Daytona, Sprint or Tiger Explorer! Or any Liter-plus bike for that matter, unless you tame that tendency to ride by "feel" on an unfamiliar bike.

As others have mentioned you need to adjust your riding style to the machine you are on. With my Vulcan 500 (45hp) I sometimes have to use WOT in combination with downshifting to make a pass. On my Sprint GT (126hp) I have never used WOT, and rarely exceed 1/8 turn on the throttle, even passing in 6th gear 2-up. It is VERY easy to get to extra-legal speed quickly with no protestation from the bike. You just need to use discipline so that you don't do that.

Edited by - kacinpa on 08/19/2013 9:59 PM
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Robus
Male Senior Member
293 Posts


Chicago, IL
USA

BMW

R1200RT, HD FLTRU

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  8:02 PM
All the safety tips in the world won't help if you lack self control. Stick with the low power bikes you've been riding.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6949 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, ID
USA

Honda

XR650L, 790 Adv R

Posted - 08/18/2013 :  8:06 PM
quote:
Originally posted by kacinpa

On my Sprint GT (165hp)
The magazines and the Triumph UK web sites all say 128. I don't think Triumph has ever gotten close to 165 on any bike they've sold to the public.
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tmoldovan
Junior Member
36 Posts


Lincoln, NE
USA

Honda

Shadow 750, ST1300

Posted - 08/19/2013 :  8:58 PM Follow poster on Twitter
Ok... I'll be damned... I grabbed the throttle from a lower angle as D R and Scottrnelson suggested, and it made all the difference. Much easier to keep the power under control. I'm sure my gas mileage will show it too.
Now to adjust my brake angle for the new position.

Hah, yeah, I have no interest in the triples or Daytonas, as magnificent of bikes as they are. I'm content with my Phantom, but here in Nebraska we have a lot of dirt roads and pasture trails that I wouldn't mind exploring. (Hence testing waters with the Tiger 800.)
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kacinpa
Male Advanced Member
802 Posts
[Mentor]


Lansdale, PA
USA

Triumph

Sprint GT

Posted - 08/19/2013 :  9:59 PM
quote:
Originally posted by scottrnelson

quote:
Originally posted by kacinpa

On my Sprint GT (165hp)
The magazines and the Triumph UK web sites all say 128. I don't think Triumph has ever gotten close to 165 on any bike they've sold to the public.



I THOUGHT I typed 126! That is what is listed in my MOM.

I will go fix it!
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kacinpa
Male Advanced Member
802 Posts
[Mentor]


Lansdale, PA
USA

Triumph

Sprint GT

Posted - 08/19/2013 :  10:02 PM
quote:
Originally posted by tmoldovan


Hah, yeah, I have no interest in the triples or Daytonas, as magnificent of bikes as they are. I'm content with my Phantom, but here in Nebraska we have a lot of dirt roads and pasture trails that I wouldn't mind exploring. (Hence testing waters with the Tiger 800.)



The Tiger 800XC is a good choice if you can tame that throttle hand. But perhaps a KLR650 might be a better place to start if you can't!
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bricksrheavy
Male Standard Member
132 Posts


Europe
Croatia

Yamaha

FZ6

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  4:50 AM
Guys, I'm really not sure that physically limiting the throttle is the right solution, it's a good quick fix but it doesn't solve the problem. I mean, by that rational you can put a thumbtack on your front brake lever to prick you every time you grab it too hard and say that now you're all good for braking. The brain controls the body which controls the bike, if you can't keep your speed down that means you are letting the bike ride you (and not the other way around). Wouldn't it be better for tmoldovan to work on his self-control?

*Post edited for clarity

Edited by - bricksrheavy on 08/20/2013 5:21 AM
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2083 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  6:15 AM
quote:
Wouldn't it be better for tmoldovan to work on his self-control?
IMO, long term that is the key but right now it seems working on it and the mechanics are both needed.

The reason I posted that I glance at the speedo is that knowing my speed helps my self control kick in. Over the years I have had vehicles that are what I call sneaky fast. I would not know I was speeding if I did not look at the speedo because they were so smooth. My shadow isn't one of those, LOL, but since I really rarely feel my speed it is a habit I hope will translate better to more powerful bikes (and it has when I've ridden them).

I will mention, on the mechanics side of the discussion, that I use a cramp buster (aka throttle rocker). It prevents me from holding the throttle with a lower hand position but has made a huge difference with the effect of my carpal tunnel syndrome on longish rides. I have found that when I hit an unexpected bump or an expected one of unexpected severity it causes me to twist the throttle. I have learned to offset that by using the clutch so that the end result is an increase in engine noise but not speed. The clutch is your friend as has been said on this forum before and I truly believe it.

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tmoldovan
Junior Member
36 Posts


Lincoln, NE
USA

Honda

Shadow 750, ST1300

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  7:46 AM Follow poster on Twitter
To alleviate some of the fears... When riding, I always keep my two boys in the back of the mind, and that I need to get back to them in one piece.
Also, as this is Nebraska, there are plenty of deer attacking the roads, and visual reminders of that, with their carcasses strewn along the shoulders.

I'm not a speed demon, nor a daredevil, I enjoy solo riding, and wanted some input on better/safer riding techniques.

I have been a member here since 2006, and this is really my main MC forum. Safety to me is paramount (ATGATT!), and I do appreciate the input. I am one of those self taught riders (riding dirt bikes in the open country) so no doubt lots of bad habits sneak in.

From what I've also heard, it does sound that XC may be better for gravel. We'll thankfully, I'm in no rush, so I'll give that one a test too.
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Magnawing
Male Senior Member
281 Posts


The Woodlands, TX
USA

Honda

VF750C

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  8:03 AM Follow poster on Twitter
My last street bike prior to the Magna that I have now was a used '79 Yamaha XS400 which had a whopping 36 bhp (28 rwhp)...fast forward 20 years and I bought a '94 Honda Magna 750 pushing out 83 bhp (70 rwhp). Yes it's still a Honda 750, same make and displacement as your 35 hp Shadow however, it's a V4 sportbike engine (VFR 750) in a cruiser frame (twice the cylinders, twice the power???). It took some time to get used to the extra power but it has plenty of oomph for 2-up riding and is very tame as long as I keep the RPM's below 7K (which is about 80-85 mph in 5th gear). But keeping the throttle monster in check is always at the front of my mind...he likes to creep out occasionally when I'm alone on mountain roads and I usually fight him off...usually
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Redbeard
Male Standard Member
107 Posts


South Ogden, UT
USA

Triumph

Sprint ST 955i

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  10:35 AM
Excess speed is something that I have struggled against from my earliest riding years. The breakthrough, for me, came when I attended an advanced rider school on a racetrack (Miller Motorsports Park). It was paradigm-shifting to ride my motorcycle in the track environment, safe from hazards such as other cars, deer, debris, etc. I was able to focus on practicing good technique: braking properly to corner entry, picking a late apex (MMP is a fantastic late-apex track), and smoothly rolling back on the throttle. The skills were directly applicable to my street riding.

What really made the greatest impact for my speeding problem came later in the day. When we had worked up to carrying some speed into the corners is when I really started to grasp, physically, the distance and effort required to stop my motorcycle from a normal freeway speed. And then beyond that, how much that distance and effort changed with only an additional 5-10 mph at the end of the straight. In short, that is when I truly started to respect the speed.

Since then, I have found it a whole lot easier to keep my speed under control on the streets.

P.S. Scott, the most powerful regular-production Triumphs have been the 02-06 Daytona 955 at 149 hp and, on the cruiser side, the current Rocket III Roadster at 146 hp.
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Magnawing
Male Senior Member
281 Posts


The Woodlands, TX
USA

Honda

VF750C

Posted - 08/20/2013 :  12:17 PM Follow poster on Twitter
I think Redbeard found the key...if you can manage to find a place where you can practice in a controlled environment, take it. Many local tracks open for "track day" events occasionally and that is an ideal place to work on learning speed control, cornering techniques and braking abilities (and limitations). If you can find a local track that hosts these events, take the time and spend a few bucks to turn some laps. You'll be surprised to find out how much you don't know about your motorcycle and it's capabilities. Where I used to live, there was a defunct airfield that would open to the public a few times a year for "vehicle testing" with the strict admonition that there would be absolutely NO RACING tolerated. Vehicles were sent out at 60 second intervals to minimize the chances that they would collide mid-track. If there was a crash on the track, all activity stopped immediately until it was completely cleaned up and deemed safe to resume operation. I believe the cost was around $50 per vehicle for the entire day...but that was 25 years ago, would probably be $250+ now just to cover insurance costs. Not even sure if it's still around or has been gobbled up by the progress monster.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1716 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 08/21/2013 :  9:09 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by Redbeard

P.S. Scott, the most powerful regular-production Triumphs have been the 02-06 Daytona 955 at 149 hp and, on the cruiser side, the current Rocket III Roadster at 146 hp.



Those may be crankshaft numbers. Every test on a dyno that I've seen put them both in the 125 to 130 HP range.

As to the original discussion, I just can't imagine getting on a strange bike, and giving it much throttle or going high speed with it.

I don't swap bikes much, or take demo rides, but for example even when I swapped bikes with my brother and got on his heavier BMW with 25 LESS HP than my own, I took it easy.

There's just so many differences between bikes. From seating position, controls position, throttle and brake response, clutch action, power delivery, how they handle... but that's also why I never let anyone ride my current bike except my brother. I don't trust some of the other guys I know to keep the thottle hand light.
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ColoRexer
Male Advanced Member
616 Posts
[Mentor]


Castle Rock, CO
USA

Kawasaki

ZX14

Posted - 08/24/2013 :  8:27 PM
I can speak to this problem more than ever with my latest motorcycle. I've found that with experience, your maximum speed is dictated by environment, not horsepower. For instance, I know how big a risk factor speeding near intersections is, so I don't do it. On the highway, the game is managing your space bubble, lines of sight and relative speed compared to other vehicles, and my behavior is the same as it was with the ZRX. Six years, no tickets and no mishaps with the 1100, and I hope to keep that record with the 14. Now what about the open road? I'm really concerned about surface hazards and other things and know that if I break my toy (or self) playtime is over. If I didn't take risk seriously I wouldn't last long.

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