How do you know when your bike is too much


38 replies to this topic
  • singletrack pops

Posted January 09, 2009 - 06:03 AM

#21

I got back into riding at age 58 after about 10 yrs off. Started riding at age 30. I quickly learned that my reflexes, stamina and skills had diminished. I rode several bikes that were just too race oriented for me. I got hurt on one of them and had rotator cuff repair. I have gone full circle back to my roots and am riding an XR 400. With a few mods to suspension, height, bars and sprockets I once again am loving riding like I did when I was 30! The bike has totally predictable power, is comfortable for long rides, has great suspension, turns like, well, a Honda! Every bike has a downside or 2. The XR is heavy and I have to kick it, which is really not a problem.. Both these problems are solved pretty much by momentum. You must maintain momentum by looking ahead, way ahead of where you are riding so mentally you have dismissed what you are riding over and you are all ready setting up for what's ahead. If you are looking down at the front wheel (which I do when fatigue sets in) you will get very slow and stall, and fall. I run my idle slightly higher also in case I chop the throttle I don't immediately stall. When moving with momentum the bike seems to glide over stuff that gives a rough ride and problems when putting along.
I would say you are riding an intimidating bike and would be much happier on a trail oriented XR 250 or 400, or a CRF 250X/ new generation Yamaha WR 250F. I would stay away from motocross bikes. IMHO.

  • Kirkster

Posted January 09, 2009 - 06:17 AM

#22

I have been riding for two years. Going to hit 41 this summer. My nickname with my riding buddies was "Stream Diver" but they changed it to "Bone Crusher" after my 30mph Digger at Hatfield on November 13th.

Dress for the Crash...

I took a bone chip out of my wrist. Broke a rock in half with my knee (thank God I got and was wearing shin and knee pads that I got just before the trip) Split the skin on my other shin through the shin pad and motocross boot. Various bruises (mostly on the knee that broke the rock) a couple scrapes, finished riding that day and then got back on for half of the next day, and all of the last day of riding.

The bike suffered a bent bark buster, so it came out better than I did.

Now here it is January 9th. I can finally go back to the gym. I had been hitting the gym hard for 3 months before the crash and I am sure being in relatively good shape kept my crash from being worse. Plus you wife will appreciate you being in good shape too :thinking:

I have no thoughts of getting rid of my 07 WR450F at least until they are fuel injected. In the mean time I just know that I have to get in more seat time, and not follow the A rider down hill on slippery rocks.

  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted January 09, 2009 - 08:37 AM

#23

You are getting some good opinions here.

I still would argue that a 450 is not a bike for learning, especially on tight trails where small mistakes lead to big problems. I used to feel that the bike was taking me for a ride instead of the other way around.

Keep in mind that you are asking a bunch of 450 owners if you should keep your 450. Be sure to go the the yamaha wr250 forum and ask about guys downsizing from a 450. You will find many guys who have done that and will give you some opinions.

good luck with your decision. Take it all in, then decide what's best for you and your family. Stay safe and within your own limits.

  • Baja trail Rider

Posted January 09, 2009 - 10:01 PM

#24

Yes JW you will be fine if the bike is on top of you .not running,you wont have to find kill button

  • FatBuoy

Posted January 10, 2009 - 06:24 AM

#25

You are getting some good opinions here.

I still would argue that a 450 is not a bike for learning, especially on tight trails where small mistakes lead to big problems. I used to feel that the bike was taking me for a ride instead of the other way around.

Keep in mind that you are asking a bunch of 450 owners if you should keep your 450. Be sure to go the the yamaha wr250 forum and ask about guys downsizing from a 450. You will find many guys who have done that and will give you some opinions.

good luck with your decision. Take it all in, then decide what's best for you and your family. Stay safe and within your own limits.


Could you expand on your moving down to a 250 suggestion? I thought the two bikes were essentially the same size and weight (10 pound difference). I ride the 450 and my riding buddy the 250. We trade off every once in a while but the only difference I can tell is power. BIG difference.

  • brad the best

Posted January 10, 2009 - 12:25 PM

#26

Could you expand on your moving down to a 250 suggestion? I thought the two bikes were essentially the same size and weight (10 pound difference). I ride the 450 and my riding buddy the 250. We trade off every once in a while but the only difference I can tell is power. BIG difference.


i agree , the 450 is easy to ride once your used to the power . it took me 5 hours after a 4 year hiatus and coming off a 200 , the 450 just some how seems to be able to get you out of trouble better then a 250 . personally i like riding my friends te610 , your never in to high of a gear for that hill just twist and hold on .

the 250 is tamer so you have to wind it up a little ,personally its easier to deal with the low end of a 450 .

i think the main thing is knowing what you can and can not do ahead of time and backing down .

  • andrea420

Posted January 10, 2009 - 06:25 PM

#27

Maybe you just need more practice time? I weigh 130lbs and I've always been on big bikes.. My first bike was a CR250 2 stroke, and from there I went to a CRF450 and now I'm on my 08 WR450.. Having knee and elbow pads are SO important.. I love the power that the 450's have, it has got me out of trouble more than once. I have a tough time riding my bike in really tight trails, but I think that's more from my inexperience than the bike itself.. I am kind of small for the bike too. But once you are properly equipped with all the padding you need, the spills won't be as bad. I think falling is just a part of learning. Just get out there and ride, and try some practice drills in your off time. Oh yeah, and hold on to that bike with your legs

  • campcookie

Posted January 10, 2009 - 10:06 PM

#28

I've ridden for 20+ yrs, all trail riding. I'm a Honda girl. I've riden my husbands Suzuki RM250, Honda 650R, Honda 450X and my sons Suzuki RM250Z. I just purchased a Yamaha WR250R dual sport (took it out today for the first time) but I like my honda CRF250X. A 450 is a big bike to start out with. Riding is suppose to be fun and not a chore. The 250X is as tall as the 450, but it doesn't have the torque. You can chug it and it is not as heavy to manuever over the really hard spots in the trails. Also, the suspension and tires have a lot to do with how the bike handles. I would recommend getting the suspension set up and getting some good tires. The tires that come with the bike are okay to learn on, but if you are going to do serious riding, get different tires (night and day difference).

  • bjmiles

Posted January 11, 2009 - 05:44 PM

#29

I just joined the WR450 family with absolutely next to no riding under my belt. The first time out was painful for me and the bike. I ate it 8-10 times on hills, rocks, and everything else. I wear just about every single piece of pro I can put on and I faired well except for some bruises. Rode a bit around the house, read articles on proper riding posture and decided to try it again. Went out, did the same 26 mile back country loop and didn't fall once.

I'd account it to a couple things. First, I had much better throttle control. Second, my goal was to stay up and I slowed down to make sure I did. Third, I led for most of the ride. The time before, I followed my brother who has much more time in the saddle. We didn't go much slower but I certainly wasn't worrying about keeping up the whole time.

Bottom line, I have found that respecting the bike and its power has paid off. The rest will just come with time.

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  • Just_a_trail_rider

Posted January 11, 2009 - 07:15 PM

#30

Could you expand on your moving down to a 250 suggestion? I thought the two bikes were essentially the same size and weight (10 pound difference). I ride the 450 and my riding buddy the 250. We trade off every once in a while but the only difference I can tell is power. BIG difference.


the difference that I think is beneficial for less experienced riders is not the weight, its the power. Don't get me wrong, the wr450 and the wr250 both have a fair amount of physical weight compared to other bikes.

But the power, for a less experience rider, can get you into a lot of trouble and lead to some nasty crashes. With a 450, you have to have much more throttle control or you'll end up going too fast and bad things will happen. A small twist of the throttle is all you need for things to really start moving very fast.

A 250, however, takes a more deliberate effort to get it to move as fast as the 450. trust me, ia 250 is plenty fast, it just doesn't ramp up the speed so quickly. You won't be punished for a small mistake.

My suggestion is based on the idea that you start small and work your way up as you learn. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a much safer approach. At some point, you'd outgrow a 250 and really need a 450.

  • Michael0102002

Posted January 12, 2009 - 07:39 PM

#31

I just bought a WR250x. I'm 43 and weigh about 190 lbs and there is plenty of power for me. I added an FMF pipe and the difference is amazing compared to stock.
A little on my experience powering out of trouble. I went for a ride a month or so ago on some tight trails that had a lot of narrow spots where you had to stay on the trail or be in serious trouble (ie over the edge) and there were a lot of switchback corners that I had to power out of. I hadn't riden in about 12 years and was lucky to come home uninjured. I rode a friends CR125 2 stroke that day and I'm sure my WR will be easier (at least less eager to flip). I was pointing and powering it to pull myself out of trouble all day long. Had I tried to keep the bike up myself I'd probably have taken out a knee or an ankle somewhere along the way. A couple hours in I was getting the hang of it again. The first thing that helped me was concentrating farther ahead once I got set up to enter the corners. Kinda like skiing, once you pick that spot to plant your ski pole and and turn, move your focus to the next mogul (or turn). Once I got my decisions ahead of the bike I had a lot more fun...LOL!
The way I ride, my take is that I'm going to go down. The question is not IF, but When, so I won't be riding without knee protection and boots and also bought a coat with pads.

  • YamaLink

Posted January 13, 2009 - 06:26 AM

#32

Bike setup is the most crucial. Set sag with gear on; you may need a heavier spring because your rider/gear weight may be giving you too much sag....which in turn makes your bike turn slowly and understeer which may cause your bike to not go where you'd like it at the right time.

Heck, even proper tire pressure on a perfectly set up bike can make a WRF ride like poorly.


I like the bike setup comments - I've thought about that but haven't made any headway on changing it. The sag hasn't been adjusted nor have the bars (they sit fairly low) or front forks so what I hear you saying is set-up is huge? Is there some graphic that shows proper rider positions - I could get my wife to take some pics for me so I can see how I'm positioned.



  • yz-dwg

Posted January 13, 2009 - 08:12 AM

#33

what about de-modding the bike? put the throttle stop and pea shooter back in. My '06 before the mods was very tame and a good learning tool, I opened it up a little at a time as I got better, I love my 450 and as others have said the power can get you out of trouble, throttle control is key

  • Jcorwin

Posted January 15, 2009 - 10:06 AM

#34

Started going back through the post again - man ( and woman) there's a bunch of good info here. Shoulders just about back to where it needs to be for me to get out on the bike again. After looking at the tires they WILL be replaced before I ride - took a look at the 08 450 at the local shop and realized mine were SAD. Adjusted bars to get me more upright - hands I think were sitting a few inches too low for me. SAG is next but I'll wait until the new tires are on - I'm now going to get out there and look for elbo / knee pads too so any recommendations would be appreciated. Not looking to break the bank and obviosuly comfort is a close second to protection.

What about front suspension settings - I haven't heard too much about that. I have the manual but is there a recommended setting for ride type? Sand / Dirt. Anyway thanks for all the great feedback - I'm still nopt afraid of her at all just a healthy respect.

  • Charles De Mar

Posted January 15, 2009 - 10:54 AM

#35

I really like my 661 pressure suit. saved my bod a few times.

  • Demo_Slug

Posted January 16, 2009 - 01:04 AM

#36

do you grab the bike with your knees?

Started going back through the post again - man ( and woman) there's a bunch of good info here. Shoulders just about back to where it needs to be for me to get out on the bike again. After looking at the tires they WILL be replaced before I ride - took a look at the 08 450 at the local shop and realized mine were SAD. Adjusted bars to get me more upright - hands I think were sitting a few inches too low for me. SAG is next but I'll wait until the new tires are on - I'm now going to get out there and look for elbo / knee pads too so any recommendations would be appreciated. Not looking to break the bank and obviosuly comfort is a close second to protection.

What about front suspension settings - I haven't heard too much about that. I have the manual but is there a recommended setting for ride type? Sand / Dirt. Anyway thanks for all the great feedback - I'm still nopt afraid of her at all just a healthy respect.



  • tunefx

Posted January 16, 2009 - 07:11 AM

#37

Great advice here. Here's my two cents.

Body Protection - The 661 mentioned above is great. Alpine Stars makes something similar that is also good. I also like the one from AXO http://www.axo.com/M...il.aspx?id=1603 It's my favorite for one simple reason, the thumb hooks help keep the forearm/elbow protection in place at all times. Don't even notice the loops with gloves on.

Suspension - IMHO this is the best investment one can make for the bike. Getting the correct spring rate and then getting the sag set correctly is vital. Lots of great places can help you here. You will have to change the clickers for rebound/compression until you find the right settings. But once you do it will be like having a new bike.

Grab the bike with your knees - As said above, this is critical. Here's an "old school" exercise to help you. I used to do this in my teens after reading it in a bike mag years ago. Go out to a gravel/cinder road that's loose and slippery. From a dead stop lock up the front brake. While keeping the front brake locked slowly try to ride down the road. It will be difficult but will get easier. Do this a few times everytime you go out to ride. After 5-10 times out you will have dramatically improved your balance, throttle control, and using the knees to maintain stability. Once you feel you've mastered it then do it standing. Not great for the tires but you only need to do it a couple of times each time out. The more "slick" the surface the better. Trying it in mud can be "fun" also.

I'm 6'1" and 235 (w/o gear). Getting pegs/bars right for you is important, as mentioned above. I wanted higher bars but did not touch the pegs. As a result I suggest a steering dampener (GPR or Scotts) with riser for underbar mounting. This will give you bit more height in the bars with the added benefit (huge) of more control when hitting rocks, ruts, trees, etc.

All said, if you do one thing, please do get the protective gear. It can make the difference between getting up and laughing at yourself or slowly pulling yourself up and calling it a day--or worse. Ride with everything every time.

No short cuts on the protective gear. Case in point. Last year I was at a local MX track. Two guys in their late teens or early twenties were out riding. They were handling their doubles, triples, table tops , and everything like they were pros. They came back to the truck and started putting everything away to go home. Suddendly they hop on their bikes with all their gear on, except for their boots--just wearing cool "boarder" shoes. They head over to a practice area for a photo-op on a jump. One of them will never quite walk the same, severly damaged ankle, among other things. The guy hit the ground so hard both shoes came off.

So, why wasn't I out riding? I was tired! :thumbsup:

Ride safe.

  • Jcorwin

Posted January 17, 2009 - 04:27 PM

#38

Thanks - yeah the last spill I took was a 'casual' flat ride on 70 acres owned by our church. Jeans / Sweatshirt / Helmet / Sneakers - needless to say had my gear been on I would have had 50% less "enjoyment" when I fell:banghead: !

I've been looking over some riding technique posts as well as this one - looking forward to getting out there to give some things a try.

  • andrea420

Posted January 17, 2009 - 05:47 PM

#39

Oh one more thing, not sure if it was mentioned already or not.. but aside from holding on to your bike with your legs, make sure you don't ride with your elbows down. Keeping your elbows up/out helps you control your bike better.




 
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