Since this blog was intended to be about experiences and not just about cool trips, I thought I’d throw this one in.
Riding down the road, you sometimes get zoned out. Something you definitely have to be careful of. When the ride is pleasant, the road texture smooth and the temperature just right — it can easily happen.
Shifting down when you mean to shift up…and vice-versa
This happens. It can happen in a zoned-out moment…or when you’re struggling with an intersection or a cager is making your life difficult and you get flustered. You mean to shift up as you move away…but you shift down instead! Or you are needing to downshift to slow down but you’ve gotten used to the rhythm of up, up, up. For me, this still happens occasionally, but I believe it might be more frequent because I have a heel-and-toe shifter on my 2016 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic.
Shifting down means stepping on the front peg, as usual. Shifting up, however, means stepping back on the rear peg. No more “lifting” your toe. In theory, one would think that, since you are using two locations (front and rear) to do your shifting that you wouldn’t make a mistake. Theory. Phhht. Ever hit the wrong gear in a car? Yes, you have…if you’ve ever driven a standard transmission.
I rode dirt bikes a bit when I was in my twenties, and have throughout the years “taken a spin” on someone else’s bike, but never really owned a real bike of my own until this one. That being said, I know how to use a regular toe shift lever, but I would likely never want to go back to it. The heel-and-toe shifter is just….more relaxed. And it doesn’t tear up my boots!
Don’t turn off the bike!
This has only happened once to me, but instead of hitting the right turn signal button I reached higher and hit the engine kill switch!
One would imagine this would be impossible. You have to go up two buttons to get to the kill switch! Somehow, though, I managed to accomplish this insanity…while I was cruising down the road at 70+ mph, too! The wife was on the back, which makes all decelerations feel stronger (thanks a lot, Newton’s First Law), and in this case, the bike indeed started to slow down, even more disturbing to both of us since it wasn’t expected at that time. Fortunately, there was little to no traffic around me (I was just being responsible and using my turn signal), so all I had to do was hit the “Run” button and the bike, being a standard transmission, of course, started right back up and I was on my way.
I have certainly done this with the left-hand controls, in a moment of “oh, crap” and needing to hit the horn to alert another driver to my presence because they didn’t see me. Turns out that hitting the left turn signal button just doesn’t have the same results. It’s sure hard to hear that turn signal!
So, just a couple of rookie mistakes that my pointing out might help a new rider avoid. I’m certainly not ashamed to admit I have made mistakes (and definitely will again, maybe even these same mistakes).
If you’re not failing, you’re not learning. Just keep your fails small!