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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!
I very recently happened upon a low cost purchase opportunity. A friend of mine is moving to another European country for a new job and he was looking to sell his FMX 650.

I've been on the bike as a passenger quite a few times, he's someone i trust (so i knew he wasn't lying when telling me what's good and what's wrong about the bike), so i started considering his offer and by doing a bit of research on the internet i stumbled upon this forum.

Long story short, we're in the process of finalizing the paperwork to transfer ownership of the bike and i went shopping for protective gear. All in all, for about 2200 Euros i got the bike, a carbon fiber - aramide composite full-face helmet, a motorcycle jacket, a pair of new handlebar grips, couple of locks and a pair of Acerbis leather gloves with knuckle protectors. A trip to a trusted mechanic for an oil change and check-up confirmed my buddy's claims about the state of the bike: engine is running smooth, tires are almost brand new, chain and brakes in very good condition and the mechanic telling me "he sure spared no expense in keeping it serviced properly".

Part 1 - Tech Help:

I had to do an oil change (there were 1.3 liters of oil left) and replace the speedometer "wire" (don't know how to call it in English, sorry :p) because it was broken, just minor servicing. The bike has 15000 kms on the clock plus about 5000-7000kms since the speedometer stopped working (20000-22000 kms total that is) and the valves and tires were changed about a year or 18 months ago after he took it riding on summer holidays. After that point the guy pretty much stopped riding any meaningful distances (think neighborhood rides to the coffee house only), so the valves also have a low mileage.

The only real problem (which i knew of before purchase) is that due to a long period of inactivity there's a battery problem that makes starting a bit of a gamble. I was about to install a new battery today but the mechanic advised me to check with an electrician first in case there's some kind of an electrical "leak" somewhere, because if there's something else draining the battery it would be a waste of money to replace it and have the same problems.

First of all, what he told me is that the battery seems pretty low capacity for the engine displacement on this bike and it's actually similar to the category of batteries used on 250cc scooters and such. He also told me that he hooked up a car battery of suitable voltage/amperage to the bike's connectors when testing it on the shop and it still seemed to struggle when starting, choke and all, which was why he started suspecting a possible electrical malfunction of another kind.

My question to you helpful lot here is, what kind of reasons would there be for this bike to be hard to start? Maybe it's not even electrical at all, maybe it's something else and simply trying to start a few times drains the small capacity battery? Maybe it's both?

For purposes of comparison with your experiences, let me say that i've found out that after 4-5 start attempts the battery can't turn the starter over at full speed and it's all downhill from that point on.


Part 2 - General Advice:

I'm pretty much as rookie as it gets to this. I've wanted to ride since i was 15 and hitched my first ride on my cousin's 50cc town mate, i've had a license for 4 years but didn't ride much since and this is the first bike i own. I've heard good things about its reliability, handling, traction and braking capabilities. The fact that it's not a top performer in terms of speed and HP is actually a good thing to me. I feel it's a bike i can comfortably and gradually grow into as a newbie rider, instead of getting something like a high performance supermoto and being scared out of my mind when it pops an unintentional wheelie the first time i try to ride it, or getting a heavier cruiser bike and being unable to manage the weight :D

"What do you want to do with it" you'll ask me. Well, for the following year i'm going to mostly use the FMX for commuting within the city and if i get comfortable enough with it by summer, i might take it on a weekend getaway or two to the beaches 150km from my home town.

I've had my first almost-drop today when i was driving it home from the repair shop and (lucky me, i know) it had been raining. It's a small distance of 500 meters or so and i kept to 1st and 2nd gear and no more than 25 km/h, exiting the main roads and entering the alleys close to home as early as i could, to get away from traffic and be able to move at bicycle speeds for safety reasons without holding up everyone else behind.

Well lo and behold, 3 cars are somewhat jammed because someone double parked with alarm signals on, so i approach slowly (walking speed slowly) and move to the other side of the alley, not with the intention of overtaking the last car but mostly to be able to see what's going on up ahead. It's at that precise moment that i'm about to stop and put my foot down, when the middle car driver is fed up waiting and starts reversing somewhat angrily to exit via the intersection i'm approaching. I'm not sure if he saw me, i'm not used to the bike yet and just like you have already guessed, i lock the front wheel and the bike drops to the right. I turn it off, the hurried driver comes to my aid, apologizes and helps me pick it up again. All this is happening at 5km/h and 50 meters from the entrance of my home :p

I didn't think much into it because there was no damage to me, anyone else, the bike or another vehicle and i had been really careful to offset my lack of experience by keeping my distance and going slowly because of the rain. I just took it as a confirmation of my previous thoughts that i need practice and to get used to the bike, which is what i intend to do as soon as the weather clears up.

That being said, i took my license lessons and exam on a honda CBF500 which is quite a bit heavier. I had trouble controlling that too initially, but i managed to pass the first time i took the test, despite gusting cross-winds battering me while i was trying to do the slow handling portion of it (the "keep on the painted line at walking speed and do it in no less than 15 seconds" part). That was a real challenge and i was leaning the bike into the wind while leaning my body the other way to counterbalance it, working the clutch, rear brake and throttle and readjusting everything whenever the wind gusts would come and go.

So, i have a feeling that if i practice in a controlled environment without traffic and redo whatever i used to do for my driving lessons, i will get the hang of how the FMX handles. I'm thinking of taking it to a department store parking lot each Sunday when they'll be closed and the lot will be empty, so that i can drive around and learn at my own pace without having to worry about traffic. That way i'll also be able to gradually push it and learn its limits, a bit at a time. I intend to start with basic handling (clutch control, shifting, slow speed maneuvers and figure-8s), move on to braking (accelerate to 40-60km/h and then stop, panic stops, stopping with the clutch held in vs down-shifting to use engine braking), then start practicing obstacle avoidance (swerve techniques, push steering, swerve and stop) and doing a cone slalom. I will probably take some plastic cups with me, fill them with a bit of water so the wind doesn't scatter them and use them as cones for my improvised course.
And if i fall, i'll be away from traffic and dressed properly, because i spent 3 hours picking a helmet, gloves and jacket before i even had the bike in my garage.

The reason i'm getting you bored with this? I would really like some of the experienced riders here to judge if my overall mindset and attitude towards riding is one that will help make me a safety-oriented rider. I'm 31 and i want a fun (and less fuel-guzzling) way to do my everyday commuting and maybe a bit of short-range traveling around my parts of the map. I do like the feeling of speed as much as anybody, but i don't see myself on a sport bike approaching corners at 200km/h and braking to 60km/h before leaning it all the way in anytime soon. I just want to ride safely at speeds comparable to the ones i do when i drive a car, at least until i rack up a year or two of experience.

I know the FMX is weak compared to the competition, but it's just fine for what i need it to do and definitely more than i can currently handle :D
The bike is pretty much stock, with the exception of Remus cans by the way.

Finally, is there any extras you could suggest for purchase down the road? I'm not interested in performance gains just yet, i'm thinking more in terms of accessories that will maximize functionality and the safety factor for now. For example, should i look into getting a stronger headlight at some point, as the stock one seems kind of weak? Should i look into getting an oil cooler if i start driving longer distances? Maybe a different battery model to make sure i have enough juice to start it easily? Or something that increases mileage/fuel capacity? (that is my only gripe with this bike, the fuel tank is a bit too small). Things like that.

Thank you all in advance for any information i might be able to glean, safe rides and if you've read this far, well...congratulations :thumbup:
 

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Bloody furriner
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I had to do an oil change (there were 1.3 liters of oil left)
First of all, there should be a bit more than 2 liters in there so that's about 800cc short, which is a lot!

Keep an eye on the oil consumption as these bikes can use a bit of oil, and keep in mind that it should be changed every 3000 km.
(Just to avoid the painful consequences of "oh yeah, there was something about oil" after riding 5000 km, which happens all too easily with a new-to-you bike. You wouldn't be the first.)

Yes it's a bit underpowered but as you say for a newbie that's a feature. ;-)

I'd say at first just ride it and enjoy yourself, get to know the bike, then soon enough you'll know what you want to change, if anything. You might not even want to, small bikes rule for having fun on and not much power just means you can use more of it more of the time. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the input, regarding riding that's pretty much my take on it: practice on a vacant parking lot and do small rides around the neighborhood for now, sort of to the coffee house and back. Yup, oil was low because the bike practically sat on its tail end for months before i got it, my buddy told me it was the first thing i should look into. I'm also a flight simulator player and i've gotten to know a few things about air cooled engines without cost to myself or my wallet, it should come in handy :p

In any case i got the FMX at such a low price and with full disclosure of the few servicing issues it had, so i'm not really complaining. If the guy had done these small repairs himself, he'd have probably sold it for a couple hundred more anyway, so it all evens out.

Any ideas about the battery/starter issue would be more than welcome, since it's the only thing that's currently keeping me from getting out and riding tomorrow (weather got better today as well :cheers: )
 

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Bloody furriner
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About that starting problem, does it have trouble turning the engine over or does it just not want to fire up?

My old NX had an 8Ah battery, which was fine (when new and/or well maintained). (That same 8Ah even managed to get my GS started somewhat reliably in a february winter.)

If it doesn't want to fire you might try fitting a new spark plug, I've found the Iridium ones make starting somewhat easier.

And the best trick if the bike has been sitting for a while (even a week!) is to drain the carb float bowl before starting so you have fresh petrol in there. It makes a BIG difference in how easy it catches.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks a lot, i will look into that as well.

The reason i initially suspected the battery is that it starts "dying" after 4-5 start attempts. To be honest though, i don't know how many start attempts such a battery should be able to supply before draining. If i knew what is considered an average figure for such a battery (eg, "you got X start attempts before it starts draining") i would be able to judge its condition more accurately.

As for draining the carb, both times i was left unable to start, the bike had been running just before the failed start attempt: one was in a gas station (drive, switch off, buy gas, try to start) and the other was my mini fall two days ago.

In all cases however it is true that the starter does turn the motor over, i give it 1-2 seconds per attempt. I think that putting two and two together (how it acts up and what you say), maybe i have a spark plug issue.

Sadly, i will now have to wait until Monday, the temptation to jump-start it and go around the block a few times is too great though :iconbiggrin:

Is it possible for me to manually remove and clean the spark plugs in the meantime?

P.S Thanks for all the valuable help, great information :thumbright:
 

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Try holding down the button for longer. Mine takes a second or so to start, and after I've dropped it it'll take a lot longer to start- the engine will turn over for 10-15 seconds after a drop before she fires, and then she'll run rough for a further 20 seconds if it was a really bad drop!

IMO there's not much point in cleaning the spark plug, especially in a bike where you only have 1! Chuck a new one in and see what happens :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Roger that, i'll get it sorted first thing on Monday.

As for the turn over time: when the battery is charged and the bike is cooperative, it takes no more than 2 seconds to fire it up.
I really doubt this battery can turn the engine over for 15 seconds though, is it normal to be able to hold the starter down that long?

Because if it is, it seems like i'm looking at both a new battery and a spark plug, along with a complete electrical check-up.

Well, that's the last couple of things i need to take care of, hopefully, then i can start going on familiarization rides.
 

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if your battery can't do 15 seconds you have (serious) battery problems.

IntruderAlert Cafe

Check out test #8. 25+ starts from a good quality battery from fully charged- approximately 50 seconds on time total. Turning over a 6.8L V10 engine. :eek:
 

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Agreed on the battery, it should be able to last longer than a few seconds, and a cranky big single can take a while to catch.

Just checking a very simple thing, you're not putting the choke back on while trying to start it after it's just run, are you?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
To my understanding, the way to do it is use choke when it's cold, don't use when it's warm. Since choke restricts air it means it affects the mixture in the engine and making it run rich, which can dirty up the spark plug if left on when not needed and at low RPM, is that correct? Is there anything else that can happen if you use choke on a warmed up engine? (i can never get enough of the technical details ) I'm still not familiar enough with it to judge when to use choke or how much of it, eg, my buddy i got it from could just eyeball it depending on conditions and he would give it half-choke, full or no choke and always get it to start within the first three attempts. I'm not there yet, but when it wouldn't catch i also tried variations on choke use and it wouldn't work. The thing is, if the battery is good for 50 seconds of turning over the starter and motor, i should have been able to start it after 5-10 attempts. I'll take it to a repair shop and probably replace both the battery and spark plug on Monday.
 

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You understand correct, then. ;-)

I was just checking, since I've once met a rather old and winded fellow by the side of the road trying to start a XL250 that he'd borrowed and was thus unfamiliar with. He stalled it after coming off a 40 km motorway stint so it was as hot as can be, and he was kickstarting with full choke on. No wonder he couldn't get it going.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Depending on how tomorrow's electrical check-up goes in terms of expenses, i might be tempted to change a couple more things if i have any leftover cash from the amount i set aside for the bike.

I'm generally a low RPM driver when using a car and i don't drive aggressively. Based on my limited experience (5-6 rides) so far and what i've been reading on the forums here, it seems that the RFVC engine is more comfortable at mid-range revs, about 3000 or so.

Now, the bike has quite a pull and it's comparatively light. Plus, my main use will be day to day commuting downtown and maybe a trip or two to the beach when summer comes. So, it's lots of low speed/low gear/frequent idling at traffic lights, with a bit of highway riding thrown in.

In light of all this, the air-cooled engine coupled with hot local weather during summer, and also due to the somewhat small fuel tank, i'm thinking of doing what i've seen referred to as a sprocket change. If i understand correctly, going down 1-3 teeth on the rear wheel gear will give me a bit more mileage per tank, somewhat higher top speed and a smoother low-rev ride at the expense of acceleration (which i think i can afford, since it pulls quite nicely to begin with). Less RPMs, less heat, more range, sounds a good plan for what i want to do with the bike.

My questions regarding this change will probably be quite simple for the experienced riders here to answer, so here goes:

1) What is the effect of changing the front sprocket (i think this is the one that is driven by the engine) and do i have to bother with it, or is it enough to just change the one on the rear wheel? I know it's best to change both to maintain even amounts of wear and tear between them, what i mean is do i have to also move to a different amount of teeth on the front one too, or is it enough to just get rear one with less teeth?

2) What do you think is the best size to get and what gains in endurance and top speed can i expect? I'm thinking of going for 2 less teeth on the rear one, since one less seems not enough to justify the change and 3 less might be overdoing it.

3) The bike is pretty much stock overall, except that it has Remus cans (not totally open, the baffles are in). Should i look into a carb adjustment/rejet as well? I've read that doing so can in fact enrich the average mixture a bit, but because of the whole "easier to drive the sprocket and better throttle response" situation, it gives better mileage because you end up needing less RPMs overall for any given situation.

4) How much would each one of these mods set me back approximately?

Even if i can't do it immediately, it's a list of modifications i'll probably go ahead with at a later stage, so any input would be welcome.

Again, thanks in advance for the wealth of information and i'll let you know how tomorrow's trip to the mechanic goes. :mrgreen:
 

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Changing the front sprocket for 1 tooth more will lower the engine revs by around 500rpm in top gear if I remember right. I've done this and gone for less teeth on the rear as I do distance riding as much as round town. The only draw back is that judder at low revs in 4/5th gears is worse, so I avoid the lower rev range.
One tooth more at the front is = to 3 off the rear and is the cheaper way to go.
As for the jetting, all bikes are different. Most dominators seen to benefit from adjusting the idle screw out an extra i/2 turn to assist the tickover/stalling.
I'd have thought a richer mixture would help assist keeping the engine cool so it maybe worth looking into.
 

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Your battery power could be down because it's been stood a while and you seem to be doing a lot of starting and not much running to charge it back up, also when starting don't open the throttle at all, let it start on tickover and the open the throttle when it catches.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I was suspicious of that and tested it, but it wasn't the case. After getting the battery fully charged in the repair shop, it would only have enough juice for 4-5 start attempts (which wouldn't catch easily or at all) and it would go downhill from there.

However, thanks to all of you guys and your helpful input i managed to sort it out (i think, fingers crossed i don't have an electric "leak" somewhere else along the lines).
I took out the old battery today and the metal parts on the poles where corroded. I took it to one of my father's friends who does auto repair and he knew a guy dealing in moto parts, so i managed to get a new one at cost price for 15 euros.

I then pushed the bike a couple of blocks to a nearby repair shop to have it fitted and for an extra 10 euros i got a new NGK spark plug. After fitting everything, the technician gave it a 5 second push on the starter button with the choke on and it started just fine, even after having it standing since last Thursday. I also got the tire pressure checked, the chain oiled, clutch and front brake levers adjusted and the light switch lubricated (it was getting a bit stuck) for free.

I know it's probably not the best battery around (i think it retails between 30-50 euros and i know good batteries can be as much as 100) but it's new, the new spark plug makes starting easy and i'll get to riding within the next few days (i'm just waiting for the blasted drizzle to stop :-D), so i think i'll be ok for now.

Thanks everyone for all the input, it's been really helpful :thumbright:
 

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Hello everyone once more. I'm pleased to say that i've so far clocked 720 kms or so on the FMX with no incident. I've been mostly commuting between home and downtown but i was so eager to ride that i ignored an initial spell of bad weather. Taking it slow and easy and after getting a couple of mild surprises (but thankfully no real scares), i'm now confident enough to ride around in dense city traffic under most weather conditions (snow excluded of course) :thumbup:

I'm now familiar with how the bike accelerates and brakes and i can judge the state of the pavement, at least on the kind of roads i mostly use, so i know how far i can push the bike and beat the traffic without pushing my own luck. Being conscious about what i wanted to do helped me loads. During the first couple of weeks and whenever i was on low traffic segments of road, i would routinely practice swerving and braking.

As soon as i had empty space ahead and behind me and the visibility to know pedestrians wouldn't jump in front of me from behind a parked car, i started treating the manhole covers as obstacles and practiced swerving around them by using counter steering, shortening the amount of distance between the manhole cover and the point where i started swerving as i was getting more comfortable. Also, whenever i was alone and approaching a red light, i would pick a spot about 5-10 meters before the light as my stopping point and practice braking as late as i could without locking up my wheels (instead of using the light itself as my stop target, missing it and going out in the middle of an intersection :p )

Of course sometimes things wouldn't exactly work out and the rear would skid a bit (i once accidentally backed it in as well, racing style), or i would apply throttle too much or too sloppy after exiting a corner and it would slide because of the extra torque, but i always remembered what my buddy that sold it to me said: "whenever the bike is starting to go off on its own, relax whatever control input you have been giving it and it will straighten itself right up". It worked like a charm and got me the knowledge of the bike's limits in urban riding and the confidence to know i can be smooth in my control inputs and straighten it out, instead of panicking and turning a manageable slide into an uncontrollable one. I got into the habit of modulating my brakes and after that i recently got into trail braking (keeping the brakes slightly on while negotiating turns, apparently this places load on the suspension and helps negotiate corners), took a passenger for a few times (spare helmet and all) and thinks are generally looking good.

At this point, i'm very pleased and i really think this is a great bike to learn on.

I've also made a couple of short hops outside town, one on the ring road to a local multiplex a few weeks ago and one just today, to a restaurant in a nearby village. I had no problem with the ring road. In fact, after so much commuting in dense traffic at slow speeds the highway speeds seemed easy, because the bike is much more stable at 60 and above. Also, knowing that piece of road from my car driving days i could anticipate the route and focus on "feeling" the bike instead of worrying about what is after the next bend.

Today however a new challenge came up. I was riding at night and following a buddy of mine in car up ahead. He was doing normal speeds, plus by now i can keep my place in the lane without being unseen or ignored by cars (well, there's always the one that does that every 2-3 days but you know what i mean, you learn to anticipate their moves after a while and act accordingly) and i can trust the bike's torque and brakes to let me squeeze into the spot of the road i want with safety.

So, all is fine and dandy until we come up to a little stretch of unpaved service road. I've only had one instance of driving on dirt thus far, 30 or so uphill meters of road downtown where pedestrian pavement construction was done. Rain had fallen and swept the sand the construction crews used to make mortar all over the place, covering everything with a layer of mud. That time i was hoping the slow moving pedestrians ahead wouldn't jump in front of me, because i could feel the rear end sliding around just by normally riding at 1st gear and 10km/h, i really didn't want to have to brake. So, remembering that i got apprehensive when i saw the unpaved road ahead.

I remembered reading somewhere that adding some RPM can help the wheel "dig in" better, so i thought: high RPM + want to go slow = shift one down, use engine braking and if you need to brake, use only the rear one with caution (i don't think the FMX has a slip clutch, so rear braking and engine braking at the same time can lock up the rear).

The 3 minute stretch was totally uneventful, but i can tell you it was the first time after months that i was being somewhat uncomfortable while still going slow (about 30 km/h). There were small gravel pebbles scattered all around the road, groups of potholes every few meters and i could feel the rear end doing more or less its own thing, swerving slightly left and right all along the way. I also read somewhere that in motard bikes it's a good thing to let it find its own footing as long as you keep it under control and i've had a few experiences to confirm it during my commutes (eg, when having to brake hard on uneven pavement a couple of times) so i decided to ignore it, be smooth with my inputs, make sure i never use the front brake and all that would keep my front going and keep the bike steerable. From that point on i was just correcting it's drifting tendencies by small countersteering inputs and playing with the clutch and throttle.

So the big question is: what am i doing correctly and what am i doing wrong? I'm all ears :D

Finally, a second question. I want to take it out for a spin toward the nearby beaches (about a couple of hours drive). I changed the oil when i got it (720 kms since the change) and still check it regularly with the dip-stick. The tires do have a gray patch in the centerline and the difference in colour compared to the "chicken strips" is getting me somewhat worried, but i can see that they behave well on the road (especially now with the warm weather) and the engraving on the tires is not worn thin yet (again, comparing the depth of the engraving between centerline and chicken strip), so i guess i'm just being a bit over-cautious. What i'm slightly worried about is judging fuel autonomy and possibly having to switch to reserve while doing something like 100+ km/h.

The biggest thing however is a sort of cycling noise i have observed at times. It sounds as if a metal disc is spinning around and you touch another metal part to it at a specific point in its cycle. I can't really describe it, it's not an alarming thing as much as a repeating slight wheeze that goes away after a while. Sometimes it happens when the bike is not full-up warmed yet and i'm opening up the throttle a bit more (i usually start riding with the choke on and let it warm up on the first couple of traffic lights i meet, a few dozen meters down the road), sometimes i observe it after executing a somewhat hard brake, sometimes it just happens out of the blue (eg, even when manually pushing the bike to/from its parking place with the engine off) and sometimes not at all, so i can't really pin down what it could be.

I can suspect a few things. Chain (but i got it oiled when i serviced it and changed oil), transmission/gears or a worn/faulty something in the brake assembly. It sounds a lot like something is touching a rotating disc, but i don't see any braking occurring when it happens. Could be that there is some play involved in one of my wheels and the disc accidentally touches the brake pads as the whole thing rotates, i don't know.

The other thing is that gear changes between 1st-neutral-2nd are not always positive. Sometimes it will not easily get from N to 1st if don't apply some force to the shifter (not much, but just more than what you do when leisurely cruising around, it just needs a firm push down) and a sort of grinding sound can be heard for a split second. Other times i accidentally shift to neutral, but this one i'm convinced happens simply because i am getting lazy at times and not applying the proper force to it, so it does the little click and rests in the middle at neutral. For getting into 1st however, i think it might be good to check my clutch and its line for play/wear, what do you think?

Overall, these things might sound more alarming the way i describe them than they really are (it's hard to describe them if the other person doesn't ride the bike), but i just want to get all nagging issues out of the way before committing to making a longer ride. Maybe i should just take it to a mechanic and have him check out my brake pads, wheel alignment and clutch, brake, throttle controls.

What do you guys think?

P.S. It's a long read, but you guys know your stuff and to be fair, i will probably only be bothering you with a wall of text once every three months or so, when i discover something new :D
Thanks for all the previous help and advice as well :thumbup:
 

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Can't give you advice on the technical problems (hey, I'm a girl! :rolleyes:) though it does sound like there's a battery drain issue going on there. But it does sound to me like your mindset is pretty good for becoming a very able rider (though again, I'm not one to talk as I still have my test to pass :(). The drop was the car driver's fault and not yours - you were very unlucky - though more experience will doubtless give you more control when handling such situations. But the main thing is that you kept calm, handled the drop well, and haven't let it dampen your enthusiasm. You didn't even beat the driver up! :D Those are all important responses. Practicing on car parks without traffic is a good idea - and I should know about that. Good luck in your riding journey. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the input Lulu, but you replied to my first list of questions from a few months ago. Scroll down and over to page 2 :mrgreen:
 
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