Gulliver’s Travels Beginner Motorcycles-How to get Started!

So, you want to ride, but, don’t know where to start? I did a few things that may save you time & effort on the road to becoming a seasoned rider. The State of NH offers a once in a lifetime Learner’s Permit ($30.00) that lasts 45 days after passing a computerised (25 question) test & vision test at any of the DMV’s located throughout the state. This “one time only” permit, (it can never be renewed) allows you to drive alone during daylight hours-no passengers! While at the DMV, they will schedule a riding exam with “Officer Bob” sometime after the 45 day permit expires, based on how busy they are at your particular DMV location. The test will occur ‘rain or shine’ and if your 45 day learner’s permit has expired, then you must make arrangements to have the bike brought to and returned from the exam. (In case you fail the riding portion of the eam.)
 
   There is also paperwork for applying to the State approved MSF “Basic Rider Course” (BRC), which runs from early April through the end of October in 9 locations throughout the state, quite often. (If you are really ‘itching’ to get started, Mid February is when the BRC course schedule comes out for the year!) But, these 3 day (15 hour) courses fill up quickly, so, selecting many (I chose 15 different dates, at 3 different locations) and you may not be able to complete & pass the course prior to your scheduled test with Officer Bob. That can be a little nerve wracking, as, seat time is critical, and, you need to learn to be comfortable riding at moderate speeds, performing low speed maneuvers with your feet on the pegs, emergency braking, swerving, etc…best trained on a closed course with supervision and preferably not your bike! Which the BRC provides; 10 hours riding time (5 hours classroom), on their bikes, with their helmets (unless you prefer yours). You cannot use your own bike, under any circumstances.
 
   I purchased my bike prior to getting a learner’s permit, and, scheduling my State of NH MSF BRC, so, I had a bike, permission to ride during daylight hours, a large unused parking lot (Thank you, Walgreen’s!) within a third of a mile and a $10.00 1/2 helmet and gardening gloves to don for safety. Also, I had ridden dirt bikes & mini bikes in my youth and even though they were less than 1/2 the size of the GV250 and didn’t have gears to shift, I felt I had a leg up on a first time rider. But, I was riding my special bike, the one I purchased to be my daily driver, the paint & bike all perfect. Needless to say, I was very nervous about doing any & all low speed maneuvers!
 
   However, I found that I was able to ride quite a bit! I commuted when dry, I used my lunch breaks to practice, and I rode before & after work when weather permitted. I practiced low speed maneuvers, figure eights, ‘head’s up’ riding position, semi aggressive stops using both front & rear brakes and starting up (engaging the clutch): straight, in a slight turn, and a 90 degree turn (both directions) to create a level of comfort prior to attending the course. Even with all of this seat time, I found the BRC intimidating, so, getting a learner’s permit and practicing was the difference between ‘passing’ and being overwhelmed by the speed the course moved at.
 
   My bible during those precious 45 days was “The Motorman Series” by a guy named Palladino, who has written many books on safe riding, and is used as the training manual for Motorcycle Police Officer training around the country, if not around the world! When officers compete for skills against each other, this is the source of the measurement! Great courses, easy to set up, with explanations as to why they are being used- really an awesome tool for practice, and, it creates confidence over time. Highly recommended by me, expert riders, and police officers too. It is available for free from www.alternativecruisers.com which will become a regular site if you decide to become a rider too!
 
   Gulliver’s Travels is looking into renting ‘beater bikes’, one that is cosmetically ‘less than beautiful’, but, has been gone through completely, is very safe, and is registered under the business name. Because it’s a beater, it takes the abuse that no other bike receives, it costs more to maintain, service & own, so, the potential rental fee is $450 for the 45 day ($10.00/day) learner permit. However, it comes with immediate roadside service, on site repair & replacement if it can’t be back in service or repaired within 1/2 hour of arrival. It comes with a full tank of gas, all fluids are new, all cables have been lubed & properly adjusted, brakes are new, or well within tolerances, carbs are clean, balanced & tuned.
 
   For an additional $50.00 I will provide you enough training to actually ride your bike home, safely. I will show you:
 
1) How to mount the bike.
2) How to ensure that the bike is safe to ride.
3) How to properly start the bike- every time.
4) Engine control location & use.
5) Engaging the clutch and starting off.
6) Proper braking technique for all occasions.
 
   Prior to leaving, you will feel comfortable starting, riding under control at low speeds, turning around in a limited space and coming to a complete and safe stop.
 
   The $30.00 cost of the DMV Learner’s Permit covers the cost of your replacement license when you receive your M/C endorsement, and gives 45 days of riding with legal permission, really, an excellent value. The Rental fee, along with the basic safety training will allow you to practice riding until you can complete the State of NH MSF BRC, which will replace your need to ride in front of Officer Bob, when your date & time arrives. (The DMV requests that you notify them of successful completion of the BRC, so they can re-schedule another rider in your ‘time window’).
 
   To me, this is the best, lowest cost, and safest way to determine whether or not riding is something that you would want to do. For $540.00 ‘all in’ you can ride a motorcycle at low to moderate speeds, practice a set of skills prior to going to the MSF course, learn the right way to mount, check, start, take off, ride & stop your bike with ‘one on one’ support. No worrying about damaging your new ‘baby’, as you are using my motorcycle to learn the fundamentals (including falling?) I will give you the tools: chalk, cones, 1/2 tennis balls, courses to practice with and all you need to do is find a local parking lot to actually practice! This is the hardest part of riding, the very first 10 hours is the scariest time, when mistakes ‘feel’ very dramatic, front wheel skids ‘feel’ like disaster striking, over revving the engine ‘feels’ like total destruction and completely unsafe. And, dropping the bike is humiliating, terrifying, embarrassing & exhilarating-all at the same time!
 
   But, once you have some time under your belt, the confidence of riding in a ‘head’s up’ position, looking through the turn, shifting weight appropriately during the turn, braking in a straight line-using both brakes always, you will feel ready to take the BRC, even though it moves so very quickly! Even though you will feel ‘off balance’ because of the rapidity of the maneuvers taught, and it’s stuff you haven’t practiced already, you will be able to focus on the instructions and instructors, instead of the racing of your heart. The benefits of riding prior to the MSF course are huge, as it allows you to focus on the skills, not the overwhelming fear of failure, or dropping your bike.
 
   So, $590.00 is a great investment, and, it can save you any additional expense if you don’t like riding! No $110.00 State of NH MSF BRC, no testing with Officer Bob, no additional sit down test for a fee, no buying a bike that you will never ride. A small investment that can save you thousands. Conversely, a small investment if you love riding too. No risk of damaging your beautiful “new” bike during the learning process, yet, exposure to exactly the style, size, power & layout of your new bike, saving time re-learning controls, creating confidence in the transition, which allows you to focus on the accessories you want to add to your bike- to make it yours. Want a ‘Performance Kit’ installed, different exhaust pipes, a windshield, floorboards, a sissy bar so you can have an additional rider join you, a larger rear sprocket to lower the RPM’s needed to cruise at highway speeds, a light bar to increase night time visibility (not to mention a ‘big bike’ look), a luggage rack for an extra helmet, or, store the ever present back pack, saddlebags to increase the utility of the bike for short trips to the grocery store?
 
   Let’s agree, $540.00 is a lot of money to decide whether a particular ‘hobby’ is right for you. But, it is a lot smaller of a price to pay than most people pay, only to decide that they don’t want to ride. Invariably, they buy a pretty, shiny, “New” bike for more than $4,000.00 (used or new), register it, buy a warranty, make a plan to ride with friends the very first weekend, but, it rains. Then, no one re-schedules, it sits in the garage, gathering dust, the new owner forgets, or, is actually to intimidated to ride it alone…and, it sits. Perhaps it gets ridden occasionally during the first season, but, some niggling little thing happens that reduces the comfort of the owner, reducing the initial enthusiasm of the rider, allowing it to sit, untouched, even though payments are being made monthly… Sadly, that happens more often than you can imagine.
 
   However, a Hyosung GV250 is a smaller engine mounted in a mid size motorcycle, with all of the amenities and benefits of a full size bike. The engine is bullet proof, can rev up to 12,000RPM like a sport bike, has more power than all other 250 ‘starter’ bikes on the market, looks like a H-D Fat Bob, has an endless supply of available accessories that make it ‘personal’ and functional as a commuter and daily driver. It’s the motorcycle one keeps, regardless of what bike you step up to in the future, because-like a Swiss army knife, or, a Leatherman- it does everything well, without complaint, quietly, while achieving 60+ MPG. Now, it won’t win stop light wars, it won’t beat every car off of the line, nor, will it out drive any sport bike. But, you can ride it anywhere, without offending anyone, waking babies, upsetting homeowners in fancy neighborhoods, and, it’s almost invisible to all police officers! I have mine set up as my winter bike, with large windshield, heated grips and light bar, because it weighs less and doesn’t sink in so much to muddy side roads, doesn’t go as fast and is lower to the ground for better balance!
 
   Although you may outgrow the power of this bike, you will never outgrow the functionality. Since you purchased it from Gulliver’s Travels, it’s truly reliable and will provide years of low cost service to you, or, if you decide to sell it – whomever buys it from you! (I want it back, I know how well it works!) But, you will feel the loss, you will miss the bike, and you will regret letting it go, regardless of what you get for payment. Not only is it your ‘learner’ bike, it will have become a trusted friend, a valuable asset, a quick ‘need a gallon of milk’ solution, a low cost, high MPG relaxation machine, a hop on and take break from the daily grind.
 
   Great learner bike, great commuter bike, reliable once gone through to address known issues- it’s a bike you keep, once you know the value of it. It’s great for my house, as I have multiple riders: myself, my wife, two teen aged boys who fight over the keys, and, soon, a teen aged daughter who will never let it go once she passes the MSF and has a M/C endorsement on her license…so, the gas never gets stale, other than during the depths of winter (Sta-Bil, Engine Med Rx, Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment)…
 
   So, you wanna learn how to ride? So much to do, so much money and so little time! “Sometimes, I ride to Forget, But, I Never Forget to Ride!”Image
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Gulliver’s Travels Motorcycles for Beginners-Why Hyosung GV250?

   The most common question that I am asked by new riders, and almost always the first, is: “Why a Hyosung GV250? A no name, never been heard of motorcycle with no reputation for anything?”
   There are lots of reasons for “Why Hyosung?” and let’s start with the most important reasons first. The 249cc, 75 degree, V-twin air & oil cooled engine developed for this bike is as reliable, as robust as any Honda, Suzuki, or Kawasaki 250 on the market- no questions asked. Hyosung, a South Korean manufacturer, has been in business for over 30 years, has a presence on all continents, and, was instrumental in the development of the Suzuki SV650 engine, which has been in production for over 25 years, and has proven it’s reliability as ‘bullet proof’ in many applications since it’s original design.
   Still on the engine, it has the highest specific output from the factory of any 250cc cruiser on the market. Sure, it has a high compression ratio at 10.3:1, but, it also is tuned to have power down low, so, you don’t have to rev the heck out of it to feel any forward movement. With a 12,000RPM redline, a general concern would be that you will have to rev it to the high heavens to do anything, but, through tuning, it’s just not true. Also, it has primary and secondary balancing, so, there is no part of the rev range where the bike feels like its shaking apart. Add in some proven racing technology, along with 4 valves per cylinder and you get a very high tech, high HP & torque engine that is incredibly reliable.
   All 250cc ‘beginner’ motorcycles are built to a budget. Often, bean counters get in the way of good, thorough design, and more often than not, amenities get left off the bike to keep the costs down. Sadly, the actual size (frame, wheelbase, length overall) of most low cc bikes is smaller than a ‘standard’, or, mid-size motorcycle, because less metal means lower cost when spread over 1,000’s of bikes! Not so with the Hyosung GV250. It comes with a mid size cruiser frame, smaller, but, close in size to a H-D Fatboy which it strongly resembles. The full size nature of the bike allows taller (6″+) riders to be truly comfortable on it, and the low seat height (27″ from seat to ground) for petite (5″ or less) riders to be able to put both feet down flat when completely stopped. This addresses 95% of all ‘beginner’ riders, and creates a feeling of comfort for all.
   However, a no name S. Korean manufacturer has quite a row to hoe, if it wants to grab a toe hold, create a niche, or even make a name for itself, here in the US. With Harley-Davidson driving the market, publicly traded, and 110+ years of heritage, every “noobie” has some proving to do. Well, there’s a story, a distribution tale or three, a lack of budget dollars, some major QC issues at the factory, a lack of dealer commitment and a somewhat disorganized effort to keep it all together down south.  Think: Hyundai & Kia and be aware that Hyosung will be there, they just aren’t there yet. I like to think of it as teething problems. Maybe, this is the year that they will pull out all the stops, and make a concerted effort to become a small player in a large part of the growing riding community!
   So, since 2001 (or ’02) The bike has been sold-unchanged- under a variety of names from: the GV250, the V-Twin, the 2VC-250T and the Aquila (latin for: Eagle). Always modestly priced against the market, and never able to maintain re-sale value, there are many available, in a variety of colors; in sheds, under tarps, in the back of various garages all over the place and many have been accessorized with saddlebags, windshields and sissy bars already. Remember, the reason they are in the shed is – something broke and wasn’t fixed, AND, they have known issues- all of which cost money to repair. But, once repaired & prepared properly, the bike is a robust, daily driver with no known engine longevity issues. It’s built to go forever!
   Also, none of the amenities were left off! There is a full instrument cluster: tachometer, speedometer, fuel guage, nuetral light, turn signal indicators, lockable forks & lockable under seat storage- no other 250cc bike has all of these things, although all have some of them. Additionally, the wheels are billet aluminium: light weight, very pretty, easy to clean and noticeable from a distance- increasing the ‘stand alone’ nature of the bike. Finally, the fuel tank is 3.7 gallons, large enough to ride over 200 miles between fill ups, and, larger than almost all of the competition.
   The basic design of the motorcycle is somewhat generic: upside down front forks with no adjustment for height, pre-load or rebound, and, twin rear shocks & springs with a pre-load adjustment only. Yes, it leads to a softer ride, and, it can become a little ‘jouncy’ if one hits a bump mid curve at speed, but, very stable, comfortable and forgiving based on the tall side walls of the standard tires. The whole package weights in at 385 pounds, which is very close to all of the available 250cc cruisers on the market as well.  Consider it a South Korean “FatBoy” and there you are! Side note- lots of bikes look like the iconic H-D FatBoy, there just aren’t that many designs out there that meet all motorcycle requirements!
   A beginner bike, that fits almost all new riders, that is powerful, lightweight, quiet, good looking (subjective) can be personalized and will start & run as well as any other bike ever made, for under $2,799.00. A great value to the beginner, a modest investment, and, if riding is for you- it can be converted into an even more powerful commuter bike that will spend all day on the highway @ 65-70MPH and give you over 55MPG, for a modest fee!
   So, that is a very long answer to ‘Why a Hyosung GV250 Aquila?” and, hopefully enough information to convince you to visit me at Gulliver’s Travels to try one on for size! There are always lots of questions, and, there are ways to save money, reduce risk, and financial exposure, while learning how to ride in safety. A Hyosung GV250 Aquila is a great place to start- not intimidating, quiet, almost vibration free, small enough to ‘fit’ comfortably on, and large enough to ride without cramping up or banging handlebars against your knees!
   Hey, if you agree- post up! If you disagree, let’s discuss it in more detail- comment! I look forward to opening a dialogue about this specific bike, and comparing it any other 250cc bike available.
Warm Regards,
Dave