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Any pointers when switching from a cruiser to a BMW R1100R


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I am making a "not so graceful" transition from a Honda shadow 700CC to a BMW R1100R. Do fine maneuvering in and out while moving down the highway but have had three parking lot or stop light laydowns while making the transition. I can flat foot this bike, and it is a bit more topheavy however.........my issues are more technique in slow or stopped maneuvering. Either too much throttle with handlebars turned or slight balancing issues. Anyway, before I skin this nice bike all to hell, any suggestions? Everything I am used to using by second nature seems to be located in a different spot on the bike or doesn't work in the same manner. Plus there is that 700CC to 1100CC power transition that is a huge change. This gal is still fighting the conversion, but determined to make it work. Just don't want to beat the bike all up during the transition. Anyone here who has been there and done that who can offer some assistance?

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Try not to overthink what you are doing. All the levers and footwork are the same. Maybe you could put the bike on the centerstand and just move your hands and feet around for a few minutes to becaome familiar with the new bikes "feel." Then when comfortable, take it to an open carpark for some training runs. Simple stuff, U-turns, start-n-stop drills, ride around cones, etc. Before too long you won't have any trouble.

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Don't be too hard on yourself. You have a much more responsive motorcycle than you did with that Shadow. The steering is more responsive, the throttle is more responsive and so are the brakes. It is vastly different. I remember doing a little training session with one of our board member's friends a couple of years ago and he had a Shadow 700 and when I rode it to demonstrate something to him found it to be difficult to ride, requiring very large inputs to get it to do anything, and therein may lie your problem.


Do get yourself to a parking lot and find an empty section to practice in. A large high school lot on a Sunday morning is probably ideal. Start with the MSF basic course exercises (you have taken that, have you not?). Simple stuff is best and don't push your envelope. When doing turns and stops, keep things nice and wide and easy till you get used to those new responses. Just ride along in a straight line, practicing starts and stops till they become smooth and easy. Remember head up and a light touch on the bars and controls. When you can do 10 of each in a row with no wobbles or stalls, move on to some gentle turns. Get going fast enough so that the counter steering thing starts to take effect. Remeber, you have a much flatter bar on this bike so you don't have to swing the bars so far to turn. A gentle push is all you need. It is the duration of the push, not the magnitude that determines how far the bike will lean. Again, start with 45 degree turns, work up to 90's and then 180 and 360's. 10 each left and right. Don't look down at the ground. Keep that head up and look where you want to go.


There is more, but the board is gonna time out on me.

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Do not look down as you come to a halt, keep looking at the horizon - or as far ahead as you can - this helps keep the bike upright.

When taking off at an intersection, start off in a straight line, then turn. With the revs as low as 1500 you can have the clutch all the way out, then ease through the corner before accelerating.



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Unfortunately this is a top heavy bike. I’ve drop mine several times over the course of 2.5 years. With practice you will stop dropping it, but I’ve had lots of close calls when on gravel or when maneuvering without 100% concentration at very slow/no speed.


What’s helped me:


cool.gif Build up some upper body strength because even if we can flat foot, there’s also a lack of length on the top side.


smile.gif Get some good crash bars. They’ve prevented a lot of damage on my bike.


thumbsup.gif Give yourself some time/miles to get used to a new bike. Usually the first six thousand miles are the ‘break in’ period for a new owner.


blush.gif Anticipate problems, e.g. never park the bike down hill, no matter how slight the incline, you won’t be able to back it up on your own.


grin.gif Have a good attitude. It is a heavy bike, you’ll never as smooth handling it as some. So what? As long you’re having a great time riding it.


clap.gif Practice. A lot.

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Anyway, before I skin this nice bike all to hell, any suggestions? ....... Anyone here who has been there and done that who can offer some assistance?


Yes - and yes.


Four tips for slow speed manuevering:


Head AND eyes UP - always, always, always look toward where you want the bike to go. (Hint - the asphault five feet in front of the front wheel ain't it) grin.gif


Throttle slightly above idle speed.


LIGHTLY drag your rear brake only. NEVER touch the front when you're doing parking lot/low speed maneuvering.


Find the friction zone of the clutch - that point where it's engaged enough to make you move but not fully engaged.


Use the last three - particularly feathering the clutch and rr brake - to maintain a constant speed/fwd motion while turning the bike with the handle bars. It's the one rare instance where you actually turn the bars toward where you want to go - rather than countersteering like you'd do at higher speeds.


Practice a lot - but with one caveat. The BMW clutch is a dry clutch - not a wet clutch like the Honda. You need to keep the practice drills short (like 5 minutes or so) and 'breeze out' the bike regularly - with the clutch fully engaged and moving some air. On the Honda (if you still have it), you can do the friction zone technique almost all day long without fear of wasting the clutch.


Check out Jerry Palladino's website - Ride Like a Pro


It's all a matter of technique, not 'muscle' IMHO. And you really should be able to execute a full-lock (handlebars) turn at walking speeds to maintain safe control of your bike. Spending the $35 on Jerry's video was some of the smartest money I ever spent on 'modding' my bike. thumbsup.gif

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WOW! What great responses. In other words, back to the basics. Yes, there is a huge difference in clutching and steering the Shadow VS this BMW. I did take the rider's safety course before I ever rode on the street on the Honda, that would have been about three years ago to the day. I did attend the advanced rider's course with my fiance' when he switched from his Katana to his R1150RT and rode pillion. Seemed a lot like the beginner's course, but just fewer reps of the same exercises. Their parking lot is close by my home and I could hit it when they aren't having classes. I did buy the video, Ride Like a Pro and watched it a time back. Will review that one, as well. I am 5'7" and weigh about 125 pounds and have a small frame, so it wouldn't hurt me to buff up the muscles a bit. Nice to hear the info about letting the clutch air out. You are right, I could stay on that friction zone all day long on that Shadow. I think I am being VERY hesitant about using that rear brake in the slow moving situations because I seem uncomfortable with it for some reason. Didn't have that issue at all on the Shadow. I will back up to the basics and do those baby steps that brought me to be comfortable on the Shadow. May be trying to hop on and do a bit much for my present capability with this bike at this time. We do have engine guards on order, as well as a cover for my cylinder head. We ordered a new lid for the right hard bag but will wait to put that on a bit. Haven't had a great deal of time to ride lately becase we are planning our wedding for October and have been plugging through those details with most of our free moments. Will be doing a bit of riding this weekend, though.


Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions, I will re-read them over and over and be glad to take more if anyone has more input. Thanks again!!!!!!!!

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I dropped my R1100R. It is actually a bit less agile than my R1150GS. The big breakthru came when I figured out how to let the bike idle with the clutch out and how to goose the throttle to stand it up when I go too far.


I can steer it around parking lots and whatnot pretty easily now.


Good luck!



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First rule is never use your front brake at slow speed unless you are going absolutely straight ahead. It is better to use your rear always at low speed. Reduces the top heavy tendency of the bike.

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Congratulations on graduating to the R11R. I have one of those and also a Harley Road King cruiser. I enjoy both very much, but as you already know, they are quite different in feel. There is no doubt that the Harley is easier to handle at low speed in the parking lot. Why is that? Surely not because it's a lighter bike or "easier" to steer at low speed. I think it's because of the illusion of confidence caused by the low seat height along with the superb low RPM operation of the engine. The Harley pulls along practically at idle with its massive (relatively) torque so throttle play and engine response is not a big factor. The R11R, on the other hand, is afflicted with the BMW surge--often manifested as an ON-OFF-ON jerky behavior at low throttle settings. This tends to upset confidence and smoothness. The solution is to dial in more throttle to smooth out the surge, but then you're going too fast. This is where dragging the rear brake and/or slipping the clutch works well. You should also be sure that valves clearances and throttle synch are properly adjusted--the bike is almost unrideable at low speed if this stuff is off.

The roadster really comes into its own on the twisties--it's light neutral handling and decent power make it a delight putting the Harley to shame.

I hope you'll come to love your R11R as much as I have mine. I really do believe it's worth the effort to sort it out.


Good luck, Dave

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