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Bad day at ERC


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I’m looking for your collective un-varnished opinion.


I’m a re-entry rider. Started last year on a Vespa. Took the BRC and the ERC classes. Only lost 3 pts combined over both classes.


I moved up to a 1150RT. I’ve got 1200 mi on it so far, mostly city miles. This past weekend I took the ERC on the RT. I failed miserably. Could not negotiate the 8' offset weave or the figure 8. Coaches say I have good form. Swerve and stop were fine, corner straighten and stop were fine. But all the low speed maneuvering SUCKED.


Now I’m thinking, maybe this is just too much bike for me.


What is you opinion?



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Time and practice. Do not beat yourself up over this. How long did you have the bike before you took the course? Do you feel comfortable riding the bike?

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It is a big jump from the Vespa to the 1150RT. Don't get too concerned yet. Practice on the 1150 in an empty lot somewhere. The key here is to remember to keep your head up, look where you want to go and feather the clutch to keep control of the slow speeds. Slow parking lot maneuvering is difficult and takes practice. There are a lot of people on this board that can relate to difficulty with this.


Riding the bike and getting some miles under your belt to become very familiar with it will translate to easier slow handling capabilities.

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I'm also a re-entry rider but with a 1200. I'd say find a nice parking lot and practice at low speed. Get some cones (the ones like soccer coaches use are great), set 'em up and do a few miles.


I do not happily (or successfully with any consistency) negotiate the 8 or tight U-turns yet with the 1200. I'm 90% sure it's coming from concerns over dropping the bike.


When I took the BRC on a 500 it was relatively painless.


In fact I'm overdue for more practice.

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Part of the problem may be the fact that the RT has a very high center of gravity. The slower you are moving, the harder it is to control. This can be a problem that even the most experienced riders have. You only have to do a search for "low-speed drops" to find dozens of examples of experienced riders dropping their RTs, GSs, LTs, etc.


Of course, I've never done this. eek.gifwink.gif


If you were riding a bike that had a lower center of gravity, say a H-D for example, your day may not have been so fugly.


Time, patience and practice...


And then you'll still have issues with the RT!

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You apparently made a tremendous jump from the Vespa (small wheels) low step thru to the RT.


Don't get frustrated yet. You need to develop some skills associated with operation of the larger heavier bike. It's not impossible but you first must understand the techniques of clutch/ throttle control and coordination, keeping your head up, proper countersteering etc etc etc ... The Vespa will steer almost too fast in comparison and the weight is minimal compared to the RT.


Think about starting to practice skills you used in the BRC first. Take your time.


Your performance simply indicates a bit of dedicated practice time is really needed on your new machine. Then go back for an ERC to have some supervised skills work. Good luck.


I could go into all sorts of details but that's for a book later.

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I did the ERC on an R1150RT. I'm pretty experienced on it, and I did it all successfully, but I didn't find it to be a 'slam dunk.' The R11xxRT has always been a bit of a low speed pig. And the R1150RT's fully linked brakes don't help in that type of environment.


So like the others are mentioning, don't be too hard on yourself. Get out and practice and start with a bigger box than the ERC (or event the BRC) uses. As mentioned, concentrate in particular on your clutch action. Feathering it in and out, in and out of the friction zone, almost continuously to maneuver slowly. Even practice that in a straight line at first to get the feel. You'll be surprised how slow you can creep the bike forward, feet up, without any braking.


The ERC exercises can be done on an R1150RT. Keep at it and you'll get there!

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I applaud you for the move up. Quite a jump.


Zero Speed Drop is a BMW phenomena because of the high center of gravity (compounded if you have a full tank).


I sure wouldn't give up on the bike. You WILL get better with practice.

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When I took it, the people who had the hardest time were on HD-type bikes. Horrible ability (on their part) to do the tighter maneuvering, I think turning circle related. The 12GS was a dream!! SO maneuverable. And there was a guy from the board here that was in my class on an RT that did great. Also, Tony_K did the course on Russell's old RT. He did fine. Maybe send him a PM for pointers. It is obviously very possible, may just involve more practice. Want further evidence? Watch the motors on their RT-P's doing their ballet moves. Simply incredible.

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By far the best instruction I've had on low speed control has been from watching Jerry Palladino's "Ride Like a Pro" DVD. It's kinda campy, but with all due respect to the MSF courses and their instructors (and I really enjoyed the ERC) I found Palladino's instruction and demonstrations to be much better. And after you watch a petite woman put a big full dress V-twin tourer through those drills, flawlessly, you'll be plenty motivated/inspired to practice and excel. That was $35 well spent.

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I'm planning to take the ERC course next month on my ST and I've been wondering about the low speed maneuvers, too. It's a matter of counter balance, confidence and maintaining good speed. I'm sure it will be a bit easier on my ST than an RT. I'm confident I can do them, but I don't live too far from one of the MSF sites, so I plan to practice on the range first.



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On the 8' weave its about the first cone hit to tight your dead, take it wide, there is no "out of bounds" then turn your head and I mean turn in the direction you want to go. Next turn the handlebars. you can pratice this anywhere.

Now take what you learn from the weave to the box and its the same. The RT does better in 2nd gear. Even though the brakes are linked on the RT you can still "drag" the rear

brake and use more throttle.


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GoGo Gadget
I wouldn't worry much about it. In real life, you don't ride figure eights or 8ft weaves.


Your right, in real life you stop and get off the bike then push it back and forth until you get turned around. Then you plow into the kid that steps out because you are looking at him instead of where you want to go.



Head, eyes, clutch, throttle, brake. That is what those exercises teach you. How to seamlessly join all the elements needed to negotiate obstacles in general, not silly little cones. Unfortunately Mothers Against Running Over Little Babies (MAROLB) protested using real kids.

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Now I’m thinking, maybe this is just too much bike for me. What is you opinion? Thanks
Its hard to judge rider ability long distance, but to consider getting another bike based solely on slow speed skills being not up to par according the the ERC standards is a bit of overkill. Its a normal reaction to try and keep the tupperware off the asphalt knowing the potential $$ involved for a tip over.


Like a lot of people have said, the RT is just plain hard to deal with at slow speed with or without linked brakes and even more so with.


I would wager that many, many riders who otherwise navigte the real world successfully (+1 RightSpin) would have similar problems when faced with the specific patterns required.


Not to say that such prescribed low speed skill is not important, but I sure wouldn't get rid of the RT over it.

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I wouldn't worry much about it. In real life, you don't ride figure eights or 8ft weaves.


Don't know that I can either on the GT.

Haven't practiced that too much.

But in the last 100,00 miles I only had to do it in the ERC class and if I practiced that maneuver.

If I have to make a high speed U-turn to save my hide, well, I'd look where I wanted to go and do it.

Parking lots and other slow, low speed situations I try to avoid U turns, not because of difficulty, but becasue of uncertainty as to what other drivers may be doing.

Don't beat yourself up.


Best wishes. wave.gif

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+1 on Palladino's "Ride Like a Pro", get the DVD and practice what it teaches--you'll be amazed. Remember, "Perfect Practice makes perfect", so understand what you're practicing.

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Hang in there.


First off, don't start believing the RT does not respond well at low speeds. Half the cops in Europe ride them and I have seen them chase a purse snatcher down sidewalks and alleys at rush hour in Paris.


You can make this bike do what you want at slow speed if you find someone you trust to show you how. After that it's practice.


Good luck,


Gil Horsley

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Your right, in real life you stop and get off the bike then push it back and forth until you get turned around. Then you plow into the kid that steps out because you are looking at him instead of where you want to go.


Now, how on earth would you plow in to the little kid if you were off the bike pushing it back and forth?

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You just need some more practice to get used to handling the RT. David L. Hough's book "Proficient Motorcycling" pages 53-54 describe the technique for slow speed turns.


It really helps to see it in print, just another way to learn it. It works, really!



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I've taken the ERC course twice on my RT. The first time I struggled with the cones and the figure 8. A year and 6K miles later, I took it again, and it was a snap. The second time, I got some good advice from the instructor, who is a motorcycle LEO and lead instructor for his post's Motorcycle Unit. On the cone weave, look to the next set of cones, not the set you are passing through. This tends to pull you in the right direction. In the figure 8, really counter balance. Move all your weight to the outside of the saddle or onto the outside peg. Also, in the figure 8 it feels unnatural to look away from where you are headed and look to where you want to go, but it works.


Although the ERC is low-speed exercises, I've gained confidence in the bike and my abilities at all speeds. I've signed up for a 'Ride Like Pro' session, which is beyond the ERC and is based on a motorcycle LEO training manual.


As other here recommend, practice. The more you practice on the RT the easier the low-speed maneuvers become.


ride safe,



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+1 on second gear

+1 on David Houghs book.


I went from a 250lb dirt bike to the RT. At first I was convinced this 600lb slug wouldn't go through the cones. But as mentioned above it can be done and rather easily after you learn the techniques.

You do have to practice.

Good Luck

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Ditto the suggestions for patience, practice and reading.


Compared to a great many of the riders here, my local compatriot Tasker being a good example, I'm a average rider at best, and I've completed the ERC while riding an RT, with no points deducted.


Don't be so hard on yourself; if, with a little practice, a yutz like me can do it, so can you.

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Now take what you learn from the weave to the box and its the same. The RT does better in 2nd gear. Even though the brakes are linked on the RT you can still "drag" the rear

brake and use more throttle.

I agree, this is the ticket. Keeping the revs up also prevents Burpendrop Syndrome. (Burp and Drop)
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Thank you all for your insight and words of encouragement. Looks like I’ll be cutting some tennis balls in half and hitting the parking lot.


This forum is the BEST thumbsup.gif

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FYI, the weaves are 20 X 8 ft and 15 X 3 ft. I think the 15 X 3 is much harder. The box for the test is 24 X 60 ft. Twenty feet is about 8 paces. Tennis balls sawed in half make great markers

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Keeping the revs up also prevents Burpendrop Syndrome. (Burp and Drop)


In my case, Burpendrop Syndrome = a broken ankle. I like that term. Describes it perfectly.

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ok, does any of this sound familiar?


As in all in endeavors confidence is important! thumbsup.gif


If you believe you can do it you will be able to. clap.gif


Practice, Practice and more practice is the key smile.gif


You did very well and shouldn't beat yourself up over a few points off!


Slow maneuvers take practice and the more you practice the correct technique the easer it will become. thumbsup.gif



The dimensions for the weaves are 15’ x 3’ and 20’ x 8’

The box dimensions are 28’ x 70’ for practice and 24’ x 70’ for the test.

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And some of them just keep on going until they run out of parking lot dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif


Hey now, I resemble (opps, resent) that last statement. lmao.gif

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As a long time MSF instructor, "don't sweat it". The main reason to take the ERC is to learn your limits and then using the MSF techniques (or others) practice the drills until they become second nature. In my opinion, braking and cornering skills are the most valuable portions of the ERC. Few people have been killed due to parking lot speed crashes (the box and the weaves); thousands are dead from going wide in corners or having poor stopping skills. So unless it's a point of honor to finish near the top of class, just enroll and ride the class. By the way, you can pass the ERC even if you drop a foot or cross the lines of box several times. Failure of any of the other 3 skills (braking and cornering) results in class failure. Read between the lines...

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I would say you had a GOOD DAY at the ERC. You found out what you need to practice more on and managed to keep the bike off the pavement. That adds up to a good day, in my book. You have gotten some great technical advice here, and I would just like to add that I, too, think it is most important to practice on those weaknesses you found when you took the ERC. A slow riding maneuver cost me a few broken bones and lots of other soft tissue/nerve damage in my foot last fall when I toppled over (at low/no speed) in a parking lot and the pegs pinned my foot under my bike. I am still off my bike, due to injuries. I too, had gone from a smaller, lower center of gravity bike, to an R1100RA. I didn't take the time to master those slow speed skills enough, so I am now paying the price. Granted, when you are out on the highway, it is equally important to be able to handle your bike at full speed and in emergencies, for those mistakes can often be fatal. The slow speed mistakes can leave you with broken bones and broken spirit. Keep practicing and you will get it. You have made a bigger jump in bikes than I did, but I remember back when I first started riding and practice, practice, practice is the only way to overcome the issues. The video that has been recommended is great and I own it. I have not read the book, but plan to as I have seen it recommended several times.


I would like to commend you on switching from the Vespa to your RT, completing the ERC and keeping your bike off the ground. I think you failed to give yourself enough credit for that. That is quite an accomplishment!!!! You will get there if you "do your homework". It is not as fun to practice something you are not sure you can do, as it is to get out there and ride. But when you have mastered it, you will feel much better about yourself and be much better prepared to ride in a manner that might save you a broken bone or two. Keep working and good luck.

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