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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-11-2011, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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New rider, new bike

I'm new to motorcycles, took the MSF course and got the license last year. I actually didn't get to finish the MSF course due to a death in the family, and ended up testing at the license station on a borrowed 1995 CBR900. I rode it all last season, racked up about 4500 miles, and feel pretty good on it, but still have great respect for the power that bike produces, and am still wary of unleashing it. Anyway, I've always been a fan of the RC bikes, and the RC51 is just drop dead gorgeous and has a bad ass sound like no other. Am I nuts for looking to buy one?

Oh yeah, name's Eric, long time lurker here, finally registered and have a real reason to post. Thanks.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-11-2011, 11:28 PM
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Welcome Eric.
No, you're not nuts for wanting to buy one.
We all had various reasons we wanted to own one.

I myself enjoy mine because it's more visceral to me than the more sanitized bikes these days.
More late 60s muscle car than 21st century supercar.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 07:10 AM
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I love SBK and therefore feel the need to fill my garage with streetversions and twins are where my heart truly lies, they aren't the "fastest" bike out there but they are a bit more rare, hold some racing heritage, and have a deep character most jap I4's lack.

IT sounds like you appreciate and respect a bikes potential and power so i'd say buy one. start off slow, understand it, and learn to "feel" it and be able to know how it will react to certain situations on the street....after you do that go hit some twisties. (as with any bike, i recommend a steering damper as a necessary first mod, prevents those infamous tank slappers) welcome to the forum, eric.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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they aren't the "fastest" bike out there but they are a bit more rare, hold some racing heritage, and have a deep character most jap I4's lack.

(as with any bike, i recommend a steering damper as a necessary first mod, prevents those infamous tank slappers) welcome to the forum, eric.
Well, since I'm nowhere near being the fastest rider, not having the fastest bike is just fine. I know it's way more bike than I'll ever need or really be able to get the full potential from, but as I said, it's just one of those things that I can't get off my mind.

Where would one look for a steering damper? Any brands that are preferable? I don't think the CBR900 I rode last summer had one. I know how important they are for trucks, and can't imagine getting the equivalent of "death wobble" on a motorcycle, which I assume is the "tank slapper" mentioned earlier? What conditions bring about a "tank slapper"? Is it more a function of the bike condition, road condition, speed?
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 11:53 AM
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Well, since I'm nowhere near being the fastest rider, not having the fastest bike is just fine. I know it's way more bike than I'll ever need or really be able to get the full potential from, but as I said, it's just one of those things that I can't get off my mind.

Where would one look for a steering damper? Any brands that are preferable? I don't think the CBR900 I rode last summer had one. I know how important they are for trucks, and can't imagine getting the equivalent of "death wobble" on a motorcycle, which I assume is the "tank slapper" mentioned earlier? What conditions bring about a "tank slapper"? Is it more a function of the bike condition, road condition, speed?
not trying to start a war but i would save the money on the steering dampner and invest it in a riding school. Not your basic msf school but something like the schwantz school or california superbike school. Now those 2 are very exspensive but there are other alternatives out there. Even your basic track day will teach you more about you and your bike than years on the street. The rc51 has one of the most planted front ends of any bike i have ever ridden. A dampner is simply not needed for this bike except for the hard core racer etc. My forks are probably years over due for a sevice and i have never had shimmy or shake out of that front end that you wouldnt still get with the dampner. just an opinion

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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not trying to start a war but i would save the money on the steering dampner and invest it in a riding school. Not your basic msf school but something like the schwantz school or california superbike school. Now those 2 are very exspensive but there are other alternatives out there. Even your basic track day will teach you more about you and your bike than years on the street. The rc51 has one of the most planted front ends of any bike i have ever ridden. A dampner is simply not needed for this bike except for the hard core racer etc. My forks are probably years over due for a sevice and i have never had shimmy or shake out of that front end that you wouldnt still get with the dampner. just an opinion
That's actually a very good point, and was something I was going to inquire elsewhere on this forum. Rider training is something I've been interested in and both Mid Ohio and Nelson Ledges here in Ohio have track days, but I'm still so new to it all I'm afraid I would just be in the way at a track day. There are some training classes available at Mid Ohio, but even for them, I don't think my skill level is up to the "prerequisites" of the class. I just don't know how to get out of the extreme newbie state to a level I can build on. I've been providing 4x4 training in both driving technique and recovery operations for quite some time, but I got lots of that training in the military, and have been doing it on my own for many years. Self teaching those skills is much less hazardous if you screw it up I think than motorcycle riding.

Also good to hear about the stable platform of the RC. The CBR900 I rode last season did not have a steering damper (went to check this morning). I never felt a need for one, but then I was just putting around town.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 02:38 PM
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Welcome aboard Eric, this is a great forum. It is full of great threads and the guys here always are always able to answer my questions. Good luck in your search/purchase.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 02:40 PM
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i bought mine with a hyperpro damper and swapped for a rotary GPR, i cannot attest to the stability of the RC without one. They've saved me in the past so im a firm believer in them, and just help keep that front end stable when riding hard. I don't doubt screamincheif though, its a great bike and wouldn't surprise me if the bike was just as stable without one. I also agree on the riding school if they are available near you, but they can be very expensive.
If you cant afford one of these schools, at least do some reading, figure out techniques and so on. There was a pretty good show shown in Britain recently called superbike school consisting of 6 episodes and taught by the CSS. A lot of good basic rider info in there. Just take it slow and have fun.

2001 Honda RC51 SP1
1996 Honda CBR 900RR
2003 Aprilia RSV Mille R
1999 Aprilia RS50
2012 Triumph Daytona 675R (Sold)
2010 BMW S1000RR (Sold)
2005 Yamaha R6 (Sold)

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 04:40 PM
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That's actually a very good point, and was something I was going to inquire elsewhere on this forum. Rider training is something I've been interested in and both Mid Ohio and Nelson Ledges here in Ohio have track days, but I'm still so new to it all I'm afraid I would just be in the way at a track day. There are some training classes available at Mid Ohio, but even for them, I don't think my skill level is up to the "prerequisites" of the class. I just don't know how to get out of the extreme newbie state to a level I can build on. I've been providing 4x4 training in both driving technique and recovery operations for quite some time, but I got lots of that training in the military, and have been doing it on my own for many years. Self teaching those skills is much less hazardous if you screw it up I think than motorcycle riding.

Also good to hear about the stable platform of the RC. The CBR900 I rode last season did not have a steering damper (went to check this morning). I never felt a need for one, but then I was just putting around town.
Hey dont sweat being a newbie! everyone starts somewhere. Max Biaggi didnt even ride a motorcyle until he was 18 and hes now a 4 time world champion! The schools welcome newbies with open arms and dont be surprised if your faster than all your buds who have many years riding on the street after just 1 class. The teachers almost rather you have no experiance so they dont have to break your bad habbits! Check out Keith Codes books A Twist of The Wrist volumes 1 and 2 to get a start on the actual dynamics of how a motorcycle really works. My 1st bike was an FZR 1000 that definatly needed a steering dampner. Talk about a learning curve

2000 RC51
1985 ATC 350X
2009 Silverado SS clone
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 05:02 PM
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Tanks slappers (or head shakes) are usually caused by gripping the bars too tightly.
The front end isn't allowed to self-stabilize and your steering inputs (from gripping too tightly) induce additional forces that cause it to build in amplitude (i.e. positive feedback).

What can start the front end start to head shake can be several things.
You may hit a road obstacle at an angle, or suspension adjustments that decrease the trail too much (and lessen self-stabilization), or front end returning to the pavement at a oblique angle (as in from a wheelie or lifting over a rise under heavy acceleration).
Usually, the font end will self-center itself, but if the bars are gripped to tightly the natural oscillations are not allowed to damp out, but are reinforced.

The RC51 may need a steering damper if the suspension has been tweaked to quicken the steering, as in raising the forks in the triple-clamps and/or raising the rear of the bike using shims or shock length adjuster to cause a reduction in trail.
It quickens the steering at the expense of stability.
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