Stuck in 1st

The Motorcycle Diaries Cont….

North of Glasgow, the roads are clean, tidy, windy, and course through the most beautiful scenery.   Rocky striated mountains, dappled with heather; misty clouds rolling in the valleys below them.   Little wonder that it is popular with motorbike enthusiasts.  We witness full-kit tourers and dream it will be us.  One day.

On our return journey we follow two Harley Ds.  One rider is clearly more experienced than the other.  A woman in a pretty pink helmet, blueberry coloured Dr Marten’s and matching new bike is closely following the experienced black silhouette.  I learn a great deal about how dominant road positioning increases your safety, as the less confident rider disappears from view in her preference for close to verge positioning.

“If you overtook now, would you know that she was there?”  I ask my partner.  He says he can see the black silhouette, but Pink Helmet’s positioning isn’t helping her at all.

I’m riding that road in my head, and realise that it’s a habit.  Need to make that habit a reality.

Inspired, we get on the bikes before it threatens to rain.  I have a good run, feeling more comfortable and confident than I’ve ever been.  There’s a junction with a tricky hill stop, it’s hard to get the bike into 1st gear before stopping.  I stall.  Undeterred, I decide to do that round again to get it right.  I’m enjoying this. Not sure that my partner is.   I persist in boring routines, he wants to give his bike a bit of welly!

Feeling good, I appease his desires and proceed to the wider road.  We’re now confronted with higher traffic flow.  I’m feeling fine until the bike decides that it doesn’t have a second gear, only neutral.  This happened to me before and it’s scary, as when pulling out of a junction in first gear, you want to pick up speed reasonably quickly before anything runs into the back of you.    When I’d learned on Suzu, neutral gear was the hardest to find, but I didn’t mind that problem.  You’re usually stationary and not going anywhere when in neutral.  But I’m greatly disliking this lack of getting into 2nd gear.

I put her away, put it down to inexperience and tiredness, and go out the next day.  The problem doesn’t wait until the bike’s warmed up – my first attempt is a no-go.  I’m unsure if this is lack of technique or the bike, so I persist in my efforts – mainly to keep my confidence up.  I stick to the traffic free roads.  Sometimes I have a troublesome free spell, then it’s nightmare time.

During my nightmare times, people don’t shout at me like I expect, but are surprisingly patient.  I’m given space, someone shouts instructions out from a passenger window, and when I’m back on track again, other bikers give a friendly nod when passing.

Once home, I ring the place where I bought the bike.  It’s still under warranty.  They agree that they’ve experienced the issue from time to time when on that make of bike and are in general agreement that it is the nature of the beast.  However, they suggested I bring it in for peace of mind, as sometimes small adjustments can make all the difference.  In the meantime, they also suggested higher revs in 1st gear before attempting the change to 2nd.  Give it a bit of welly!  I’m wondering where that phrase came from.

I want to bring it in for checking, but I have a dilemma.  The journey means two dual carriageways, a city circular and I’ll have to confront all my worst fears about British roads. And it may not go into 2nd gear when I need it to.

But I’m reading biker magazines, have a wallpaper on my desktop of my dream bike, WANT that licence before the end of the year, am checking out bike maintenance courses in our area, Scotland looks so much fun on two wheels …..

Dream Bike (photo credit:

I’m a biker now!

So, I’ve gotta do it.  I’ll do my best to give it a bit of welly.





20 thoughts on “Stuck in 1st

  1. Big BMW’s are so easy to ride. They have everything ‘there’ when you want it ya know?

    Also. passing your test makes you 800% faster and better. Or at least it did with me, my confidence shot up post test. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve been told that it will get easier when I shift to a bigger bike, but need some road experience before I make that leap. I feel encouraged by others’ experiences though. I’m holding on to that feeling of anticipation of that first test ride on a beamer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Big bikes are generally easier. They just feel more planted and stable. Little bikes have their place in the world though. Not much point in me going bigger when I live in a high theft area of London where the traffic rarely gets above 50mph even on the motorways heh.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If they’ve experienced the same problem with the same bikes, wouldn’t it be better to switch to a different model? Sometimes reading these posts I just shake my head. Heck. I always thought you just get on ’em and push start!


    1. That idea was in my head, to tell them they could have it back, that I want a new one. But I did that nightmare journey and they played with the lever position and clutch tension and I got home without the problem again. Seems to be sorted and I am so proud of myself. Can’t wait to write the post about my most challenging ride so far. Talk about jumping in the deep end!


  3. If there is an issue with your particular bike it will be sorted. If you learn that it’s no different than any ohter bike of that model, your confidence will grow, and you’ll probably quickly pick up the technique for getting it into second.
    Keep on revving 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh! Sorry. Yes. I always had a yen to be a biker, and when I was fifteen I had a motorbike that I kept hidden in a friend’s shed. I used to frape (race – it’s probably a local word) it up and down her pitted private lane, and through the woods. Don’t tell my mum – not that she’d be angry, but I worried her enough without her knowing I was a crazy up-and-coming Hells Angel 🙂
            I’m mad about British bikes.

            Liked by 2 people

              1. German – and Italian – bikes are pretty good. It’s all changed since I was young – back then it was all about tinkering, scrabbling around on a greasy floor hunting for that lost bolt, trying to make gaskets out of cardboard, and getting covered in oil – oh, and sitting around cradling the same cup of cold coffeee for two hours in a greaser cafe, gazing at the bikes parked outside – with all the girls except me hoping for a ride on the stupid chopper (I liked the authentic Nortons and Triumphs) – though there was the occasional burn up the highway – which was what it was all about.
                I’m rambling. I thought I’d forgotten all that…

                Liked by 2 people

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