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I’ll preface this by stating that I am in no way an experienced rider (year and a half) and am in fact new to Hondas and 600cc bikes but figure it may help new or inexperienced riders in developing or maintaining a safe approach to riding.

I chose an Aprilia RS 125 as my first bike and while it taught me a lot it also inevitably left me with a long and expensive list of parts to buy and finally it was time to let it go in April. Given my license restrictions were ending in January 2015 I decided against another learner approved bike and saved hard (really hard as a uni student) for something bigger (an 03 cbr600rr).

The wait has been tougher than I ever could have imagined but I stick by the decision because while my riding skills will have dropped over the 8 months my mental approach would have stayed the same had I jumped on another bike. As a learner I initially gave myself a rule that if I began feeling ‘too confident’ on the bike it was time to call it a day before I got myself into trouble, but this soon faded. I hit the twisties a few times until I got to a right hand hairpin with decreasing radius that when mixed with a speed beyond my capabilities and a chopped throttle would leave me thrown to the side of the road. Luckily I came with nothing but a bruised ego, scratched fairings and bent gear lever.

Not having a bike for so long gave me a proper chance to assess my riding and gave me a better appreciation for what a bike can do to you, even the small ones and that leathers don’t make you invincible. I realised I took risks that didn’t need taking and that anyone can go fast, but riding smoothly takes practice and skill. I don't argue that actually riding is the best way to learn but you pick up a thing or two on youtube/forums when you're avoiding your uni work for 8 months too.

I don’t recommend new riders take an 8 month break (I have a lot of learning to do again, especially transitioning from a carbed 2 stroke 125) but instead put the keys down just one weekend to assess. I can’t wait to get back to riding this summer and slowly but surely getting to grips with the Honda, but more importantly remaining honest to myself about where I am in the learning process.
 

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Taking a break is a bad idea. New riders learn to spend time developing muscle memory required to do the normal, everyday tasks associate with riding a sportbike. Proper instruction, and a good mentor are the proper tools for a new rider.
 

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Sorry probably wasn't clear. I agree riding comes down to muscle memory. This is purely a suggestion to take one day off to maintain a safe mental approach to riding as an addition to learning rather than a substitution
 

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Yeah, you could have stated it better but there are lots of things you can do off a bike to improve the mental part of riding.
You mention youtube which I'm sure someone might come along here and say "you can't learn anything from watching videos!". You can. Watching (or better yet, listening) to on board videos of top racers is great for picking up how they use the throttle and brake. Watching crash videos of street riders (Rnickey Mouse?) is interesting to see bad habits and poor decisions in action. Watching someone panic, grab, a handful of brakes, target fixate on the outside of a turn and run straight into what they're looking in a corner that they could have gone through with their eyes closed if they hadn't of mindfawked themselves is priceless too.
Apart from videos even when driving or a passenger in a car you can visualize riding and scanning ahead to anticipate road condition and behavior of other motorists.
Better riders than all of us here use mental exercises to help their riding. Ever watch MotoGP and see Marc Marqeuz or his younger brother before a race? Sitting in the pit or on the grid they'll half close their eyes like they're in a trance and nod their heads like heroin junkies for a couple minutes as they visualize lapping the track that they've been riding all weekend and are about to race on.

You can't improve riding skills by not riding (in fact they're perishable to an extent) but you can improve how you go about riding. Reflection & analysis are great tools. Without the mental part there's no way to improve. I don't know how many riders I've come across that brag about how many years they've been riding and are defensive about listening to anyone or examining their own ability. Sometimes you watch them & think to yourself "guess you've been a crappy rider for a very long time".
 

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I’ll preface this by stating that I am in no way an experienced rider (year and a half) and am in fact new to Hondas and 600cc bikes but figure it may help new or inexperienced riders in developing or maintaining a safe approach to riding.

I chose an Aprilia RS 125 as my first bike and while it taught me a lot it also inevitably left me with a long and expensive list of parts to buy and finally it was time to let it go in April. Given my license restrictions were ending in January 2015 I decided against another learner approved bike and saved hard (really hard as a uni student) for something bigger (an 03 cbr600rr).

The wait has been tougher than I ever could have imagined but I stick by the decision because while my riding skills will have dropped over the 8 months my mental approach would have stayed the same had I jumped on another bike. As a learner I initially gave myself a rule that if I began feeling ‘too confident’ on the bike it was time to call it a day before I got myself into trouble, but this soon faded. I hit the twisties a few times until I got to a right hand hairpin with decreasing radius that when mixed with a speed beyond my capabilities and a chopped throttle would leave me thrown to the side of the road. Luckily I came with nothing but a bruised ego, scratched fairings and bent gear lever.

Not having a bike for so long gave me a proper chance to assess my riding and gave me a better appreciation for what a bike can do to you, even the small ones and that leathers don’t make you invincible. I realised I took risks that didn’t need taking and that anyone can go fast, but riding smoothly takes practice and skill. I don't argue that actually riding is the best way to learn but you pick up a thing or two on youtube/forums when you're avoiding your uni work for 8 months too.

I don’t recommend new riders take an 8 month break (I have a lot of learning to do again, especially transitioning from a carbed 2 stroke 125) but instead put the keys down just one weekend to assess. I can’t wait to get back to riding this summer and slowly but surely getting to grips with the Honda, but more importantly remaining honest to myself about where I am in the learning process.
WTF am I hearing? Are you a woman?

Grow a pair and ride.
 

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Interesting thread, and thank you!

Riding mountain bikes does help you learn/maintain some 2 wheel skills.

? posters who have to live through long winters, does the layoff mess with your riding in the spring ?
 

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Interesting thread, and thank you!

Riding mountain bikes does help you learn/maintain some 2 wheel skills.

? posters who have to live through long winters, does the layoff mess with your riding in the spring ?
I'd say yes and no. I live in Iowa so I usually stop riding mid November and get the cbr out beginning of March (assuming we've had warm rains to wash sand off of the road from winter). I have an endure that I try to ride throughout winter when we get warm days here and there. This keeps my basic riding skills up to par for when I get on the cbr later in the year. Only adjustments that I have to make deal with the heavier weight, power difference, and riding position. Enduro I ride is a wr250r for reference.
 

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Getting back on the bike in the spring isn't a big deal. The roads are usually gravel covered and wet for quite a while so you pretty much have to ***** foot anyway. I ease myself back into it
 

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I think it might depend on how much experience you have, sometimes it would take me a number of days to work up back to a level I reached after taking a month off. Sometimes, it's just one of those days, where you feel like crap and really shouldn't force the issue. Research and reflection are paramount as PdubRR stated, sometimes you have to decide on an agenda before you head out if you plan on improving certain aspects of your riding, additionally if you work on more than one thing at a time you'll end up losing focus and not accomplishing much. Discipline is also part of improving, sometimes I get fed up with straying from the plan and actually write down two things I want to work on for the next ride on a sticky note and put it on the headlight side panels in case I stray and just ride without focus.

Pusher, go push yourself of a cliff.
Everyone is entitled to their approach of riding and development, either share or shut it.
 

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Riding is good if you're developing good habits. Riding is bad if you're developing bad habits. Reflection upon whether your habits are good or bad should be an ongoing practice along with the appropriate corrections.
 
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