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Hello all,

I'm a relatively new rider. I own a 2004 ZX636 and I've been making good but safe progress with it over the past few months. The group of guys I ride with are all about safety and not attracting any attention, so I've felt like I'm in good hands as a beginner. Never dropped my bike, no plans to do so. I feel very comfortable with it and don't take any chances. Overall I consider myself a competent rider with more to learn as I go. Here's why I mention all of this:

I went to perform my road test at the Flordia License Center here in Tampa. I was expecting it to be exactly that - a road test. I was surprised to see that the course was laid out on a blacktop smaller than a high school basketball court. The examiner was a chubby dweeb with a pocket protector in his shirt. The test was to consit of 7 tasks, the first of which was a sharp left turn in which the rider had to keep the bike betwen two lines spaced 4.5 feet apart while turning a 90 degree corner. I did ok on that one, although it felt very risky to me to be manuevering a sportbike at idle-speed around a 90 turn like that. Especially with only 2.25 feet of room on either side.

The next task is where it hit the fan. I was required to manuever a zigzag pattern around a series of cones. The cones were only spaced 9 feet apart, with an offset distance of about a foot. That's barely longer than the wheelbase of my bike. This may sound doable to most of you for all I know, but I took one look at the cones and told the instructor that it just wasn't safe. He didn't really know what to say back. The conversation went like this:

"What do you mean its unsafe?"

"Well, first of all there aren't any situations on the road where a rider would ever have to manuever a pattern like that. In fact, the training book advises us to avoid weaving like that.

"Well I've never had anyone refuse to do it before."

"Do most of the riders that test here ride sportbikes?"

"No, they ride the safer ones."

Ahhhh, that explains it doesn't it? I was dealing with some motorcycle hater. Anyway, I went ahead and tried the course. I made it through the first too, but the bike just wanted to lay over after that, so I stopped. Next the idiot wants me to perform a U-turn within a 20-foot radius. What?! The minimum turning radius suggested for my bike is 24 feet! I was baffled, so I just told him I wasn't going to do it. I didn't by a motorcycle so I could go to a DMV parking lot and perform stunts for some government stooge.

The kicker was when I asked the guy if he even new how to ride a motorcycle, and he said no.
 

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I can see your points here bud. It is a bit harder to do a road test with a sport bike. Especially if you're just starting off. I would agree with you on the turning radius but you can get it sharper than the book suggests. The book is just giving a lot of room for error. If you just barly hold the gas and use your rear break a little you'll take the corner much sharper. Of all the tests you took the U turn and slow turn are the best ones to practice and the hardest to master for the street IMO. The weaving the cones are a piece of cake if you do it right. I weave the dotted lines on the high way doing 60mph. The best way for me to explain how to do it without showing you is to imagine you are down hill skiing, sloloming back and forth. Have confidence in your bikes abilities.

I can remember when I did the cones in my MSF course. I loved them so much and the instructors could tell I was having a blast while everyone else was so unsure of themselves. I think the instructors were jelous they couldn't be out there with me, hehe.

But again, the hardest manuvers on a sport bike are going to be slow sharp turns. Infact, on any bike it just doesn't feel right at first.
 

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So i'm assuming you didn't get your license?? You don't say if you did or not (unless i misread) **edit: stupid me...i just re-read the title....nm**. I don't think the test is designed to be a simulation of what you might encounter on the road...just a test to see if you can handle the bike. But i totally understand and empathize with everything you said. its funny actually.
 

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I have seen people complete and pass the same type of test on full dress GoldWings and Harley choppers. It's doable, but you need to have a lot of experience and a lot of practice on the bike before taking the test. My MSF instructor ran the final on his GoldWing when a fellow student told him it couldn't be done on a bigger bike.

When the instructor said others take the test on "safer bikes" he wasn't hating on your sportbike. He was pointing out the fact that your 636 is not designed to excel at low speed handling. The clip-ons are narrow, the center of gravity is high, and your seating position has your upper body leaned forward with the weight on your wrists and your legs are not directly under you.

The problem is that you are a fairly new rider. (Nothing wrong with that. I'm still new myself.) It will take weeks or months of practice before you will be able to pull off the tight moves required for the test on your 636 flawlessly.

Have you taken the MSF course? If not I HIGHLY recommend it. In the course you will be riding 125s and 250s with standard ergos. The course will put you through all of the low speed stuff you faced in the DMV test and more. In CA if you pass the MSF class you can skip the DMV test. Check and see if the same is true in your state.

If the course isn't an option, ask around and see if any of your riding buddies have a smaller standard bike (Rebel 250, Ninja 250, Ninja 500, GZ250, Virago 250/500, Vulcan 500, etc, etc) that you can borrow for the DMV test. The DMV doesn't care what you ride in the test, so get something small light and easy to handle at low speed.

.02$
 

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My condolences on not passing Blue_Streak. I didn't pass my first time through either (haven't gotten to retest yet, darn winter). The "road test" you got sounds almost exactly like the "final exam" for the MSF course here in PA. I could do everything except the u-turn (I ended up dropping the bike so auto-failed.) I will second the MSF course. It can help with some of the basics, like the outside-inside-outside method for those tight curves. It helps straighten them out a little, which makes them easier to navigate.

Don't give up and don't let the beaurocrats get you down ;) Practice, practice, and we'll best them yet :D

Happy and safe riding!

Angela
--who is going to practice her u-turns as soon as this gosh darn white stuff goes away
 

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Sorry to hear that man... you ought to go take an MSF course... they provide little 250s that are easy to manuver and give you a lot of time to practice the course before you take the test... its a lot easier and a lot more fun. Plus, I don't know about the others but my teachers were pretty cool too! Check one out near you, its worth it...
 

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Been there

Here in Michigan we had a similar test too.10 yrs ago. I had a Yam Seca before it had full fairings. The day I took the test there was about 12 of us or so. One cruiser, my bike, and then the rest were sport bikes. I passed because my bike didnt have fairings in my opinion. I felt sorry for the sport bike riders since only one one of the guys on the sportbikes past, and he was good on it too. If you failed one portion you were done.. Most lost it on the cones...I do not believe the tests were designed to be taken with full fairing sport bikes.
But we do have classes around here that supply small 125's that you practice on and take your test later at the end of the class. They cost $25 to take. Might want to see if you have something similar there. Good Luck
 

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Hate to chime in with another MSF ad, but what you describe sounds nearly identical to the MSF road test that I took last year. If you haven't taken the MSF Basic Rider Course...

To be fair, it is a bit harder on a sportbike. In the BRC, you use the MSF-supplied bikes which are standards or cruisers (albeit 125cc cruisers) that have a lower center of gravity. I passed the BRC road test, but went back weeks later to try it (unofficially) on my own bike (a Ninja 500R) and I couldn't do the U turn.

I plan to take the MSF Experienced Rider Course in the Spring where you use your own bike. So, I'm paying close attention to my slow speed balance and manuevering skill.
 

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Lol, that sux man. When I'm riding around I'm required to perfom evasive maneuvers like zig-zagging between objects spaced approx 9ft apart at about 45 mph all the time.

When I was looking to get my license I spoke to someone who had a similar experience. I tried doing what he said was required and it was pretty hard... I'm not the best rider but I figured 8 or so years of riding (albeit not necesarilly leagally) without incident puts me in the "ok" category. Fogeaboudit... there was no way I was doing that on my bike... I swear someone that hasn't ridden before created that test. I just took the MSF course and got it that way (they just give you your MC endorsement if you pass that out here).
 

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Any of you who are having problems with the cones on a sport bike should pick up the Twist of the Wrist bookes that Keith Code wrote. He explains "quick flicking" in them. After you get pretty decent I would take one of the schools he has around the country. You'll improve from reading the books but nothing is like living the books.
 

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When I bought my EX500 in June last year I rode around "pseudo-legally" for a month. (I had insurance, but no M endorsement on my license) After a month went by I had a friend ride my bike to the DMV and I followed in my car. Even being #3 in line when they opened it still took 3 hours to get everything done. The course I had to do seems very similar to the one you described. When we got there I spent about 20 min practicing on the course. The offset cone weave was the hardest for me and luckily after I blew it the first time the instructor let me try again and I managed to do it.

For courses like that usually you can only accumulate so many points for each infraction. Technically I think it is possible to pass the test in Illinois even with completely blowing the cone weave. It might have been the same in FL and you just ****ed the tester off by refusing to do that part.

Your 636 is completely capable of doing that test. The friend who rode my bike passed the test in a CBR600F4i. Low speed manuevering is very hard on bikes and that is why the MSF starts with that. After I took the MSF a month after me taking (and passing) the DMV test I rode back there when they were closed. I was able to do the offset cone weave with no difficulty at all. The U turn seemed really easy and I did it in about 16 feet instead of the 20 allowed.

MY MSF instructor said that people who complete the course are about 5 years ahead of people that just try to learn on their own in terms of riding skills.
 

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Like others above me have said, it can be done.

I passed the MSF course here with no points off during the practical ridding on the provided 250cc nighthawk. After getting my bike, I went back to the course and attempted it, and couldn't do most of it. Now, after a month with the bike and 1100 miles later, I can do the course on my bike easily.

The U-turn box/s-curves (which are really the same thing) are by far the hardest, but the MSF course teaches you the way to do it. It's all about technique. As for weaving, I can think of at least one situation where the ability to weave is useful, namely traffic. Most cars are around 9 feet in length, no?
 

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I am goin with the MSF course as soon as I can take it without freezing the family jewels off. I am anxious and eager to learn. There is alot of difference handling a 1500 classic and a KX-125 :grin: , especially when you are a little guy like me, but I know I'll get there with practice. I have discovered that I am afraid of tight right turns since I set my bike down on the bottom of the floorboard a couple of weeks ago. I need some confidence building.
 

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That **** is funny to me! I paid $50 up here in Michigan and took the road test on a 125 scooter. A friend and I went to take the test together because the week before we got pulled over and the bike were impounded(neither one of us had a licences). The messed up part was that we both have been riding for 4 to 5 years and were scared to fail the test on a scooter. Happy ending we both passed easily.
 

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I remember seeing a guy on a sport bike doing the test and he did it flawlessly. He made that bike look like it was on rails. His score was 100. I have to agree that with some practice on the parking lot course you'll soon pass that test also. A little braking and minimal throttle will get it done for you. You'll see.
 

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Bummer man. Keep your head up, and practice. In Wisconsin, we take road tests, where you wear a bright orange vest, and have an one way earpiece in, and the instructor follows you in his car. He barks out orders like turn left, make a u-turn....yada(even told me b4 the exam to wave my hand when I see him turn on his headlights, well the mic was so loud, I heard the click of the lights switch, and knew to look back then) I took the test on my dad's HONDA Rebel 250. It was a breeze! Little did the old stoodger know I went right home and jumped on my ZX9R! HAHA to the DMV prick! Ask a friend to borrow his bike if he has a similar one to my dads. My friend took the test on my ZX9R and passed(his bike had too bald of tires) So go figgure.
 

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Bummer man. Keep your head up, and practice. In Wisconsin, we take road tests, where you wear a bright orange vest, and have an one way earpiece in, and the instructor follows you in his car. He barks out orders like turn left, make a u-turn....yada(even told me b4 the exam to wave my hand when I see him turn on his headlights, well the mic was so loud, I heard the click of the lights switch, and knew to look back then) I took the test on my dad's HONDA Rebel 250. It was a breeze! Little did the old stoodger know I went right home and jumped on my ZX9R! HAHA to the DMV prick! Ask a friend to borrow his bike if he has a similar one to my dads. My friend took the test on my ZX9R and passed(his bike had too bald of tires) So go figgure.
 

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blue streak, I too live in Florida and I just completed the same test. Two things for you.
1. You can use ANY motor driven cycle you want. If you can find a friend with a scooter, you can use it.
2. You are allowed to put your foot down. I'm not sure how many times, but I put mine down twice during the cones. I used my o6 vulcan 900 classic and other than putting my foot down, I did alright. Don't get discouraged. The guy in front of me did it on a Harley fatboy. He had to go through 3 times but he made it. The guy before him had a 650 street bike and he stalled it twice. Also if the tester is a jerk, I'm sure there are other DHSMV offices in your area. Take it at a different one next time. I practiced the slalom by going to a remote corner of Wal-mart parking lot and weaving between the corners where the parking spaces meet. they are spaced about the same although there is no offset. good luck and I hope this helped.
 

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^^^ This thread is more then 2 years old....I think he has long passed his exam and is off causing chaos on the streets.
 

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Didn't look at the date. Linked there from another thread. thanks.
 
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