Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Terrible Hole, IN
I started much the same way so it can be done, but you need to be extra careful. If you can wait at all I would recommend waiting to ride your bike until after you've taken the MSF course. If this is not an option for you due to temptation then I would advise not riding on any public streets at all for a while. Take your bike to a big, empty, and open parking lot (truck it there, have a friend ride it, etc.) and practice.
I will assume you haven't a clue about riding at all so the first thing I would ask is have you even driven a manual car? If so then you at least understand how manual transmissions work. After that it's just working out the coordination (right hand throttle instead of left foot, left left hand clutch instead of left foot, etc.) You will probably stall the bike the first few times you try to take off, just be ready for it so you can avoid dropping the bike. One thing that helped me to get used to the clutch was to put the bike in first and slowly let out on the clutch without using any throttle. If you do it slow enough the bike will not stall and will slowly take off (I did this on a 2000 F4 so I assume your bike, being a 600 inline four, will be able to do the same). This got me used to the clutch and I slowly started adding throttle to it and releasing the clutch more and more quickly until I could take off in first gear reliably. After that I started learning to shift. From first to second I seemed to get caught in neutral all the time, so make sure you shift firmly, but not so hard that you hurt anything. I again did this over and over until I felt comfortable with going through the gears. I also used this time to practice downshifting smoothly and getting a feel for the brakes as well. Use both brakes for smooth stopping, just be careful not to lock them up. Again, start by gently squeezing the front brake and gently pressing the rear brake so you can tell when they start to engage and how strong they are. Your front will be 70% or more of your total stopping power so be careful you don't grab too much while learning. I took a lot of time doing this so don't expect to be an expert in a few minutes or even a few hours. It could take weeks and/or days just to get comfortable with something as simple as getting the bike to move and getting it to come to a stop smoothly and reliably. Slow speed turning is another thing to practice, as it's much more tricky than turning at speed. Keep in mind you may very well drop your bike during all of this, so don't get discouraged. Just keep at it and you will get more and more comfortable with it.
Hopefully by then you will have taken the MSF course which will give you loads more information than I have/can. I would still recommend waiting until you take the course before trying to jump on and ride though.
Good luck, and be safe!
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion