You gotta start somewhere. We always recommend starting in the dirt if you have never sat on a bike before but once you start figuring out the mechanics, what's next? I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's training course and wanted to share my personal experience with you. Proper training, knowing your limits, and a basic understanding of these machines is incredibly important.
Signing up is easy. The MSF site will help you find places near you (using your zip code) that offer beginner training and advanced training. Bikes and helmets are provided but if you have your own helmet, I'd recommend bringing it if you can. My class was small, about 13 people which was great and not intimidating in the least as everyone there was there to learn. We started in a classroom and had a bout 5 hours of going over safety, basic mechanics, group assignments (the worst) and finally were ready to head out to the bikes. The class I was in had low CC bikes of all kinds, all of which are banged up which takes out the fear of "what if I drop it?!". My instructors were amazing and helped me learn where my hands should go, shouldn't go, where my feet should be, how to counter steer, etc. These guys are trained to look for any bad habits forming and quickly break you from them before it's a problem. For instance, my right hand was hovering over the brake when in gear. The instructor noticed and told me what to expect if I grabbed it...my hand no longer hovered there. They pack a lot into the 10 hours of "on bike" learning and you stay under 10 mph. Before you know it, you are on your safety "obstacle test" which at the time was terrifying because I didn't want to fail or drop the bike (that is automatic failure while taking the final test only). But guess what.. people fail it all the time and that is ok! All it means is that you'll need some more time learning basic skills to ensure you won't fail when it really counts, in the street with oncoming traffic. We had 3 out of the 13 fail in my class and no one looked down on those people because of it. Infact, every single failed student was determined to come back next weekend and do the whole thing over again. I was excited to pass on my first try but even though I had this certificate in my hand that would allow me to get my moto license, I was far from ready to be turned loose on the freeways of CA. The MSF helped me learn the fundamentals of motorcycle safety and showed me what I really needed to practice in order to get road worthy. Months went by of practicing in my neighborhood, back streets, up and down hills, etc. Over the course of a year I was riding from 10 miles from home to 100 miles into the desert solo. It took time, dedication, failure, scares, and some embarrassing moments to get me here. I am still learning every time I get on my moto and yes, I am still slow as hell and use all the hand signs when riding but that is just my style.
So, let's break it down:
Motorcycle Safety School Benefits
- You learn on their beat up bikes so you can't hurt them (or yourself)
- They provide basic gear (helmets, gloves) and require you to wear boots & pants
- You get a discount on your insurance after completing
- It's affordable! $180 - $275 and we hear some states are free!
- You are learning from professionals who know what to look for and correct bad habits before they form
- Classes are small and you'll have a lot of 1 on 1 help and guidance
- They offer advanced training after you pass the Basic Rider class
Motorcycle Safety School Things to Consider
- Passing this class does not mean you are road worthy. You will need tons of practice and continued education (trust me, I did!).
- This class will not teach you how to ride in groups and you will not experience riding in traffic or on the street. All instruction is done on a closed course.
- The class is only 1 weekend and you'll be learning the rest of your life.
If you have any questions about MSF, their training, and advanced skill classes, give them a call at (800) 446-9227 or email MSF@msf-usa.org