November 11 2011 by Jason Fogelson
I'm a big advocate of motorcycle rider training. I took my first motorcycle training class, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced RiderCourse, after I had already been riding for a decade. When the one-day class was over, my head was spinning. I realized how little I actually knew about riding a motorcycle, and how lucky I was to have survived without proper training. I decided then and there to devote myself to being a better, safer rider, and to make sure that I kept on top of my skills at all times. I view each and every ride as a training session, and I pay constant attention to my riding while I'm in the saddle. Between rides, I read articles and books about motorcycle safety, and I seek out new inspiration for safe riding.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is even more fanatical about rider training than I am. Over 6 million riders have graduated from MSF RiderCourse training, which is available across the US. The MSF's "Key Messages" for all motorcyclists are:
1. Get trained and licensed
2. Wear protective gear -- all the gear, all the time -- including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the DOT
3. Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs
4. Ride within your own skill limits
5. Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses
At the MSF's Discovery Rider Training Center in Long Beach, California, they're trying out a new course for riders who have passed the Basic RiderCourse, received their motorcycle licenses and are ready to ride. The Street RiderCourse provides that link between basic training and actual street riding. Set up as a one-day course, the SRC is designed for a very small class with three or fewer students per RiderCoach. Students and teacher are linked via wireless helmet communication systems, which allow the teacher to give real-time feedback and instruction. Classes begin in a parking lot, move to quiet suburban streets, and eventually progress to high intensity freeway situations as students gain confidence and experience.
At approximately $250, the Street RiderCourse could be the best investment a new rider makes while embarking on their riding career. The program is still rolling out across the country. Check with the MSF, or search the web for "Motorcycle Rider Training" to find courses in your area.