Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
You want to learn to ride a motorcycle but aren't sure how to go about it.
Before I begin, let me share with you a glimpse of my motorcycling background. I have ridden a 250 Honda Elsinor racing motorcycle, a 175 Yamaha street motorcycle, and a 1969 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. I had never taken a formal riding course but rather was self taught with tips from friends. Twenty years had passed when I decided to purchase a 2006 Harley Heritage Classic, a real beauty. I was sure that this would be no different than my other motorcycles. Sister, was I wrong!
The first time I got on the motorcycle and prepared to ride, I was petrified. This motorcycle was one heavy, magnificent piece of motorcycling machinery, not at all like the smaller motorcycles of my youth. I knew I needed to take a rider's course to get the most out of my new machine and vice-versa. I enrolled in both a private and a Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course. I learned that in all the years I had been riding, I wasn't doing it as well as I could have been. I guess they can teach an old dog new tricks!
What I learned from this experience is that you should get the proper training and techniques needed to operate a motorcycle whether you are a beginner or re-entry motorcycle rider or even an experienced rider. Learning to ride a motorcycle properly doesn't mean having your best friend provide the training. I strongly recommend taking a state certified motorcycle safety course, such as the Basic Rider Course provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). The Basic Rider course is suitable for beginner or re-entry motorcycle riders.
You don't have to own a motorcycle to take this training because the MSF provides a motorcycle and proper safety gear. One benefit of the MSF training is that you will be training with others that are beginner or re-entry motorcyle riders and learning riding techniques that even the most road-hardened motorcycle riders may not know. This is also an excellent way for a beginner or re-entry motorcycle rider to make sure they want to ride a motorcycle without buying one first.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation training also provides instruction in riding etiquette, riding gear, and differences in styles of motorcycles. The biggest benefit for me was the boost of confidence I got when I passed the course. Typically when you pass the MSF course, you receive a certificate to receive your state motorcycle license without having to take the "formal" exam. You will need to check with your state to determine if this is the case. Also, some insurance companies will give you a discount on your motorcycle insurance when you complete the course. Information can be obtained about MSF training by visiting the motorcycle training link below or by calling (800)-446-9227.
Private instructors offer individualized training. Most private instructors provide a motorcycle for training and taking the State exam. Some dealerships provide training through their sponsors, such as RidersEdge sponsored by Harley-Davidson and Buell or Honda's Rider Education Courses.
Both private instruction and MSF instruction were excellent. I preferred the MSF course because it didn't just teach me how to pass the State license exam, it provided real life road skills that can literally save your skin. I also made some new friends who encouraged me throughout the course because we were all beginner or re-entry motorcycle riders that were in this together.
Until the next article, keep your eyes on the road and your hand on the throttle.