Why do you need motorcycle training? Will it really help you become a safer motorcyclist in the long run? If you already know how to ride a motorcycle, will it even help you at all?
If you're new to motorcycling, and you don't know where to start, the best advice I give everyone is to take an MSF course that will teach you the basics of how to ride a motorcycle. Even if you already know how the clutch works, and you can ride around town on your own, you need to take this class. Let's look at a few reasons you need to take this class before you spend too much time on your bike:
1. This class is CHEAP when you look at how much value you get from it.
The class isn't too terribly expensive. For a couple hundred bucks, you get a lot of value. A bike, gear, instruction (classroom and on the bike), a waiver for your motorcycle license exam, and a potential discount on motorcycle insurance. Be sure to check with your individual state to see how much the class costs (usually $0 - $300), and check with your insurance provider on whether or not they give a discount to MSF graduates.
2. You don't need to worry about crashing!
Whoops! Not MY money.
The MSF course will give brand new riders a chance to learn on someone else's bike with someone else's gear. Go down hard, break a mirror, and bust your helmet open? No worries! You'll be going at slow speeds, and part of the tuition you pay for the class will go towards repairs for the bikes and equipment when they get dropped.
3. Establish good (and safe) riding habits early in your riding career.
I'm telling you guys... 4 fingers on the levers. Unbelievable.
Just like anything else, you will develop your own habits for motorcycling. MSF will help you develop GOOD habits to make you a safe motorcyclist. Did you know that the front brake lever is more easily operated when using all four of your fingers? NEITHER DID I! I had been using my index and middle finger to operate the levers my whole life. Try using all four fingers. It will change. Your. Life.
4. The classroom instruction is top notch.
The BRC manual... This is where great riders are born.
Some of it is pretty basic... Don't ride your motorcycle after you've been out all night with your buddies at that club downtown pounding $5 long islands. But some of it is pretty brilliant, and the good people at the MSF have devised little acronyms to help you remember. ATGATT (wear all the gear, all the time), TCLOCS (pre ride inspection for tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil/fluids, chassis, stands), SEE (strategy for riding awareness - search, evaluate, execute), FINE-C (starting the bike - fuel, ignition, neutral, engine kill switch, choke). Check out the MSF library for more resources on motorcycle riding basics.
5. You get great seat time on the motorcycle.
Look where you want the bike to go!
The best part about the class is that you get to ride... A lot. The BRC (basic ridercourse) is a 3 day event. You spend the majority of the last two days with your butt on bike learning proper riding technique and practicing in a parking lot. This skill set is invaluable, and all the techniques you learn at slow speeds are easily applied when you're riding much faster. Actually, it's harder to ride more slowly than it is to ride quickly thanks to the laws of physics and the phenomenon we call momentum. By the end of the class, you'll be comfortable enough to start riding on the roads with some traffic.
6. You're less likely to die.
This is the dream ladies and gents... Becoming an OLD motorcyclist.
No seriously. Statistically, riders who have taken MSF courses are less likely to crash. The Hurt Report (published in 1981) noted that 92% of riders involved in the crashes that were studied were "self-taught." They had no proper motorcycle training, and the assumption is that they were more likely to be involved in an accident because of it. The MSF course focuses on how to operate a motorcycle safely, but also how to identify potential hazards and plan escape routes when things get too dicey.
Maybe one day you'll be as good as this guy
The best advice I have for new riders? Get a proper education. The MSF classes are fun, informative, and they just might save your life. Check the MSF website to see when the next classes in your area are open, and register for one, pronto.
Already a pro at riding your motorcycle? Take a class with a higher experience level and use your own bike. It's good to get some extra low speed practice in to sharpen your skills. You'll be amazed at how much better you ride after taking one of these classes.