Depending on what state you live in, you may be required to take a motorcycle skills test before you’re permitted to ride on public roads. Not every state requires that you take one of these training programs, but if you want to gain the skill to ride safely, and quickly, regardless of traffic or road conditions, then you should always take a basic rider skills training course. Even an experienced rider can benefit from additional training.
Self Taught Riders
In states where a motorcyclist is not required to take a skills course before being granted a license, you’ll find that the number of motorcycle accidents is higher than in states that enforce this requirement. If you taught yourself how to ride a motorcycle we can assure you that you’ve developed many bad habits over the years. These can vary from a basic lack of knowledge in relation to the principles of safe biking, all the way through to aggressive and sloppy riding habits which can cause accidents. Self-taught motorcyclists are some of the most dangerous on the road, but a motorcycle training course can smooth off those rough edges after just a few hours.
Types of Courses
Attending a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course, or similar, in your area will cost you no more than $350, and provide the skills you need to be a confident, safe, and fast motorcyclist. Typically courses start at a basic level, but you sometimes have the option of taking advanced courses, including instruction provided by local motorcycle police. These courses are obviously for experienced riders, but will take you to the next level when it comes to your riding skills. You’ve already spent several thousand dollars on your bike, and protective gear, so investing another few hundred dollars in a rider training program makes perfect sense. In fact, most motorcycle dealerships will offer you a discount for signing up for a training course when you purchase your bike from them.
Most modern motorcycle training centers can provide you with a bike to learn on, if required. This means you can get a real feel for what it’s like to ride a bike in a live environment before you spend your hard-earned cash on one. It also means that when you graduate from your training course you’ll be a safer motorcyclist because of it.
The very last place you want to have to learn how to recover from a skid is on your own on the open road. A Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course will teach you everything you need to know in a controlled environment, all under the guidance of an experienced and certified instructor.
You’ll learn about high-speed and low-speed driving skills, with particular focus on how to corner properly. Learning how to stop in an emergency, as well as how to react in emergency situations are other key skills you’ll learn. Urban riding skills will also figure in the training, teaching you how to scan your riding environment for potential threats, while also learning how to anticipate an accident before it happens.
The more advanced courses will even teach you how to “crash” your bike properly in the event of an accident. For example, you’ll learn that the safest place to be in the event of an accident is as far away from your bike as possible. Most motorcycle fatalities results from bikers trying to hold onto their bikes in the event of a crash, instead of letting go and getting away from danger. A perfect example of this is when you see an experienced rider crash during a track day – they separate themselves from the bike and look for a safe place to slide or roll to a stop.
Another useful skill you’ll acquire is basic motorcycle maintenance, meaning you can perform a thorough pre-ride check of your bike, as well as being able to save yourself money on the basic aspects of owning a motorcycle like changing the oil, and ensuring that you always ride with the correct tire pressure.
Advanced riding training programs also teach group riding, so if you do ever head out for a long drive with your buddies you’ll have a much better understanding of how group riding dynamics work. High-speed cornering as a group is a very different experience to cornering as a solo rider.
We already mentioned that many motorcycle dealerships will offer a discount on your purchase when you sign up for a rider skills training program, but the financial benefits don’t end there. Many insurance providers will discount your insurance premium by anywhere up to 25% for attending a rider training program of their choice. This reduces the amount of money they make from you upfront in insurance premiums, but it also reduces the risk of you being involved in a serious accident, where the cost to the insurance company could run into millions of dollars.
The benefits of taking a rider skills training course far outweigh the costs involved, so we would recommend that every motorcyclist take at least one of these courses during their lifetime. This definitely applies to anyone who has been riding for a few decades – it’s time to iron out all those bad habits of yours.
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