Taking motorcycle safety courses might not sound incredibly exciting to the average rider, but the reality is that they can be extremely useful. Riding a motorcycle—or a motorized vehicle of any kind for that matter—comes with inherent and undeniable risks, so if there are accessible ways to mitigate that risk, aren’t they at least worth exploring? We’ll go over what exactly a motorcycle safety course entails, why you should consider taking one, and other essentials you need to know.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the top resource for motorcycle safety classes and training and operates nationwide. The organization has earned itself an excellent reputation due to its high standards and quality instruction. The MSF has its own certification programs for its instructors and students alike. Other schools or organizations that offer safety classes often rely on the MSF curriculum and employ MSF-trained teachers. While beginner courses don’t require previous riding experience, some will recommend that the student be familiar on a bicycle to at least have some experience with the positioning and balance.
Types of Motorcycle Safety Courses
Courses are typically available during most of the riding season, dependent on your location. Many of the courses that are required and/or recommended by certain states are Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses. There are two primary types of courses provided by the MSF, as described below, though the education may differ in some circumstances. The two types of courses from MSF are simply basic and expert. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two different courses:
MSF Basic Rider Course
Ideal for entry-level riders of all ages, this course teaches the basics of how to ride a motorcycle. Courses will combine classroom time with riding time. Length can vary, but all run at least 15 hours of formal instruction time, over a period of up to 3 days.
Instruction will include:
- Explanation of the types of motorcycles.
- Motorcycle controls.
- How to operate motorcycles.
- Safe riding tips.
MSF Expert Rider Course
An expert or advanced level course is a great step up from the basic level. This type of course offers skill-building techniques for licensed motorcyclists looking to improve their riding, or motorcycle permit holders using the course as a license waiver course (this may not apply in your state). Riders must provide their own bike and safety gear for this level of course. Usually 1 day in length, riders must already be proficient in riding a motorcycle.
This course teaches more advanced skills including:
- Quick braking, swerving, and other advanced riding tactics.
- How to maneuver in traffic or other risky conditions.
- New laws for motorcyclists.
- Rider responsibility.
- Risks of drugs and alcohol use when riding.
Benefits of Taking a Motorcycle Safety Course
There are tons of benefits to taking a motorcycle safety course, including many they you might not have considered. Whether a beginner or an advanced rider, some of these benefits are likely to be useful to you.
Benefits for Beginner Motorcycle Riders
- Professional instruction from certified instructors, teaching you lifelong safe bike riding skills. These courses cover everything detailed in your state’s motorcycle manual, including passing, negotiating curves, and group riding formations.
- Completion of a motorcycle safety course may prompt your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to waive your motorcycle license tests – knowledge and road. This depends on your state. Keep in mind that the course must be approved by your DMV to receive this benefit.
- Discounts of up to 10% on motorcycle insurance premiums. Check with your bike insurance provider.
- Motorcycle manufacturer class reimbursements. Honda, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, and Yamaha are active participants. Ask your dealer if this option is offered.
- Motorcycle manufacturer discounts towards bikes and/or bike accessories.
Benefits for Advanced Bike Riders
- Improved riding skills, adding to your safety, confidence, and overall riding enjoyment.
- Motorcycle insurance discounts.
- Motorcycle manufacturer class reimbursements and product discounts (as explained above).
Differences By State
It’s important to note that the courses you take can and will differ widely by location. More importantly, requirements to obtaining a motorcycle license will differ widely by state. Specific course requirements or recommendations can vary greatly, so it’s important to check your local laws before choosing a class or really as soon as you decided you are interested in taking up riding.
Unfortunately, the cost for taking a motorcycle safety course isn’t very cheap. The exact cost, even for MSF curriculum classes, will vary greatly depending on location and the organization that puts on the classes, which can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars and upward. While not inexpensive, taking a motorcycle safety course should be looked at as an investment into not only your riding but also your life. Not unlike buying a proper helmet or protective leather jacket, taking a safety courts puts you that much further out of harm’s way. Considering the stakes that are at hand when it comes to motorcycle safety, isn’t it worth it?