Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Whenever gas prices go up, motorcycle ridership increases. That's great, I love seein' em. But there 's a down side: As blogger Ride Fast And Shoot Straight reminds, so do accidents. There's a way to improve your safety (as he also points out) and if you happen to be a Hoosier, it's cheap! (See also here). It's the Basic Rider Class from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The class runs as high as $375 in some States. Indiana decided they'd catch more flies with honey, tacked a slight fee onto motorcycle licenses, begged bikes from dealerships, and got the student's cost down to $75. For about 2.5 days of some of the most intensive learning you'll ever do outside the military, it's a bargain. Half the class time is spent in the saddle, learning by doing.

I've taken the MSF Basic Rider Course twice; in Indiana, it's a short path to the motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license. Why twice? I passed first time, but it was the last class of the season and I wasn't able to ride much; so I signed up for the following Spring, as well. If I had taken this class earlier (before I started commuting via scooter), I probably would not have wrecked my scooter (to the tune of about $1K) or my knee (about 10X as expensive). Or maybe I would have, but at least I would have lowsided trying rather than flailing. As it was, I'd been on standby for any last-minute class openings; took the call in the hospital, doped up and with my right leg immobilized:
"Miss Ecks? This is Joe Redacted, from Abate. Can you take the class next weekend?"
"Oh, gosh. Joe, how are you with irony?"

That's not really the most fun you'll ever have.
On the other hand, the class is.


Rustmeister said...

I always ride as if no one else on the road can see me.

'Cause usually, they don't.

Anonymous said...

The class is a riot.

I have been thinking of starting a blogroll of the Brother and Sisterhood of the Wounded Knee.

Anonymous said...

I started riding at age 13 in the year of our Lord nineteen and seventy seven.

I still learned a few things the first time I took the motorcycle safety course in 1984. I learned a few more things the second time in '90 and even the third time in '02.

I'd love to take the advanced rider course but both times I've been scheduled for it, it's been canceled...once due to weather (I believe said weather was named "Isabel") and once due to the instructor having a family emergency.

I'll get into one someday and I'm sure I'll learn something from that as well.

Anyway, the point is: listen to Roberta...she knows of which she speaks. The course is excellent and I highly recommend it...even for experienced riders.

Anonymous said...

So rustmeister was that naked guy I saw on a bike the other day. Didn't think we'd see ya did you?!

Is the class good for complete noobs, or do you need at least some riding experience other than pedal powered? Seems like a skill that everyone should have ya know.

Roberta X said...

The class is excellent for complete n00bs -- and experienced riders. It is helpful to have your own helmet but they do have loaners.

I can't promise you it will make you a better driver as well as a better rider; but I think it does.

Anonymous said...

I started riding as a friend says "the year of the black spuds"
ie 1966 and in those days you learnt the best you could,gave up in 1988 still miss it but my balence is all screwed up these days, my one bit of advice is this ride like nobody can see you because they dont!!!!!!!

Comrade Misfit said...

Some of the insurance companies have glommed onto this and if you don't take the course, they screw you to the wall.

I think that if you take and complete the course in NY, the DMV waives the road test.

Roberta X said...

In Indiana, successful completion of the class includes the official road test...and the only way to find out what's on the test is to take it.

(It does include a low-speed figure-eight in a small rectangle, pretty amusing to see chopper-noobs trying that one; DMV tests run side-by-side with the class at many locations).

One downside: since taking the class is very widepsread here, you don't get a break on insurance rates.

red said...

The Mrs and I took the class last year. I'm glad we did and it was worth every penny.

Ride Fast said...

I should just guest blog on your site, I'd get more comments ;-)

Nine to nada and counting.

So sorry to hear about your knee and scoot, glad you decided to continue riding tho.

Roberta X said...

I looked on my wreck as a lesson in the high price of ignorance and/or overconfidence. I could hardly let it go to waste!