I just proved you can teach an old dog new tricks! Over the past week, my son and I participated in a motorcycle basic rider course through a local Harley-Davidson dealership. This class was required for Will to get the motorcycle cycle endorsement on his driver’s license.
I took the course to learn a new skill and to support Will’s goal to legally ride the 1973 Honda he restored last year. If you want to learn more about that restoration, check out the article below:
Related article: Drive-Thru Interview: Will Taylor and His 1973 Honda CB350 Project
In most states, you need special licensing to legally ride a motorcycle. In Michigan, that requires successful completion of a motorcycle rider education program. Some states refer to this as a motorcycle safety class. Regardless, the content is similar in each state.
In fact, most of the classes follow the national Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s curriculum outline:
- Three hour online training course prior to the start of class
- Five hours of classroom training to learn safety strategies
- Ten hours of riding instruction conducted over two days on a closed course.
Before exploring classes, check with your state to determine the training required to obtain your motorcycle license. In Michigan, the basic rider course fulfilled this need.
Finding a class is as easy as searching “motorcycle safety courses” or reviewing the list of approved classes on our Secretary of State website. Our choice was either a local community college or the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy.
I have a friend who attended a class at a community college. He said it was a large class (about 50 students) and the quality was only fair. Since it is the cheapest option at $50, it fills up quickly too.
Will and I opted for the Harley-Davidson class. Even though it was more expensive at $329, we only had eight students in the class. One of the students in our class took the community college course, but claimed it was so poorly run that she quit midway through it. It’s true…you do get what you pay for.
In my professional career, I helped develop and conduct a number of corporate training events, so I know what makes a good one work. The course through MotorCity Harley-Davidson (Farmington Hills, MI) was one of the best I’ve seen.
The instructors were experts in their field and were extremely informative and supportive. With a small class size and high quality motorcycles (we all were assigned Harley Street 500s), our training was excellent.
I needed the more personalized training offered through the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy. My last time on a motorcycle was in 1974, when I took my brother-in-law’s Honda for a quick ride. I was thirteen at the time, and he was storing it at my parents’ house.
Being a curious kid, I started his bike and ran it up the street and back. Upon my return, I rode across the lawn and wiped out on the wet grass. Luckily, the damage to the bike was minor (bent mirror); the damage to my psyche was longer lasting. The mirror was fixed without him knowing, but the fear of that bike lasted with me for more than 47 years.
After taking the course last week, I have a lot more confidence on a motorcycle. I know the safe way to ride and what to do in emergency situations. More importantly, I learned the proper way to ride.
Even though Will is 27 and a responsible adult, I still kept a watchful eye on him as he traversed the riding range. I’m proud to say he did great with the course and we both passed the written and riding tests (he beat me on the riding test!). From here, Will plans to put the final touches on his 1973 Honda so he can enjoy riding it this summer.
As for me, I have no plans to buy a motorcycle, but did check off a big item from my bucket list. The memory of my failed ride in 1974 is in the past, and I can move on to another goal.