MSF Basic well worth it

Discussion in 'Moto Club' started by RabidDeity, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. RabidDeity

    RabidDeity Frequent lurker

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    Well, I finished up an MSF Basic course this weekend, after never having ridden a motorcycle. I'd always been kinda curious, and wanted to learn to ride before heading to Japan for my job. Think long, twisty mountain roads out in the middle of nowhere, and that's most of Japan's surface area; can you see the motivation? It was the best $200 I've ever spent on ANY kind of course.

    They started out with a really thorough intro, going over proper gear, safety, and operation in a classroom for about 4 hours before heading out into the 110 degree heat for some riding practice on Honda Nighthawks. The first hour or so was confidence building and getting a feel for the clutch friction zone and balance. (It helped that of the ten of us out there, about half had at least some experience on a motorcycle and all of us knew how to drive manual transmission on 4 wheels.) We did some braking practice and some low-speed turning before figuring out how to shift. Then we moved on to slaloms through cones. Every time we rode out the instructors would critique us. I was told to keep my head up and look into the turn on several occasions, but their advice always worked out.

    On the second day the classroom discussions went around proper turning techniques, such as braking BEFORE a turn, picking a line, and then rolling throttle through it to stabilize; and ways to avoid high-sides and other nasty incidents. Most of them were a bit counterintuitive at first, but it really emphasized how important a class like this is, even to people who might have a bit of riding experience. During the second day of range practice we figured out counterbalancing, navigated the ugly "box", practiced swerving techniques, and other useful stuff.

    So in short, I'd have to say that I'd recommend this kind of course as an intro for people who have little or no experience on a bike. It really opened my eyes in a lot of ways, and by the end of the course I was comfortable enough on the bikes to feel a bit of that open air magic! Now I just need to decide which of the entry level bikes to get while I'm overseas....
     
  2. Romulas

    Romulas

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    That's great that you took a saftey course. Too many riders out there don't and end up hurt or worse. Keep in mind that the course you took was in a parking lot, with no traffic, and you probably didn't break 30 mph. Just be careful out there, people are going to pull out in front of you, try to share the lane with you, and everything else you can imagine. Wear that saftey gear, go out and get a good bike and have fun. Remember you never see a bike outside a therapists office!
     

  3. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    People have misconceptions about MSF basic rider course:

    A. Finishing the course turn them into canyon riders and track champions.

    B. Doesn't teach them anything that Uncle Jed can't out in the parking lot.

    The MSF course is a great way to get things started for proper and safe street ridings.

    In Japan, you can get those 400-cc sportbikes that are great handlers but not too crazy with the horsepower.
     
  4. jpa

    jpa CLM

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    I'm also a BRC graduate. I learned basic clutch/friction zone and minor maneuvering stuff from my dad before I took the class, so things went a little quicker for me in the class. There were people in my class who had never ridden that were riding like competent riders by the end. I was very impressed.

    I definitely recommend any rider go out and get into an MSF class asap.
     
  5. citizenguardian

    citizenguardian

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    This is an older thread, but I just found it. So, that's why I'm pulling it out of the archives.

    My opinion on the beginner MSF course is different from you all here, and from most of the other people online. Bear in mind that I do not offer the following with the intention to inflame.

    I thought the MSF basic course was a waste of time and money. I wish I hadn't taken it.

    I took the MSF course in CA nearly ten years ago, based on glowing recommendations of the kind I read online a lot now. I had had a learner's permit for a few months before I enrolled in the course. I had taught myself to operate my bike in a parking lot, and had spent the few months before the course riding around the city.

    I learned nothing in the class that I didn't already know. I had had experience, of course, and I realize the course is aimed at riders with no experience. Still, the pace of the lectures and the practical instruction was *very* slow, even given an intended audience of completely inexperienced riders. It was as if the course was aimed at inexperienced riders with learning disabilities. For example, we sat through long, long lectures-- hours, I think-- on how to change gears before getting on those tiny 125's and making one shift from 1st to 2nd. Then, bikes off and back for more "sophisticated" lecture on how to turn around cones at 15 mph. Only on the second day did we do anything like a slow figure-eight around some cones, with shifting and braking, for example. It was as if the course was designed to waste enormous amounts of time.

    Worse, our instructor also "lectured" us by telling us a range of falsehoods about the law-- the usual urban legends that surround lane splitting in CA most prominently. For example, the instructor spent a long time describing the "law" that requires that a lane-splitting rider have an air-cooled bike, go no more than 15 mph more than traffic, split only when traffic is going 25 or less (or something), etc. Of course, none of this is in the traffic code at all. A lot of riders in CA think something like this is the law, I realize, but I'd expect someone taking money to instruct us to know what he was talking about. Not all instructors are full of hot air, I'm sure, but MSF is not a university. A fair number of these certified courses are going to be taught by someone just shooting his mouth off.

    If I had it to do over again, I would avoid MSF Basic altogether. I would do exactly what I did do. I would buy a book or two, teach myself to operate the bike in a parking lot, and then roll around on the streets. When the time came to get my license, I would just go to DMV and do those little circles rather than surrendering a whole weekend and a good chunk of money to MSF.

    If someone were completely inexperienced, wanted a very safe environment to learn, and was willing to put up with the very slow pace of teaching, MSF would make sense. One can get the idea, though, from all of the praise heaped on MSF that the beginner course sets a whole new benchmark in motorcycle instruction. It doesn't. It isn't all that different from learning from Uncle Jed, in my vew. It's just a lot slower and more expensive.

    Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I'm not a squid, and I don't think motorcycling in traffic is an easy or very safe thing for a beginning rider (or for anyone, for that matter). To the contrary, it's very important that a beginner approach riding very carefully. I'd recommend a beginner read a good book on riding before heading out into traffic, and talk a lot to experienced riders. He should consult both regularly as he learned. It's just that MSF Basic doesn't help very much with any of this.

    Consider this as you will.
     
  6. TriggerRider

    TriggerRider Premium Man

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    citizenguardian - Sorry, but you're a F'ing Idiot.
     
  7. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    My MSF course was only $25 and waived the roadtest for MI. I learned a lot, as I have never ridden a cycle before. That is why it is called "basic" rider course. It teaches you the basics. What were you expecting? Knee dragging 101? I am leaning towards agreeing with TriggerRidder.
     
  8. kAr

    kAr Netware Rocks!

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    I have to agree, the MSF class didn't teach anything I really needed to look cool out on the street such as wheelies, stoppies, and how to prevent getting a sunburn on your feet when you are riding wearing flip-flops.












































































    They especially didn't go into how to look cool for the nurses when you are covered with patches of allograft (cadaver skin) or Dermagraph-TC (tissue recycled from a part excised from many newborn boys.)
     
  9. citizenguardian

    citizenguardian

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    Impressive. Another crank whose internet connection makes him a real bad a**... I suppose you might as well stick to remarks like this, though. Otherwise, you'd have nothing more than telling us that your fifty years of motorcycling or whatever it is exempts you from using your brain rather than your mouth.
     
  10. citizenguardian

    citizenguardian

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    From the prior press that course gets, I was expecting a course from which I would learn something, even if I had some experience. The course just wasn't that.

    I'm glad you benefited from the course. As I already said, if you had never ridden at all, it's a safe, controlled place to learn to ride. Many others say they have benefited from the course, too.

    My point is that the course is oversold in its effectiveness. It is possible for a competent adult to learn low speed riding, changing gears, braking, and what obstacle negotiation there is in the Basic course on his own in a parking lot to MSF Basic standards. There's no secret information only possessed by MSF instructors about these basic maneuvers. And even if you think there is, you can do all of this on your own with MSF books, or their equivalent, if you want to. After all, in the end it is you who make 10 mile-an-hour turns around cones even in the MSF course. How much difference can it make whether your pre-riding instruction comes from a few minutes of reading or hours of very low speed and repetitive lecturing?

    I've looked around for studies that compare the accident rates for MSF Basic graduates and non-graduates. I can't find any right now. It wouldn't suprise me that the Basic graduates do better than non-graduates on the road, though, at least for a while. For one thing, the kind of person who wants to enroll in the course is likely to approach real riding more cautiously. For another, the MSF course does boot out some people who aren't capable of riding safely even in the Basic environment. These things alone might make a significant difference in the accident rates, even if the course itself didn't teach anything else useful. But, of course, the Basic course teaches someone to operate a motorcycle, and so some completely naive riders learn in the class and not on the road, thus decreasing their chance of accident, one would think.

    If you already know how to operate a motorcycle, though-- by which I mean change gears, turn, asymmetrically brake, and the like, in ordinary conditions -- you already can do anything you will do in the course. (Indeed, if you've done any of these things at v>25 mph you can do more than you will ever do in the Basic course.) The most important thing after those things is learning to negotiate traffic, and, of course, you don't do that at all in the Basic course. You hear lectures about riding in traffic, but if you know how to read you can absorb the same information on your own cheaply and much more quickly.

    The Basic course just isn't some incredible source of information that will change your riding outlook forever, even if you have riding experience. It's a way to organize many adults on small motorcycles learning to ride at low speeds in a parking lot. It provides some good lecture material on riding in traffic, but nothing you couldn't read on your own.

    Pointing out these obvious facts gets people really emotional. We're all supposed to say that the MSF training is the only responsible way to learn to ride, I guess. But I don't believe that's so.
     
  11. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    Just because you have a great experience with the self-taught method, it doesn't mean that it's the best way. It maybe the best way for YOU, but it's not the best way for everybody else.

    My sister-in-law started out with the KTM 950 Adventure and she did real well and still doing well. Does it mean that a 1000-cc V-twin putting out nearly 100-HP, weighs in nearly 500-lbs, with a seat height of 34-inches is a good bike to start out with for everyone else? Sure, if everybody else also have a leg inseam of 35-inches, in superb physical condition, supernatural hands-eyes coordination, trained and conditioned situational awareness (she's an instructor pilot).