The Basic Rider Course that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers is a great tool for those looking to get a grasp on the fundamentals of motorcycle riding. As a Rider Coach, it is an energizing opportunity to share a passion for motorcycles and encourage a new rider’s knowledge and enthusiasm while they acquire the skills they will need on the road. As we go through the course, clear patterns emerge after numerous classes. We see what always works, what always doesn’t, and often the same few things that can interfere with a student getting the most out of a class.
1) Bad Habits They Teach Themselves
I applaud those that seek to take the Basic Rider Course despite having prior motorcycle experience. It’s away to reinforce the techniques and theory they might already know, and they always end up learning something new in the process. The only possible downside occurs when students, consciously or not, introduce bad habits during exercises. For example, I have had more than one student try to only ever use the rear brake. The front brake was said to be “too dangerous” and never to be used. It is usually not until the second day of range instruction that the student is confident enough to consistently apply both brakes properly.
Some bad habits are not so obvious. Tunnel vision, poor body position, lack of situational awareness, lack of low speed confidence, and inconsistent safety checks represent just a small portion of all the little things that we can internalize without full realization. This of course, can affect not only your experience in the class but your life on the road as well. The best way to combat this is to treat the Basic Rider Course as a clean slate. Try not to go in thinking it will be boring, or that you’ve already got a handle on the early exercises due to your previous riding experience. Be open to making some adjustments to your riding and you will get the most out of it.
2) A Lack Of Comfort With The Friction Zone
The second exercise out on the range and the first exercise wherein the motorcycle moves under you is a critical one. This is all about developing a strong, positive and confident muscle memory centered around proper clutch use. Some students will acquire a decent feel for the clutch, but never attempt to perfect the transition between engaging the clutch and throttle roll on. Others will grasp the mechanics of the clutch and its attendant end result with the rear wheel, but fail to truly get comfortable with its use. Without this confidence, your learning can suffer throughout the rest of the entire course. I have seen a student struggle with the friction zone despite extra time and one-on-one coaching only to see that discomfort propagate and affect every subsequent exercise. It is that fundamental.
As a student, make sure that you ask loads of questions. Work on having a firm understanding on clutch theory in class. Analogies can help with understanding just what is going on in the transmission. Never be afraid to ask for a little extra time. Every Rider Coach understands how important it is that you learn and fully understand this and will be happy to extend the exercise to ensure using the friction zone becomes second nature.