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Newbie Attending Rider Training
Preparation and other considerations

By: James R. Davis

This one is for those of you who are new (or are returning) to motorcycling and have decided, because of GREAT judgement, to attend either a state sponsored Rider Training class or a Harley-Davidson Rider's Edge version of the same class.

You will be well advised to prepare for your days on the range.

  • Get plenty of rest the night before.
  • Be HEALTHY - not on medications!
  • Eat and drink a breakfast before going to the class.
  • Dress appropriately.
    • Over the ankle Boots.
    • Full fingered gloves.
    • Long sleeved shirt.
    • Sturdy full-length pants.
    • Eye protection (shatter resistant glasses or goggles).
  • Lots of bottled water.
  • Helmet ...
    • Bring your own if you have one - DOT approved!
    • The class will USUALLY provide one if you don't have your own.
The above is a MINIMUM list. If you want to protect yourself properly then you will, regardless of whether or not it is cold, hot or even raining, wear a sturdy (preferably leather) jacket as well.

And if it is raining you will probably want to bring at least a modest amount of foul weather gear (a rain suit). By the way, count yourself VERY FORTUNATE if it is raining while you are out on the range because you will learn that you can EASILY control a motorcycle in the rain and that it has almost as much traction when riding on wet roads as dry roads. When you graduate you will have knowledge and skills and experience that will awe other beginners, but more importantly, will assure you that you can control your motorcycle even in the rain.

Incidentally, most experienced riders will not start a ride if it is raining but will have no problem completing one if the rain starts after their ride begins.

Finally, a word about helmets ... and hygiene. Yes, you can use helmets provided by the class for people who do not have their own. BUT, you should NOT expect that they will fit properly, you should NOT expect that they will be full-face, and YOU SHOULD NOT EXPECT THAT THEY WILL BE CLEAN!! In other words, you should bring a skull cap with you (about $10 silk hair cover) and a spray bottle of disinfectant! Indeed, if I had to rely on a borrowed helmet for the class I would bring, instead of a skull cap, a balaclava (also about $10 silk full head and neck cover, like a ski mask, with a wide eye opening, available at almost any motorcycle dealership.)

Whether you wear a skull cap or balaclava or not your head will sweat when you wear a helmet for any meaningful amount of time. You can wash a skull cap and balaclava but you cannot wash a helmet. Enough said?

Oh, and if you have a choice between a state sponsored MSF and the H-D Rider's Edge class, take the state sponsored class. The Rider's Edge class has been shown to be THIRTY-FIVE TIMES MORE DANGEROUS!

Copyright © 1992 - 2024 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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