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 Motorcycle Safety
 Rider Training Courses
 MSF a must for novice rider?
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Rebelgreen
Male Starting Member
3 Posts


Ossian, IN
USA

Honda

1997 Rebel 250

Posted - 09/25/2009 :  11:46 PM                       Like
I rode fewer than 100 miles before I took the MSF course a year ago, then I put about 1,500 miles on the bike this year, gradually building up to riding on state roads, U.S. highways and fairly dense, four-lane urban streets. In other words, I've been a patient, cautious novice, slowly extending the range of circumstances in which I ride.

My wife is not so patient. She wants to ride the motorcycle herself, but thinks she's too busy for a 3-day weekend of little but motorcycle training. She'd like to get a learner's permit, and learn by riding as she goes about her own daily tasks.

My question is a two-parter.

First, am I being unreasonably inflexible in saying MSF is a prerequisite? I've seen many worthy criticisms of MSF here, but I think the MSF has developed a sensible, safe introduction to motorcycling techniques that I can't duplicate as an amateur instructor with sidewalk chalk and a duffel bag full of pylons.

Second, if some of you learned without any formal instruction and can recommend that approach, do you have any suggestions about what to include in DIY motorcycle-riding instruction?

Thanks in advance. I've mainly been a lurker, because I still have much more to learn than to teach on this board.

Axiom2000
Male Moderator
1761 Posts
[Mentor]


Georgetown, Delaware
USA

BMW

F 800 GT

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  3:44 AM
No doubt the BRC is not a perfect tool but it does a good job of teaching a complete novice the basic skills needed to safely ride a motorcycle in an empty parking lot. I seriously doubt the information gained and the skills taught could be administered any better by any accomplished rider who is not or has not been an instructor working on their own without the benefit of a structured curriculum. And is certainly light years ahead of an individual who thinks they can teach themselves what they need to know. The quality of the BRC, I believe varies from location to location and is highly dependant on the experience and motivation of the instructors. Instructors who have been at this for awhile learn from experience, what works and what does not, what to say and not say, what to watch for and how to correct errors and most important things that need immediate corrections to avoid potentially dangerous crashes or falls.

If it were my wife, first I would try very hard to talk her out of riding. If that failed, no chance she would ride until she had successfully passed the BRC and then spent a good deal of time practicing the skills learned under the watchful eye of someone with experience in a controlled environment. Aside from that I can't think of a better way to ruin a good marriage than to learn to ride from your spouse.
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2260 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  4:42 AM
Rebelgreen;

I can attest to the fact that as a rider for many years on/off and newer to street bikes and street riding as commuting these past few years, NOTHING about learning and practicing on the roads should replace or substitute specific training as in the courses mentioned. I'm still learning very vaulable stuff everyday after years of riding. If it's something she wants to enjoy for years, she has to survive those years to continue the enjoyment.
Anybody who lacks the patience to Do It Right surprises me they are someone who is married and went through the necessary steps to get that license..

My wife and I just passed our 26th anniversary 2 days ago and she spent some time visiting me in the hospital when we were dating and after 12 years of marriage ... both car crashes. I feel bad thinking about my friends and family that worried about my outcome both times .. it's a different sort of guilt and though the first occasion was the other driver at fault, I was not wearing a seal belt.
My second run in was a DUI habitual hitting me on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was like getting zapped by lighting ... nothing I could have done, nowhere to go... just wearing that seat belt. Why did I still feel guilty ... ? Maybe because I survived a bad crash and others do not. But I still felt bad for all my friends and family going through the unknowing.
Could your wife put herself, you and the rest of the family in this situation more probably and due to a lack of patience and training .. you betcha. Will she ..? The last of these two boom booms broke ribs, hip, pelvis and disolocated my femur at the hip socket.
This was ~ in a car with my seatbelt on ~

Is she reading this?

~brian

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MattInFla
Male Senior Member
254 Posts
[Mentor]


Casselberry, FL
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Classi

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  5:39 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen

I rode fewer than 100 miles before I took the MSF course a year ago, then I put about 1,500 miles on the bike this year, gradually building up to riding on state roads, U.S. highways and fairly dense, four-lane urban streets. In other words, I've been a patient, cautious novice, slowly extending the range of circumstances in which I ride.

My wife is not so patient. She wants to ride the motorcycle herself, but thinks she's too busy for a 3-day weekend of little but motorcycle training. She'd like to get a learner's permit, and learn by riding as she goes about her own daily tasks.


This is just not a good idea on any level. She needs formal instruction to safely learn to ride. This is not like riding a bicycle or driving a car.

If she wanted to learn to fly an airplane, would she go to flight school, or just hop in and learn to fly while she goes about her daily tasks?

quote:
My question is a two-parter.

First, am I being unreasonably inflexible in saying MSF is a prerequisite? I've seen many worthy criticisms of MSF here, but I think the MSF has developed a sensible, safe introduction to motorcycling techniques that I can't duplicate as an amateur instructor with sidewalk chalk and a duffel bag full of pylons.


You are being completely reasonable. Being self-taught or taught by a family member is a significant risk factor identified in the Hurt report. "The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends."

quote:
Second, if some of you learned without any formal instruction and can recommend that approach, do you have any suggestions about what to include in DIY motorcycle-riding instruction?

Thanks in advance. I've mainly been a lurker, because I still have much more to learn than to teach on this board.



I hope your wife reconsiders her plan. If she absolutely won't go take the BRC, at least start with Proficient Motorcycling by Hough.

Matt

Edited by - MattInFla on 09/26/2009 5:01 PM
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galileo
Ex-Member

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  6:50 AM
This may be not be won with logic.

How about finding a course in another town in the state and making a romantic getaway out of it? Maybe a cabin so you can do the cooking while she is away. Or whatever makes the two of you happy.

You may be thinking of all the reasons given why she should take the course. She may be thinking how she will have to come home to the responsibilities in the home after each day. Or perhaps she will be thinking she won't get much needed rest between work weeks.

Or, if she elects to take the course, you could promise to clean the house the whole time she is in it. And do the weekly shopping or whatever.

To me "too busy" are the key words. Take away that, and perhaps she will see the course as a relief from "too busy."

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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17293 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  7:27 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
You have read well deserved criticisms of the MSF and their BRC course primarily from me on this board. Despite that, I have never once suggested that a person should ride a motorcycle without FIRST taking and passing that BRC.

My criticisms have been largely about curriculum content (it has been dumbed down from what was a barely adequate class before) and their apparent motivations (FAR from safety). Nevertheless, they have the best fundamental training generally available and with the right attitude on the part of the students it is demonstrably better than self- or friend-taught fundamentals training. And, it provides a credible source of criticism and evaluation should it turn out that your wife is simply not able to learn how to ride a motorcycle with adequate control - on occasion a RiderCoach WILL counsel out a student who should not be riding at all.

Under no circumstances, however, would I recommend taking the Rider's Edge 'equivalent' of the BRC as it is simply too dangerous to do so.

Maybe this will help ... I have been a certified MSF Instructor and I know my stuff, but I would not teach my friends or family how to ride if there was an MSF BRC course available within 100 miles.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6884 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  8:12 AM
So far the responses have been 100% that taking an MSF course is the only way to learn to ride a motorcycle. Some of us survived learning to ride without the help of a training course. It seems to help if the person is already an experienced bicycle rider and can also drive a car or truck with a manual transmission. And at least you have a good starter bike. If you live in a low traffic area, that's also a plus.

Taking the BRC is obviously the best choice, but it's not exactly instant death to learn on your own.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  8:19 AM
+1 to the BRC being part of a more relaxing few days for her. My experience with the course was that it was pretty intense. Taking everything else off of her calendar and promising a warm bubble bath waiting for her at the end of each day may seal the deal. You can sweeten it with a dinner and a movie although I suspect she will just want to eat and then nap .

The critique of the BRC you read here is a desire that it be better then it is.

30 years ago I was self taught. My third ride was a trip on a highway. I rode the bike daily and put a lot to miles on it (a friends). I stopped when luck kept me from being thrown off the bike and onto a 6 lane highway after dropping about 15 feet from an overpass. I had a 3 year old at the time who I wanted to see grow up so I returned the bike.

This past winter I went through the process of getting my motorcycle endorsement. I am now ending my first riding season since my return. This time through I took the BRC.

Having done both DIY and BRC my vote wholeheartedly says BRC. It is not even a vote that requires thought. For me there is just no comparison in the difference between the 2 experiences. The BRC is a faster safer way to gain the initial skills needed to begin to learn motorcycling.

I believe I have made tremendous advancement in my skill. I still have a long way to go. I sincerely believe that if I had left it to making it up as I went along (DIY) I would have gained motor skills that would have served to place me in greater danger. Grabbing a handful of brake and skidding to a stop would have been my normal method to stop, as it was 30 years ago.

When I ride I am not the only one at risk. Pedestrians (KIDS) place their safety in my hands. Please strongly encourage her to take the BRC, join this forum, and read the safety tips and books recommended on this site. She will get so much more out of riding and she will actually accomplish it faster.

Ray

edited to correct grammar.

Edited by - rayg50 on 09/26/2009 8:44 AM
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SkootchNC
Male Advanced Member
1061 Posts
[Mentor]


raleigh, north carolina
USA

Harley-Davidson

road glide

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  12:52 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen


My wife is not so patient. She wants to ride the motorcycle herself, but thinks she's too busy for a 3-day weekend of little but motorcycle training. She'd like to get a learner's permit, and learn by riding as she goes about her own daily tasks.

My question is a two-parter.

First, am I being unreasonably inflexible in saying MSF is a prerequisite?

Second, if some of you learned without any formal instruction and can recommend that approach,



As I understand your questions...... (which may, or may NOT be what you are asking)

From what I've read... only 30-40% of new riders take either the MSF-BRC or the riders edge.... so yes, she COULD learn on her own. I would not recommend her doing so, but I'm VERY concerned in her thinking that she is "too busy" to learn proper technique. With THAT kind of attitude, frankly I would not care to so much as ride near her.

As to the second part of your question....I learned how to ride, back in 1972. training consisted of explaining the various controls, and standing back. A novice rider was expected to have a major wreck, and would either become a statistic, or a survivor, but not necessarily a "rider"

I can not stress the importance of proper training. New rider will usually listen, to and apply the lessons taught, by an experienced instructor, as opposed to a spouse.

I don't know you OR your wife, and am only responding to the words you typed. A student who attends a class, with an open mind, and a willingness to learn, will gain from that class. A student who attends a class believing the class is a waste of time, will not.

good luck
Frank
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(Deleted or Lost)

Posted - 09/26/2009 :  11:20 PM
There wasn't any training available when I taught myself to ride in England in 1965. I read the manual and took off.
Fortunately, I lived in a quiet country area with very little traffic... I rode more or less continually for a week, about 8 hours a day, on a little 125cc Vespa Scooter, before tentatively venturing onto roads with actual traffic.
A year or more later, I took a newly available 2 week advanced riding course. I learnt a hell of a lot on that course, including unlearning some of techniques I 'taught' myself!

A course like the BRC would have been a lot more efficient than my week of 8 hour days. And a lot safer, given today's traffic - denser everywhere and faster, too.

So, if she's busy, the BRC is quicker, and better, and safer, than 50 or more hours of self teaching.
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2260 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  2:05 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen


She wants to ride the motorcycle herself, but thinks she's too busy for a 3-day weekend of little but motorcycle training. She'd like to get a learner's permit, and learn by riding as she goes about her own daily tasks.

My question is a two-parter.

First, am I being unreasonably inflexible in saying MSF is a prerequisite? I've seen many worthy criticisms of MSF here, but I think the MSF has developed a sensible, safe introduction to motorcycling techniques that I can't duplicate as an amateur instructor with sidewalk chalk and a duffel bag full of pylons.

Second, if some of you learned without any formal instruction and can recommend that approach, do you have any suggestions about what to include in DIY motorcycle-riding instruction?



I believe your wife will get some ride time on the bike and some good experience with the BRC. If she wants to ride .. she does have time for 3 days of class. She is just not looking at it that way.
As mentioned, much of the training offered is not ideal, perfect or beyond improvement. Maybe she'll have the luck of the draw and experience what some of us have as self taught in the earlier days when traffic and attitudes were much different. I like the description The Meromorph added and wish her well in that endeavor if she blows off a few hours X 3 days of riding class to trade it for 50 hours of self teaching. That math makes no sense to me but we went to different schools.
If the trending thoughts said the BRC teaches something wrong or dangerous that outweighs the risks of her self discovery, you'd have seen it here. Also, I don't believe the extremes of either side of this debate best serve in a decision.

Instant death .. ? Okay ,low odds there.

A credible source recommending DIY informal training .. ? Possibly in another setting as some other country.



~brian

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Night Train
Male Advanced Member
1667 Posts
[Mentor]


Sydney, Nova Scotia
Canada

Harley-Davidson

99 Sportster XL 1200

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  2:45 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Lots of people are riding without the benefit of the BRC course and have managed quite well, however, I do not think any of these people approached riding in the manner in which Mrs. Rebelgreen is suggesting. Learning anything takes time and dedication and this applies to riding a motorcycle as well. Fitting it in a few minutes here and a few minutes there while going about her daily tasks appears to indicate that the lady has no concept of the realities of motorcycling and should be confined to being a fender bunny until she "gets with the program".

I liked galileo's idea of a weekend away to take the BRC course which would show the utmost consideration for her as well as demonstrating the importance you are placing on the course. Wives aren't our personal property so we have to respect their right to independent thought whether we agree with it or not.

If the Mrs doesn't agree to taking structured training, then about all you can do is insist that since you are in a partnership, that when she buys her bike she also buys a million dollar life insurance policy so you don't lose everything you've both worked for when she gets killed or seriously injured.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  8:09 AM
A bit of a drift from the topic follows.

quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen

Thanks in advance. I've mainly been a lurker, because I still have much more to learn than to teach on this board.


Take the number of posts I have made and divide by 3. If you read them all you should find that a third are questions, a third are acknowledgements that I have read the responses, and the other third are probably a mix of follow ups with a sprinkling of "answers". The bulk of those answers are responses to questions like yours. My "answers" to posts are based on personal experience, or personal opinion, and are expressed as such. I am still fresh enough from the formal learning experience to remember the confusion and the ups and downs of learning the basics. I am still fresh enough to remember lurking. When I see new members posting for the first time and posting a response or question on a thread that is months or years old I see the value of this forum. It is read.

My point? Post your questions. You can teach through your questions. They are in the minds of probably hundreds of lurkers and they too will benefit from the responses. I do.

My .02

Edited to add the words "the basics" because I did not want to imply that I am no longer learning.

Edited by - rayg50 on 09/27/2009 8:27 AM
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gdickelman
Male Advanced Member
1205 Posts
[Mentor]


Annandale, VA
USA

Moto Guzzi

California Vintage

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  8:31 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen



..if some of you learned without any formal instruction and can recommend that approach, do you have any suggestions ...?



I have one experience and one suggestion with regard to self-instruction around any motor vehicle.

Back in the 1970s, my wife and I were raising a young family. We were done having kids, so we opted for some form of permanent birth control. The choices were vasectomy (me) or tubal ligation (her). We ultimately opted for the vasectomy as much simpler, lower risk, less invasive etc. And note that my wife was quite vocal and enthusiastic about this particular option, versus the tubal ligation. (Imagine my surprise!) So bear with me...the plot thickens, and relevant to your question.

We lived 20 miles from where I worked, and we had one car, which had a standard transmission. To that point, she had refused instruction or to learn how to drive it. The procedure was scheduled for 2PM on a workday, and near to where I worked. I would not be permitted to drive afterward, so my wife needed to drive me home. My wife therefore insisted that I drive to work, drive back to pick her up, then back to doctor's office.

When the day arrived, I hitched a ride to work with a friend. My wife called me mid-morning, confused, asking why the car was in the driveway. I replied, "Unless you drive the car here today, I am canceling the appointment and you are getting the tubal."

She learned to drive a stick before noon that morning, and I can say with all honesty that the ride home was akin to being a passenger with the likes of Mario Andretti....

So I guess I'm saying that you have to be patient with such things. It may be a pain in the b**ls to find a way to get her to a BRC, but it will be worth it in the end if you find the right motivator.


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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17293 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  9:05 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Taking the easy road (self-teaching) is analogous to the vasectomy you mentioned. It does NOT provide quite the same result.

For example, after the vasectomy *YOU* are STILL the only one of the two of you that can't get pregnant.
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dogdoc427
Male Standard Member
196 Posts


Milan, New York
USA

Yamaha

650+87 Honda GL1200I

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  9:07 AM
Rebelgreen,

Something I have read on this site (and have not seen in this thread yet but I may have missed it) is the reality that learning to ride is not an event it is a PROCESS. It takes much longer than a few days to go through the process so she needs to be patient. Please try and convey this to your wife.

My fiance rode dirt bikes through her teens and felt that the BRC would be a waste of her time. We scheduled her coarse and I told her if she did not feel it was worth it after she took it I would pay her back the fee. She enjoyed the time getting reacquainted with riding and remarked as to how different the two types of riding are. She has not taken me up on my offer either.

Regards, Dogdoc427
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twc
Male Advanced Member
836 Posts
[Mentor]


Fort Collins, CO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Ultra

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  9:43 AM
quote:
Originally posted by gdickelman

The choices were vasectomy (me) or tubal ligation (her). We ultimately opted for the vasectomy as much simpler, lower risk, less invasive etc. And note that my wife was quite vocal and enthusiastic about this particular option, versus the tubal ligation. (Imagine my surprise!) So bear with me...the plot thickens, and relevant to your question.
I was just sure that you were going to say that your wife, in an effort to save money, decided to learn on her own how to perform a vasectomy.
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  9:50 AM
Rebelgreen, after reading through the excellent responses to your question, every one of which is the product an opinion based on real world observation and experience, there is little that I can add except for the following, and it leads little in the way of skill development and is directed to your intellect.

If your wife learns informally, and things go badly, sooner or later, and both you and she had the opportunity to do things differently at this time, would you later feel that you could or should have done things differently? If things went very badly and your wife was disfigured or disabled for the rest of her life, would you feel that you had done things in the best way and given your wife the best advice? The decision to ride a motorcycle is likely to be one of the most serious decisions a person makes in life and it requires that a person approach the endeavor appropriately.

No one should begin to ride motorcycles without at least the bare minimum of the MSF or Team Oregon course and additional formal or mentored practice and training as the minimal entry level for the first ride on street in minimal traffic.
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Rebelgreen
Male Starting Member
3 Posts


Ossian, IN
USA

Honda

1997 Rebel 250

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  10:32 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking responses. Excellent exploration of the topic, and it helps me add some nuance to my insisting that she take the class.

As it happens, I think she's pretty much given in on the taking systematic riding instruction -- as is her style, by overshooting that goal in a bearhug of enthusiasm. Now she wants me to buy an old motorcycle, fix it up this winter as a 16th bday present for oldest child, then she and our daughter could take the MSF course together and share the fixer-upper ride. I told her there are too many indoor projects this winter to take on a garage project, but I might buy a project bike at this time next year. In the meantime, maybe she and my daughter should schedule the riding course next spring or summer and then practice on the Rebel. That's our 20-year family dynamic in a nutshell: Her roaring enthusiasm and my plodding caution strike workable balances.

As we were having this talk, I remembered a great post by James Davis about the inadvisability of spouses taking rider-safety courses together. That's gotta go double for parents and children. I think a parent and a teenager taking the class together would guarantee that they'd both be the only two miserable students in the parking lot. But now that she's developed some enthusiasm for a systematic approach to learning to ride, convincing that she doesn't need a 16-year-old carping at her for three days of instruction should be a snap. (I haven't even checked to see whether 16-year-olds can take the BRC.)

I didn't intend to disparage her in my original question, but I know that she's underestimated the thinking and practicing necessary to learn to ride well, probably because she's always been pretty athletic and quick to learn new physical skills. I'm looking forward to her getting into it, though. She's quick to see the beauty and complexity in ordinary experience, and I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts as she delves more deeply into what may look elementary to her now.

I love galileo's suggestion about the getaway weekend. Line up a BRC session in beautiful locale. After my tough day of reading spy novels by the pool as she's in class, we'd talk motorcycles and watch "ride like a pro" videos until midnight. The dream relationship!


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Otiscokat
Female Junior Member
25 Posts


Otisco, IN
USA

Suzuki

2000 Savage

Posted - 09/27/2009 :  11:43 PM
Rebelgreen,

I took the BRC two summers ago with my daughter. It turned out to be a great experience. We girls could talk of the class and the lessons learned in a way that my husband could not relate to. He did discuss the class with us, but the bond of going through the class together was special. My daughter didn't go on to get a bike at this time, but I know she will ride when the time is right for her. I will probably take the class again with her when she is ready to ride.
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2260 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 09/28/2009 :  1:07 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Rebelgreen
I didn't intend to disparage her in my original question, but I know that she's underestimated the thinking and practicing necessary to learn to ride well, probably because she's always been pretty athletic and quick to learn new physical skills. I'm looking forward to her getting into it, though. She's quick to see the beauty and complexity in ordinary experience, and I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts as she delves more deeply into what may look elementary to her now.



It sounds like you two are a good team blending your respective views and personalities. Your last post here gives me some reassurance that the deck is stacked to your favor in having family members involved in an experience they will enjoy and going about pursuing motorcycling in a responsible way.

btw;
That bike of yours is one of the better or best out there for any of the newer riders to be getting a start on ... I'm not offering it too them (that's your call) I'm just sayin ....

~brian
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