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 Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program
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Male Junior Member
70 Posts

The Redneck Riviera, FL


900 SP

Posted - 06/27/2007 :  6:53 PM                       Like
Wendy Moon's blog is the definitive starting point for any discussion of safety in rider training and that includes the Team Oregon rider training program. I hope none of what I have to say is too derivative of her work. My research has brought me to the same conclusions by much the same route.

Team Oregon, headquartered at Oregon State University, is responsible for all of that state's motorcycle training through a partnership with OSU and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Dissatisfied with the MSF's Basic Rider Course (BRC), Oregon introduced the Basic Rider Training (BRT) course — developed by Team Oregon — in 2004, and in 2005 the BRT became the only certified basic curriculum in Oregon. Since then the Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program (TOMS) has rolled out Intermediate Rider Training (IRT), Rider Skills Practice (RSP), and Advanced Rider Training (ART) curricula.

A rider review of the ART by a BMW F650 forum member provides a totally unfair contrast to a review of the MSF Experienced Rider Course (ERC). The ART was conducted at Pats Acres Racing Complex, a kart facility located outside Portland, one of the two ART sites; the other is in Medford. An aerial photo of the PARC venue provides some insight into the mindset of Team Oregon:

Well, that's only for advanced training. The BRT ranges are of the mundane sort, but each of the current 19 is the direct responsibility of TOMS. The instructor is not responsible for the range or its condition. Instructors are themselves directly answerable to the Team Oregon Training Manager and they are trained directly by TOMS. There is a clear chain of administration, not a crumb-trail of plausible deniability. This is in stark contrast to the MSF's policies and their isolation from liability.

Safety is not Team Oregon's middle name — it's their goal and their modality of training. A skilled and safe rider is the desired outcome of training, but only a safe range experience can produce this. As experienced motorcyclists, some of whom began riding before we could conceptualize consequences, we overlook the degree of intimidation a beginning rider can face. Embarrassment, pain, humiliation, fear, awkwardness — any one or all of these can overwhelm the newcomer. The primary approach in Basic Rider Training is to initiate a feedback cycle of confidence, trust, and success that facilitates learning. The cycle can begin with any of the components; providing a safe environment quickly establishes trust as each perceived risk is seen as manageable by the student — which provides the confidence to confront greater risks with some measure of success. In turn, the student learns that his confidence is validated by external results and his trust in both himself and the training are reinforced. This establishes basic skills that can be used to learn complex skills. Thus the self-educating student, the model of adult education, is fabricated. When the able student makes a mistake he has a good likelihood of finding the error and correcting it. When the unsure student makes a mistake he may be tempted to just add it to his list of failures and avoid examining it. One of those students has a much better chance of coping with traffic and executing a successful left turn.

So how safe is it on the BRT range? In The penicillin for crashing in rider education Wendy Moon examines the frequency and severity of incidents in training for the BRT and a state BRC course. Although the data do not lend themselves to a direct comparison, the upshot is that: "BRT is already looking extremely good with almost a 59% lower injury crash per student ratio" and a low incidence of popped-clutch and run-off events, the initiators of severely injurious range accidents. Women fare better as well: They are injured in direct proportion to their level in the population rather than being over-represented by about 14%. The improvements wrought by the BRT program are not artifacts of the courses being conducted in Oregon: "We have seen in both Oregon and in the two regions in Illinois that are field-testing the BRT that it is far, far safer for students and results in less property damage to the motorcycles."

Team Oregon's BRT courses are currently used throughout Oregon, in areas of Idaho, and in Illinois on a test basis. All of the leading indicators are good, but the real measure of training takes place in traffic over an extended period. Ironically, as Wendy points out, Oregon is already one of the safest states for motorcyclists in terms of fatalities per vehicles registered.

James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17377 Posts

Houston, TX


GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/27/2007 :  7:29 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Thank you!

I knew that parts of Idaho were using it but did not know that Illinois has also tried it out. I knew that the state administrator in Illinois authored a comparison analysis (BRT v. BRC) that was to be presented to the SMSA (rejected by SMSA), so it makes sense that they have had some first hand experience to analyse.

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Starting Member
2 Posts

Canby, OR


soft tail

Posted - 06/25/2009 :  2:09 PM
My experience with the highly touted and over-rated Team Oregon motor cycle training course is awful. I attended their training course not to get a motorcycle endorsement, but to increase my riding skill. However, I found Team Oregon inflexible and generally unresponsive. I’ve sent emails and written letters. But to date they have not responded to either.

After spending approximately $500 on two BRT classes (the first class had a classroom address direction problem resulting in a non-refundable loss to me of $350) I just concluded the Basic Rider Training course at the Swan Island facility ending June 21. Their organization boast "Each year over 5000 new and experienced riders learn valuable lifelong riding skills through TEAM OREGON's range of courses" Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

I am disappointed with the final outcome of this training. It did not meet my expectations. The objectives of the concepts taught in both the practical range portion and class room are excellent. However, it was my experience, that they fell somewhat short in the execution. For example:

While I achieved a 92% on the written test, the students consensus was that the test strayed from the syllabus and had a number of questions of dubious value with excessive ambiguity. And as a result, a number of students failed that portion of the course. I found the practical session very frustrating, and at times actually counterproductive at achieving my desired skill objectives. I believe this was caused by three factors:

There were too many riders for the range space. This resulted in a lot of congestion with excessive slowing and accordion effect. The speed and performance was often that of the lowest common denominator (slowest rider in the class).

There was occasional "over coaching". This caused some riders, including myself, to make unnatural and exaggerated maneuvers in an attempt to literally follow the instruction and or please the instructors.

The equipment was either defective or not suitable for my training needs. This was the most significant problem I encountered.

I believe I was able to compensate for 1 and 2 above, but the equipment issue was insurmountable for me. Given that I informed my instructor of my desire to improve my riding skills on my HD Softail, prefaced with my question as to how the small bike skills will transfer to a larger and heavier bike, I was amazed at my bike selection. For example the bike provided by Team Oregon was a 125cc dual purpose (with the emphasis on dirt bike) Yamaha. I was expecting something larger of at least 250cc.

To compound the bike selection even further, the throttle appeared to have as much as 40 degrees of backlash probably caused by excessive wear. This manifested itself as sudden power on bursts (on roll-up) and sudden power off (on roll down). At least for me, it made smooth throttle modulation, if not impossible, very difficult.

I inquired about the throttle problem on day one and in a somewhat dismissive manner I was instructed to "work through it". I thought that was remarkable given that this course was designed for “For riders just starting out…” On day two, early on, this condition distracted from my learning experience to the extent that I had to leave the course to seek one-on-one coaching. While this helped a little, it did nothing to instill any further confidence in my riding ability. At times I found it nearly impossible to smoothly "roll-on" and "roll-off".

The instructor conducted a test on my bike on the range and agreed that the throttle was sloppy, but suggested that changing bikes this late in the training would only make matters worse. On each and every maneuver requiring smooth throttle application, my learning and as such, my performance either suffered or actually decreased. This was especially true of slow riding through tight turns and pylons. These maneuvers require smooth and small incremental throttle modulation. I was not able to make the needed power adjustments smoothly.

Perhaps a more skilled and experienced rider would have surmounted the excessive backlash in the throttle and performed the exercises up to the level required, but I did not. The end result was excessive focus on throttle manipulation, thus diverting my attention from other important course elements such as "Turn your head as far as possible through the turn, keep your head facing in your intended path of travel".

I also find it remarkable that the instructors did not understand the adverse affect on training this condition created. They were unable to accommodate me with a different bike or in some way, mitigate the situation. During the oral course debriefing, they provided no acknowledgment or satisfactory explanation as to the throttle issue, or how it may have contributed to my negative training experience, or any other coaching with respect to the throttle problem. Their only advice was directed at my apparent lack of looking in the correct direction during maneuvers.

As it stands now and because of my frustration encountered during the BTR experience, my confidence in riding skills is lower now than before I attended the course. Understandably, my confidence in Team Oregon training is somewhat shaky as well.
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4260 Posts

Meridian, Idaho


Sportster Sport

Posted - 06/25/2009 :  9:33 PM
Stenbock, I don't have a dog in your fight regarding your throttle. The problem of excessive slop should be correctable in less than 30 seconds with a simple adjustment. Your criticism seems to extend to an entire program rather than the single course which you attended. Your reference to the written test without a specific example of what you are criticizing is not helpful in understanding the problem.

I am curious as to why you, an rider of a Harley Soft Tail, would sign up for the BRT course when you are apparently an experienced rider who wishes to further improve their skills and bring them to a higher level. Is there some reason why you did not sign up for a higher level course? Also, could you recall the questions that you thought unfair.
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Male New Member
19 Posts

Portland, Oregon



Peer Review: 2

Posted - 06/26/2009 :  11:53 AM
In short:

Stenbock, if you wanted to learn how to ride your Softail, why didnt you take one of several other courses that allowed or required you to ride your own bike? You took a class for rank amateurs, intended for people who dont know where the clutch is or what it does. Given that population, I think the selection of bikes is entirely appropriate.

In long:

Regarding the written test. The test is a little different than others. There are some questions with more than one right answer. However, in those cases there is one answer that is clearly _more_ right than the others. It might ask "If your house is on fire you should: A) Call the fire department or B) Turn on your sprinkler and aim it at the house". Both are technically correct and will have some effect of mitigating the fire, but one is clearly more effective than the other. It is not a memorization and recitation test, and that throws people who are used to those. That said, all of the correct answers are in the book, word for word, and most are italicized, bolded or section headers.

Regarding the number of riders on the range. Again, you were in a class for rank amateurs. Many are scared of the 200 CC monsters provided them and the first day is spent overcoming that fear. People putter around the parking lot at very slow speeds, and that is expected. The second day, groups are split into 6 and 6 riders or run individually. That is when maneuvers that require some speed are practiced. Experienced riders are often frustrated with the first day of riding, however, the first day isn't for them, it is for the rider who doesnt know where the shifter is.

Regarding the skills translating. The techniques that the instructors were trying to teach you will translate to any bike you ride. Indeed many of them will be more important on your Softail than the TW200. Turning your head, slowing before a turn (not in it), counter steering, using your front brake progressively; these are all universal concepts applying to any bike. They may apply slightly differently depending on bike and style, but the focus of the class was to learn these fundamental skills. There are other classes that focus on teaching those skills on your own bike.

Regarding the throttle control. I wasn't at your course, but I can guess at some of the circumstances.

If I see a student having speed control issues through the sharp turn and the pylons (as you describe) it is usually because they are using the throttle exclusively to control their speed. It's a rare bike and biker that can successfully complete those two maneuvers completely in gear. The recommendation, indeed the exercise instruction, is to use your clutch to control your speed through those maneuvers. Throttle should be largely irrelevant to your control at speeds that slow.

When students complain about the condition of their bike, I use that bike for the next demo, or do a test-run at the next break. In nearly every case so far it was not an issue with the bike. After checking, the students complaints about the bike would be redirected to the techniques they are missing; clutch control, in this theoretical case. The instructions may not have been ignoring the problem with the bike; they may have identified the problem as being with the riders technique.

It is unfortunate, but not uncommon, that a student having issues will focus on those issues to the detriment of other riding skills. Im sorry to hear that it happened to you.
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Starting Member
2 Posts

Canby, OR


soft tail

Posted - 06/26/2009 :  9:35 PM
Great Questions:

First the HD dealer(Paradise HD)suggested this would be an excellent way for me to learn more skills to upgrade from a HD Sporster to an HD Heritage Sosftail.

I remember at least one question specifically:

How long should you look at objects on the road/curve ahead?

a) split second
b) no more than one second
c) two seconds
d) as long as it takes.

I answered b) no more than one second. Now that is a short time.

The correct answer was a) split second. It begs the question how long is a slit second - a half, quarter, 100ms a nanosecond?

There sere several question like the one given above. Like I said I got a decent score, but some did not.

As far as the throttle goes, I dentified the mechanical problem - worn linkage bushing - with no immediate adjustment option. I should point out that this bike had close to 7000 miles on it.

When I passed my Motor Cycle endorsement (Oregon), I used the throttle to adjust my speed through the pylons. Apparently that is the wrong technique. However, the instructors provided no specific coaching on the proper throttle technique to negotiate the pylons with the exception of looking ahead.

I'm an old fart 67, and want to get older yet, so in the mean time I've singed up for four hours one-on-one coaching with Latus HD and the one day advanced rider's edge course sponsored by HD.

Thanks for feedback

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4260 Posts

Meridian, Idaho


Sportster Sport

Posted - 06/26/2009 :  11:00 PM
Stenbock, A split second, a close shave, and a few other terms may seem confusing at times however the term "split second" is a pretty good simile for "less than a second" (I usually classify a split second as slightly longer time period that than "in the blink of an eye". When measuring things, "close enough for government work" is not nearly as precise as the "gnats ass scale" for setting the gap on spark plugs (2.5 gnats asses gap for a Harley 165) and such.

On a more serious note, it is encouraging that you are actively doing things to improve your skills. One of the things that is key to mastering low speed directional control is good clutch control and there are numerous posts on the subject as well as good materials and drills in the "Safety Tips" section of this website (see "safety tips" in red at the upper right corner of your screen).

At our age, the one thing we do not want to do while riding is fall down or crash and after 52 years of riding both on street as well as competitively, I can assure that I have done both. A miss is always better that a hit and the information picked up in a split second when looking well down the road, if acted upon, can turn a hit or a close shave into a "no sweat" threat disposal.

Please participate in this Forum as well as the other Forums on this website and keep us informed of your experiences and progress in both your 1-on-1 training sessions and the advanced riders edge course.

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Female Standard Member
107 Posts

Beaverton, OR


XVS1100/Buell XB12Sc

Posted - 06/29/2009 :  2:21 PM
Originally posted by stenbock

My experience with the highly touted and over-rated Team Oregon motor cycle training course is awful.

I'm sorry you had such a poor experience with the Team Oregon class you took. I hope you voiced your feelings to the instructors and/or have since sent Team Oregon class evaluation feedback.

I have taken all of the Team Oregon classes and found them to be very valuable. I do not believe they are over-rated particularly because Oregonian motorcyclists have the lowest crash and fatality rate in the U.S. and this is due primarily to the superb training, materials, and the conscientious, dedicated Team Oregon staff members who give up their weekends to try to help riders improve their chances of surviving the streets and highways of Oregon.

Did I understand correctly that you have upgraded from a Sportster to a Soft-tail? Or that the dealer wanted to upgrade a first purchase from a smaller less expensive bike to a larger more expensive bike?
Please elaborate?
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Male Starting Member
1 Posts

Beaverton, oregon


1200 XLC Custom

Posted - 05/17/2016 :  6:40 PM
I have to unfortunately agree with Stenbock. The bikes used on the BRT course were in a severe state of disrepair. Personally except for a very few of them I would've found them unsafe to ride except by an experienced rider to a shop for a good going through and then only if you did not have a truck or trailer to transport them. I did pass the course and got my endorsement, however the transmission on mine was in really bad shape. My lady has now tested twice and on both occasions she was failed for things they said she did that she had not or that they said she should do and hadn't when she actually had. Not surprising since the word is that if they have a class passing over 93% the state audits them. But 200 bucks a shot is a bit high priced to be a token failure to avoid an audit. we all work hard for our money. I did call Team Oregon's offices and their responses were unsatisfactory. I also pointed out about 6 times the condition of my bike, which was nowhere near as bad as the one they stuck my lady on. Both times the instructor took them for a short loop in first gear only and never tried shifting into second when we both explicitly stated they were not shifting properly. Motorcycle safety is important, and I do believe in having safety classes. However those bikes need some serious repair at a reputable shop and not to be toenailed together just for a fast fix. My lady's bike had mismatched levers even fo a different size and the clutch lever itself had slop as it was in a mount that had far too large of a gap for it. Keep the class requirement but personally I believe testing needs to go back into DMV's hands so there are no more token failures to avoid a state audit. If I was running a class like that and had a high pass rate I would welcome the state audit with open arms.
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Male Advanced Member
744 Posts

Nampa, ID



Posted - 05/17/2016 :  8:51 PM
Fair warning: I'm an Idaho STAR instructor and we're closely aligned with Oregon on curriculum.

You make a fairly sweeping comment about the state of repair of the bikes--can you be more specific? What were the problems as you saw them? Mechanical soundness is a safety issue and I'm curious what you feel is a problem that should get the bike off the range.
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Male Standard Member
118 Posts

Arch Cape, Oregon


R 1200 RT

Posted - 05/18/2016 :  4:54 PM
Sorry to hear about the poor experiences with Team Oregon. I took the Basic Rider Training with Team Oregon. I ended up with a 250 and think most of the others were as well. Perhaps something smaller but all I don't recall them if there were. The bike I had shifted fine and showed no mechanical problems that I could see. I was returning to motorcycle riding after a long absence and on dirt previously so my first real experience on asphalt. I would have benefited from fewer people in the class so that more riding time was available as I needed the practice on asphalt but I cannot fault the quality of the bikes that I saw. The class bikes are not as smooth and nice as my large bike, but neither was the 250 I owned for a while.

Stenbock, it sounds as if you were sent to the wrong class for your needs. After riding for a year I went back to Team Oregon and took the Rider Skills Practice class. That is $99 and no classroom time, just riding. I used my own bike, a Suzuki DL-650. I think that would have been a better choice for you.
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