Riders - Tell me about the Rider's Edge motorcycle class.

I am to take the Rider’s Edge motorcycle class in about a month. This is a class put on by Harley Davidson/Buell dealerships to teach motorcycle skills, and is supposed to be comparable to the ABATE or MSF class. However, among riders (including those on this board), I have heard much more discussion of the MSF and ABATE classes, and nothing of the Rider’s Edge course.

This much I do know: the Rider’s Edge course costs 260 dollars, much more than the other two courses. Is there a reason for this higher price? Is the course much better or is it just a rip-off?

The website offers a pretty good summary of what the class is like, but I thought I would ask around to see if anyone who had taken this class had anything to say about it. From the website, it seems very good, thorough, and friendly.

I wanted to take a rider class not only for the insurance discount but because I want to be a more skilled rider during my first miles on the motorcycle than the average beginner. In my Complete Motorcycle Book by Jim Bennet, it says that 92% of those in motorcycle accidents had no formal training. This, to me, indicates a ridiculous lack of knowledge in the riding population if it is to be believed. Every day I see at least two dozen guys, probably named Chad, with tribal tattoos, wearing white baseball caps backwards and wife beaters and zipping around on CBRs. I have no doubt that if these men were in accidents, they would be killed. However, I read the newspaper every day, and I have not read of a motorcycle accident in years. Therefore, these riders are either highly skilled, or lucky. The latter is obviously the case.

(I’m not sure how relevant the above is, I just felt like adding it.)

So back to the Rider’s Edge course: does anyone here know anything about it, specifically the kind of exercises that are done, the training method, the kind of bikes they use (I assume they use Buells,) or anything else I should know?

Oh! I can help you out. I took the Riders Safety Course (not from Harley) and my good friend teaches the Harley one.

I’ll preface this by saying that I do not ride regularly- my husband was in a serious accident the spring I completed my course and it scared me off a bit, then I just really never got into it. I like riding a scooter about town, but I’ve not been on a geared bike in a while.

Most of the people in my class had never ridden a bike at all, so it was really a beginners class all the way. We had classroom training that talked about a lot of riding strategies as well as safety, gear, and things like that. There was a written test on those items and if you paid attention and read your book, it was not difficult to pass or anything. Some things I recall are cautions about riding over things like oil in the road, over those bridges with grates on them, keeping your eyes alert and looking for potential trouble and things like that.

The actual riding skills in my class consisted of gear shifting, how to steer, keeping ones eyes up and looking where you want to go, doing circles and turns, doing figure 8s (for skill improvement), proper braking, and side to side “weaving” in and out of cones. We also did a controlled rear wheel skid, but I don’t know if they still teach that or not.

At my friend’s class, you learn on a 250cc Buell and I don’t think you get out of about second gear, since you’re on a course, not a road. By the time you finish, you’re pretty well ready to practice all on your own and improve your skills, and I had my license upon completing their riding test. I took my course and test on a 250cc Virago.

My friend that I took it with loved it and has been riding ever since- she certainly found the things she learned there to be very helpful. One guy in our class already knew how to ride, but was there to get some tips and get his license. If I were ever to decide to ride on the road regularly with a geared bike, I would take it again, as they stressed the braking methods that are correct and that would be really helpful to refresh on. As it is, if I ride my scooter in traffic, I use the rest of the skills I learned and certainly have benefitted from them.

If you have any more specific questions, I’ll try to answer them or ask my friend if she knows. I think the class was worth every penny- I took it about 8 or so years ago and I think my class was close to $300.

What do I need to bring to the class? I have a helmet (not a full face one though.) I wear eyeglasses - would that cover the “eye protection” requirement?

I don’t have any gear beyond this helmet and a very stiff, rugged leather jacket. I don’t have leather pants, gloves, special motorcycle boots (I have work boots) or any other specialized gear. Do I need to go out and buy this stuff?

After you take this course, can you go to the BMV and get your motorcycle license right away without having to take the BMV test?

Like BoBette says, the course uses Buell Blasts, which is a bike specifically designed for the first-time rider. I haven’t taken this course myself (I did the MSF course), but from what I’ve heard and seen about it, I believe the curriculum is virtually identical to the MSF Basic Rider course. IIRC, the class fee can also be applied to a future bike purchase from the same dealer, though YMMV on that one.

BTW, the Chads of the world fall into a category of rider known as “squid”. The term is a concatenation of “SQUirrely kID”. They’re generally to be found on brand new sportbikes, and their standard uniform is the wife beater, board shorts, flip-flops, and sunglasses. If they do have a helmet, it’s a custom-painted $800 Arai hanging from the helmet lock. The level of ignorance among them is truly astonishing. A lot of them never even bothered to get a motorcycle permit, and most don’t know basic riding skills. Just watch how they zip through the straightaways but slow to a crawl around corners, bolt upright, because they don’t know how to turn properly. There’s a reason you hardly ever see squids zipping around on an old sportbike. You probably don’t see them in the papers because they tend to just crash on their own and rash themselves up pretty good. They are the primary source of low-mileage sportbikes. Just this Sunday I saw an ad in the paper for a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R 1000, 130-odd miles, scratches on right side. :wally

Just the fact that you’re asking about training already puts you a cut above, IMHO.

You may want to check with your class to make sure, but when I took the MSF course a few years ago, you needed to wear jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves (gardening gloves were okay), eye protection (eyeglasses/sunglasses counted), and footwear that covered the ankle (high tops or hiking boots were okay). Loaner helmets were provided if you didn’t have your own. When you passed the class, they gave me a little card that I took to the DMV and got my endorsement straight away - didn’t need any additional testing.

Check with the local class and ask- we had a test on site and didn’t have to take another at the DMV- taking the class and passing their test was good enough for the DMV (and incidently, my husband said the DMV test was much easier). This was in NY, but it may vary by state.