Get Some Experience-Then the Class

by Bridgett

I took the MSF class to learn how to ride. It was really great....But I wish I had some riding experience before I spent the $. I was the greenest in the class and I felt intimidated. I did pass, and learned great stuff. However, now that I have been riding a bit (about 100 miles, which isn't much, but enough to know how much I need to learn) I feel I could really focus more on the skills they teach you. I would love to take the class again, but because of cost I probably won't. After the class and my license, I rode in a parking lot for one day on my new bike (a 2005 883 Harley Sportster) and have been riding on the road with my hubby. I dropped my bike last week, That's OK, it happens, don't want it to happen again, but it made me realize I need to practice the safety skills I learned in class, primarily turns and emergency braking.

Bottom line, If I knew the basics when I took the class, I feel the harder stuff would have stuck in my brain more. so..if possible, practice in a lot somewhere on a small bike with some guidance from a rider, then take the class and KICK BUTT!
Just My observation.


Comments for Get Some Experience-Then the Class

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Jun 25, 2013
My two courses... yes two
by: Sunshine

So I had NO exerience and really wanted to achieve the goal, scored 100% in the classrom but riding was HARD I struggled - did what they wanted but it was a struggle.

I elected and told the instructors that I was choosing to not complete the range test - reason beng if you don't attempt the test you can come back -space available- to both range days and that's what I wanted. They said I could try it if i wanted - no thank you.

I come back the week later and it had clicked - it all made sense and even the instructors were amazed at the improvement. I did great on the test and was SO glad I chose to come back and do the course again it was the best decision ever.

I have bought my bike (V-Star 250) and I am being a car park and neighborhood street troll.

Good luck and do what you feel.

Oct 16, 2009
by: JS

I have to agree. Even just a little previous riding would have made the MSF course much more worthwhile. My instructors were not very encouraging at least not to the older, quieter women. By the time we took the test, I was so defeated by their comments that I messed up royally on the quick stop. Did the figure eight perfectly but was intimidated by the quick stop. I was the green one in the class and behind the learning curve. We took the full course in one day which was exhausting, starting at 5am and taking the test at 8:30pm. Since then the thought of going back and going through that again has been more frightening than just doing it myself. Although I have not put in the practice I intended due to tennis elbow, I still plan to practice on my own and still want to get up the nerve to retake the test. If for no other reason than to prove to them, I can do it. I just needed more time to practice than we were allowed. The course was very fast. No extra instruction for any issues, just do it and move on to the next skill. Was not what I expected. I thought it was for the absolute beginner and they would actually teach me the basics to ride. Sites like these encourage me to keep trying. Knowing I am not the only one that needs more training and practice gives me hope to reach this dream. I am smart enough to realize the course would not teach me enough to hit the streets, only enough to ride in a parking lot. But it destroyed my confidence. Now, I'm just trying to build it back.

Oct 01, 2009
My Experience with Riding Class
by: Heidi B

The only experience I had before taking the MSF class was riding on the back of my husband's bike. I had never ridden a motorcycle or scooter before the class and I found the class very helpful in learning to ride. I was always nervous about cornering but my class did spend time with cornering. I came out of the class feeling a lot better about cornering.

I wish the class was maybe a little longer to provide a little more practice. A little more discussion on stopping & starting on hills.

My first on the road experience (which was just the other day) I ended up dropping the bike on a hill. I had stopped for a stop sign & had trouble with the bike rolling back. I became nervous & totally forgot what I should do. NOT a fun experience. At least I was with my husband who picked up the bike & explained to me what I had done wrong. He moved the bike to a flat road way so I could hop on & go but I was very embarrassed by what had happened. I had never had an experience stopping & going on a hill before. If maybe I had a little practice in class on this maybe I wouldn't have had the issue I had.

If anybody has any advice on stopping & starting on hills I'd greatly appreciate it!

Sep 30, 2009
Kinda Agree
by: V

I kinda of agree too as a very green rider. For me, the class went really fast. The classroom work was a cinch but the 2 days of riding went so fast.

I didn't feel like I got enough time to practice each of the exercise and then since they keep building on each other I started to really struggle with the tight cornering.

The instructors weren't much for positive reinforcement and for the most part just kept saying I was doing everything wrong or not getting it fast enough. When I said I felt like it was all going really quick for me they just kept saying "Do you want to quit?" "Maybe this isn't for you" which crushed me. I was trying sooo hard and I wasn't doing awful I was just behind everyone else.

The second afternoon they pretty much put us into a huddle and said "if you aren't getting it yet you aren't going to get it. The next four exercises are hard and you'll be a danger to yourself and others. We aren't saying give up on your desire to ride but you're not ready to finish this program" Even though they said this to the whole group, I pretty much knew they were talking to me. They didn't ask me to leave personally - I think I let them intimidate me into leaving. After that speech my confidence was really shattered.

They suggested the Quick Start program that just goes over the first 5 exercises of the riders edge program. This will help so that in the full class you already have some experience with friction zone work, start/stopping, etc.

I think this would have really helped me with the riders edge program since I was truly a green rider (no moto experience at all).

May 13, 2009
The MSF Class
by: Pam

Thanks for sharing your experience. I rode briefly as a passenger approximately in 1982. That was my only experience on a bike. Decided I wanted to ride one day, took the class - scored first in my class!

Maybe inexperience is good in a way because you have not developed any bad habits, but - I would HIGHLY recommend the class.

My hubby bought me an old Honda from a friend - a decent, well maintained bike, but it was a GUYS bike. Too high and too high maintenance for me. I rode it one year, about one hundred miles - and scored 60 of the miles on one long ride! Hated the bike, hated the thought of riding it again. I visited the Honda dealers again and again, nothing felt comfortable..

Someone suggested the HD Nightster to me. While looking for a trike for my husband, looked at the Nightsters, found an Iron883...It felt like a good fit. Way more comfortable to me than the trusty old Honda.

Thought about it for 3 days, called back and bought it. It's sitting in my driveway saying, "ride me..." I'm waiting for the perfect moment, between work and school and family, blah blah blah.

Am I normal? I know that when the moment is right I will be on that bike enjoying it. But with my limited experience riding, I am apprehensive...
I learned in the MSF class that sometimes it is just NOT YOUR DAY. Don't ride.

When it IS my day, I will let you all know how I love the Iron 883.

Peace, Pam H

Mar 27, 2009
Thanks Gals!
by: Bridgett

I appreciate the comments in regards to mine. I think that is what this forum should be for, to share our experiences and our feelings on different subjects. I think one of the comments sums it up best. After riding a bit, I think the information in the class would be so much more relevant. And I feel I wouldn't be so focused on just keeping her going, stalling a bunch of times, etc...I would be able to handle the exercises better without being a nervous wreck. BUT, with that in mind, you are all right, it is a BEGINNERS class, and since so many of the riders were not truly beginners, I felt very incompetent, and that put me in a frame of mind that I really struggled. But I think you are all right! How do you learn if you don't have a bike or someone to teach you! Great sharing.

Thanks again.


Mar 27, 2009
Safety Class
by: kenberlyc

I disagree as well. The class is for beginners- people who don't have much riding experience. I was a total beginner. Without that class I never would have had the confidence to practice anywhere else. I say take the class and then if you feel you need to do it again later, then do it.

Mar 27, 2009
The Class
by: DianeT

I would have to disagree also. I think I was the greenest in my class (or at least the only one who would admit it)- I didn't even know how to drive a standard car so I had no clue about the clutch, etc. But the point of the class is not to kick butt, it is to learn. Yes we can all go back and do things better once we get some experience but why? I was not the best in my class, but I passed and I learned to ride which was my main goal. Kick Butt on the roads, not the class... :)

Mar 27, 2009
Get the Class, Take It First
by: Jenny

Truthfully, I have to disagree. I tried to ride in a parking lot on my husband's bike a couple of times, and the end result was that I was more terrified then I was before I took the class. Most folks don't have the small 250cc bikes, and that smaller bike really made a difference. Yes, I was a little better off because while I couldn't ride at all, I did know where the controls were, etc. However, they sent us the book before the class, and I not only read through it, I seriously studied it. That information was part of what I studied.

When I was done with the class, I spent a LOT of time in parking lots going round and round, stopping and starting, etc. I had my license, but I needed more time before I hit the roads. At one point, I did reconsider taking the class again, but what I really needed was time on a bike and confidence. Taking the class might have helped, but just putting the time into parking lot hours (which I still do even though I've been riding a year) was what did it the best.

Ideally, I'd have taken it two times, but taking the class from the beginning made a huge difference. They had information that they passed along, and they introduced the bike in a more helpful manner than my friends who'd been riding for 20+ years gave.

Mar 27, 2009
Taking it Twice
by: Fiddler

I also took the class - about five weeks before I got my bike. I have about 500 miles now and I'm going to take the class again. The stuff they taught is much more relevant to me now. The way I figure it, the money spent on the class is probably less than repairs on my bike or an ER copay.

Mar 27, 2009
Experience then the Class
by: Brycie

I kind of agree with you on the getting a little experience then take the riders basic course. I had to teach myself to ride and after 20 years took the Riders Course and it meant so much more to me.

As for the cost of taking the Basic Riders Course I always suggest to new gals to take the ABATE version instead of the Harley Davidson Riders Edge. Just the savings in cost is well worth the value; ABATE is $75 without being a member of ABATE versus $195 to $350 for the HD Riders Edge.

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