I’ve always toyed (lightly) with the idea of riding a bike. Now all the cool kids in the office are doing it, so I thought I’d give it a try. This last weekend I took a motorcycle safety class to get a feel for things. Specifically I took a class from the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). I had no motorcycle riding experience going into the class, but that isn’t a problem. It really is designed for beginners. That being said, I think the class is very good and all motorcyclists should take it.
It starts off a little slow, but for those that have never been on a 2 wheeled vehicle before, I suppose it is very good. Really, if you can ride a bicycle, you can ride a motorcycle. Obviously things are vastly different, but the basics like how to stay balanced are the same. If the class is at all sizable, some activities are going to be slow also. Only so much space, so many instructors, etc. It can be frustrating to sit around sometimes — but in the end, what does one expect? The only major bummer is that the course is expensive. $250.
At the end of class room portion there is a written test. If you were paying ANY attention what so ever — you can pass it (Need 40 out of 50 questions). I think it took me about 5 minutes and I missed one acronym question (FINE-C, which stands for Fuel, Ignition Neutral transmission, Engine Kill Switch, Choke). At the end of the “practice” portion of the class (AKA, when you are on a bike), there is a 4 part test. Part #1 is Two consecutive opposite U-Turns. Translation: Do a figure 8. The only catch is that it is in a rather small box you need to stay in or be penalized. Personally I think this is the hardest piece of the entire damn test — the best way to is counter steer (aka make a tight turn and lean out the other direction). Part #2 is swerving. Piece of cake. Get up to sped, pass gates, swerve right, straighten out, slow and stop. Part #3 is stopping distance test. Get up to speed in second gear, hit the gates, slow down (with both brakes) as fast as you can without locking anything up. Part #4 is “The Corner”. Start out, get up to speed. Slow down, enter corner, speed and exit. I think tests 2-4 are important, #1 seems… well… less than helpful. A good skill to know, no doubt, but not test worthy.
I did see someone, in the class before mine, lock the front brakes on Part #4 in the middle of the corner. The bike slid out from underneath them. They were fine, but got an automatic fail, which totally sucks (NOTE: When you are doing the final, dropping the bike is the only Automatic Fail). If there is trouble, better to straiten out and slow down. Wandering out of the “lane” is far better than dropping the bike.
Oh well. Now I can consider getting a bike eventually. I just bought my Prius, so I have very little need for a bike. While bikes get good gas millage, my Prius is just as good if not better than a lot of the medium to heavy bikes. It would be nice to have one — but cost wise… not too sure yet. Maybe if I get a bonus or a raise ^_^