Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Took three days and went up to Olympia a few weeks ago to take a Motorcycle Safety Course. The course is attractive in that you get a reduced fee for your endorsement and don't have to take the test at the DMV if you pass the test at the end of the course. I took mine from Puget Sound Safety and was glad I did.

Twenty years ago, I taught myself to ride. With the Hondamatic it was as easy as riding a scooter. I learned about countersteer AFTER I was doing it. Basically a fellow rider pointed it out to me one day. I was cautious but I thought I was pretty skilled.

The MSF course gave me a wakeup call. Hidden under the veneer of caution was a whole bunch of bad habits and vast gaps in knowledge about the art of riding motorcycles. I had not idea that you shouldn't brake when in a turn for example. Zack, our instructor actually has a great line about this:

"There is no penalty for entering a turn too slow," Zack told us. "There is a huge penalty for entering a turn too fast - possibly the death penalty."

There were  a dozen other little things I didn't know that have changed the way I ride -- safer, and smarter.

The MSF course also had the advantage of learning in a controlled environment. We rode little Suzuki GZ250 microcruisers that had a low center of gravity. I learned to run the clutch -- something I had never done before and found it was much easier than I feared.  In all it was a great class. Passed my written with a 100 percent and my driving test with a 93.

Many states are looking to make these safety courses -- Washington's is state subsidized -- mandatory for endorsement. I think that's a great idea and could reduce motorcycle fatalities. Education is better than regulation I think, when it comes to the future of motorcycling.