A motorcycle safety course or the basic “MSF course” is a great foundation and starting point when you are just getting into riding and learning how to ride a motorcycle. These courses do a great job of breaking it down step by step and laying the whole process out in an easy to learn system. Which is great.
But what exactly will you learn from a motorcycle safety course? A motorcycle safety course is going to teach you all the basic skills needed to get started riding and how to safely operate a motorcycle on the road. Everything from how to perform a pre-ride safety check to cornering and emergency braking.
That is just a brief summary of what you will learn, there are actually a ton of things you will learn from a motorcycle safety course. Too much to quickly list off, that’s why I wrote this helpful article to give you a better idea what you will learn from one of these courses.
So, if you want to know more about this as well as all the things you will learn from a MSF course. Read on!
What do you learn in a motorcycle safety course?
Even though the MSF course is a short course consisting of only a couple of days, they actually managed to cram a lot of information into that short time frame.
In total you should expect to ride around 10 hours with about 5 hours of classroom time. This might not seem like a lot of time but they do manage to touch on all the basic and important skills needed to ride a motorcycle.
The great thing about the MSF basic course, is that they actually start all the way at the beginning with the most basic of fundamentals and work up from there. So you don’t need to worry if you are a complete noob to riding or motorcycles in general.
Most classes will start by teaching you where everything is located on a motorcycle. Such as the brake lever, rear brake control, clutch lever, throttle control, turn indicators, light switches and emergency cutoff switch to name a few. They will make sure you know where everything is and what it is used for.
After you have got that sorted, you are going to actually get some saddle time, on a motorcycle and start to learn the basic skills and techniques needed to ride.
Most likely your instructor is going to start by teaching you how to get a motorcycle moving from a standstill and learning what the friction zone is, also how to control the motorcycle and stop the motorcycle at slow speeds. Don’t be nervous about this. They will start you off with the basics like “power walking” the motorcycle and build up from there. It’s not hard.
Once you have this down, they will move you on to learning how to change gears and stop quickly or perform an emergency braking maneuver. This will mean getting the motorcycle up to around 10mph and then stopping between a set of cones. So don’t worry, you are not going to be asked to stop on a dime from 50mph.
You are also going to learn how to turn as well as stop in a curve or on a turn. This is going to involve practising turning in a few drills, then eventually taking a gentle turn and coming to a stop while in the turn.
One of the tougher drills you are going to do is u-turns or figure 8’s. These can be tough for many new riders, I know they were one of the tougher drills for me. I had to consciously remind myself not to put my foot down and to trust that the motorcycle wouldn’t tip or fall over.
Another important skill they are going to teach you is slow speed maneuvers and tight turns from a stop. Tight turns was another one that was tricky for me, I had a hard time trusting I wouldn’t drop the motorcycle. But my instructor did a great job of helping me get over the fear and after a few tries I had it down.
One interesting drill was going over bumps or debris. When I did it, they set up a piece of wood and we had to ride over it, it was good to learn and not something I would ever have thought of doing on my own.
They will also teach you how to avoid obstacles and weave properly. This was one of the more fun drills I really enjoyed doing. Basically you are going to start and get the motorcycle up to around 10mph, then when you get to the first set of cones you weave to the left or right and avoid an “obstacle”. A great drill, something I still practice today.
By the end of the course they are going to teach you all the basic skills needed to safety and confidently operate a motorcycle. One thing to remember, when you complete this course it does not mean you are ready to handle whatever might come your way. It just means that you can ride around an empty parking lot. The next step is to practice and build on and improve the basic skills you have learned over the last 10 hours or so of riding.
The other part of the course is the classroom part or theory course. I thought this was going to be a snooze-fest, but it was actually interesting and I learned a ton of stuff about riding a motorcycle. I would say almost as much or maybe more than the actually practical part of the course.
You only have around 5 hours of classroom time and they pack a ton of useful information into it, so pay attention and ask questions.
Here are some of the topics I found interesting that you will learn about:
– basic street strategies
– lane choice/ lane position
– how to be more visible and safer
– how to properly calculate stopping distances
– how to use escape paths
– how to handle intersections
– blind spot safety
– different types of turns or corners and how to handle them properly
– how to ride at night
– assessing road conditions
– effects of alcohol and drugs when riding
Of course that is just a brief summary of some of the topics they cover that I could remember off the top of my head, there are many more. I could probably write about 15-20 articles just on what they taught during those 5 hours.
Make sure you pay attention, you will have to write a test based on all the stuff taught in the classroom part of the course. If you fail this test, you cannot complete the course.
Does MSF provide a motorcycle?
When you take the MSF course they will provide you with a motorcycle to use during the class. The exact type and size of the motorcycle will depend on the location you are taking the class at. Most of the time you will be able to select the style of motorcycle that suits you (cruiser, scooter, sport).
The only things you will need to bring are, food and drink and a pen or pencil for the classroom part. Everything else needed is provided by them.
You don’t even need to own a helmet or gloves. Although I would recommend you go out and get a helmet and pair of gloves if you can afford it, you will be so much more comfortable. If you have ever smelled a helmet that has been used and sweated in for a while, you will know why I recommend this.