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School's in (for summer) motorcycle safety class diaries continued

In the classroom

Since I signed up spontaneously, I had no time to anticipate what I was getting myself into prior to the first class. All I really knew was I had six hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of range work ahead of me, including a written exam and a skills test. Good thing I happen to like learning and like to be challenged.

The first two nights of the course are spent going over the Basic RiderCourse handbook. Here are just some of the key points you'll learn:

  • Wear all protective gear all the time. Even if you're not required by law and even if it's 90 degrees outside. There's a reason it's called protective gear.
  • Safe riding requires superior riding skills, a motivation to reduce risk while riding and a strategy to avoid trouble.
  • A pre-ride inspection only takes a few minutes and should be as automatic as making sure you have enough fuel for your ride. It helps make sure everything is OK and helps keep your bike in good repair.
  • There's a distinct procedure for starting a motorcycle engine, which is far more involved than putting a key in the ignition and turning (or pressing the brake and pushing a button if you have a newer, fancier car).
    1. Turn the fuel supply valve to on,
    2. Switch the ignition to on,
    3. Shift the transmission to neutral,
    4. Put the engine cut-off switch in the run or on position,
    5. Squeeze the clutch (even if it's not needed it helps ensure that you don't start in gear), and
    6. Push the start button.
  • Always use both brakes when stopping. Even though 70% of the braking power comes from the front brake, 100% of the braking power comes from using both brakes at the same time.
  • You need to always make yourself visible to other drivers. That involves wearing reflective gear, choosing the appropriate position in the lane, maintaining the appropriate following distance, searching for and mentally processing potential hazards, checking all around you when at an intersection and using your lights, signals and horn.

That's really only the tip of the iceberg. As a person who had never been on a motorcycle (still hadn't by that point), I learned a lot. But I don't think I truly grasped a lot of the concepts until I was able to get on a bike and ride. Can you guess what the next post will be on?

Your safety is number one to us. Stay safe this summer on your motorcycle.

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