This Summer I followed through on something I’ve been threatening to do for years – get my motorcycle license. I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginner’s course at Trama’s Auto School. The experience was anything but “tramatic” (obligatory pun), and here is what I learned:
1) Folks learn to ride for different reasons. In my class of 11, 9 boys 2 gals including me, here are some of the reasons people show up at 8 am to spend a Saturday and Sunday with the Trama coaches:
b. My friends ride and I feel left out
c. My parents ride and I feel left out
d. I have always wanted to learn but don’t tell my parents
e. I’m in it for the adrenaline
f. I wanna look cool and get girls
g. Spy skills
They get you on a bike FAST! In hours you go from being terrified and clueless to grinning like a fool as you motor around the parking lot, aka “The Range”
3) You don’t need any experience to get on a bike, except riding a bicycle. Riding a bicycle helps, especially practicing slow maneuvers, tight turns, and figure 8s.
4) Do the online course beforehand. Otherwise you’ll feel lost.
5) Don’t party the night before riding. They’ll tell you this but really, it’s a long day outside and you’ll hate your life if you’re hung over or exhausted.
6) Focus on your own ride. At some point in any exercise there will be someone doing better than you and someone doing worse than you. Don’t sweat it.
7) Relax, especially during the exam. You can re-take it within a certain time-frame if you don’t pass, and it won’t cost you anything. Getting nervous leads to mistakes.
8) They give you awesome free stuff!! Yummy lunches with options for the dietary needy, all the snacks and Gatorade you can stuff yourself with, gloves (around a $35 value) and a killer helmet (around $140 value) from Scorpion EXO.
9) You don’t need a motorcycle permit to take the course. When you “graduate” your certificate counts as your road test to get your drivers license, so after the course you can go to the DMV, take the permit computer test, get back in line and exchange the permit for a license with the MSF certificate.
10) The course is considered a “defensive driving course” and it gets you like 10% off you insurance on ALL your vehicles for 3 years! So be sure to mention it when you get insurance.
11) More dudes take these courses than gals. Probably because fewer gals ride. But if you’re a lady thinking of riding, DO IT! Ain’t no reason not to.
12) Have fun! It’s SOOO much fun!!
For more information on Trama’s Auto School courses, check out: http://www.tramas.com/msf-courses/
And here’s a clip of an exercise demo on lane changes… mastering that little turn signal button is still way harder than it should be for yours truly
Postscript: A few weeks ago I bought a Suzuki TU250x, which is very similar to what we rode on in class. Ain’t she cute?!
Article by Hannah Lamar Koelbl
*(got any questions for Hannah? Leave them in the comments below!)