Motorcycle Safety and Skill Courses


1. Squid

A young motorcyclist who overestimates his abilities, boasts of his riding skills when in reality he has none. Squid bikes are usually decorated with chrome and various anodized bits. Rear tyres are too wide for their own good, swingarm extended. Really slow in the corners, and sudden bursts of acceleration when a straight appears. Squids wear no protection, deeming themselves invincible. This fact compounds intself with the fact that they engage in ‘extreem riding’–performing wheelies and stoppies in public areas. Squids wreck alot. Derived from ‘squirly kid’

Thanks, Urban dictionary.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot out there for information on classes, so this is what I was able to find.

Here’s the home page for the MSF – Motorcycle Safety Foundation, with their list of offereings: MSF Rider Courses 

As far as I’m aware, they’re sort of the bench-standard for riding classes. Any class here in New England that’s a license certification is an MSF certified class. The AMA site lists the MSF classes under their resources page, and only the MSF classes.

Here’s an example of their Advanced course description:

Advanced RiderCourse (ARC) [formerly ARC-ST]

A one-day course that complements a rider’s basic skills and helps with personal risk assessment. It includes a fast-paced classroom segment with several interactive activities to improve perception and hazard awareness. Range exercises enhance both basic skills and crash avoidance skills. Improving braking and cornering finesse is emphasized. The course is beneficial for riders on any type of street motorcycle.

The Dirt Bike classes look like fun:
DirtBike School: Trail Riding RiderCourse (DBS:ITR)
An extension of the DirtBike School, and for riders who already possess basic riding skills and are ready to ride off-highway trails. Lessons may include riding in sand and mud, through creek crossings and ruts, and over rocks, hills, and whoop-de-doos. A certified Coach supervises all riding activities.

Their FAQ page answers questions about what classes are right for you: FAQ

One of my friends teaches basic beginner license classes here in MA. He also teaches stunt riding…

My son just got his license this summer and took the class, and I even learned something from what he told me they worked on. I don’t think there’s any point in your life that you can’t get something out of a refresher course.

Now.  To take it to a more advanced level, this is the best list I’ve been able to find for Sportbike training classes: Sportbike Riding Schools from Thirty or so classes all over the country.

For riders who want to go fast, there’s no better place to learn than on the racetrack. Get some valuable track experience with these riding schools, many of them taught by former professional racers.  I’d add, learn to go fast, and you’ll go slow a lot safer.

Here’s a description from the Yamaha Champions Riding School, at Miller:

We help riders who want to improve their bike control—the racers looking to drop 1.5 seconds from their lap times, or the street rider who needs to miss the surprise gravel mid-corner… with a car partly in their lane. We coach new riders coming off of dirt bikes, the rider trading his cruiser for a sport-touring bike, the racer looking to progress to the national level or the track-day rider who wants to run in the A group. Many schools shuffle students through an assembly-line process that resembles nothing more than a track day with a few tips thrown out. Not us; we keep the student count low, and the instructor count high.

I’m sure not everybody gets their money’s worth out of these classes, and I tried to find some feedback that wasn’t so great.

I found this fairly amusing thread, (amusing like watching a family fight as a guest at Thanksgiving dinner), that started:
I went to 2 classes of MSF school with 1 more session left to attend. Boooooooooring. Maybe starting out riding before the class spoiled it for me. I thought the purpose of the class was to teach beginners how to ride(which they achieved), and not so new riders how to get better(remains to be seen). I learned some things, but I can’t see how anything I’ve learned from the class so far was worth $245. In other words, I rode my motorcycle from school the same way I rode it to school. Did anything I learn help me in traffic on the way home. Ummmmmm…..No! I hope next week will be more fulfilling. Otherwise, I just paid $245 for a motorcycle license.

It’s here: MSF School: Waste of time, waste of money, both, or none of the above……Flamers flame on.

If you can wade through the flames, (and I get crap about Ted’s Fight Club? LOL), there’s some good advice there. This was some of the best.

After this long drawn out bitch about how this guy was wasting his money and wasn’t gonna learn anything, here’s his last post:

I passed. And what a challenge today was. This is going to sound soooo corny (so everybody get their spread ready), but today made it all worth it. The challenges, the coaching, the well deserved “good job” this time. Unfortunately, someone did get hurt today. During the skills test where you brake before you corner, a guy dropped the bike on himself. He sprained his ankle pretty badly, sad to say. 2/3 of the disabled students passed as well….yay for the underdogs! 

I LOL’d!

OK, I’m done.  I have a teenager, I know all about leading horses to water and subsequent drinking or not.

For my part I feel like I’ve heard it all. I’ve seen kids who are self taught, from really talented riders who are natural athletes, to guys who are never going to get past “squid” stage, no matter what they do. I’ve seen teens go out and buy bikes that are way too fast, way too big, and way too much under the influence of testosterone and other mind-altering chemistry to have even a swinging chance of not turning their brains and bodies to mush.

I’ve seen young adults decide that they can take their few thousand dollars and go buy this slick little toy and have some fun, only to end up in the emergency room. I’ve heard countless… COUNTLESS adults say things like, I’ve been riding for a few years, I know how to ride, I did everything right, it was a freak accident, stuff like that, as a rationalization for not getting training. If you did everything right, you wouldn’t have had a problem. If you don’t know what you did wrong, then you need help. The thing I hear most often that really sets me off is, “It’s not a question of if you lay it down, it’s when.”

Think whatever you want. That’s absolute bull****. However, if you don’t learn how to ride well, then yeah, it’s self-fulfilling.

I’ve seen a few guys who’s first motorcycle was the electric bike they built, and they’ve all laid the bikes down. One, in particular, a couple of times, and thankfully with no lasting injuries. We’re some pretty bright guys. I can’t even think about how I’d feel if somebody’s brain got turned to mush because they didn’t think they needed a class. Oh wait. We had that too. If you were on ElMoto v1 you know all about it.

Some of these guys learned to ride well in spite of themselves. Some never learned. Some never made it. Every one of them would have benefitted from a class.

I’m not any amazing rider, and I’ve had my share of accidents. I’ve done really stupid stuff, and I’ve been lucky to get through it in one piece more or less. But I do follow my Dad’s advice after one of my first crashes: “If that didn’t teach you anything, there’s nothing I can say that will.”

Thanks, Dad.

I had a friend who got himself a good-sized boat and almost killed himself and his wife in a really stupid move on Buzzards Bay – a place where stupid moves are punished immediately and severely. A military-trained pilot flying for decades, I was shocked he didn’t at least take the Power Squadron Certification classes. His response: I don’t like feeling like a Cadet again. Great. From someone who well knows how badly things can go in the hands of someone without training. I know it’s hard for a lot of grown-ups to suck it up, admit they may have something to learn, and sign up for some training. Especially smart grown-ups who have a whole lot of respect and experience in a certain area, and maybe also get bored easily. Some of it’s ego, attention, time, money… but can I say this again? It’s well worth it. And besides everything else… once you get over yourself…


So yeah. You’re probably asking, am I going to take some of my own advice here, and sign up for a refresher? You bet your ass. After hearing some of my son’s accounts of the classes he took, (and contradicting some of the teaching I’d given him) along with my friend Kurt being an instructor and my cafe bike all nice and tight… not to mention getting my SRX back from my kid, you bet your ass. As soon as they open in the Spring, I’m on it. See you on the track, bitches.


2 responses to “Motorcycle Safety and Skill Courses

  1. I saw on Visordown (UK) a while back somewhere that SQUID is an acronym for Stupidly Quick, Under-dressed, Imminently Dead.

  2. Pingback: Idiocracy Reigns Supreme, Misery, and George Takei | The Electric Chronicles: Power in Flux·


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