I had taken the beginner MSF course with a couple of really cool instructors in upstate NY a few years ago. At the time it was purely the "quick" way for me to get the motorcycle endorsement, but now several years later I recognize it as being one of the best things I've ever done for myself.
In the riding months I usually commute the bike to/from work (about a 40 minute ride) for fun and to save on gas. I can't even begin to tell you how often I've had near-collisions with drivers that simply do not pay attention. There's this one section in Poughkeepsie near the bridge where exits come at you from the left and the right, and several times I've had to get out of the way of someone ignoring the YIELD and STOP signs (from both directions even). The last couple of years it seemed that there were more of those "fast and furious" types with modded imports on the road as well. I think they lower the seats down to the point where they barely can peek over the dashboard anymore. But anyhow, that's a different rant.
As for the bits about straightening out before braking - think of it this way -- you're not racing against someone. You just want to come to a safe stop. If your choice is between slamming into something and sliding on your leathers in the dirt, I'll take the dirt 9 times out of 10. Most roads have plenty of space between the edge of the road and "foreign objects" (unless you're in a metropolitan area). Also, keep in mind that the training is only a few hours long. They don't have weeks and months to reteach your reflexes. They just have a dozen tries or so, and then it's on to the next lesson. If you are leaned over and break hard, you WILL highside. Even if you had thighs of steel you will not be able to keep your butt on the seat. The front will give you a small wiggle, and the tail will give you a kick in the pants. Just watch those famous racing videos with the rider being flung 16 feet in the air. It's physics. And now your choice is between a highside on the road with the bike possibly flipping on top of you, or a low side in the dirt. What would you choose? It's the lesser of two evils, but heck, you're about to buy the farm in a couple of seconds anyway.
It's like a near-ambush drill. Toss the grenades, and jump in after them with guns blazing. That's all you can do. And with a bit of luck and skill, maybe they won't send a letter to your next-of-kin afterwards.
The writer evidently doesn't live in Michigan. Every left turn up here is actually a "Michigan left" which consists of turning right at the intersection, getting in the left hand lane, and then making a u-turn to head in the desired direction. I use tight radius u-turns every day on my commute. For me, that would be a valuable lesson for the course, and one I practice in the real world every chance I get.
I took the ERC about 6 months after I got my endorsement. While it was useful, I wouldn't exactly call it advanced. Some of the same things annoyed me, like the requirement that we use 4 fingers on the front brake and not cover it (how are you supposed to blip the throttle for a smooth downshift while braking with 4 fingers?)
After 6 years of riding, I took Lee Parks' Advanced Rider Clinic. While this course is also at low speeds, around cones in a parking lot, it teaches skills and tactics that, while you may already know, you likely don't apply correctly unless you've been to many a track day.
At that course, I completely erased any remnant of a chicken strip and could have dragged my knee had I stuck it out a little farther. I felt completely in control the entire time, and my cornering on the street is now much faster (when I want it to be), though also much more controlled and better thought out.
This course is much more expensive than the MSF course, but in my opinion, you get what you pay for. The ERC is a great intro to riding, but is not an advanced street riding course.
I have lived all my life in New York until 15 yrs ago[I,m 55 now] And I did not own a car[wife did] until I moved to Vegas.We went back about 4yrs ago and the roads still scared me to death.I salute all you folk who ride bikes in the northeast,me I,m just too chickens**t
Man my youngest son is a cook out at Ft Irwin[Sven Manning].Glad you took the course,but I,d like to know,did you find a preponderance of young guys riding hyperbikes!I know at Nellis in Las Vegas whenI go to see my son at the Army Reserve That,s all I see.
I took some sort of mandatory motorcycle course at the sub base in San Diego in 1976. Id been riding a few years by then, and I wasnt impressed. Slow race, indeed.
Fast forward to 2004. An acquaintance took the basic MSF course at the local community college and thought it was great. I decided what the heck, and signed up for the ERC. Did the whole course two-up with the wife the only worthwhile thing I learned is that I cant lock up the back brake of my old airhead Beemer while riding two-up. Im still not impressed.
I agree with the author that a track day is a much better investment of time and money.
Outside of Philly was nice. We had to go from Philly to Cape May,NewJerseyand even though it was at night,it was nice.Had to stop at 9th and passeyunk to go to Pat,s to get the best philly steak in the world! My wife is uncanny about finding streets in different cities,She ,s the pilot ,I,m the navigator.You would have died seeing this black couple from las vegas with newyawk accents in an italian /police neighborhood saying things "gimme more cheeze whiz and hey where,s the garniere?We had to come back to Philly to take our plane back home and yes the bridges,the roads are retarded.We did better at night than we did during the day!
I did a lot of riding in Florida when I was in the Navy and never owned any of the bikes. Between duty sections and being underway, some poor squid would turn loose his keys. I don't remember it being a big deal either. By the way, my favorite bike to borrow was a GS550 with a full windjammer. Florida ain't curvy, just long windy stretches.
Nice article, at one time I thought about taking this course and then becoming an instructor. A speeding ticket put a damper on that... Still think the Basic Rider Class should be required to get your first motorcycle license/endorsement with the Experienced Rider course being required at time of renewel... However, I am sure many GPTB members like longride and Buz would fail it.. So maybe require people to attend it but not pass it... Nice job Jed
I ride 10000+ miles a year in the northeast, but I have experienced east, west and gulf coast drivers rather extensively, and by this I mean at least 5000 miles each for gulf and west and about a 90k for the eastern seaboard. I am not horribly familiar with the midwest but I can vouch for the shear lunacy of the rest of the nations drivers. "No Virginia, you're not paranoid, they really are trying to kill you!" my strategy is to drive a bike that can turn, stop and get the f out the way in a hurry. lets hear it for liter class nakeds!
If that were the case I think I would need to take it every few days! Those are the Hawaiian Tropic Girls. We were at a celebrity golf tournament and put on a little display with the aircraft for the people donating money to help support various charities. They were very friendly until they found out they could not get a ride in the helicopter...