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Passed HD Riders Course

Discussion in 'Motorcycles' started by bubbagumps, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Jul 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM
    #1
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Took the 5 day Harley learn to ride course. I took this course because the waiting list for the state course is two monhts out. I wasn't sure at first if it would be worth $300 or serious, as opposed to a 'push them through' then sell them a Harley. It wasn't. The guy told us straight up before we paid that the fee was for the private certified instructors and bike useage and there was no guarante of passing. The pass rate is usually 70%. Very serious class. I would reccomend it if you can't get into the state class 3which is usually only $35 or so. That's why I took it.

    There was the obviously Harley pitch from the marketing guys when we took the dealer tour the first day but that was the end of the sales stuff. The instructors themselves took no prisoners. Three days of classroom and two straight 8 hour days of out in the sun on the course. Instructors were fairly friendly but were very serious. I got reamed at the beginning for starting out before another guy left the practice lane. I got pulled asside and after a private five minute 'course safety consultation' e.g. ass chewing, I was allowed to start back in line.

    There are multiple lectures on safety and handling and such and you have to memorize stuff about the controls and characteristic and pass a test before you can even touch the bikes. There is also a written test and the skills test. Writing part was actually a little more broad than the BMV temporary test. More detail you have to know.

    Out of 11 in the course, two failed the skills test and one quit. One guy kept dropping his bike in the class and one time got his shoelace from the boot stuck on the shift lever and he did a serious flacepant. He just said it wasn't for him and left the course. One lady dropped the bike during the test and was automatic fail. Another guy failed the skills test as he kept stalling and couldn't do the figure eight, slow speed turn test inside the 10 foot box without putting his feet down.

    The only thing I didn't like was the bikes. They used these tiny Buel Blasts with poor tunes and tempermental clutch. One time, my bike just wouldn't start and I had to get another one. Being 6'1 with a 32 inseam, it was like sitting in a high chair.

    After riding my uncles yamaha tourer a bit, the Yamaha 950 was ten times easier to ride, balance, and the throttle is very smooth and linear. These old and crappy Buels are twitchy as hell and the friction zone doesn't start until the clutch is nearly fully released. One of the best thing about finishing the class, in addition to passing, was that I know I will never have to ride that bike again. :) If I did have to ride it, I honestly would not ride again. It was that bad. Think driving a jerky and tempermental 500cc lawn mower.
     
  2. Jul 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM
    #2
    rtrudel35

    rtrudel35 Well-Known Member

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    Congrats!!
     
  3. Jul 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM
    #3
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. The class was fun. Had a good time and learned a lot about safety-related things many riders ignore or just never knew.

    A little pricey given BMV courses are usually either free or a nominal fee. But as stated, sometimes the waiting lists for BMV courses are many months ahead. You get free lunches ! hah..Actually, you get a 15% discount on harley stuff. I am not buying a Harley though. Too pricey for me.
     
  4. Jul 1, 2012 at 12:55 PM
    #4
    steve o 77

    steve o 77 braaap

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    I did my test on a POS suzuki 250cc cruiser thing. I tried to do a burnout when the instructors weren't looking and the clutch just slipped instead! Overall a very easy course for me but I've been riding since I was 4.
     
  5. Jul 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM
    #5
    rtrudel35

    rtrudel35 Well-Known Member

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    I took the MSF rider course two years ago and learned A TON!!! What kind of bike will you be riding?
     
  6. Jul 1, 2012 at 1:50 PM
    #6
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I already finished the course. We rode a Buel Blast. I hated that thing. It I am too tall for that bike to begin with but had no choice. You have to use their bikes.

    [​IMG]

    It's actually a 480cc with a lot of torque on the low end so a strange bike for beginners to use. Very twitchy and torquey on the low end. But the instructor said if you can ride this bike at low speeds like we did, the bikes you ride out in 'the real world' will feel ten times more stable and easier to balance etc. That's probably part of why they use them. Also, they are older models so they don't care when they get dropped. There were scratches all over them from students dropping them.

    The instruction and riding parts of the harley class is actually the same as any other state or private MSF course. Same MSF workbook and manual and test etc.. The Harley class is just longer because they have things like the 'Delaer Tour' and a visit to the shop. The shop visit was actually very interesting. We were watching a tech running a cycle on a dyno for a diagnostic and they were showing us some of their maintenance work. The dealer tour was fun as well. It was a little marketing of course but it was informative. One of our tasks was to sit on every type of bike they had and get a feel for the weight, clutch, brakes and write down our observations and a couple comments about the different types of bikes out there. More hands-on than just reading it in a book.
     
  7. Jul 1, 2012 at 2:22 PM
    #7
    rtrudel35

    rtrudel35 Well-Known Member

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    Nice. I actually had to use a Kawasaki Eliminator which is a 125 while everyone else used a Honda Nighthawk 250 because I'm so short (5 feet even). I was actually wondering what kind of bike you'll be riding once you're out on the streets since you weren't a fan of the Harleys.
     
  8. Jul 1, 2012 at 3:20 PM
    #8
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It's not that I am not a fan of Harley. I am not a fan of the pricing :) Too expensive for where I am at right now. Haven't ridden in ages and decided to just get back into it and do it right this time by taking a MSF course. Likely going to just buy something used and after a year decide what I really want to do on a motorcycle and what type of bike would work best and how much I really ride.

    The bikes I am looking at right now are a used Szuki VStrom and a used Honda Shadow Aero. The latter is kind of a light weight semi touring/dual purpose bike. As I just want to ride out in the country and small road trips, this would be good. My instructor said either of these would probably be good for me to get back into it and wouldn't be too much for a returning rider.

    Harley definitely has a presence and I do like the looks of their bikes. But they are overkill for me at this point. I don't want to spend $15K on a new Harley and bang it up from dropping it in parking lots with the newbie mistakes I made when I started many years back.

    Their pricing is aggressive. Even the cheapest mdoel sportsters that retail for 8,400 are not going out the door for less than $10K when all the other charges are added on. It skyrockets from there. Dyna and Bobs, etc..youre looking at $17-20 and $30+ for tourers. The dealers used inventory was either stuff I would not want(heavy 1800 CC bikes or Street Glides) or beat up old stuff from 1998-2003. I pretty much crossed Harley off the list of used bikes as even those prices are aggressive.

    I have no desire for a sport bike so I am just looking at mellow cruisers or lightweight tourers. I would put myself in the casual recreational rider category rather than hardcore biking fan or enthusiast. In other words, just for the fun of it when I have the time.

    .....

    Speaking of returning. I learned a lot of stuff in this class that pointed out all the bad habits I never really knew were bad habits when I used to ride. IMO, if anyone can take a rider safety course it is worth the while. There was even a experienced rider in the class. He was a harley employee and got it for free but he had never taken it before. He was impressed as well and the instructor was pointing out mistakes left and right--less than us but still making them. Most of the stuff was slightly breaking into turns, not using both brakes, etc...Instructor was saying more than half of exerienced riders out there could probably no longer pass the BMV skills test with the bad habits learned over the years.

    Things that would get you in trouble on the skills test was not using both brakes at all times,relying on rear brakes, braking anywhere in a turn--entry or within turn--poor clutch control, not leaning properly etc...
     
  9. Jul 1, 2012 at 3:38 PM
    #9
    rleeharris

    rleeharris "Old Timer," compliments of 11Taco2.7

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    Congrats... when I learned to ride (legally!) it was 1986 and we could use our own or a borrowed bike at the time. Sorry you had to suffer (on a Buell no less). I appreciate Harley's for the history but I'll take a European bike over an HD any day of the week. I went to the gun show today here in SA and I got to talking to some guy with an Electra Glide with every accessory in the catalog! He is 52 and it's his first bike--ever. Shit, that's one big f'ing bike to be out learning on! But it was a beautiful black, as all Harley's should be. :)

    Again, congrats OP, and enjoy riding!
     
  10. Jul 1, 2012 at 3:51 PM
    #10
    rtrudel35

    rtrudel35 Well-Known Member

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    I've been riding a Kawasaki 250 Super Sherpa dual sport the past two riding seasons. Great little bike to learn on. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to take it off road. I do think it served its purpose as a beginner bike and now I'm ready to move onto something a little more practical/comfortable. Since I bought my new Tacoma this year, the bike will have to wait a few years for an upgrade. When I'm ready though, I'm looking to get a Honda Phantom 750. I sat on one of those at a motorcycle expo a few months ago and fell in love, especially since I can actually flat foot the ground. I'm hoping to pick one up used in a few years.
     
  11. Jul 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM
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    2004TacomaSR5

    2004TacomaSR5 Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on passing and welcome to the brotherhood! I just got my first Harley 2 weeks ago and loving every minute of it, I too am taking an advanced riding course this weekend. I've been riding my whole life, but there are still things to learn and it sounds like you have learned a lot in your course!
     
  12. Jul 2, 2012 at 12:33 PM
    #12
    Gieser

    Gieser Official Flatlander

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    congrats!

    Our course up here had buel blasts, 125 eliminators, and some new suzuki gs500's with no fairings and some beefy crash cages lol.
     
  13. Jul 3, 2012 at 6:07 AM
    #13
    tigerfan00

    tigerfan00 BECAUSE INTERNETS!! Staff Member

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    I took the harley class a year or so ago...rode the buell as well...it was def an interesting bike to learn on

    I do however ride a harley :anonymous:

    We only had 2 people drop or not finish and both of those were the result of 1 of them being involved in a collision during the skills practice the day before the test

    She was a tiny little thing and when she was making a turn, she twisted the throttle a bit too much, panicked and instead of releasing it or pulling in the clutch...twisted it harder...popped a curb and slammed face first into the building

    her helmet most likely saved her life, but she is paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of her life

    watching the collision traumatized another lady so much that she dropped the course shortly after the ambulance and police left
     
  14. Jul 4, 2012 at 3:18 PM
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    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    I was happy with the accomplishment but my relatives put a damper on it. I know they mean well. But everyone I have told has been negative and quite aggressive as well. I am divorced so don't have to worry about a spouse being concerned. But when I told friends and relatives I did something I always wanted to do, they became very negative.

    Each and every time I told someone, they looked like I just told them I saw bigfoot. Without fail, their responses all went something like this: "I knew X Y or Z who had a bike and he is now paralyzed or a vegetable, lost a leg etc, because he wiped out."

    My sister pleaded with me. She is an intensive care nurse and offered to pay me if I did not get a motorcycle and did not get the license. She even sent me an e-mail with images of crash victims with their skin burned off from slides and bones sticking out of skin.

    Today at 4th of July BBQ, she kept pestering me. I jus ttold here that I know she means well and the consequences of mishaps on a motorcycle are mjuch more severe than driving a car. Anyone with an IQ above 10 knows this. I am not doing this to take risks. I also am not trying to be somthing I am not. I am not a thrill seeker. I just always wanted to ride a motorcycle. I enjoyed it enough that I want to gain more experience. Nothing more . Nothing less.


    Talk about a downer. Nobody had any positive encouragement or good to say. Not even a congratulations.
     
  15. Jul 5, 2012 at 5:59 PM
    #15
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I got a bike today. Honda Shadow Aero 750. I wanted something that wouldn't be too much. The next thing down was the Rebel 250 but I could not fit on that thing. I am 6"1' and sitting on that is worse than a Buel Blast.

    I test rode a used Aero and Spirit. Actually, both are very easy handling bikes. Very light turn-in is effortless. Think and it happens. The seating position was just about as good as I could ask. Feet not too forward but not right under you like a standard. I almost also went with a Suzuki Boulevard but it was more top-heavy and didn't feel as stable. The Aero has a bit of power but not too much. The clutch is very light and the friction zone is easy to find without being grabby. I would sum up the Aero in one word--smooth.

    At the harley dealer, they were trying to sell me a Dyna Super Glide Custom. I told them that a 1700CC bike is a bit too much right now but they told me I would grow into it. I passed for now. $17,000 is a lot to spend on something you probably are going to drop once or two the first year. Also, they let me test ride it but I did NOT take it out on the street. I took it to the lot area where they hold classes. I know it's not macho to say it, but to be honest, I ws a bit intimdated by the bike. It was very heavy and had a lot of torque on the low end. I was too concerned with dropping a $17K bike more than trying to get to know it a bit. Too much for me right now. I said thanks but no thanks. I am just keeping it real. As I learned in the class, it is best to know your limitations and be honest for safety's sake. I want to have fun, but I value my hide, as well.

    Which leads me to the next thjought. I know sales are important but they should NOT be reccomending a 1700CC Super Glide to someone new or returning to the sport after almost a decade. I told them straight up I don't want a large bike right now and they inistsed the 885 Sportster I was looking at first would have me bored real quick. Anyways, adter I drove the SuperGlide around the lot, I went over to the Honda dealer where things are cheaper and more ammenable to my status.

    This is NOT a knock on Harley. I would love a Harley actually just because I always wanted one. I just think it is too much bike for me right now--both in price and specs. They are all kind of on the heavy side and they are very expensive.
     
  16. Jul 5, 2012 at 6:17 PM
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    tbolt98

    tbolt98 Member

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    congratulations, and be careful out there!!!

    I own a Buell Thunderbolt and a Buell 1125R, The Blast is a great bike for what it is... a beginner bike! It was designed for that purpose and made to be a little touchy to shift and such so you actually have to pay attention making your next bike a piece of cake. Oh, and it's not made for anybody with much of an inseam!
     
  17. Jul 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM
    #17
    bubbagumps

    bubbagumps [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hi. Thanks.

    I have a 32 inseam and fairly long arms and large hands. For me, sitting on a buel blast is like sitting on a child's big wheel. The controls were all scrunched up. It almost became an issue as my throttle hand could not maintain the knuckle-up position for long without twisting forward. It took a concerted effort. I actually wouldn't feel safe taking it out on the street--I didn''t feel safe on it at times during training to be honest. If I had to ride that bike, I just wouldn't ride.

    Your observations are spot on. Riding a Blast then a Shadow was like going from a twitchy unicycle to a stable mountain bike. I got the same impression when I rode my Nephew's V-Star a bit this past weekend. It is so stable, I could balance upright and motionless while stopped in the driveway. Things happen a lot slower and the stability and proper propotions and control-reach gives a much greater sense of control and comfort. Linear throttle. No mysterious and jerky friction zones. I found the brakes on the Blast to be grabby as well. They seem to be designed for very light pressure and application. It doesn't take much to lock up a wheel. I really like the brakes on the Shadow. Again, very linear and you need to apply some rpessure. They don't grab with light applications like the Blast. It makes sense, though, as you were saying. If you want to teach people not to grab the brakes, giving them a bike with grabby brakes is the way to go about that. At least you can learn this in the relatively safe environment of a range where the top speed is 25MPH and you are usually under 15. People were dropping the bikes though when they locked it up while doing very slow turns. After a couple near drops, I quickly became conditioned by the negative experience and my automatic response thereafter was, don't do that.
     
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