What Is The MSF?
The MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) is a United States based non-profit organization that acts as the country’s leading safety resource for motorcycle riders. One of their most popular services is a nationwide Basic Rider Course. The MSF’s BRC is a 2-3 day riding lesson class that walks riders through common instances they may encounter on a motorcycle. This course encourages riders to maintain safe standards when operating a bike under various circumstances.
Usually, most states require riders to take a course in order to get their license. The reason the MSF is the most popular class to take, is due to its transferability amongst most states and simplicity. The course typically gives riders around 10-15 hours of riding time and 10 hours of classroom time. The rubric varies state to state, but for most it is almost the same standards.
Additionally, the MSF can cost anywhere from $50-$300, and if you live in a state such as Pennsylvania, the course is free. Depending on your state and age, your DMV may or may not even require you to take an approved safety course such as the MSF BRC.
Why You Should Take An MSF Course (Benefits)
There are many reasons to take the MSF basic rider course. For one, it can help you become a better, safer rider. The course covers topics like how to properly handle your motorcycle, how to avoid accidents, and what to do in case of an emergency. It's a great way to learn the basics of riding, or to brush up on your skills if you're a more experienced rider. And, taking the course may even help you get a discount on your motorcycle insurance.
Once you complete (and pass) the course, you get your endorsement right there. Thus, skipping through all the permit and test taking nonsense at the DMV. Arguably this is one of the fastest ways for people to get their motorcycle license.
If you’re a seasoned rider, the MSF can teach you new skills, or help you brush up on forgotten skills. Overall, taking the MSF has really great benefits, and will help you to become a confident, smart rider.
What To Expect
Once you decide to take the course there are some expectations, you may not have been aware of before.
Although this class is only 2 days (usually), it still can be physically and mentally taxing, especially if you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before. I would recommend taking the course in the fall or spring, depending on what season has the best temperatures. It can be especially grueling in very hot or cold weather.
There are a total of 14 modules, for the hands-on portion of the course, each varying in difficulty as you move through the process. The last day, you will take your riding and writing test, all featuring complex maneuvers derived from each module you’ve just learned.
MSF courses offer solo or group lessons, at different price points. Group lessons may take longer, as there are more people to get through the testing processes, and you may feel as though you haven’t gotten the proper attentiveness. However, in general you will find there’s a great deal to learn and take from the course.
The top things you will learn are: Clutch control, shifting gears, braking, acceleration, swerving around objects, U-turns and changing lanes. Before you attend the course, I would recommend watching some helpful videos about each of these topics, to give you a better understanding of them prior to the course.
As for the classroom time, it is just like any other class, really. The stuff you learn on the motorcycle will just be reinforced through textbook material and at a more in depth/structured level. If you even pay a little bit attention to the classroom time, you will be able to pass the knowledge exam.
What To Bring
You may be wondering if you need to bring anything to class. While different MSF courses have different gear available, in general it’s best to just bring your own. That way you can have more time at home getting accustomed to the feeling of wearing each piece, it will be hygienic and clean, and you don’t have to worry about gear running out.
At the very minimum, bring a helmet, gloves, and boots/sturdy shoes that cover the ankle. You can also invest in a jacket, but most states do not require motorcycle jackets to take the course. You will however need to wear long pants, such as denim and refrain from wearing shorts or shoes that won’t be of any help in the event you crash. Here’s a helpful guide on the best motorcycle gear for beginners, if you need some recommendations that won’t break the bank.
If you’re in a warmer climate, it may be wise to invest in a Camelbak or a good hydration system/water bottle, as the physicality of the class can be a tough obstacle to get through, for some.
The course will provide you with a motorcycle that is fitted to your height and weight. It is important you tell the instructors if a bike is too heavy/short/tall/small for you, as comfort is an important factor to control.
Do You Have To Take MSF?
In many states, the answer to this question is yes. Although there are other state-approved tests that aren’t run by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the MSF is the most popularized. In states such as Alabama, it is not required to take an approved course in order to get a license. Most states do require an approved course to obtain a license or permit, especially if you’re under 18.
Top Tips For Taking The MSF
- Read up on the MSF manual beforehand. There are a lot of good tips that will help get you through the course smoothly.
- Watch videos about motorcycle controls, U-turns and other modules that will be featured in the course.
- Bring your own gear. It’ll save you time in the long run, if you’re serious about motorcycle riding.
- Study the controls, and then study them some more. Many people who have never rode motorcycles, get so tripped up over the controls, given that most people in general aren’t familiar with manual controls. Watching a few breakdown videos or articles about motorcycle controls will do you good.
- Ride a bicycle. If you haven’t been on a bicycle since you were a kid, it will be really beneficial to go for a quick ride. You will need that same balance you use to ride a bike, to ride a motorcycle. Go for a quick bike ride around your neighborhood and re-familiarize yourself with balance.
- Lastly, don’t be late! Some places will charge you or cancel your lesson, if you’re even 15 minutes late.
Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. All riders should take the MSF Basic Rider Course to learn the basics of safe riding. The course covers everything from how to start the engine to how to make emergency stops. It also teaches riders how to avoid common mistakes that can lead to accidents. Taking the MSF Basic Rider Course is the best way to ensure that you have the skills and knowledge you need to ride safely.
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