For many, the thought of going to school has never been very exciting – I know I spent a large chunk of my youth counting down the days until school was over. But really, the reason many of us couldn’t wait to get leave the classroom was because the subjects were pretty boring. While we were physically in the classroom, our minds kept wandering to the one thing we’d rather be doing – riding motorcycles!
With that in mind, stop for a second and imagine combining the two subjects: School and Motorcycles. For many the thought of taking a riding school is far down the list of priorities, if it’s even on the list at all. The more you think about it, the more you can understand how beneficial taking a riding school can be. Whether it’s a street school or a dirt program (or both if you’re into supermoto), taking a riding school is nothing like sitting in chemistry class. Schools range in price from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand, and while that might seem steep, here are eight reasons why you need to get yourself back in the classroom.
Believe it or not, going back to school for a topic you’re actually interested in is pretty enjoyable. Especially so if the topic at hand is motorcycles. By their very nature, riding schools are meant to be fun and relaxed – I mean, you’re riding bikes, fer cryin’ out loud! But really, any intimidation factor you may have towards going back to school should be left at the door. Schools do their best to welcome each student, and some schools (typically the more expensive ones) also have activities outside motorcycles to give riders a break. The Colin Edwards Texas Tornado Boot Camp famously takes a pause to shoot guns, including Colin’s .50 cal Bushmaster rifle. If you’re not having fun at a riding school, you’re doing something wrong.
We’ve all fallen for the trap, myself included. As soon as some spare cash comes our way, the first instinct is to buy something for the motorcycle. Instead of doing that, investing the money in yourself and taking a riding school will do you far better in the long run. For starters, improving your skills translates to every motorcycle you may ride or own, whereas that pipe you just bought probably won’t do you any good when you inevitably get rid of the bike. Or if you’re a baller, those fancy new wheels can cost the same as some elite schools – and will look terrible if you get them into an accident some proper training could have avoided.
Every ego needs a reality check sometimes, and there’s no better place to get one than attending a school. The teachers and instructors have seen it all, and if you think you’re the next Valentino Rossi or Jared Mees or Eli Tomac – chances are you’re not. How will you know? Because the instructors will break down every bad habit of yours within 30 minutes of seeing you ride (or at least the good ones will). Realizing how much you suck is quite a humbling experience, but it’s all part of the process of improving.
From a pragmatic point of view, taking a school also has some benefits. For example, some insurance companies will cut you a break on your policy if you’ve successfully completed a school. Insuring a motorcycle and its rider is a huge risk for an insurance company, so to them, it shows you’re serious about safety if you’re willing to learn to ride correctly. Cycle Gear will even offer a 15% discount on your first purchase after successful completion of the MSF course.
Everyone likes to save money, but in addition to the discounts mentioned in the previous point, taking a riding school comes with a host of benefits. If you’re just starting out in your motorcycling adventure, successfully completing a new rider course means you can skip that portion of the DMV test and just take the written exam instead. If you’re a bit more advanced and are taking a street or dirt school, many of them have motorcycles you can rent or borrow, meaning you don’t have to put the wear and tear on your own machine. Better still, it means you can crash someone else’s bike without worrying about damaging your own (though you’ll likely have some sort of damage fee to pay). Of course the whole point is not to crash, but accidents happen.
If there was something grade school and college were good for it was making friends. With hundreds, if not thousands, of your peers all around you for eight hours a day, five days a week, making friends was relatively easy. As an adult, with our busy lifestyles and personal pursuits, it’s surprisingly a lot more difficult to make new friends. However, when a collective of people are gathered in the same place to master a common pursuit – motorcycles – it’s nearly impossible not to strike up a conversation with a classmate and possibly make a new friend or riding buddy. Unless you’re a loner. In which case, move on to the next point.
As mentioned before, learning about subjects you’re interested in is a lot of fun. This is especially true if the instructors are passionate about their jobs (kinda hard not to be considering the subject matter). Allowing yourself to open up to constructive criticism is hard, but once you do, soaking up the collective knowledge of the instructors, while they do their best to make you better, is wholeheartedly rewarding from a personal enrichment point of view. If only high school calculus had been so engaging, maybe I would have paid attention.
After you finish a school, the point is to bring it back to the type of riding you do regularly. One of the best feelings in the world is being able to apply the skills you learned in real life situations. Threshold braking to avoid an unforeseen obstacle on the road will definitely make you feel better once you arrive home safely. So will properly navigating a water crossing or steep incline/decline on your next adventure ride. Or, if you’re a racer, getting to experience that sweet taste of victory thanks to your new found skills – and bringing home that $10 trophy – feels like an awfully sweet reward. No matter what kind of riding you do, there really isn’t a downside to taking a riding school, and the newly acquired skills will serve you well long into the future.
BMW Off-Road Academy
STAR Motorcycle School
Superbike-Coach Cornering School
Texas Tornado Boot Camp
Yamaha Champions Riding School