More women than ever are deciding that they want to become riders. The best way to do so is to take a rider education course and learn good habits from the outset. Not only will it make you a better, safer rider, in many cases it will reduce your insurance rates and will allow you to waive the skills and/or written test at the DMV (because let’s face it, the less time we have to spend at the DMV, the better!).
Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) – The MSF is the largest and best-known entity for motorcycle rider training in the United States. It was conceived in the early 1970s by the Motorcycle Industry Council, as a way to bring safety and consistent training methods to the growing number of American riders. Today, the MSF researches and develops a training curriculum used across the U.S., although each state and military branch is responsible for administering the actual training programs. In many states, the completion of the Basic RiderCourse allows you to waive the on-bike skills test and/or the written test required to get your motorcycle operator license or endorsement. The MSF is sponsored by BMW, BRP (Can-Am), Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio (Aprilia and Moto Guzzi), Polaris (Indian), Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. To locate a class near you, visit msf-usa.org.
Harley-Davidson Riding Academy – Since 2000, Harley’s program has been MSF-approved and includes MSF-certified instructors, the use of a genuine Harley-Davidson for the course, a minimum of 20 hours of combined classroom and riding instruction, and a guaranteed six-to-one student-to-instructor ratio. Visit Harley-davidson.com to learn more.
California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) – If you live in California, you’ll contact the CMSP to take your Motorcyclist Training Course (not the MSF). Like the MSF course in other states, completion of the CMSP’s MTC allows you to waive the on-bike skills test at the DMV, although you still must complete the written test. The CMSP says it trains 65,000 motorcyclists per year and operates more than 120 training sites throughout the state. To find one near you, visit cmsp.msi5.com.
Team Oregon – Oregon also does not use the MSF’s curriculum; in fact, it’s the only state motorcycle safety program to develop its own proprietary curriculum. Completion of the 3-day Basic Rider Training course allows you to waive both the written and on-bike skills tests at the DMV. Team Oregon also offers Intermediate and Advanced Rider Training. Visit team-oregon.org.
So you’ve got the basics down, and you want to take your riding to the next level? These riding schools will teach you the skills you need to be a more confident motorcyclist, with intermediate to advanced classes and specialized courses.
BMW U.S. Rider Academy – Located at the BMW Performance Center in Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, the U.S. Rider Academy offers Street and Off-Road rider training on several BMW models. Women-Only Off-Road Classes are also available! Call 888-345-4BMW or visit bmwperformancecenter.com for more info.
California Superbike School – Take to the track on one of CSS’ new BMW S 1000 RR superbikes, and take your riding to a whole new level. Keith Code’s CSS offers training through a series of four levels that progressively move the rider to their utmost potential. CSS operates at tracks in California, Nevada, Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky, Alabama, Utah, Washington and Texas. Visit superbikeschool.com.
CLASS – Veteran racer Reg Pridmore’s CLASS riding school focuses on using sound racing techniques to better your street riding. Although it is a track school, it’s not a race; instead, CLASS uses the safety and repetition of the track to allow students to practice techniques in a controlled environment. CLASS operates at tracks in California and Virginia. You can read our firsthand experience here, and visit classrides.com for more info.
MotoMark1 – Using police motor officer training techniques, MotoMark1 offers five street and three off-road/ADV courses out of its North Carolina locations, and street only courses out of its Florida location. MotoMark1 has also partnered with Eric Trow’s Stayin’ Safe program for advanced rider training. Visit motomark1.com.
Ride Like a Pro – Ride Like a Pro promises to teach you how to handle slow-speed maneuvers and U-turns on big, heavy cruisers, using proven police motor officer training techniques. In fact, the average speed on the course is only 10-12 mph! While headquartered in Florida, courses are taught all over the country. Visit ridelikeapro.com to learn more.
Riding in the Zone – Ken Condon’s Massachusetts-based Riding In The Zone offers personal and group training tours through the New England countryside, as well as dual-sport/ADV training tours, an Advanced Parking Lot Course and Track Day training (with Tony’s Track Days). RITZ has also partnered with Eric Trow’s Stayin’ Safe program for advanced rider training. Visit ridinginthezone.com.
STAR Motorcycle School – Jason Pridmore’s STAR offers 2-day on-track training that focuses on using the track to become a better street rider. Or, for a personalized experience, you can chose the JP43 1-on-1 Training. STAR operates at tracks in California. Visit starmotorcycle.com.
Stayin’ Safe – Eric Trow’s popular Stayin’ Safe program offers street and dual-sport training in the form of one- to two-day tours, where you’ll learn better, safer techniques in the “real world.” Instructors use helmet-to-helmet communicators to give feedback in real time. Training tours are offered in numerous locations throughout the U.S. Visit stayinsafe.com.
Streetmasters – Streetmasters offers a one-day Precision Cornering Workshop that lets street riders use the track to perfect their technique in a closed-course environment. It operates at Willow Springs in California, although it also offers courses at the Beemer Bash and Horizons Unlimited CA. Visit streetmasters.info.
Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic – Lee Parks’ Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic is aimed at the rider who is ready for something beyond the MSF’s Basic RiderCourse, but isn’t quite ready for a trackday school. It also offers an Intermediate Riding Clinic that’s ideal for newer riders looking to improve their skills, or experienced riders who are returning to the sport after some time off. Clinics are offered throughout the U.S. and Canada. Visit totalcontroltraining.net.
Yamaha Champions Riding School – YCRS’ two-day ChampSchool was originally designed for the Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School in the 90s, and it stresses that it’s all about the technique—the speed will come after. Ride one of YCRS’ new Yamaha sportbikes, or BYOB (bring your own bike)! YCRS operates at tracks in New Jersey, California and Arizona. Visit ridelikeachampion.com.
Looking to get dirty? These schools teach off-road skills exclusively, and some even have kids’ courses to introduce the young ‘uns to dirt bikes.
American Supercamp – Improve your on-road confidence, learn the best flat-track racing techniques, improve your dirt cornering ability and pass your competition faster at American Supercamp. Various levels are offered, from newbie up to racer, at locations in California, Georgia, Delaware and Illinois. Visit americansupercamp.com.
Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School – Learn off-road riding skills from one of the best: Dakar podium finisher, 4-time ISDE Gold Medalist and Baja 1000 winner Jimmy Lewis. His riding school teaches dirt bike and ADV bike techniques in the Nevada desert from fall through spring. Visit jimmylewisoffroad.com.
PSSOR – Since 1996, Seattle-Tacoma, Washington-based Puget Sound Safety Off-Road (PSSOR) has offered ADV, dual-sport and dirt bike training, expeditions and events. From a basic off-road Learn to Ride course for kids and adults, to a full ADV training tour, PSSOR has you covered. Visit pssor.com.
RawHyde – RawHyde is one of the best-known ADV riding schools in the country, and is an official off-road training center for BMW. It offers two levels of training at its California and Colorado locations, with a third level in California only. Cap off your training weekend with a guided two-day excursion into the backcountry, and put your new skills to use! Visit rawhyde-offroad.com.
Texas Tornado Boot Camp – Colin Edwards, the “Texas Tornado,” runs this 4-day Boot Camp at his facility in, you guessed it, Texas. You’ll learn flat dirt track techniques and experience all that his 20-acre facility has to offer. Single-day sessions are also available. Visit texastornadobootcamp.com.