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Motorcycle Safety Foundation course - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Sep. 22nd, 2008

12:30 am - Motorcycle Safety Foundation course

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I graduated from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course today!

Aside from riding 100 ft on my friend Ace’s 50 cc motorbike in the 7th grade, I had never been on a motorcycle before yesterday. It was a lot of fun, if a bit frustrating. All of the other motorcycle riders had been riding for at least a few months, either on the streets or on dirt bikes, so they were shifting with ease, while I jerked and sputtered like a wheezy spastic. But I passed, and will soon get my motorcycle certification in the mail. The instructors were competent, and I’m glad I too the course. I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of riding.

I’m not sure if I’ll ride on the streets, as the accident statistics scare me, but I definitely want to do some off road riding at some point.

One of the other riders was a fireman/paramedic with 8 years of experience. He said that he had seen a lot of motorcycle accidents. But that in all of the accidents he could recall, the motorcycle rider had been drinking or otherwise inebriated while riding.

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:vyus
Date:September 22nd, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
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congrats! i know how weird it can be, having not been on a bike before the course. i did the oregon equiv a few months back and was in the same boat.

there are ways to make the risk of street riding manageable, but yeah, it's still a big deal.

i ended up buying a bike and have gotten tons better in the few months since. definitely don't let those skills atrophy.
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From:kittles
Date:September 22nd, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
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In all the crashes I've seen (about five in two years), it's usually the car who HIT the bike who is at fault, and the driver is either inebriated, old, or just inattentive.

The bikers who survived, without, exception had full face helmets. But this is a small sample size.
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From:cappy
Date:September 22nd, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
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You beat me to it. 90% of the time the driver of the car/pickup was at fault & then there are the random acts of nature like the bike hitting a deer & other variables on that. I can only think of 4 actual crashes which happened because the motorcyclist was intoxicated or under the influence of something. At least one of those was a high speed chase where the guy fled from the police & missed a turn & went flying out into the field. And like you pointed out, the majority of the people who survive had on full face helmets & real 'biker' clothes, not a tee shirt & a pair of shorts & cool sunshades. There was one guy who laid his bike down 4 north of town on the highway & he did NOT have on gear or helmet & he DID survive~~ but without about half his face. Road burn. He wasn't real pretty to start with & that certainly did not help matters any. He lived though~~ probably because he WAS drunk as a skunk. I don't know how that happens & I'm of course not condoning drinking & firing up your bike, but they seem to bounce better or something. Anyway~~ I've been doing this for what? about 20 years now total? And I really haven't seen all that many drunk bike crashes. I think I've actually seen as many drunk bicycle crashes as I have drunk MC crashes. Usually the other driver was drunk, or old, or sleepy, or otherwise preoccupied & distracted.

And then there was the poor biker lady in the center of town who was making her first trip across America with her recently retired husband on their brand new Harleys~~ & some idjit with a cable measuring for something to do with new street signs was pulling the cable across the road & had it so far down that it was a hazard... hubby saw it, ducked & laid his bike down to miss it. She didn't see it. She had a helmet on & full gear, but that doesn't do you any good when your head comes off in the street. She was decapitated. IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN. In front of Dollar General. that was a MESS.

Hubby is very rich now. As well he should be.

Full helmet. All the gear. And congratulations! They are so much fun. I've never got my license but I love riding with other people. Most of my cop friends have motorcycles.
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From:polyanarch
Date:September 22nd, 2008 11:40 am (UTC)
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The MSF course is a great way for a beginning rider to "cut his teeth." I have a lot of issues with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, but in most of the country (with the notable exception of Oregon's "Team Oregon") they are the only game in town. They dominate the motorcycle instruction market.

Of course, they are not the be-all end-all in motorcycle training and development. The idea of getting a dirt bike and riding off-road is very sound and probably the best thing you can do to build your skills after taking the course. Riding a dirt bike is the single-most intensive skill-building excersise that I know of when it comes to riding. A rider with dirt-bike experience is many times less likely to crash or be injured when they do ever venture onto the street. The ability to control the machine is intensely drilled into the muscle memory of a dirt-bike rider, while a street rider is usually never taxed enough to really get the basics internalized.

I believe that a weekend of riding a dirt bike is like a month or more of daily riding on the public streets. You already know much about how to handle a vehicle in traffic. How to handle the dynamics of a 2-wheeled vehicle is something that is best (and most quickly) learned on the trail.

There is an off-road version of the MSF course which has been well-received, if hard to find. I would recommend that if you can find one in your area. There are also some very good private off-road schools and clinics. Not only will they get you up to speed faster, but they will teach the fundamentals of off-road riding in a more structured environment.

If you can beg/borrow/steal a bike from a friend, taking the "advanced" version of the MSF course is a good idea. Don't let the name scare you off. When I took the course the "advanced" riders were all n00bs except for 3 or 4 of us. Taking it next spring, after riding just a few weekends on a dirt bike, would be fine. The cirruculum was very basic and will re-cap most of the information you already covered in the basic MSF.

Welcome to the fab-O-lus world of motorcycle riding.
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the tips!
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From:zzzing
Date:September 22nd, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
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thats awesome. motorcycles are one of man's greatest inventions.
check out the the bike I plan on getting in a few months:

http://www.ridelust.com/perfection-the-ducati-sport-1000/

I'm getting a black Ducati Sport 1000, not the 1000 S. I'd rather have the S, but it's 1000 dollars more just for some plastic fairings.
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Pretty!
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From:jaine_parr
Date:September 22nd, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Welcome to the club!
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Thanks!
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From:stochasticgirl
Date:September 22nd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Yay! Are you going to get your M1 license now?

(Don't be frustrated - I fell off the bike within the first 10 minutes of my MSF course. And I still have the scar on my shin to prove it!)
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Yes, I'm going to get my M1 license.
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From:kenshi
Date:September 22nd, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
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How'd you do in the "box"? I never could get that right.
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From:pyran
Date:September 22nd, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Is that the part where you need to do a u-turn within a space 10 feet across? If so, I can't do that either. I failed that part gloriously.

On the bright side, I've never actually *needed* to do that on the street.
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From:bandicoot
Date:September 22nd, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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I consider myself "unskilled", but I have several friends who are experts and racers. They have a large circle of motorcycle riding friends as well, so I've been around motorcycles a lot. Most of the bad accidents I've heard of were because of bikes getting hit (one bad one was when a CHP car went over the center line on a winding road and ripped the left legs off a rider and his passenger - you can only imagine the rush by the CHP to cover that one up) or by bikers with more testosterone than sense who were going way too fast in areas known for that sort of informal racing.

From what I've seen around here, just using common sense takes you a long way. I've ridden on the road around here, but I doubt I'd do it on #17 or any of the freeways, or in much traffic. I don't like being at the mercy of idiots.
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, other drivers are my biggest fear.
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From:neoteny
Date:September 22nd, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
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in all of the accidents he could recall, the motorcycle rider had been drinking or otherwise inebriated while riding.

Be careful you don't fall into a confirmation bias there - sounds like you're slipping into wishful thinking. My good friend Steve had a terrible crash just due to inattention - scroll back in my journal a few years to read about it. He flew over the handlebars at 50mph when he panic-braked, landing on his head. He was in full riding gear and had a full face helmet which saved his life, but didn't prevent him from fracturing one of his vertebrae and spending the next 6 months in a halo, the first month of which he had no short term memory and no idea where he was. He has mostly recovered but has permanent visual impairment now.

I also knew two coworkers in crashes, one of which was due to being cut off by another car, the other was due to inexperience. All these people are smart, responsible, and took learning to ride very seriously.

Definitely not a fan. Check with reichart for some anecdotes as well, he's lost quite a few acquaintances to motorcycles.

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From:crasch
Date:September 22nd, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I agree that one should avoid confirmation bias. (Though it works both ways--those who dislike motorcycles tend to only cite examples of people who were killed and injured, and ignore the many people who ride for years without significant accidents or injury).

And I'm also aware of reichart's antipathy to motorcycles.

The question is whether the risk/benefit ratio is worthwhile. I'm not sure that it is yet, but I want to get some more experience to judge for myself.
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From:h_postmortemus
Date:September 22nd, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Friend of mine was on his bike and was on the highway when a semi decided to merge with him.

He now has a titanium rod in his shoulder, is in a lot of pain and there's a major lawsuit with the trucking company.

But, he did get a new bike and still rides.
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From:lds
Date:September 22nd, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
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Congratulations!

I met a crash investigator one time who wanted to take the class, even after investigating dozens and dozens of motorcycle wrecks. His risk analysis was that it was worth it for him; alcohol was a factor in so many wrecks that he felt, as a non-drinker, the risks weren't any worse than in a car.

That's his analysis; we all have to do our own.

You know I'm pretty addicted to riding, but then, I live in a gorgeous state where there's lots of outdoors worth being out in. If you're anything like me, you'll know you're addicted within the first few minutes, and not bother trying to shake it.

If it's something you want to pursue, I'd suggest finding a few local riding friends and spending a few days in parking lots with them, trying out their different bikes and sitting on as many as you can in the dealerships. Personal fit is a big factor in deciding what to buy and where you'll ride, and everybody has their own unique needs and tastes. I hope, in doing this, you'll find as much joy in riding as I've found.
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the tips!

I don't think I'll get addicted to motorcycle riding. My motivations are primarily pragmatic and a desire to face fear.
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From:cryo
Date:September 23rd, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
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congrats. when you get a bike, make sure it's not one you're going to spend a bazillion on if you drop it. I dropped my Vulcan 750 a couple times when learning (gravel, damn you!) and at least didn't have to replace a $500 plastic flange. The only bad accident (knock on wood) I've had in almost 23,000 miles on it, was due to a stupid dog that I should have ran over (as shitty as it sounds). Always assume everyone is trying to kill you... because, they are.

Ride safe.
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Yeah, I'm planning to buy an inexpensive used 250 cc bike at first.
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From:chutzpahgirl
Date:September 26th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
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Congratulations! Now you need to go practice for at least two weeks.

Required reading:
Proficient Motorcycling, More Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies by David Hough; Citybike (local to the Bay Area); Stayin' Safe: The Art and Science of Riding Really Well by Lawrence Grodsky, and of course, Motorcycle Consumer News. (Had to get a plug in.)

If you ever make it down to SoCal, e-mail me (or just leave a comment) and we can either go riding or I can tell you about a couple of good roads.

If you're interested in dirt riding, Motoventures is one of the best schools around. They're down here in the Inland Empire. Even more fun, the head of the school (Gary LaPlante) is way into trials riding too.

Do you know what kind of a bike you're going to get?
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From:crasch
Date:October 14th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the suggestions! And the offer to go riding. I may take you up on it, as I have a number of friends in the L.A. area.

Right now, I'm leaning toward a Kawasaki KLX250S. I'm probably going to do offroad riding at first, with some trips to and from work on surface streets. I think it would be able to handle both, without great cost.
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From:macavite
Date:October 23rd, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)

crash stats

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Yeah, inebriation is a big factor. Statistically speaking 50 percent of rider fatalities are alchohol involved. Up here in Oregon, looking at serious accidents, the vast majority fall into one of three categories. Untrained riders, unlicensed riders and/or riders under the influence. On top of that, you've got riders who don't wear high visibility gear (proved to reduce accidents) and riders who don't wear protective gear (proved to reduce injuries).

I really believe that if you are avoiding these obvious and easy to avoid errors, and not riding like a jerk, motorcycling is not much more dangerous than driving a car.

Oh, and I also recomment "Proficiant motorcycling". Best book on everyday riding I've run across.
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