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Local Training Classes and Information

I'm looking for a beginner class but I'm not in your area.

A good place to start looking is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Check their web site for classes in your area. Some states (Oregon, perhaps others) have an equivalent training program that is not linked to the MSF. You can find those courses via the state's department of motor vehicles. Here, I describe one of my beginner classes.

I've been riding a while but am self-taught and would like to find out what I've missed. Or I rode years ago and would like to get back into it.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course was designed with you in mind. It isn't an advanced class. It differs from the beginner class in that the preliminaries -- where the controls are, what they do, that sort of thing -- are omitted. Here, I describe one of my experienced classes. Again, states which don't use the MSF curricula may have their own variation.

I consider myself an accomplished rider and am looking for more advanced training.

There are several ways to go. Lawrence Grodsky's Stayin' Safe Motorcycle Training is a street-oriented school which is very highly regarded. I took the Virginia tour in October 2006. This is definitely not a class for novice riders. If you're concentrating on driving the motorcycle, keep practicing for a while before taking one of these tours. My tour concentrated hard on such things as lane position, reading the roadway for hazards, setting up early for turns, and preserving stability through turns via maintaining power throughout. These are excellent techniques and the instruction by Randy Kuklis was equally excellent, but for a dedicated rider who reads the safety columns by Ken Condon, David Hough, Larry Grodsky (rest in peace Larry, 4/8/2006) and others, and practices the tips, it's all review. I think the ideal tour participant would be a rider who no longer has to think about how to control the motorcycle, and wants to progress to what to do to minimize hazards.

A more speed-oriented course is Lee Parks' Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic. The photo at the top of the page was taken by Lee Parks himself, in a course I took in 2005. (It's from the last exercise in the class, and captures the moment of transition between a right turn and an oncoming left turn: The motorcycle is still turning to the right but I've already straightened my head and started to transition my weight for the left turn.) I highly recommend it for advanced training, well beyond the MSF's Experienced Rider Course. Read about what I got from my Lee Parks class. It's a good bridge between the MSF's experienced class and a track school.

And that brings us to the track schools. If you can get to a track, you'll find an organization that is based there, or at least one that visits periodically for the purpose of running classes. Find the track (use a web search if you don't know anyone who races), and then call the track to see what's offered. Or check motorcycle magazines (see below) for a listing of tracks and track schools. I did a class with Keith Code's California Superbike School in August 2009 and you'll find my wide-eyed account of my class here.

Finally, many clubs rent tracks for a day or a weekend, some tracks may have open practices, and the American Motorcyclist Association is the most prominent governing body for racing in the USA. If that's your aim you more than likely have more specific contacts than anything you'll find here. I mention it to show the possibilities to the people who aren't yet at that level.

What books and magazines are good?

There are many excellent books on street riding skills. Authors to look for include David Hough, Larry Grodsky, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Reg Pridmore, Jerry Palladino, and no doubt others. And there are dozens of books on racing, by Keith Code, Reg Pridmore, Lee Parks, etc. All those books and many more are available from Whitehorse Press, a good company to do business with. (Whitehorsepress also sells a wide variety of riding gear besides books.)

I subscribe to half a dozen motorcycle magazines, including Motorcycle Consumer News, Motorcyclist, Cycle World, Rider, Sport Rider, and the American Motorcyclist Association's monthly American Motorcyclist. That doesn't include any of the magazines oriented to the cruiser scene or the chopper scene. All of those listed have regular tips and techniques articles and columns, for speedy riding, safe riding, wrenching, touring, in addition to the regular "600cc sportbike shootout" articles that examine all the motorcycles that I can't afford, or don't want, or cannot even remotely approach the limits of. Fun reading, though.