Technical Discussions

Transition from right turn to left turn in a Lee Parks Total Control clinic




Instruction - Motorcycle Safety Foundation

Thinking about learning to ride? Read about one of my beginner classes. Or maybe you've been riding for a year or two (or twenty) and are more interested in what goes on in the experienced rider course. If you like helping people learn, you might be interested in becoming a coach yourself.

In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles' Rider Education Program provides a way to get training and a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license, without going to the Registry for an on-road test. A 10% discount on parts of your motorcycle insurance is also part of the reward for successful completion. Either the beginner or experienced rider courses will qualify. The curriculum is provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. You can find a training site near you through the Registry's site.

The state of Rhode Island requires an MSF class for a new motorcycle license, but has very limited space in their training program. They will accept training in Massachusetts (and perhaps other states as well), so if you're unwilling to wait for the usual six months or more for a RI class, go to the Massachusetts Registry's web site and find a site with a more convenient schedule.

Sometimes a student in the beginner class finds that the class moves just a little too fast to keep up, or that one of the skills is too weak to pass the riding test at the end of the class. For these people, a site where I teach (the Central Massachusetts Safety Council in West Boylston, a suburb of Worcester), offers private lessons. We meet at a time convenient to both student and coach, and address whatever aspect of riding needs work. If it's just a matter of getting more comfortable on the motorcycle I'll tell the student to ride to the end of the range, stop, paddle around, ride back, repeat, and let me know when you're bored. Then we'll take another step — shifting, or turning, or whatever seems appropriate.

If the student had a problem on the riding evaluation we'll work on that problem, and then set up the entire evaluation again so that it can be practiced in its entirety.

The school charges $75 for a private lesson. Many students are ready to rejoin a class or retake the riding evaluation after 1 hour. Read what one of my private students thought of our work together here and if it sounds like something that would benefit you, get in touch and we'll set it up.

Instruction — Other Resources

The MSF isn't the only source of training, but it's the only training that I currently do. I've compiled a list of other training options beyond the MSF's beginner or experienced classes, or for MSF classes in other areas of the country.

Why I ride

The best way to describe the rewards of riding is to read about some of the memorable trips:

I'm a member of the Iron Butt Association, whose minimum requirement for membership is a 1000-mile ride in 24 hours or less. Most boring day I ever spent on a motorcycle, frankly. (Trip report: I got up early and got on Interstate 90 and drove a long way, with many stops for fuel, until I got to Erie Pennsylvania. I ate lunch there and then returned to Interstate 90 and drove home, with many stops for fuel. It was hot until the thunderstorm, and then it got hot again. After the sun went down it got dark and cooled off. Arrived home safely after about 19 hours.) However, the many members of the IBA are nice people and the skills they have are just as applicable to riding 1000 miles in 19 hours on an interstate highway as to riding 400 miles in 19 hours on back and dirt roads. If you want to ride long hours in relative safety and comfort, check out what they have to offer.


For the off-road motorcycle riders among us, the hardest part is finding a place where it's legal to ride. This site has information from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation on state riding areas.

There are other entities besides the state which maintain such areas, like the US Army Corps of Engineers. One is Hodges Village Dam in Oxford. (I'd provide a link but the Corps changes its web sites too often.)