There are many ways to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely. You can train yourself, get help from a friend or relative, or you can decide to take a motorcycle safety course.
Apart from simply knowing how to ride your motorbike safely, the motorcycle safety course will train you on many fronts while sharpening your skills to become an excellent rider. It is also vital if you are looking to acquire a motorcycle-only license faster.
This article provides detailed information on everything you need to know about the motorcycle safety course.
What Is a Motorcycle Safety Course in the US?
A motorcycle safety course is a riding course by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (USA) designed explicitly for students or individuals with little to no motorcycle riding experience.
Individuals who haven’t ridden for quite some time can also take this course to help them refresh their skills. After completing the course, you get a motorcycle safety certificate and course-completion card to take to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office.
You have to take a written examination at the DMV office and complete it to get a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.
One advantage of taking the MSF safety course is that your local DMV might consider your MSF qualification and not make you take the DMV skills test.
Where Can I Take a Motorcycle Safety Course?
If you have to take a basic rider course, you must register at an approved Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training center. The centers have training courses suitable for riders of all ages.
There are a lot of MSF campuses across the country, and you can find some in New York, New Mexico, West Virginia, Ohio, Troy, Alpharetta, and Georgia.
MSF has some new curriculum products which have undergone testing and evaluation at the different campuses.
You will always find the new curriculum products first in a particular state at the MSF campus. You may also find ongoing professional development opportunities for RiderCoaches, DirtBike School coaches, and ATV Safety Instructors.
If you are unwilling to always take a trip to the MSF center, there are MSF e-courses you can take. What is taught in these classes is not the same as in the physical classes. Therefore, before registering for one, find out what you can learn from a particular MSF course.
Types of Motorcycle Safety Courses by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
There are many motorcycle safety courses you can take at MSF to meet your skill level and riding needs. All you have to do is pick one or the ones you feel are crucial to you and go through with them.
Once you are done with the course and pass your tests, you can get a riding license or an endorsement.
Courses for Beginners
These are rider courses best suited for those looking to begin their riding lessons. There are classroom sessions and practical sessions, and they also involve note-taking.
1. Basic eCourse
|Image Credit: MSF – 2022|
The motorcycle safety basic e-course is an interactive online program that takes three hours to provide the rider skills you need. This course also teaches the basics of motorcycling using photos, video, and graphics, which illustrate the lessons.
With a basic e-course, you have more control over your learning pace than physical class lessons.
2. Basic RiderCourse (BRC) Standard
The MSF Basic RiderCourse is quite vital if you are learning to ride motorbikes for the first time. You can do online classes before attending the first physical class. Here’s what the course entails:
- Familiarizing with the motorcycle
This exercise involves activities such as identifying the locations of major parts, essential bike controls, and operating them. You also get to review the elements of a good posture and mounting and dismounting procedures.
- How to use the friction zone
Here, you have to train and get the necessary skills to achieve control using the clutch friction zone.
- How to start and stop the drill
You will learn two major things in this part: start and stop with control and precision and coordinate the brakes, throttle, and friction zone to help you control the bike.
- How to shift and stop
In this part, you learn how to change from one gear to another and stop easily.
- How to handle basic skill practice
For this exercise, the lessons involve refining the throttle use and manipulating the brakes when taking corners. Additionally, you will learn how to refine your maneuvering skills when cruising at low speeds.
- Learn how to bring about and adjust your lean
In this exercise, you learn how to feel the effects that handlebar movement and handgrip pressure exert so you can initiate and adjust a safe lean. You must also understand the maneuvering elements you will need to negotiate the curves.
- Learn how to stop quickly and to take tight turns from a stop
For this exercise, you must learn to make sharp turns from a stop and develop progressive braking pressure so that you can stop more quickly and with zero skidding.
- Learn the stopping distance demonstration
Under this exercise, you learn the effects of speed on a bike’s braking distance, observe the braking parts of total stopping distance, and relate the observations to intersection techniques.
- Learn limited-space maneuvers
In this unit, you perfect your maneuvering skills in making turns in tight spaces. You also need to learn the counterweighting technique.
- Learn stopping in a curve
You have to learn how to manage the traction and maintain control to maneuver a curve.
- Curve judgment
You must improve your understanding of the search-setup-smooth technique and improve your skills for negotiating multiple curves.
- Learn lane changes and multiple curves
In this exercise, you learn how to make safe lane changes and negotiate curves. You must also understand gap selection and safety margins.
- Learn how to swerve and cross obstacles
Here, you will learn several exercises. You will practice how to turn from a stop, use a basic swerve, learn the tactic for crossing obstacles, and finally, learn how to refine your low-speed weaves.
- The skill practice
This is just an exercise where you practice a couple of combined maneuvers.
The Basic RiderCourse ends with a class-based knowledge test and a road skills test. When you pass the tests, your RiderCoach gives you the course-completion card.
3. BRC Small Group
The BRC Small Group course is for a small class. Usually, the students are less than 12 riders. There is an increase in special rider-specific coaching. Like other BRC courses, this course takes 3 hours for the e-course, five classroom hours, and 10 hours for the riding instruction.
Once you complete the course, you must take the knowledge and skills tests. Depending on the state, the certificate can help you waive the license test.
4. BRC Skill Practice
This is a half-day on-cycle course featuring BRC riding practices.
The practice is the best course for riders to sharpen their basic riding skills, whether they passed the regular BRC or not. Here, there is no formal classroom instruction. You cannot get a license waiver or an insurance discount when you complete this course.
5. BRC Formal Remedial Training
If you require additional instructions outside the regular Basic RiderCourse, this is the best program for you. It has exercises ranging from Level Ⅰ to Ⅱ exercises. There is no formal classroom in this course if you completed the BRC class-based part.
6. BRC Returning Rider
In this program, you learn combined BRC and BRC2, including the skills and knowledge tests. It is the best course for motorcyclists who already have basic motorcycle riding skills but have not been on the road for some years.
The course keeps you updated with the latest traffic patterns and new motorcycle technologies.
Courses for Continuing the Ride
This course section features the modules discussed below.
7. Street Strategies eCourse
The Street Strategies eCourse is for bikers who already have some riding experience. It focuses on traffic strategies.
It is the same as the MSF Basic eCourse. The only difference is that it does not have a motorcycle that controls the content and basic learn-to-ride classes. This also affects the overall time, reducing it by half.
8. BRC2 License Waiver
This program is the same as BRC, except it involves high speeds and you have to train on your motorcycle. It is the best course for those who already have basic riding skills but want to refresh and renew their riding skills.
There is an informal classroom where you discuss safety concepts based on your past riding experiences.
9. BRC2 Skill Practice
This is a riding program for riders to perfect their basic skills, whether they were successful in the regular BRC or not. It consists of riding exercises, and there are no formal classroom instructions.
10. Street RiderCourse 1
This is the perfect program for newly licensed riders. It gives you the ideal maiden street riding experience as you venture out under the guidance of a RiderCoach.
The coach narrates the ride as they give you real-time instructions on what to do. The program takes a half-day and comprises class-based activities to improve your riding and perceptual skills.
11. Basic Bike-Bonding RiderCourse
This program takes approximately five hours and is the best way to learn basic riding skills. It helps you focus on limited-space maneuvers and cornering skills.
You should handle a motorbike properly and safely negotiate traffic and street situations by the end of the program.
Courses for Improving the Ride
This section of courses has a special design for perfecting maneuvering skills, perception, and hazard awareness. They help teach the riders how to handle crash avoidance, braking, and taking corners.
12. Street RiderCourse 2
This program enhances the skills and techniques you learn in SRC1. It adds mileage and time to the on-the-bike experience.
If you are looking to further develop your maneuvering skills and perceptual strategies, this is the course for you. Same as SRC1, your RiderCoach will give you riding real-time instructions as you go about the test.
13. Advanced RiderCourse
The Advanced RiderCourse takes only one day, and it enhances your basic skills and improves your risk assessment capabilities.
There is a classroom segment that involves a lot of interactive activities that improve your hazard awareness and perception. There are also exercises to enhance your crash-avoidance skills and basic operation skills.
14. Advanced RiderCourse Skill Practice
This is a partial-day program that consists of only riding exercises. To participate in this course, you must have completed the regular Advanced RiderCourse.
The exercises in this module take a deep dive into your crash-avoidance, cornering, and braking skills. Because nothing beats repeat practice!
Courses for Mastering Riding
These courses are for those looking for more than just basic riding skills. They help sharpen your skills and give you additional knowledge and strategy on motorcycle riding.
15. Ultimate Bike-bonding RiderCourse
This program is for riders with loads of experience and takes five hours without attending any formal classroom session.
The course focuses on limited-space maneuvers with challenging exercises to help you cultivate smooth, precise control.
You must have a valid motorcycle endorsement or permit and a registered motorcycle for this course.
16. Circuit RiderCourse
This course focuses on sharpening your visual awareness and real-time practice in advanced braking and cornering.
You must have a registered motorcycle and a valid motorcycle license or permit for this program. You must also have full riding gear comprising a helmet, jacket, and hand gloves.
17. Circuit RiderCourse Skill Practice
The CRCSP program is the only MSF Circuit RiderCourse with a range-only portion. To take this class, you must have finished the regular Circuit RiderCourse.
The CRCSP module emphasizes hands-on practice to learn how to handle high-speed cornering and braking.
You must have a valid permit or motorbike license, and you must register your motorcycle too.
18. Street RiderCourse 3
This is an on-street module that provides you with strategies for group riding.
There are “road captain” resources in this course, short classroom sessions, and on-street experiences as you use different group riding formations in different street situations.
These are MSF courses for special individuals and special occasions. For example, if you are in the military or looking to join street riding, you can look at these courses.
19. Introductory Motorcycle Experience
This course is not really for those looking for actual motorcycling skills.
It focuses on learning the primary parts of a bike and the controls. It also helps determine if motorcycling is the best choice for you.
While undertaking this program, you learn to manipulate the bike’s controls while sitting on it.
The self-assessment part of this course ensures that you understand the potential risks and the requirements of becoming a good and responsible motorcycle driver.
20. Safety Military RiderCourse
The SMRC program is multidisciplinary, with specific designs for military people. It is not offered to the rest of the public.
The Safety Military Rider course includes the Basic RiserCourse, off-road Trail Riding RiderCourse, and off-road riding experiences on various terrains. It has additional tactical exercises designed specifically for military use.
21. Military SportBike RiderCourse
The MSRC special program takes only one day, and it has some specific language additions for the sports bikes.
There is an introductory video and a classroom section that includes activities that enhance your perception and danger awareness.
22. Military SportBike RiderCourse Skill Practice
The MSRC Skill Practice program has two variations: regular and large versions. It isn’t a full-day course, and for you to enroll, you must have finished the MSRC, which includes riding and classroom activities.
In this course, everyone uses their motorcycles, and you must make sure your motorbike is registered, and you have full motorbike gear.
23. DirtBike School
The fun-filled, one-day DirtBike School course teaches basic operating skills and strategies for negotiating different terrains that the off-highway biking sport involves.
If you want to become a highly qualified off-road street rider, you can check out this course. The course takes place wholly outdoors in a location off the highways.
The course covers the following aspects:
- Warm-up exercises
- Range signals
- Using protective gear properly
- Mounting and dismounting the motorcycle properly
- Using bike controls properly
- Starting and stopping the engine
- Moving and stopping the motorcycle correctly
- Correct riding posture, including controlling your lower body properly
- Proper gear shifting
- Turning and counterbalancing
- Riding over obstacles
- Riding correctly across hills
Can I Take a Motorcycle Safety Test Online?
It’s possible to take a motorcycle safety course test online. The online tests are pretty simple and take less time.
Once you answer the DMV motorcycle questions, you get your feedback immediately. You can increase your chances of passing the test by doing as many practice tests as possible.
What to Expect in a Motorcycle Safety Course
The first part of the motorcycle safety training will be in the classroom for a few hours. You’ll learn rider safety, riding skills, and different motorcycles and their controls.
- During the course, you will learn about road skills and how to handle the safety maneuvers through various scenarios.
Depending on your class, this part of the course may take up to 15 hours. Afterwards, you undertake a safety program specially designed to help you safely and competently ride on your motorcycle.
Some of the basic rider skills to learn include taking U-turns, shifting gears, braking, changing lanes, and navigating around objects.
- Once the practical training is over, the DMV will test you on those skills if you must take a physical exam in your state.
- When reporting for the motorcycle course, make sure you have a notebook and a pen; you will need them to take notes.
Also, carry your lunch and have the appropriate dressing for riding.
- By the end of one week of the motorcycle training course, you should have completed rider training classes, done a road test, and gotten your motorcycle safety course certificate.
- There are different types of motorcycles used in the course—ask your RiderCoach what’s the best training bike for you.
- The Motorcycle Safety Foundation usually provides helmets, motorcycles, and gloves.
Motorcycle Safety Course Requirements
Before you get into a motorcycle safety program, there are some things that you must have with you. Some are optional, and some are mandatory to bring.
- A pen or pencil
- A notebook or a piece of paper
- Snacks and lunch
You must wear riding gear such as
- Eye protection
- Motorcycle helmet
- Over-the-knee boots
- Full-finger motorcycle gloves
- Long-sleeve jacket or shirt
- Long pants made of any durable material.
Below are other requirements.
- Once your classroom and practical sessions are over, you will have to do a DMV test. You can do it physically or online, depending on which state you are from.
The riding skills test will be waived when you present your motorcycle safety certificate in most states.
- If you are starting the course fresh, you will need a motorcycle learner’s permit or a motorcycle license if you are refreshing your skills.
- You should be able to ride and balance a bicycle.
How Much Does it Cost to Take a Motorcycle Safety Course?
The cost of the motorcycle safety course varies from state to state. For example, in Florida, the price is between $99 and $300. In Texas, the cost is around $200.
While looking at the cost, bear in mind that there are different courses with different additions to the normal basic rider course.
Some courses may charge higher because they provide you with a motorbike, helmet, and gloves, while others may not.
Before committing to any motorbike safety course, make sure you know what they include in the program.
You’ll also incur other directly and indirectly related costs, such as meals, stationery, and commuting.
How Long is a Motorcycle Safety Course?
A basic motorcycle safety course takes approximately 15 hours to complete. Some go up to 20 hours because of some additional classes and training.
Five hours are usually the classroom hours and the 10 hours are for road tests where you get to practice and sharpen your motorcycle riding skills.
Luckily enough, these hours can be split between two days. If you are a busy person throughout the week, you can complete the course over the weekend.
Once you finish the course, you must check with the course sponsor to give you a written test which you must pass to get your motorcycle safety course certification.
The certification proves you are through with the course.
Benefits of a Motorcycle Safety Course
Taking a motorcycle safety course has many benefits for a rider. Here are a few:
Better Driving Skills
To stay safe on the road, you must have defensive driving skills, especially while using two-wheel vehicles.
The safety course will help sharpen how you identify and respond to road risks from other road users.
Taking a certified safety course, such as the motorcycle safety foundation e-course, helps you save money on insurance premiums.
Even if you are a pro, undergoing a refresher course will give your insurance company proof that you are competent and thus get the treatment of a responsible driver.
However, as we saw earlier, not all types of MSF riding courses will qualify you for lower insurance premiums.
Getting a Motorcycle License Faster
Getting a license from the local motor vehicle registration office can be hectic sometimes.
With a complete motorcycle safety course, you may get to bypass the riding portions or the written exam and get your license immediately.
Does Taking a Motorcycle Safety Course Lower Insurance?
Taking an MSF course may lower your insurance because, with a complete course, you are a well-trained bike driver and thus less likely to get into an accident.
If your insurance company notices you rarely get into accidents, you get discounts, and most of the time, these discounts can be quite significant.
Tips on How to Pass the Motorcycle Safety Test the First Time
Passing the motorcycle safety test can be easy and challenging. It is always important to be well-prepared.
It is also best to use a beginner-friendly bike (smaller, lighter, not too technical) for the test to give you an easy time.
Below are more tips you can use to help you pass the test the first time.
- Know the route the examiner will test you on. Most MSF centers have detailed information on the roads they intend to use. You can book a test drive lesson on those routes to get familiar with them.
- Check the weather and dress appropriately, ensuring you have the right gear. Also, make sure your helmet and gloves are fitting perfectly.
- Take many practice tests in preparation for the road test.
- Relax and have enough rest before the test. Sleeping well is often underrated!
- Whether you are at the test center, always act as if you are on the road—ensure you do not miss a shoulder check.
- Always maintain a minimum speed, listen to the bike, and know different engine sounds. That way, you do not have to look at the speedometer all the time.
That’s it! But just before you go…be sure to check out the final sections below.
People Also Ask
Many questions surround the motorcycle safety course, and we could not fit everything in this article. Below are a few commonly asked questions to check out.
Is a Motorcycle Safety Course Worth It?
Yes! The motorcycle safety course is a worthwhile investment. Apart from helping you become a better and safer rider, it also helps lower your insurance expenses.
If you have been around for a while, you may have noticed that we are all for safe riding! That’s one major reason we share riding tips and even recommend taking a motorcycle safety course.
Be sure to check out some of our articles on riding tips and safety. Here’s how to find them quickly:
- Tips for riding safely in windy conditions
- Handy motorcycle riding tips applicable in winter
- Tips on how to crash a motorcycle safely (Yes! Sometimes a crash is inevitable. Check out this article to learn how you can crash your bike safely.)
- Tips on riding a bike safely in the rain
- Tips on riding a motorcycle safely in the dark
Can You Fail the Motorcycle Safety Course?
Yes. Many people fail in this course, but it doesn’t mean you are stupid. Failing is okay, and most of the time, it happens because you made some small mistakes or miscalculations, which means you need more time to sharpen your skills.
How Long is a Motorcycle Safety Course Certificate Good For?
The motorcycle safety certificate is only valid for two years from the date of issuance. You should have obtained your driver’s license by the end of those two years.