This past weekend I enrolled in a motorcycle beginner course held at New River Community College in Dublin, VA. I was a little bit unsure of what to expect at first but I am really glad I enrolled. I highly recommend this course for anybody who is remotely interested in motorcycles. They provide you with a motorcycle and helmet. All you need to bring are full-fingered gloves, sunglasses, shoes that cover the ankle, jeans, and a long-sleeved shirt.
The first class was Friday night and consisted of four hours of classroom instruction. What I really liked about it was the videos that we watched. They were of high quality, made by MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation), and covered all aspects of riding a motorcycle. Saturday and Sunday we were taught motorcycle lessons on the parking lot. You had the choice of the morning or afternoon session, both of which lasted around five hours. The exercises we did on the parking lot were really fun, and the instructors were top-notch. It was fascinating witnessing the progress I made from not learning how to mount a motorcycle to being able to turn at tight angles and swerve by the end of the course.
So what was the trickiest part of riding? Well, I would have to say getting used to shifting gears. There are a lot of controls to think about. On the right handle bar you have the throttle and your front brake lever, on your left handle bar you have your clutch lever, on your right foot is your rear brake pedal, and on your left foot is you gear shift lever. Being able to learn to use all of these controls fast and simultaneously takes practice. Another thing that took getting used to was making turns. On the fast turns you need to trust that you can lean you bike a significant amount without it tipping over. On the slow turns you need to shift your weight to the opposite direction of the turn, this is called counter-steering.
With the completion of the course I received a certificate that serves as a motorcycle license for 30 days. In addition when completing the course you are able to receive a significant deduction off of your insurance that more than makes up for the $83 cost of the course. The best thing about taking the course believe it or not is the safety training and the confidence of riding that I gained.
During the course I got to ride a Suzuki GN 125 and a Honda Rebel. Both were really cool bikes. The Suzuki was one of the smallest bikes you can get, the engine is only 125 cc. The Rebel is only 250 cc, but was really powerful for me at least, especially compared with the Suzuki. I am now considering purchasing a motorcycle in the future. I am looking at the Honda rebel, Kawasaki NinjaR or the Suzuki DR-Z 400sm. They are all different kinds of bikes, the Suzuki is a dual-sport, which means it can be ridden on and off-road. Which one do you like the best? Which one do you think best fits me? Feel free to leave your comments!