Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MSF announces new Rider Training curricula

MSF has long borne the brunt of criticism for its rider course offerings.   The Basic Rider Course was considered to have been dumbed down after the last major revamp in 2002, and its more advanced offerings, the Experienced Rider Course is just lame, compared to what's available in Europe and Canada, and from competitors like Lee Parks

The new ARC-ST (the slightly misnamed Advanced Rider Course - Sportbike Techniques) spun off from a course MSF developed for the Army and was well-reviewed, although it is essentially in its first season of civilian roll-out. 

The new curricula include the basic rider course, a new on-street segment where an instructor is in radio contact with up to three students, a basic 'Bike-Bonding' course, an optional track-style course developed with Kevin Schwantz and a more advanced street raining segment make up the elements of the three curricula.  

We're excited by this new approach from MSF.  We wish them well with getting the trainers trained and selling their concept to the independently franchised training operations nationwide, which are overseen by the states. 

We have always said that a skillful, well trained rider is safer and has more fun on his bike.   If this initiative is a success, we would expect to see a reduction in crashes, injuries and deaths.  

That's not to say that it will be plain sailing for MSF.   The training regimes we mentioned in Europe, Canada and the military have a compulsory graduated qualification system, where basic training and initial qualification is followed by a probationary period with restrictions, and another series of training and testing is required to obtain a full license.  MSF's training regimen would be entirely voluntary, as in  many states it's possible to get a motorcycle license by doing a simple paper test and a trivial parking-lot  test, which is often skipped.    

It remains to be seen if MSF will use it's considerable lobbying muscle in all 50 states to toughen up the licensing requirements.  In the past, it has seemed that the bike makers, who own MSF, have wanted to relax the requirements in order to maximize the number of potential customers.  Perhaps the Feds might get involved in providing incentives to the states to improve their training and licensing standards.  Various levels of government might also provide incentives to riders, in the shape of training subsidies like some states already have.

The MSF have a lot of work to do, to make these new curricula available to riders nationwide.  We all have work to do to persuade government to support this initiative by bringing licensing requirements up to international standards. 

This announcement is a very positive step.   Good work, MSF, we now expect great things in the coming years. 



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