Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New training features in reviews the MSF's Experienced Rider Course, which is aimed at intermediate riders. The course might well be replaced by the much more interesting Advanced RiderCourse - Sportsbike Techniques, reviewed here by Despite the name, it is applicable to all bikes. The new course derives from the MSF's MSRC, their new course created for the Army and Navy. It has had limited availability so far, but RiderCoaches are being trained in the new course all over the country and we'd expect to see it readily available by spring of 2010.

Noting that the Marines and Air Force also have a new sportbike course developed by Lee Parks and associates, which also has limited availability, we note the sudden interest in new riding courses. Both these new courses are the result of some studies done by various branches of the military - we believe at least three - which found some interesting changes in crash causations in recent years. According to military regulations, this type of study is never made available to the public, and must be destroyed after a year, which we think is a shame. We'll have to wait for the new Crash Causation study to know for sure what the military found.

It is well known that the Marines complained that they were losing more members to bike crashes than they were due to the occupation of Iraq, so we think it's safe to assume that they identified a training deficit as a major cause of the increase in bike deaths.

When you think about it, all branches of the military are now requiring an initial Basic RiderCourse, followed by a period of riding, and then the follow-up advanced course. We note the similarities between this sequence and the European motorcycle training/testing model, as practiced in Germany, the UK and Ireland, and probably other jurisdictions. Typically there, a new rider takes an initial course and assessment, is given a probationary, restricted license for something like two years, and then takes additional training, a range test, a road test and written evaluation before getting his final license. Could we infer that the armed forces, with their two-phase training, is moving towards the European model? The armed forces are in a better position to enforce training standards than either the states or the Feds are.

Some food for thought. It would suggest that all bikers might benefit from taking basic training, then coming back for more training after a year or so, either the ERC, the ARC-ST or one of the other courses in our biker ED section.

On a related note, Bikesafer, had reworked its skills practice page, with more tips on how to practice essential riding skills on the cheap. The essential survival skills of emergency braking, swerving and turning maneuvers go away if not practiced often, and you'll never know when you'll need them.