Harley Beginner's Riding Course ??

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by space, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. space

    space a.k.a. Jake

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    I've got a friend at work who's been bitten by the motorcycle bug. He's a new rider, so I advised him to take the California beginner's riding course, get a cheap bike of no more than 600 cc to start, get good gear and wear it, etc. Take it slow.

    So I get an e-mail today. He's been to the HD dealer, and they've mostly sold him on taking their own BRC. It's apparently done on 500 cc bikes with this dealer, which strikes me as pretty dumb. When I took the BRC many (many) moons ago, a woman managed to hurt herself by bad clutch control on a 125 cc Rebel. Also, it sounds like they're trying to sell him an XR1200C. I'm not exactly impressed.

    But before I shoot my mouth off -- how is the Harley BRC? Anyone take it?
    #1
  2. Jonesin

    Jonesin n00b

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    Well, I didn't take the Harley course, but recalled reading this

    from here.


    Hope this helps,

    Ed.
    #2
  3. BCC

    BCC I know better

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    Ok, the 500 cc bike they use is a Blast. It's a little bike with low power that's perfect for beginners. Doesn't damage when it falls over. The color is embedded into the plastic and buffs out scratches.

    That was my wife's first bike and she loved learning on it, before moving on to bigger bikes. She took the msf course,

    Any blog or whatever that things the Blast is a full size bike and that it doesn't compare with a 250 from other brands is fact challenged. It's a great bike for a learner course.

    From what I understand the Harley course is like the msf course.
    #3
  4. Jonesin

    Jonesin n00b

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    If you read the full post, he was saying that the Blast has the power now that was considered a 'fast bike' not too many decades ago.

    That's all. It is considered using today's standards indeed a 'beginner bike'. However, for a complete novice with zero prior experience a 500cc bike with 46 HP can cause far more trouble for you than say, the 20 HP 200cc Suzuki DR that I did my MSF course on just 8 months ago.
    #4
  5. GoonerYoda

    GoonerYoda Hot Dickens Cider

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    I'd pass and take the standard MSF course. It's more about skill than style. :p
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  6. EricD10563

    EricD10563 Been here awhile

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    My Harley today compared to a 1950 motorcycle is considered a fast bike, I rode with people that started on a 50cc bike to a CB750 ohc, being taught is more important than the size of the bike. I would have a hard time finding a bike today that was more difficult to learn how to brake than my 1972 CL350, I guess I could get a new rider on a bike with a twin leading drum brake so they could see how it feels and see how that works out.
    #6
  7. BCC

    BCC I know better

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    Have you ridden a Blast? I have. Several times. It is as mild as a 250 to ride. The bike was specifically designed as a beginner bike. It's smaller, lower, longer clutch engagement, lower power at bottom end, easy to steer at low speeds, doesn't damage at low speed tip overs. The guy who wrote that blog has a bone to pick with the msf and is using the Blast as a way to get at it.

    It didn't sell well at all. Why? Well, it was a Buell:lol3 and it's too small for normal size people, once they know how to ride and it's under powered. Wife road it on the highway a few times and then traded it.
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  8. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin?

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    :photog :rofl :lol3 I'd love to see the MSF Blast that makes 46 HP. More like 34 at the crank, which turns out to be in the mid 20's (at best) at the rear wheel.
    #8
  9. Jonesin

    Jonesin n00b

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    My apologies, 34 hp. I reversed the conversion from KW in my head.
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  10. Sky2adam

    Sky2adam Adventurer

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    Easier choice for me was that the regular MSF course was $300. I think the local Harley dealer wants $600.
    #10
  11. ka5ysy

    ka5ysy Doug

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    Ok... I teach the Riders Edge course at my dealership. It is the full MSF course with a couple of HD add-on class units. The textbook is the MSF Basic Ridercourse handbook, verbatim. The riding portion is identical in all respects. Riders Edge instructors must be MSF Certified instructors before attending the Harley Riders Edge instructor course. The nice thing about Riders Edge, is that the riding segment is a bit more relaxed that many state courses, and we have a lot of fun on the range. The other thing you will find in a lot of locations is that the HD program is run a lot more frequently than state courses. Our shops run courses on most weekends throughout the year. The Riders Edge version of the course is generally run over a 5 day period: 2 evening classes (usually Thursday and Friday evenings) , 2 range days ( usually weekends) and a Monday night test and graduation. Some dealerships do a compressed three day version as we do: All day class on a Tuesday, then ride Wednesday and Thursday. Most state run classes run 3 days.

    At present the Buell Blast is the bike used at most dealerships. Obviously, Buell got chopped from the Harley family, so there are no new Buell's available, and parts will become problematic over time. We instructors are still waiting for information from HD about a replacement bike that there are rumors of, but not confirmed or seen in the wild.

    The Blast is actually a good machine for instruction. It is very tough when dropped and can survive some really hard crashes, usually from improper braking. About the only thing that gets damaged is the turn signal stalks, and shifter levers that get bent. The machine is 492 CC, just under the 500 cc limit from MSF, and is not too much, or too little for newbies. One really good thing about learning on the Blast is that some students who absolutely have to have a 500-600 cc sport bike will have a lot better feel for a high-torque machine from the start, than if they go from a 125cc bike to the crotch rocket. For those students, I also give them an article about why sport bikes are not beginner bikes.


    About the only gripe I have about the Buell design is that they did not put engine guard hoops on the bike , which would save a lot of broken shifters, bent foot pegs and rear brake levers, and not forget having feet trapped when the bike falls over.

    Bad clutch control or braking can cause a bad crash and injuries on any size bike, so the Blast is no more a problem for newbies than a lesser machine. It is actually a lot more forgiving of early clutch control problems and stalling than a lot of 125CC bikes, as its torque and heavy flywheel will pull the bike along nicely being lugged. Second gear starts are mostly not a big issue.

    As far as HD trying to sell him a bike, that is probably something more like your friend thinking that is what he needs as a beginner and the salesman talking to him about it. One of the additional segments in Riders Edge is a dealership walk-through where someone in the sales department gives an overview of the motorcycles in the HD line. Obviously a dealership wants to sell bikes, but given the time constraint on the class, it is not a hard sell at all. While I would not suggest the XR as a beginner bike, it is about the only HD other than the Street Rod that I would ever consider owning because it has about the best suspension of any Harley, and can actually lean way over without scraping stuff. Its real problem is that fuel tank is tiny, so expect a lot of fuel stops.

    You might also be surprised to know that in our program, most students, probably 80-90 percent, are not interested in HD stuff at all and honestly inquire about good starter bikes. Pretty much universally all the instructors I know will tell newbies that they need to start with a cheap used bike in the 125-250cc range, and that it is their FIRST bike, not their last. The other thing we point out is that all that nice chrome on the HD iron is VERY expensive to fix when, not if, you drop it. For those who absolutely have to have a new HD, I strongly suggest they purchase the engine guards for the particular bike.

    One of the other things you might discover is that a lot of the Riders Edge instructors do not ride Harleys. Our shop has 12 active instructors, and only one rides a Harley. Needless to say, that makes for some interesting discussions with students on our range during breaks.

    Don't worry about your friend and the Riders Edge program. He will learn stuff that will absolutely save his life, and have a lot of fun doing it. If he wants that Sportster and absolutely will not change his mind, tell him to purchase the engine guards.

    BTW: All instructors with Riders Edge and MSF get periodic quality control audits to be sure they are staying with the course material.
    #11
  12. Dankarnov

    Dankarnov Adventurer

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    If I remember secondhand stories right, the Harley course is the MSF course, with Blasts instead of assorted 250s, and with a dollop of Harley marketing lumped in. So for the safety aspect, it's the same course. The Blast isn't the best of bikes (the 2010 was the best by far) but it's plenty mild enough to learn on. Some of the students complain about it; IIRC the clutch pull being stiffer than most learners was the most common. A regular MSF course -may- have a variety of bikes to train on, i.e. Rebel cruisers, a mild dirt bike, etc, which is especially nice for shorter or taller students, but this varies by location. The quality and experience of the instructors is also going to vary by location (for Harley and vanilla MSF.)

    I think it's a matter of price, scheduling and location, if the Harley class is closer, cheaper, and sooner than the MSF, sure, otherwise pass.
    #12
  13. der_saeufer

    der_saeufer ?איפה בירה

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    Came here to say this... The CMSP/MSF course is $250 ($150 for under-21s). The last time I saw an ad for the H-D class, it was $400.
    #13
  14. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    :1drink
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  15. space

    space a.k.a. Jake

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    Thanks for all who replied. Except for DAKEZ, because dear god what is that THING? :lol3 Doug, I appreciate the inside advice.

    I'll pass the info along to my friend.
    #15
  16. El Pescador

    El Pescador Been here awhile

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    I took the Riders Edge class last Memorial Day and I think I paid $225. I know it was no more than $250. It was a lot of fun and solidified my resolve to buy a motorcycle.

    Is there something wrong with HD promoting motorcycle safety and trying to sell a bike too?
    #16
  17. El Pescador

    El Pescador Been here awhile

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    Oh, and something else I forgot, they did take us through the AMPLE T-shirt section, but it was focused primarily on proper riding gear. For us noobs, it introduced to things we wouldnt have known about like...jackets with armor, modular helmets, hi vis clothing, and other items.

    FWIW, I ended up buying a hi-vis, modular, do-rag with CE approved armor and detachable eye patch. Aaaargh!
    #17
  18. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    :nah

    That is the replacement bike that Doug had referenced.

    #18
  19. KCNorth

    KCNorth n00b

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    ... loved the class ...

    ... highly recommend the class ...

    One of the advantages, from my perspective, was that the class WAS at the dealership and that we got introduced to several different folks from various areas of the store - including service - and all of whom were happy to visit and answer questions during the breaks and following the class.

    If my demographics matter, I'm an over-65 person, owned and rode a Suzuki 650 along about 40 years ago and decided, upon retirement, to enter my 7th childhood ... took the class to relearn BEFORE shopping for a bike.

    Did I buy a bike after the class? Yes.

    Did I buy a Harley? Yes.

    Did I buy it from the dealer? Nope - bought it used off Craig's List ... and felt supported throughout the buying process by the folks I met at the dealership during and after the class.

    Don't know if my experience was unique or not ... just know it was great!
    #19
  20. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    I took the course through the HD dealer here. It was fine. The instructors were excellent, though I suspect that has nothing in particular to do with it being the HD BRC. Even bought a Blast for my wife. She rode it for three years before deciding motorcycling wasn't really for her. Don't worry about the 500cc bikes -- a Ninja 250 is a bit faster than a Blast. Think of it as Harley CCs...you know how a 1600cc HD v-twin makes less horsepower than an econobox car? :D

    FWIW, neither of my instructors rode HDs. One rode a Beemer (older K bike I think) and the other was on some sort of naked sport bike.
    #20