Motorcycle training requirements can be a hot topic in the USA. Some believe that as long as you can pass your state’s motorcycle licensing exam, no initial or recurring “approved” training should be required. Nor should any compulsory training be required to take a state motorcycle licensing exam.
Others think that motorcycle rider training is a good idea. They say that a better-trained rider is a safer rider. Some say that passing an “approved” course of motorcycle training should be required. Some go further and say that training should be recurrent ever few years.
Overall, the USA is pretty liberal in the issuance of motorcycle licenses/endorsements. In other parts of the world, motorcycle licenses are given on a graduated basis. Riders may have to ride smaller, less powerful motorcycles for a certain period of time and pass multiple tests to be given a “full” (i.e. unlimited) motorcycle license.
But there is a group within the USA that requires more formal training and sometimes recurring training. What group does this? It’s the United States military.
The US military takes motorcycling very seriously. Military riders face much stricter and more mandatory training than civilians in the USA. Requirements vary from branch to branch, but the Air Force seems to have taken the lead in training when it comes to motorcycling.
While all US military branches have some sort of mandatory training requirement, they also go one step further. They require not only a single mandatory training but also recurrent training.
Training by branch
In 2013, the Air Force moved from a one-time requirement for training to a requirement for training every 5 years. The Coast Guard has a similar requirement. So someone in military service who rides a motorcycle may have to take four training courses during a 20-year career.
The Army requires motorcycle riding soldiers to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Riders Course (BRC) and then complete the Experienced Rider Course (ERC) within 12 months. After that, a soldier must also complete a refresher course every 3 years.
The Marine Corps’ training requirements are similar to the Army’s requirements. All military riders must complete the BRC and then complete the ERC or the Military Sportbike Riders Course (MSRC) within 120 days.
Navy motorcycle riding personnel are required to take the BRC and then a “Level II” course such as the ERC or BRC-2 within 60 days! The Navy also requires its personnel to take a refresher course every 3 years.
Some branches even require specialized training by motorcycle type as in the separate course for sportbike riders MSRC.
So while the US military’s training requirements are similar, they are not identical. But they do have one thing in common and it’s the requirement for initial and refresher training.
Time for refresher training?
I’ve taken both the BRC and ERC but have not taken any additional training lately. Writing this article has gotten me to thinking that it’s time for an MSF refresher or another type of course to improve my skills. There are many training facilities out there so training availability is not an issue.
There’s a rumor out there that the MSF is in the process of developing an ADV skills course. That could be interesting. Perhaps I’ll write an article about my refresher training experience.
So what about you? Do you think that approved motorcycle training should become mandatory? What about mandatory refresher training?