I started this journey with a Basic Rider Course (Harley’s “Rider’s Edge”) in Fall of 2006; my first attempts at street riding made me realize that, however good that course was, I needed much more practice before I’d be comfortable in traffic. Between tentative runs on back roads and some patient dirtbike instruction from a friend, I got better.
In the Fall of 2009, I took the “Dirt ‘n the Skirt” class at the Honda Rider Training Center in Alpharetta, GA. Even though I don’t ride off-road at this point, it filled in some blanks for me, and taught me some useful techniques, such as using my weight on the pegs to steer the bike, and shifting my weight on the seat to stabilize the bike in slow turns.
This year, I took the Advanced Rider Course at the Honda center. It’s a one-day course, and you ride your own bike. I assumed I’d be the oldest person there, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were three other, ah, old farts in the group — all of them Rider Coaches. Even though the course is labeled “Sportbike Techniques,” the content applies to any type of bike: In the group, there was a BMW F800GS, a Honda Gold Wing, a Harley Ultra Classic, a Honda dual sport of some sort, a Hayabusa, and my SV650.
By the way, all of these courses are sanctioned by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation so, wherever you take a course, you’re assured of being taught by an experienced Rider Coach, and the course content is standardized.