WHAT TO EXPECT?
After enrolling, you should be contacted by our Riding Academy Manager with any specifics to your course, including what to bring, what is required, and where and when to meet. Some of the coaches might call you, welcome you, remind you of items to bring and answer any questions you might have about the class.
Here in Illinois, we use the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum. After completing the course, you will be given a written and riding exam before graduating. After graduation, we will help you set up a time to travel to the DMV and take the Illinois M Class riding exam on the bike that you learned on. Then, you will be official!
WHAT TO WEAR?
You’ve probably heard by now you are required to wear riding gear for the class. Sometime before the first night of class, take what you have to our Motorclothes department to get it checked out. They can help you ensure that you have the right equipment.
Over the ankle footwear is essential, so stop in to get the OK on the boots you intend to wear. You might want to ask to sit on a Harley-Davidson Street® 500 motorcycle to ensure that your boots work with the footrests and controls. Gloves and a helmet are the only essential motorcycle specific items.
Grab a pair of full fingered motorcycle gloves and try them on while testing the controls of the Harley-Davidson Street® 500 - this will ensure that they will work for you.
A helmet is one of the most important pieces of motorcycle gear you will invest in. A helmet is a very personal piece of gear. Consider buying a helmet vs. borrowing one, that way it is yours and it fits you perfectly and allows you to focus on learning to ride. This is something you will want help buying – so stop in and speak with the MotorClothes team.
They are trained to fit a helmet and will ensure you get the right one. Helmet fit is so important that they will most likely suggest you wear the one you settle on around the dealership for about 15 minutes. It takes that long for the helmet to really let you know if it will be comfortable in the long run. Remember, helmets are not returnable or available for exchange once they leave the dealership, so take the time to find the right one.
The more helmet the better, full face is the best, followed by a modular. An open face helmet or ¾ open still provides good protection if you feel too cooped up in a full face. Half helmets, while very popular, offer the least amount of protection.
CLASS GEAR LIST
- Your Driver's License and/or Learner's Permit
- Any materials provided to you prior to or during class
- Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
- Long pants (heavy denim or riding pants recommended)
- Over-the-ankle boots (sturdy, not canvas, low heel)
- Eye protection (helmet visor, eye glasses, sun glasses, goggles acceptable)
- Full-finger gloves (motorcycle specific recommended)
- DOT-certified helmet style
A typical weekend schedule meets on Thursday and Friday evenings, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Let’s use that as an example -
FIRST DAYS OF CLASS
The first classes meeting typically runs three hours: You’ll get a tour of the dealership, fill out all the class paperwork and get to know your peers and coaches. During the paperwork session, you will hear a lot about counseling and being on time and having all the gear. Don’t fret, it is just to set clear expectations for everyone. Being that an endorsement waiver is provided through this class, it has some structural aspects that the state requires to allow for licensing.
You’ll get a ROADBOOK - this is a small Harley-Davidson® Journal that you will use to reflect on important points throughout the class. Jump in there and participate! A lot of what is being discussed you have already seen firsthand as a car driver. Then the class will turn to new material – an activity to help demystify motorcycle controls and their use will be held, as well as an activity to help understand important aspects of riding gear.
At the end of the night, coaches usually spend some time talking about the range days, what to bring, where the range is and when to be there. The range is simply a practice lot; it is a large flat piece of pavement that is located behind the motorcycle showroom.
This site will be blocked off from car traffic and offers a controlled environment to learn in. The night will probably conclude with a discussion on the range rules and hand signals. These are all intended to help you understand how the range works and to ensure everyone has a good time during the riding portion of the course.
FIRST DAY OF RIDING
Your first range day will focus on getting to know the motorcycle, how to properly start it up, move it from point A to point B, and shut it off. You learn the fundamentals of clutching and shifting, turning and stopping.
Each exercise is designed to build on the previous exercises and allow you to learn quickly and effectively. Expect each exercise to take about 40 minutes. After every other exercise, a break will be held. This is usually a ROADBOOK opportunity and a chance to just rest, get a drink of water and hang out with your classmates.
We typically hold a classroom session at the dealership after the first range day. The afternoon classroom session is focused on behaviors and self-assessment. This is important stuff! The more you participate the more you will get out of it.
Learning to ride can be mentally and physically exhausting. Make plans to rest Saturday night – you want to be fresh for the second range day.
SECOND DAY RIDING
Day 2 will focus on the skills of riding: cornering, swerving and maximum braking. Just like the first day, expect two exercises back to back with a ROADBOOK break in between. These exercises are at slightly higher speeds than yesterday's and are a lot of fun! Expect to see smiles spread across the faces of your classmates.
At the end of the second day on the range, the coaches will set up and score the five evaluation exercises. These are based on the same exercises you just rode and the same skills you learned over the last two days of riding.
Relax and be sure to breathe – This is just a fair measurement of your current abilities to ensure that you are ready to leave the range and venture out onto the open road. Listen to your coaches and watch each student ahead of you as they ride the test exercises. You want to be sure of the path of travel and the technique being scored.
Don’t score yourself during the evaluations. Not all areas of the riding exercise are scored, and most mistakes are just a few points. Riders that get worked up because they made a riding error often ride worse and make more errors. Ride on and do your best!
At the end of the evaluations, your coach will let you know how you did. If you did not pass, don’t freak! There are often opportunities to take a portion of the course over or to retest later. See your Riding Academy Manager as soon as possible regarding these options.
On the last classroom meeting there might be state specific content to cover, more paperwork to complete and some celebrating to do. This is it, you are in the family now, enjoy the ride!
Students who successfully complete the classroom and range sessions will be issued a completion document. In many states this document will excuse the person from taking a motorcycle operator skills test through the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, it does not count as a license and is not recognized by law enforcement as a license to ride. Your Coach or your local DMV will provide you with instructions on steps to take to convert the completion document into a license.
You will need to take your completion document to your DMV and complete the required M Class Exam to get the motorcycle endorsement on your driver license. Once you’ve gotten your license, get out and enjoy the ride!