MSF Beginning Rider’s Class – Final Day and Test!
My MSF class actually started on Friday evening with classroom discussion and reading. Yesterday we got on the bikes and learned the basics.
Today we put it all together, practiced, and took the skills test
As I wrote yesterday, the motorcycles we had available were the Honda Rebel 250 and the Kawasaki Eliminator 125. I got my hands on the screaming fury of the Eliminator and the 12 horse power that engine produces Actually, the Eliminator was just perfect for our purposes – taking someone like me who’d never been on a motorcycle and showing them how to ride. The lack of power is a very good thing here as it helps to keep speeds down and the engine will just stall if the clutch is mishandled while in gear. It’s also nice that the bike won’t flip out from under a new rider who doesn’t have perfect throttle control
As you can see above, the Eliminator is a fairly basic bike. Indicator lights are mounted on the tank and you get three of ’em. From left to right you see the turn signal indicator, neutral indicator to show you’re not in gear, and the high beam indicator for the headlight. The controls on the handlebars are likewise basic but all that you’d need. On the left side you find the clutch lever, high beam switch, turn signal switch, and horn button. The front brake, engine kill switch, starter switch, and throttle are all on the right side. What you can’t see in this picture are the shifter (left side lever operated by your foot), rear brake (right side lever operated by your foot), fuel control petcock (just below the tank on the left side), choke (just behind the fuel petcock), and ignition switch (just below the tank on the right side). This bike is easy to operate, easy to ride, and an absolute ball to learn on
Our instructor, Rose, was kind enough to get a picture of me on the bike I rode during the class This was after the skills test and after we’d already put the bikes away so it wouldn’t distract anyone This is all the gear I was riding in – My HJC CL-16 helmet, Tourmaster Intake Air 2 jacket (more on that in a future post), and my Fox gloves. With the exception of the fingers on the gloves being a bit long (I have very short fingers), everything I purchased was just about perfect and I was very glad to have spent the money on the gear. I’m really glad I didn’t crash test it during the class
The bikes we rode have had a hard life with student riders. There are dents in the gas tanks, the fork seals on a few were leaking, and quite a few had scratches on the speedometer And yes, all that was there before we got our hands on them But none of that mattered where we were concerned. We needed something forgiving, easy to ride, and low to the ground. They all excelled in those respects. If I have a bit of extra money laying around some day, I might just have to buy and Eliminator 125 or Rebel 250 for riding around town and such. They really are a whole lot more fun than you’d think
By now I’m sure there are a few readers who are wondering just what we did and how it all turned out. Well, we did starting, stopping, quick stopping, quick stopping in a corner, cornering, weaving, swerving, riding over obstacles (planks of wood on the ground), and U-turns. We only made it into third gear a few times (at least intentionally) and the speeds seldom reached 25 MPH.
Our test consisted of consecutive U-turns in a rather small box followed by accelerating to between 12 and 18 MPH while going toward a simulated obstacle marked by painted lines on the ground. Once we reached the “obstacle” we were to swerve around it and come to a smooth, controlled stop. The next task was a quick stop where we accelerated in a straight line to between 15 and 20 MPH and stopped as quickly as possible. Our final challenge was to accelerate into second gear, negotiate a non-graded 90° right hand corner before accelerating to between 15 and 20 MPH down a straight. At the end of the straight, we were to brake to slow, look through the turn, and either hold a steady speed or accelerate through a 130° corner before coming to a smooth, controlled stop.
We could lose points for several things during the evaluation and we weren’t told how many points each infraction would cost nor were we informed how many points we could lose and still pass the test. We would only fail if we acted in an unsafe manner or dropped the bike. One thing would remain constant in all tasks – points would be subtracted if we failed to use both brakes, failed to downshift from second to first, or put our feet down too early when stopping. Points would be lost in the U-turns for crossing the boundary lines of the box or for putting a foot down. During the swerve we would lose points for going too slowly, hitting the “obstacle”, or swerving the wrong direction. Our ideal stopping distance was found by timing our approach to the cue cones which told us where to begin our braking and we’d lose one point for each foot over that distance. Last, but not least we would lose points in the 130° corner for coming in too fast, looking down during the corner, braking or slowing during the corner, or crossing over the painted lines defining our turn.
I’ll admit it was all quite a bit nerve racking – right until I actually started the first task. At that point I just somehow relaxed and everything came together naturally. I knew that I’d lost a few points during the U-turns for crossing a painted line, but other than that I had no clue how badly I might have goofed the other tasks. When we finished the final trial, we shut the bikes down, parked them in a neat row, and headed back to the class where we all chatted and waited for our final results to be tallied.
After about fifteen minutes, we got the results. A passing score could be had by losing no more than 20 points across all the tasks. In the end we all passed I had three points deducted for crossing that line in the double U-turn box and lost one more point for stopping one foot too long in the quick stop. And those were the only points I lost – I passed with only having lost FOUR points across all the tasks
I’m going to head on over to the DMV either tomorrow or Tuesday after work to actually have the motorcycle endorsement added to my license. It’s going to be a while until I manage to get my motorcycle, but I’m thrilled to have passed the course and I can’t wait to actually get my bike
6 comments to MSF Beginning Rider’s Class – Final Day and Test!
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