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Old 09-20-2016, 04:22 PM   #1
stephanotis
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Just finished CMSP, need advice

I just finished the California Motorcyclist Safety Program on Sunday as a total beginner. I had an absolute fucking blast, it was rightfully grueling and a wonderful experience all around. I learned TONS.

I wound up failing the skills test by one point, which really made sense to me. I'm not roadworthy at all, even though they and I did our best. There was fear, confusion, heat, new gear, not enough opportunities to practice (most of the time was spent waiting in a line of 10 bikes to try things for a few seconds or minutes)...you see what I mean.

BUT...I did start wondering about their validity as a qualifying body. Help me here, because I was very obviously trained by PROS. Students were talking about taking that test so they wouldn't have to take the DMV test, which is MUCH harder. My whole test maybe lasted 20 seconds of riding to test five skills (quick stop, swerving, 90-degree turn, weave, half-curve/stop).

I don't think this is enough to get us newbies on the road. I know we can then practice on our own, but some may not.

Can some experienced riders weigh in, maybe some teachers? Trying to figure out my next steps but also wondering if I'm alone in thinking this. And if I'm talking out of my ass, I'll listen! Thanks much.

Last edited by stephanotis; 09-20-2016 at 04:59 PM.. Reason: qualifier
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Old 09-20-2016, 06:26 PM   #2
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Good on you for being concerned, Steph! I have to say you are on to something.

The basic rider course teaches you basic motorcycle skills and knowledge. It's the first, albeit very important, step to becoming a skilled motorcyclist. When you are comfortable with basic operating principles, start riding in your residential neighborhood. Challenge yourself a bit, but take small steps toward more difficult riding situations. Study. David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling is a great read for beginners. Involve yourself in a community like BARF. Ride with a mentor and accept their advise and tips.

This is what makes our sport so engaging - it's super fun straight get away and there is limitless growth potential.

Have fun and ride safe!

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Old 09-20-2016, 06:46 PM   #3
motomania2007
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Welcome to motorcycling.

I have been an instructor for several years.

First, please understand that the BASIC class is merely the BASIC class. There is a TON more to learn about riding and every instructor I know would prefer the class to be much more comprehensive and much longer.

But the basic class is limited to 15 hours BY LAW.

It is a political decision that balances getting some training, requiring some training for certain groups (those under 21) and the financial cost of that training.

If the class was more comprehensive it would be 4-5 days or more and cost much much more.

If I were king, the class would be much more expensive and required for everyone that rides and anyone caught riding without the training would be fined and bike impounded. But that is me and luckily for many people out there, I am not king.

Back to the basic class. Remember it is BASIC. Completing that class is about the equivalent in skills as the first time you were able to ride your bicycle around the block without crashing.

You most likely learned a ton more about riding a bicycle after that. You usually learned by trial and error and a lot of crashing. Hopefully, you will be a bit smarter about learning to ride a motorcycle.

Here is my perspective as an experienced rider: The MTC riding evaluation is NOT difficult.

If you failed MTC riding evaluation, you are not ready to ride a motorcycle. You need more practice and you probably need to repeat the range sessions.

Some sites offer extended ride time practice sessions. I know 2 Wheel Safety offers them at Mission College in Santa Clara and at their Newark range. I don't know if any of the sites near you offer extended practice sessions.

See my recommendations in my riderzblog post linked in my signature below.

If I can help you ride, just ask. If you want to come out to Merced and play on a TTR125 and ride around my flat track in my back yard, you are welcome to do so and you would learn a lot in the process.
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I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.
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Old 09-20-2016, 06:56 PM   #4
stephanotis
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Carl and George,

Thanks SO much. I'm listening! I just felt like it should be even more difficult to learn how to ride a motor vehicle that's so much more dangerous than a car.

I definitely need and want more practice and I'll get it. It was so damn fun, just like I imagined only better. I may take you up on that offer, just need to get a learner's permit and a bike. This shit is hard but a good hard. Thanks again.

Last edited by stephanotis; 09-20-2016 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 09-20-2016, 08:16 PM   #5
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Steph if you end up getting a bike and learner's permit please shoot me a PM. I'll go join you at a parking lot or ride with you where ever you choose to practice.
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Old 09-20-2016, 08:22 PM   #6
twiggidy
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When I finished the class our instructor made a point to say, "We are now qualified to operate a motorcycle at 15 mph in a parking lot."

Speaking from a newbie perspective, I'll step on a limb and say most of our fear/reluctance/etc comes from the fact that when riding there is so much to do in so little time.

slowly release the clutch, easy on the throttle, don't stall, pull the clutch to shift, lift the left foot a little to shift, right foot to break, etch etc etc....all while not hitting something or being hit by something......

i feel you're pain and honestly, it's going to take practice riding around a neighborhood street or a parking lot until you're comfortable on the street. life on the street will be much different then in the course

here's my little soapbox of advice which other barfers may disagree with.....

rather than newbies starting on kawi 300s/cbr 300s etc...I think everyone should start on a VESPA.....yeah, I said it. my reasoning...well, when i took the course, I knew how to steer and handle a 2 wheeled motorized device pretty comfortably, eliminating the thought of clutching and shifting. once you're comfortable with throttle response, braking, maneuvering a two wheel motorized device then you can focus on shifting gears as an added skill....that's just my 2c.

(and in all seriousness, you can take the course next time on a scooter and you'll still get the same M1)
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Old 09-20-2016, 08:28 PM   #7
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Also, your profile says you're in SF. I'm not here to promote anyone's moto schools, but I definitely know there are at least 2 where they have bikes and will meet you in a parking lot for a session. If you have a bike I think they'll even ride your bike to the lot and you can meet them there. Check Yelp.
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Old 09-20-2016, 09:00 PM   #8
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Get a used 250cc dual sport and find some dirt to practice on. It'll save your life on the street! look at all the used 250 and 300 cc street bike on craigslist with no milage and know that's not the way to go!

Last edited by bmwbob51; 09-20-2016 at 09:02 PM..
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Old 09-20-2016, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomania2007 View Post
Welcome to motorcycling.

I have been an instructor for several years.

First, please understand that the BASIC class is merely the BASIC class. There is a TON more to learn about riding and every instructor I know would prefer the class to be much more comprehensive and much longer.

If I were king, the class would be much more expensive and required for everyone that rides and anyone caught riding without the training would be fined and bike impounded. But that is me and luckily for many people out there, I am not king.

Back to the basic class. Remember it is BASIC. Completing that class is about the equivalent in skills as the first time you were able to ride your bicycle around the block without crashing.

You most likely learned a ton more about riding a bicycle after that. You usually learned by trial and error and a lot of crashing. Hopefully, you will be a bit smarter about learning to ride a motorcycle.

Here is my perspective as an experienced rider: The MTC riding evaluation is NOT difficult.

If you failed MTC riding evaluation, you are not ready to ride a motorcycle. You need more practice and you probably need to repeat the range sessions.

Some sites offer extended ride time practice sessions. I know 2 Wheel Safety offers them at Mission College in Santa Clara and at their Newark range. I don't know if any of the sites near you offer extended practice sessions.
+1 to everything MM said. CMSP Instructor for TWST (Two Wheel Safety Training) here. Generally, a good amount of the students that I see fail the evaluations had previously demonstrated the skills on the evaluation throughout the two range sessions. Test jitters. (There are also those who pass the test by the skin of their teeth and need significantly more seat time before getting out on the road safely.)

Typically, a retake of the test is all that is needed to pass the skills evaluation. TWST offers ERT (Extra Riding Time) that allows people who passed or didn't pass to spend time on the range bikes, practicing any skills that you want to hone without being constrained to the exercise time limits during the actual ranges. The instructor-to-student ratio is—at most—the same as during the class: 1:6. I've seen anywhere from 1:1-1:6.

Last edited by Shigeta; 09-20-2016 at 10:01 PM..
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Old 09-21-2016, 01:20 AM   #10
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This is my perspective on it.
The class was a chance to mess around on a bike without worry of damaging it in a safe controlled environment with experienced riders around, some practical knowledge rolled in and riding certification as a bonus.

I breezed through the class and did as well as you could on a pass/fail course but was glad to have done it. I was and still am really afraid to drop my bike and almost did it in public once. On the streets with my own bike, I was more nervous, stalling a few times, managing the throttle poorly and making newbie mistakes a bunch of times.

What the class did was show me that I was capable of handling a bike with my nerves out of the way. Its like a swimming class that teaches survival skills to function in the water, not necessarily win a race or even swim with buddies but to practice on your own till comfortable.

If you live in SF, the upper lot is open weekends and usually has a few people practicing. I've been back there to work on things that I sucked at till it becomes natural in traffic.

I also heard they used to have you run over 2x4s and was bummed not to get to do that.

Last edited by Asudef; 09-21-2016 at 01:23 AM..
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Old 09-21-2016, 05:45 AM   #11
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Threads like this show what a great resource BARF is and how fracking fabulous the people here are.
Stephanotis, you are aware enough to realize your situation and probably smart enough to take up the kind and generous offers of these grand people on BARF.
I survived being a novice in SF 30 odd years ago without a support system such as BARF but I certainly wouldn't recommend my path.
You kids these days have no idea how good you got it.
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:07 AM   #12
motomania2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asudef View Post
... I was and still am really afraid to drop my bike and almost did it in public once.
The basic class teaches 3 things:
Risk awareness and mangement
Judgement
Basic riding skills

Why are you afraid to drop the bike?
Edited to add:
Btw, to be clear dropping is not the same as crashing. Dropping is dropping the bike while stopped or while attempting to get started from a stop. This is what I refer to as dropping the bike and this is a completely manageable fear.

That is a huge distraction to your riding and thus adds more risk to your riding.

Use good judgement to eliminate unnecessary risks like the fear of dropping the bike.

Everyone drops their bike. It happens. It is gravity and gravity always wins.

Not everyone is afraid of dropping their bike.

No one should be riding around in fear of dropping their bike because it is an irrational and completely unnecessary fear.

Most riders that say they are afraid of dropping their bike are actually afraid of:

1) dropping their bike in front of other people.

That fear, they need to forget because no one cares that you drop the bike or not. It is gravity, it happens, it is a part or reality for all of us.

And/or
2) they are afraid they can't pick up the bike once they drop it.

Again, use good judgement and eliminate that fear by learning how to pick up the bike. There are tons of youtube videos on it. Put your bike on its side and learn how to pick it back up. It is not difficult and you don't have to be very strong to do it.
__________________
If you are not having fun riding a motorcycle, you are doing it wrong.

The best performance upgrade is upgrading the operating system of the operator. It is cheap, easy, fast, safe and works on every bike you will ever ride.

I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.

Last edited by motomania2007; 09-21-2016 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:14 AM   #13
motomania2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twiggidy View Post
When I finished the class our instructor made a point to say, "We are now qualified to operate a motorcycle at 15 mph in a parking lot."

Speaking from a newbie perspective, I'll step on a limb and say most of our fear/reluctance/etc comes from the fact that when riding there is so much to do in so little time.

slowly release the clutch, easy on the throttle, don't stall, pull the clutch to shift, lift the left foot a little to shift, right foot to break, etch etc etc....all while not hitting something or being hit by something......

i feel you're pain and honestly, it's going to take practice riding around a neighborhood street or a parking lot until you're comfortable on the street. life on the street will be much different then in the course

here's my little soapbox of advice which other barfers may disagree with.....

rather than newbies starting on kawi 300s/cbr 300s etc...I think everyone should start on a VESPA.....yeah, I said it. my reasoning...well, when i took the course, I knew how to steer and handle a 2 wheeled motorized device pretty comfortably, eliminating the thought of clutching and shifting. once you're comfortable with throttle response, braking, maneuvering a two wheel motorized device then you can focus on shifting gears as an added skill....that's just my 2c.

(and in all seriousness, you can take the course next time on a scooter and you'll still get the same M1)
You left out the most important lesson of the basic class:

Risk awareness.

You must learn to operate the motorcycle while also maintaining a 360 degree risk awareness bubble out 10 seconds or more in all directions.

Practice in a semicontrolled environment like an empty parking lot, until you can do all the basic operations while also scanning 10 seconds or more in all directions.
__________________
If you are not having fun riding a motorcycle, you are doing it wrong.

The best performance upgrade is upgrading the operating system of the operator. It is cheap, easy, fast, safe and works on every bike you will ever ride.

I am also a Patent Attorney so if I can help you with any IP matters, please just ask.
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:42 AM   #14
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George, Stephanie is right to be concerned. The CMSP / Total Control BRC is good, but you're grossly overstating what people learn.

Risk awareness and management—you don't encounter even 10% of the risks of real riding in the controlled environment of the course.
Judgement—judgement of what? Again, you don't encounter enough of a live environment to learn to judge on the fly.
Basic riding skills—yeah, at low speeds.

I'm not discounting the course at all—but we need to be realistic about what riders learn and are capable of post-course, as Stephanie is doing here. If anything, new riders get an awareness that they need to learn these things (and more) but they don't come out of the course with road-ready risk management skills.

Your off-the-cuff discounting of the fear of dropping a bike is surprisingly cavalier and in my opinion tone-deaf for someone who's instructing new riders. Of course new riders fear dropping their bike, for many reasons. It's not irrational at all.

Stephanie, I applaud your thoughtful assessment and definitely recommend some further training and continuing examination of your skills. Some recommendations if you do get a bike and go forward:
1. Take the ACSO civilian courses, at least the 1 day basic and then intermediate. Be prepared to be challenged, since you're a new rider—but these are serious classes that will really help you improve. The intermediate course gets into tight clover patterns with multiple other bikes in a tight space that will teach you real 360 awareness. They also rent bikes so you can learn on a bike that you don't care about—no worries about dropping it.
2. Get some 1:1 training or take some of the Total Control advanced courses. Some good folks that do this stuff: Monkey Moto School and 2 Wheel Safety Training. There are of course many others—we have a lot of options 'round here.
3. Get some dirt riding under your belt if you can. Getting comfortable with the constantly changing traction conditions of off-road will make you much more competent on the street.
4. Ride, ride, ride. The more you ride, the better you get—if you're thinking and working, not just putting in mindless seat time.
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:05 AM   #15
twiggidy
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Originally Posted by Surj View Post
George, Stephanie is right to be concerned. The CMSP / Total Control BRC is good, but you're grossly overstating what people learn.

Risk awareness and management—you don't encounter even 10% of the risks of real riding in the controlled environment of the course.
Judgement—judgement of what? Again, you don't encounter enough of a live environment to learn to judge on the fly.
Basic riding skills—yeah, at low speeds.


I'm not discounting the course at all—but we need to be realistic about what riders learn and are capable of post-course, as Stephanie is doing here. If anything, new riders get an awareness that they need to learn these things (and more) but they don't come out of the course with road-ready risk management skills.

Your off-the-cuff discounting of the fear of dropping a bike is surprisingly cavalier and in my opinion tone-deaf for someone who's instructing new riders. Of course new riders fear dropping their bike, for many reasons. It's not irrational at all.

Stephanie, I applaud your thoughtful assessment and definitely recommend some further training and continuing examination of your skills. Some recommendations if you do get a bike and go forward:
1. Take the ACSO civilian courses, at least the 1 day basic and then intermediate. Be prepared to be challenged, since you're a new rider—but these are serious classes that will really help you improve. The intermediate course gets into tight clover patterns with multiple other bikes in a tight space that will teach you real 360 awareness. They also rent bikes so you can learn on a bike that you don't care about—no worries about dropping it.
2. Get some 1:1 training or take some of the Total Control advanced courses. Some good folks that do this stuff: Monkey Moto School and 2 Wheel Safety Training. There are of course many others—we have a lot of options 'round here.
3. Get some dirt riding under your belt if you can. Getting comfortable with the constantly changing traction conditions of off-road will make you much more competent on the street.
4. Ride, ride, ride. The more you ride, the better you get—if you're thinking and working, not just putting in mindless seat time.
I 100% agree. Those cones can't simulate a deer jumping from the woods, a person turn left in front of you, or a drunk running a red light. All the courses in the world can't simulate that unless they introduce those into the course. The cones are stationary so it's just "don't hit the cone". Granted, I enjoyed and learned in my course but it wasn't until I was on the street to where "stuff got real".

I might argue it's ok to ride with a bit of fear, per se, as opposed to fearless riding. I DRIVE with fear because let's be honest, there are a lot of idiots trying to hurt me and my car/moto that shouldn't a) walk on the street b) ride on the street (bikes and motos) or even 3) drive on the street. They all scare me when my body is traveling at speeds it wasn't built for.

But again, not discounting more training. I never fault additional education

Last edited by twiggidy; 09-21-2016 at 08:08 AM..
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