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My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

  1. #1
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    My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short


    This summer, Harley Davidson offered veterans and first responders a free ride through the new rider class. It was like a $320 value. Of course I signed up.
    We took the class at Sheldon's HD.
    Six of us were in the class. Two were experienced riders who wanted to get the MC license endorsement at the end of the class and didn't want to ride their big hogs to the RMV for the test. Two of us were older guys who hadn't been on a bike in many years and needed a good refresher. Two were novices.
    We rode the Street500 Harleys for the class.
    Talk about a fun little bike! The tall guys (well over six feet) were funny, they had to sit on the back of the seat and their knees were still above the fuel tank! They were reminded of their youth, when they were riding minibikes. The bikes had enough power that we all agreed that if we lived in the city or didn't do much highway riding or touring, this would be a fun bike to have. They were all blacked out with black cowls around the headlight, so they looked like miniature SOA bikes. Of course if you like the Jap bikes with all the plastic on them, you won't like this, so no big deal. I like naked bikes and bobbers, so for me and those of us in the class, they were cool bikes to play with. For a new rider, it's perfect. Light, quick, sips gas, and liquid cooled.
    We learned some great stuff, like very slow speed control, high speed emergency maneuvers and braking, and handling turns.
    My best tip was using your head to look way into the turn, and pressing on the grips to lean the bike into the turn. This in practice, helped me handle turns much better.
    We all got our MC license endorsement at the end of the course, got certificates for reduced insurance rates, and 15% off over-priced items like helmets, gloves, and jackets.
    If you're thinking about taking a course like this, I highly recommend it. It wasn't boring. Two nights (4 hours each) in the classroom and two full days (8 hours each) on the bikes.
    All of our class participants, even the experienced riders, took away great habits and skills.

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    Lifer PhilB's Avatar
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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by commuter View Post
    This summer, Harley Davidson offered veterans and first responders a free ride through the new rider class. It was like a $320 value. Of course I signed up.
    We took the class at Sheldon's HD.
    Six of us were in the class. Two were experienced riders who wanted to get the MC license endorsement at the end of the class and didn't want to ride their big hogs to the RMV for the test. Two of us were older guys who hadn't been on a bike in many years and needed a good refresher. Two were novices.
    We rode the Street500 Harleys for the class.
    Talk about a fun little bike! The tall guys (well over six feet) were funny, they had to sit on the back of the seat and their knees were still above the fuel tank! They were reminded of their youth, when they were riding minibikes. The bikes had enough power that we all agreed that if we lived in the city or didn't do much highway riding or touring, this would be a fun bike to have. They were all blacked out with black cowls around the headlight, so they looked like miniature SOA bikes. Of course if you like the Jap bikes with all the plastic on them, you won't like this, so no big deal. I like naked bikes and bobbers, so for me and those of us in the class, they were cool bikes to play with. For a new rider, it's perfect. Light, quick, sips gas, and liquid cooled.
    We learned some great stuff, like very slow speed control, high speed emergency maneuvers and braking, and handling turns.
    My best tip was using your head to look way into the turn, and pressing on the grips to lean the bike into the turn. This in practice, helped me handle turns much better.
    We all got our MC license endorsement at the end of the course, got certificates for reduced insurance rates, and 15% off over-priced items like helmets, gloves, and jackets.
    If you're thinking about taking a course like this, I highly recommend it. It wasn't boring. Two nights (4 hours each) in the classroom and two full days (8 hours each) on the bikes.
    All of our class participants, even the experienced riders, took away great habits and skills.
    This is worthwhile. In most places, there is an "advanced" course that is designed specifically to be a good refresher/skills update for riders with experience.

    I haven't ridden the Street500 specifically, but I have ridden the Street 750 a couple of times, and I was quite impressed with how it rode. The early ones didn't have very good brakes, but that has been improved since then. The fit and finish is up to the usual H-D standards, but neither is the price. For the money, they seem to be good bikes and good value, especially for newer riders, or anyone who wants a practical bike that's easy to handle.

    PhilB

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    I'll be upgrading to a cruiser in the spring. This will double the HP and torque and add 100 or more pounds. I want to get the most out of it, so I'll bring the new cruiser to the "Advanced" class.
    I'm looking forward to it. They really stress riding within your abilities. I want to raise my abilities so I can have a lot more fun on a much bigger and more powerful bike. This class will do it.
    I've already had a close call, where a car pulled out of a side street and almost T-boned me.
    My braking skills of having my left hand ready for the clutch,
    my right hand ready for the brake,
    and my right foot ready for the rear brake,
    added to my awareness of traffic and surroundings,
    gave me enough time to dramatically slow down, downshift,
    swerve around this guy (had to swerve in front, or I might have ended up in the woods)
    and still have enough room to flip him off and twist the throttle out of harm's way.
    I credit the skills developed in the riding academy with helping me avoid disaster. How would I ever explain that to the wife?
    Yeah. Riding Academy, whether a novice or experienced rider, only helps. Never hurts. Worth every penny, even though as a veteran I played for free. Thanks Harley Davidson!

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    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Explain to your wife that you have to take "Safety training" every year. It's for the children.

    Took the Lee Parks ARC I and II, two day California Superbike school in NJ, and numerous Tony's Track Days. Fun and camaraderie are not discussed, only "safety training...." The more it costs, the more safety!

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Fun and camaraderie are not discussed, only "safety training...." The more it costs, the more safety!

    This may be my new signature line...

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Explain to your wife that you have to take "Safety training" every year. It's for the children.

    Took the Lee Parks ARC I and II, two day California Superbike school in NJ, and numerous Tony's Track Days. Fun and camaraderie are not discussed, only "safety training...." The more it costs, the more safety!
    Camaraderie was a big part of our class.
    I think that might have had more to do with the personalities that were in that particular class.
    The instructor commented on how great the class was, due to the way we helped each other so much.
    For example, one of the experienced riders was trying to help a young, new rider gain better control of his bike. Keep in mind, this experienced guy was a spitting image of the "Jax" character in the SoA TV series. Had a lot of the same character, too, in a good way. He told him, "don't be intimidated by the bike, make it your bitch." So, being a wise-ass, I told him the same thing when he was struggling with his bike hitting second gear. He kept saying it wasn't right, something was wrong with it. The instructor rode it a couple times and said he had no problem. So, I told him "don't be intimidated by the gear shift, make it your bitch!" We had lots of fun.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Explain to your wife that you have to take "Safety training" every year. It's for the children.

    Took the Lee Parks ARC I and II, two day California Superbike school in NJ, and numerous Tony's Track Days. Fun and camaraderie are not discussed, only "safety training...." The more it costs, the more safety!
    Yeah, I want to take it to the track and do some high speed track/racing training. It's big fun, but it's also about safety on two wheels at highway speeds (or more).
    It's also difficult to get a speeding ticket on the track!
    Good idea.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    No offense here OP but if you had time to flip him off it wasn't a very close call. As a new rider you should focus on riding and not 'hand signals'.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by klp View Post
    No offense here OP but if you had time to flip him off it wasn't a very close call. As a new rider you should focus on riding and not 'hand signals'.
    Depends on what you call a "close call." No, my jeans didn't get snagged in his grill, but he was half way into the traffic lane. I was already between the middle of the lane and the left third of the lane.
    It was a quick flip. He had stopped already. I was almost completely past him when I flipped him over my shoulder.
    BTW, in my riding class, while practicing this maneuver, the instructor was standing in the square where the obstacle (stopped vehicle) was. I swerved, straightened out, flipped off the car, and stopped. I asked "do I lose points for flipping him off?" He replied, "not in this class." We did have a lot of fun, while developing our skills. If you can safely do it, it's up to you.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    I don't want to pee on your thread, I am glad you enjoyed the class and welcome you to the sport. Time spent developing solid visual skills will likely help you avoid incidents like this going forward.

    The fact that you are new and have had a close call are indications that something needs tweaking. Spend some time analyzing what happened, if you cannot find something or several things you would do differently next time then you are doomed to repeat again and again.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by klp View Post
    I don't want to pee on your thread, I am glad you enjoyed the class and welcome you to the sport. Time spent developing solid visual skills will likely help you avoid incidents like this going forward.

    The fact that you are new and have had a close call are indications that something needs tweaking. Spend some time analyzing what happened, if you cannot find something or several things you would do differently next time then you are doomed to repeat again and again.
    I don't think I could do anything different.
    I was two car lengths behind a pickup truck. Easily visible. We were doing about 30 mph on a backroad.
    The offending car was stopped in a driveway or small side street. I saw him there and knew there was a risk.
    When the pickup passed, the operator of the car could have easily seen me. He did not. He started pulling out without looking. I hit the brakes immediately, with only a slight skid.
    He stopped about halfway out, as he started to pull out, saw me, and stopped.
    When a stopped car suddenly moves in at you at a 90 degree angle, there's only split seconds to respond, which I did.
    What would you do differently, in that situation?

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by commuter View Post
    ... What would you do differently, in that situation?
    There are no guarantees, no matter what you do, but here are a few options: Slow down a bit as you approach just in case, cover the brake lever for a faster reaction time, perhaps a couple short beeps on the horn to get his attention. Maybe flash your headlight, or be using your highbeam in the daylight. Wear high-vis gear if you're not doing so already. Practice braking so that you can brake hard without even a slight skid. Be sure to use both brakes if you're not already. Watch not just the car, but the driver's head (where is he looking, is he even paying attention), and the front wheel of the car (which way is it turned, when does it start moving).

    Keep taking riding courses and instruction.

    Basically do what you can to maximize your odds, time, and skills.

    Also, two car lengths is pretty close to the pickup. The general guideline is two seconds, which at 30mph is about 5 or 6 car lengths.

    Some of that might seem overkill, but it can take only one mistake (by either you OR someone else) to f up the rest of your life. As a rider who has been riding daily for almost 30 years, has ridden about 400K miles, and fully intends to die of old age, I say it's very hard to be too careful.

    PhilB

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    Last edited by PhilB; 10-26-16 at 03:47 PM.
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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Slow down, create more space between me and the car in front, try to make eye contact with the driver about to pull out, move to the left hand portion of the lane.

    The clue here is hidden within why the car did not see you. You are a new rider. If you spend the rest of your riding career figuring out what the other guy did wrong it's not going to end well.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilB View Post
    There are no guarantees, no matter what you do, but here are a few options: (..)

    Also, two car lengths is pretty close to the pickup. The general guideline is two seconds, which at 30mph is about 5 or 6 car lengths.
    I didn't see the weave in the list. Weave within the lane to make yourself more obvious against the background. Then operate as if they can't see you, and are going to pull out in front of you anyway. I like to watch their front tire. There's also some things that can't be put in writing. Something about whatever you see tells you they're gonna make a mistake right now. Listen to that voice.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by aldend123 View Post
    I didn't see the weave in the list. Weave within the lane to make yourself more obvious against the background. Then operate as if they can't see you, and are going to pull out in front of you anyway. I like to watch their front tire. There's also some things that can't be put in writing. Something about whatever you see tells you they're gonna make a mistake right now. Listen to that voice.
    Weaving in the lane is a great idea! The motion of the headlight side to side might make for better visibility than simple a light coming straight on.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Two car lengths is way, way too close, even at only 30.

    Ignoring for a moment how pissed off and distracted the driver in front of you will get by having a headlight in their mirrors from that distance:

    Not only does it put you on a razor thin line for avoiding collision if you get brake tested either accidentally or intentionally, but following that close makes it MUCH more likely that a person entering traffic from a side street won't be able to see you because you are hidden from their view by the car or truck you are following...remember, they are probably making their first decision on when to pull out when you and the car you are following are still a good distance away, so if you are hidden at that point, then you are requiring them to change their mind if you come into their view when almost in front of them. Kinda sounds like that might have happened here? Because he started pulling out, then stopped when he (finally) saw you? It sounds like you need to improve how well you are being seen, as well as adding to your own usable reaction time.

    I've been riding street for over 30 years; you gotta treat it like dodgeball, as if they are all TRYING to make contact with you (even though they aren't) and ride accordingly. You have to ride like ALL of them are blind idiots, even though maybe 1 in 20 drive that way. Like Phil said, 6 car lengths or so at 30 mph. The danger in extending it even further is leaving a gap big enough that some person who's going to be late for work thinks he can squeeze into the gap from a side street. You don't want to leave that much, but you need to maximize your see-ability. So there's a sweet spot, but it's much further than two car lengths.

    I don't personally agree with looking at the front wheel of the car pulling out. I look at the driver's head and eyes. If I haven't seen the driver look right at me, especially if he's looking the other way, I'm going to assume he doesn't see me, and make sure he can't hit me no matter what kind of retarded careless death attempt he throws at me. Sounds like you did some of that here (after he started moving) I don't know why I keep saying "he"; it seems like the most common person for this kind of scenario is blue haired old folks who can barely see over the dashboard (with likely horrible vision) or kids fitting in that one more text at the stop sign. Anyway, I'm not assuming shit until I see him see me. If I have to slow way down even though I have the right of way, so be it. This has saved my life a couple times...

    On a separate topic and opinions vary, so I'm not saying I'm right or you should change what's been taught BUT I think they teach that two brake stuff at the msf courses these days and...lets just say that if I lock a wheel and skid in a panic (or any, besides downhill sand!) stop situation, it ain't gonna be the rear wheel locking up, because it will be in the air. This is true whether I'm on a sportbike, my Harley bagger, or any other street bike. In other words, on most street or track rides, you could disconnect my rear brake and I wouldn't notice. I like to keep it working correctly, for emergency backup. Keith Code taught me that around 1990...he said, "why bother using valuable concentration and movement in an emergency situation on rear brake, when that tire won't be touching the ground in a correctly executed high performance braking maneuver? And if you accept that, then shouldn't you brake all the time that way (front brake only) so that when the emergencies occur, you aren't asking yourself to do anything differently from every other stop?"

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    Last edited by Imbeek; 10-27-16 at 08:33 AM.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Not to pile on here but to summarize: you were in the left third of the lane only two car lengths behind a pickup truck and you were on a cruiser (I mention cruiser because of the low seat height). This means that you were effectively hiding yourself from cars on your right trying to enter the road. I'd also have imagine that you were blocking your own vision of the roadway.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    My take-away on close calls:

    1. Distance is my friend. Leaving lots of distance between the motorcycle and leading vehicle is not restricted to stopping distance, but also the ability of others to have a clear view of the motorcycle.

    2. Weaving in the lane (which is fun, anyway) can improve the visibility of the motorcycle.

    3. You can never predict what a cager will do, prepare for the worst.

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  19. #19
    Day late, dollar short carsick's Avatar
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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Yes, the SMIDSY weave!
    Crash Course - The SMIDSY - YouTube

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Welcome aboard...or back!

    We all start out with two buckets. One full of luck and an empty one for experience. The trick is to fill the empty one before emptying the full one.

    Sounds like you've made a fair start!

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by carsick View Post
    That was an excellent video. Thank you for that.

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    I don't care what that old British bastard says weaving is a bad idea. What if your weave trajectory leaves you aimed towards the car whose attention you are after and the car starts to pull out? Now you are turning/leaning and pointed in the wrong direction.

    Pure shite.

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  23. #23
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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Didn't even click on the weaving one. I don't do it

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Quote Originally Posted by klp View Post
    I don't care what that old British bastard says weaving is a bad idea. What if your weave trajectory leaves you aimed towards the car whose attention you are after and the car starts to pull out? Now you are turning/leaning and pointed in the wrong direction.

    Pure shite.
    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post
    Didn't even click on the weaving one. I don't do it
    You shouldn't be weaving when you get close enough to the car that which way you are pointing matters, and the video does not advocate that. They recommend a weave while you are further away and still blending into the background, as a way to stand out and not blend into the background. Which is a good idea, and makes excellent sense.

    PhilB

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    Re: My experience at the Harley Davidson New Rider Academy Course - short

    Yeah I didn't watch the whole video - once I saw him wobble his bike out of the shed I was about done.

    My commute from Andover to S Lawrence includes 43782993 intersections, am I supposed to weave the whole time?

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