What's Next? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's New Experienced RiderCourse

Quicker, easier, cheaper, and more fun than the Basic Motorcycle Course or the Experienced course, this should be every motorcyclist's list of skill-builders. Photos by James Brown (Email kingosoul@aol.com).

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is rolling out a new version of the Experienced RiderCourse (ERC), to be called the Next Course. Intended to be the first advanced course a novice rider will take after completing the Basic RiderCourse, the Next Course offers many advantages over the present ERC.

First, it's shorter. The classroom sessions have been eliminated, replaced by just short off-bike discussions on the range. Most of the Next's five hours are actually spent on your bike riding or preparing to ride. And yes, it is your bike, not a machine supplied by the facility.

Second, in many states, completing this course will allow a rider to obtain his motorcycle license without taking the state test. This will make it ideal for riders who have been riding on a permit or lapsed riders returning to motorcycling. Many insurers also offer a discount for completion. It is shorter (and cheaper) that the Basic RiderCourse. The MSF hopes that this (and the fact that it's virtually impossible to fail if you simply attempt all the exercises) will persuade all those slackers who keep taking the Basic course for the insurance discount to take this one instead (and thereby actually improve their skills).

Third, the Next Course is more fun than the current ERC. Part of this is the elimination of the classroom sessions, but the exercises are more useful and eye-opening. Andy Cherney and myself recently took a pilot version of the course, and both felt that it was a better skill-developer than the old ERC. This parallels the experience of other riders who took and evaluated the Next. Designed to enable facilities to use many of the same paths of travel as the Basic RiderCourse, the Next Course is conducted at higher speeds and emphasizes fine-tuning skills and techniques. It is an ideal and engaging way to safely familiarize yourself with a new bike or help hone your edge after a winter layoff.

If a course in a parking lot sounds a bit dull (we challenge you to try it before you decide), you may be interested to know that the MSF expects to introduce other advanced courses in the future, some of which may include higher-speed venues such as racetracks.

Do rider-training and racetrack sessions actually provide a safety benefit? The research says yes, at least for the first six months after course completion. And if you can't get to an MSF site, you can get a tiny part of the experience by taking The Motorcycle Challenge on the MSF site, at www.msf-usa.org/pages/ridertrainingfs.html.

-Art Friedman

_If you have questions or comments about this article, email the author at _ Art.Friedman@primedia.com _or at _ ArtoftheMotorcycle@hotmail.com.

_For more information on safe-riding equipment, strategies, techniques and skills, see the _ Street Survival section of MotorcycleCruiser.com.