Side by side–the early RSS and early BRC

This is actually a response to a comment on the last entry. Read it for yourself—here’s the summation from the range cards for each curriculum:

The following is taken directly from the range cards for both courses.

Exercise 1:

RSS: Getting Familiar with the Motorcycle 5 mins (though it normally took longer as I’ve been told).

Skills: 1) Mounting motorcycle, 2) correct seating position, 3) leaning bike left and right and to full lock both ways. 3) Identify controls, 4) roll on and off throttle, 5) squeeze and release front brake and 6) clutch (separately). 7) Turn on and off other controls (and choke in different positions).

BRC: Motorcycle Familiarization  30 mins

Skills: 1) Mounting motorcycle, 2) correct seating position, 3) leaning bike left and right and to full lock both ways. 3) Identify controls, 4) roll on and off throttle, 5) squeeze and release front brake and 6) clutch (separately). 7) Turn on and off other controls (and choke in different positions).

8) Practice finding neutral with engine off. Roll bike (to prove in neutral). 9) Practice using clutch. 10) Shift to second, 11) shift back to first. 12) Start/stop engine. 13) Practice throttle roll on/off. Stop engine.
Exercise 2:

RSS: Moving the motorcycle 15 mins

Walking, straddle walking, buddy push.

BRC: Riding Demo, Simulated Practice 25 mins

Group Rocking, Power Walking, Riding

Done in 1st Gear with Friction Zone, shift to neutral, shift to 1st. Using brakes in 3rd part.

(It should be noted that one of the near fatal crashes happened in this exercise in the BRC, also the rider left the range and hit the elderly pedestrian with the result she had a broken hip and, in Delaware, a woman rode across three—yes, three—ranges, hit an SUV and an instructor’s Harley and ended up with multiple breaks in both legs. These are the only ones we know about and not necessarily the only ones that happened.

(RSS 20 mins elapsed)

(BRC 55 mins elapsed)

Exercise 3:

RSS: Starting and Stopping the Engine 5 mins

Starting the engine in neutral and running it for 30 seconds.

BRC: Starting and Stopping Drill 25 mins

Skills: Power walk; crossing traffic coming the other way; brake to a stop at cones then in part 2 ride from 1st cone and stop at the last one.

This is the exercise believed to be running when the latest student crashed and died in the BRC.

(RSS 25 mins elapsed)

(BRC 1.20 hrs elapsed)

Exercise 4:

RSS: Riding in a straight line 35 mins

Skills: Group Rocking, Power Walking, Riding

Done in 1st Gear with Friction Zone, shift to neutral, shift to 1st. Using brakes in 3rd part.

BRC: Shifting  & Stopping 30 mins

Skills: 1) Riding in a straight line; 2) shifting to 2nd;  3) downshifting to 1st;4)  braking to a stop; 5) turns; 6) using outside-inside-outside in turns.

(RSS 60 mins elapsed)

(BRC 1.50 hrs elapsed)

At this point, RSS students are 60 mins in and doing what the BRC students did at 30 mins.

At almost 2 hrs, BRC students are up-shifting and downshifting, slowing to turn, using lines through a corner, dealing with multiple lines of traffic and on-coming/turning traffic  and braking to a stop.

Exercise 5:

RSS: Riding the Perimeter and Large Circles 20 mins

Skills: “Gradually increasing speed up to 12-15 mph”  “in a straight line; slow using brakes” for corner. Move to large circle A and then to large circle B.

BRC: Adjusting Speed & Turning 30 mins

Skills: Ride perimeter and then weave between the cones. “Speed up as possible in the straightaway and slow for corners.”

(RSS 1.10 hrs in)

(BRC 2.20 hrs elapsed)

Exercise 6:

RSS: Weaving 10 mins

Skills: In 1st gear ride perimeter and then begin to weave between cones.

BRC: Controls Skills Practice 20 mins

Skills: Pause-n-Go; left and right perimeter turn; weave; traffic check; weave.

(RSS 1.20 hrs elapsed)

(BRC 2.40 mins elapsed)

Exercise 7:

RSS: Turning on Different Curves 20 mins

Skills: Perimeter riding; weaving, large oval;

BRC: Cornering 30 mins

Skills: Large oval in second gear

(RSS 1.40 mins elapsed)

(BRC 3.10 hrs elapsed)

At just over hour and a half in, RSS students have been practicing with the friction zone, slowing in 1st without stalling and cornering in 1st gear. RSS students do not shift to 2nd until Exercise 10—2.35 hrs into the course. Before they’ve done so, they’ve learned basic cornering, slowing, clutch control, braking all at the lower speeds demanded by 1st gear.

While BRC students have been shifting to 2nd from 1.20 mins in.  In Exercise 8—3.10 hrs in—BRC students will shift to 3rd gear.

BRC students have learned far more skills earlier in the course, shifted to 2nd and had to downshift and brake to a stop all at the same time in the same exercise.

If BRC students are traveling below 12 mph and in 2nd gear that would be difficult to believe—and a question of whether it’s a good idea.

RSS students have had a chance to hone clutch control and braking without having to worry about upshifting or downshifting. They learned cornering without having to worry about shifting or turning immediately up the middle of the range with traffic coming towards them (and turning up the middle).

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44 Comments on “Side by side–the early RSS and early BRC”

  1. Anonymous Instructor Says:

    Thank you Wendy for highlighting what I was saying in my earlier post!

    Well done.

    Sorry about the fake e-mail….but I have to protect myself for obvious reasons.

  2. wmoon Says:

    Dear Anonymous Instructor, I used to not allow anonymous comments if the person wasn’t known to me. But that was in the old days when I felt that this work had value and would help things change. Now I understand why you need to be anonymous but have given up any hope anything will do any good. And I’ve done all I can, put all out there. It’s up to the rest of you to do something.

  3. Dave B Says:

    Not looking to beat a dead horse here. Based on my personal observations and the observations of some instructors who have taught the RSS & BRC with me, the students who passed the RSS Skills Evaluation were more knowledgable and street ready than students who pass the BRC Skills Evaluation. And I don’t mean that one Skills Evaluation is better than the other. I mean when all is said and done, RSS graduates had better knowledge and road skills than BRC graduates. I’ve seen way too many BRC students who pass the Skills Evaluation and don’t belong on the road, much less deserve a motorcycle endorsement. I didn’t see it that much with the RSS. And if you take away BRC Exercise 17 (Skills Practice) aka Skills Evaluation Practice, there would be less students passing the BRC Skills Evaluation. There was no such exercise/practice in the RSS.

    This is probably why some States are going back to a RSS-style course.

    Curious to know what David Hough thinks of the course comparisions.

    Did the researchers in Texas who were given the task of evaluating the effectivenes of the BRC come to this conclusion also? Haven’t heard much about that study. Maybe the MSF doesn’t want to release it. Or maybe the researchers did finish their results just before the MSF came out with that press release stating that BRC students need to take more courses before getting out on the street.

    Just thinking out loud.

  4. wmoon Says:

    Dave, I don’t know what you mean about the researchers in Texas–do you mean The Discovery Project that was being run through University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center? Last year it was extended by a year–I can only guess that it was, despite MSF’s alleged manipulation of the data UNC got, not producing the results MSF wanted. Here’s a press release on the extension:

    Though, I think you’re right that what they have found out so far is that the BRC doesn’t do what MSF has claimed for so many years it does.

    I believe David has shared what he feels about the BRC compared to the RSS in an MCN article a few years ago.

    Which states are going back to an RSS-style course? Though I do have to note again that many of the supposed “better” things about the BRC–instructors making it their own and explaining things as they feel students need to hear them have been pulled back in states where MSF runs the show–in particular C and PA where deaths have occurred on BRC ranges.

  5. Dave B Says:

    Yes, I was refering to the UNC study.

    I have to look up that MCN article. I must have missed it.

    Oregon & Idaho were the states I was referring to. I understand more states wanted to adopt the BRT but the MSF tied that up in their settlement agreement.

  6. wmoon Says:

    Ah, yes–Oregon and Idaho. But, just to be clear, they did not return to the RSS but developed a program that is better than the RSS and avoided the failures of the BRC–and they are seeing results. IIRC, the young age group of riders (under 25–iirc) has had a precipitous drop in fatalities since TEAM Oregon’s Basic Rider Training has been the curriculum. And they have virtually eliminated run-offs on the range, too.

    And, yes, MSF has tied up the BRT and limited it to those two states.

  7. CaptCrash Says:

    I believe the Oregon/Idaho settlement restricts TEAM Oregon and Idaho STAR from “marketing” the BRT. However if you want it–I believe you can get it. Illinois did some testing with it but (to my understanding) didn’t pursue it because running BOTH was not feasible…

  8. wmoon Says:

    CaptCrash, while marketing is part of it, it’s not the whole limitation. Of course you can get a copy to look at–even MSF can’t trump the Freedom of Information Act. However, the wording insists that Oregon must tell people not to make copies of it and Oregon can’t give permission for people to use it. Illinois..well, that’s a story. From what I was told, it wasn’t about whether they could run two different programs or not.

  9. Jeff Brenton Says:

    Regarding your comment on BRC exercise 2:

    It should be noted that one of the near fatal crashes happened in this exercise in the BRC, also the rider left the range and hit the elderly pedestrian with the result she had a broken hip and, in Delaware, a woman rode across three—yes, three—ranges, hit an SUV and an instructor’s Harley and ended up with multiple breaks in both legs. These are the only ones we know about and not necessarily the only ones that happened.

    This applies to any exercise where the motorcycle is running, regardless of the curriculum used – failure to use the clutch causes excursions, and many riders (new AND experienced) experience cramping in their clutch hands when they’re not used to using it.

    An unfortunate side effect of having more than one person in a class is that there are going to be circumstances where they have to wait in line, squeezing that clutch, with the potential for an excursion if they fail to hold on to it.

    Your example of the woman riding across “three-yes three” ranges is noteworthy because there were three ranges to ride across; had it been a site with just one range, she probably would have hit something a lot sooner. Is this evidence that having multiple ranges is dangerous, or that having large, open spaces with low obstacle counts is no guarantee that students won’t collide eventually with SOMETHING, if their brains lock up while under power?

    I suspect that one big advantage the RSS has over the BRC is each exercise is shorter, so less chance for hand fatigue to set in.

  10. irondad Says:

    Firstly, on the last post. I still shake my head. A beginner’s motorcycle class is the last place in the world that you would expect to be killed, isn’t it?

    On this post. I had a BRC coach visiting from another state watching my class. He watched the students in the braking evaluation. All he could point out to me was the students didn’t all put their left foot down first. I mean, how many riders died from not putting that foot down first? Isn’t it the lack of braking skills that kills riders? Where is the priority? Style points or street skills?

    Lastly, I am proud to be a TEAM OREGON instructor teaching the BRT since its inception. This statement is totally and solelyfrom me personally as an individual. Yes, we can’t market the BRT. However, it is public record. I wonder if we would press charges if some other state “stole” it?

  11. wmoon Says:

    Jeff, the point is–for decades the same conditions were present (motorcycles running and cramping) and run-offs did happen these kind of deadly and seriously injurious crashes did not. As to the woman in DE “probably would have hit something a lot sooner” is non-material. The point there is that it was early in the curriculum that hadn’t accustomed her to what she should do or familiarized her to clutch/brake enough so that she could panic badly enough to not use the extra distance to stop or at least slow enough that she hit two vehicles enough to total the instructor’s personal bike and an SUV.

    And, yes, the shorter exercises did allow time to rest the hand (though I remember my hand cramping even with the shorter exercises).

  12. wmoon Says:

    Irondad, I have no fondness for my instructor insisting that the left leg goes down first as that led to a drop for me when the ground was uneven and the bike leaned over as my foot went down and down trying to find the ground. A total newbie mistake. One that would’ve been avoided if I hadn’t been trained to do something reflexively instead of trained to note the ground and put the foot down that’s on the shorter side if the ground is uneven. The hand brake is enough to hold the bike at that point and the bike should be in neutral before stopping, so right foot doesn’t have to be on the foot brake.

    And you’re right, it’s braking skill that saves our lives.

    I don’t think MSF can force the state of Oregon to sue. However, though I’m not a lawyer, I think they might be able to claim by not suing the terms of the settlement were violated.

  13. Jeff Brenton Says:

    There is only so much you can do to “familiarize” a person with how to do things before they get on the bike to try it. I, and other instructors I work, with emphasize the clutch as “your friend, your safety valve”, from the moment it is first brought up in the classroom. “If you think something bad is happening, squeeze your friend, and take the engine out of the equation.” Same with the engine cutoff switch.

    And yet, the occasional excursion happens. I’ve rarely had one exceed 50 feet. Of course, I’ve also seen students “free range” several hundred feet, under perfect control of the motorcycle, but with no clue of where they’re going, or why.

    The hand brake is enough to hold the bike at that point and the bike should be in neutral before stopping, so right foot doesn’t have to be on the foot brake.

    Bike in neutral when stopped? In traffic? Not mine! 😉

    Being in gear does not preclude putting your right foot down first, but being in neutral does preclude any chance of making a quick get-away if someone is painting their fingernails as they approach the intersection.

    I agree with emphasizing the actions of stopping vs. the style. I can’t recall ever chastising someone for putting the right foot down first. I do mention they shouldn’t let their left foot get away without doing its job (downshifting), but my my main thrust is finish your stop. Engine revving? Finish the stop, then deal with it – don’t give up on stopping, just because there is more noise than you’re used to.

  14. vstromer Says:

    Above, did you mean the bike *shouldn’t* be in neutral before stopping?

  15. wmoon Says:

    Vstromer, Years ago, I had a long conversation with those who came up with the teaching that the bike should be in gear at a stop. The way that was decided was on no good science or experimentation but simply on a good idea–precisely one well-meaning fellow decided that it would help a rider be able to accelerate away if a car behind him wasn’t going to stop. It just seemed like a good idea so they threw it in the curriculum. That is the sole basis for the teaching.

    It’s a premise that’s rotten with problems: first and foremost, the fewest crashes and deaths happen from rear-enders (though even one is regrettable). In part because rear-enders are rare events. Iow, it’s a supposed precaution like riding soaking wet in case your bike starts on fire.

    Second, riders are rarely aware of cars coming behind them at a stop and therefore don’t avail themselves of the bike being already in gear, and the crash occurs. For example the woman who was hit by the nail-painting driver. However, let’s think about that–depending on how fast the driver is coming, would a rider be able to react in time to avoid a crash–remember, it takes 2 seconds to start the maneuver. Can the bike really get going fast enough to avoid the nail-painter? Maybe yes, maybe no.

    Third, given they aren’t expecting it, it becomes a surprise event adding at least a second to the two-second reaction time to get moving. Iow, by the time they begin to move, the crash is likely to have occurred.

    Fourth, say the rider sees the car coming, natural behavior is to hesitate to see if the car really isn’t going to stop thus burning up even more time to get away–making a crash more likely even if they do roll on the throttle.

    Say the rider believes immediately that the car really won’t stop and would roll on the throttle, they are still likely to check right and left to see if they escape the rear-end frying pan to end in the t-bone fire. But lets’ say they don’t check and go mindlessly ahead because the bikes in gear and they roll on the throttle. T-bone crashes are among the most deadly and injurious of crashes–so keeping it in gear to beat the odds that you can react in time could simply put you in a worse situation.

    Fifth, if the bike is in gear and the rider is hit anyhow, the clutch will pop, causing potentially more lethal kinetics in the get-off–for example causing an endo when the car hits that dashes them to the pavement immediately in front of the bike with a greater chance of brain injury. The rider is also likely to be run over by the car that has hit the bike.

    Iow, it’s a supposed remedy for a very rare crash dynamic that is almost impossible to take advantage of and easily puts a rider in greater danger.
    Otoh, keeping the bike is gear just in case that rare crash happens typically results in pop-offs and stalling out and drops at a stop. So instead of dealing with something that happens all the time with newbies (and occasionally to those who should know better), we have a very stupid thing that’s become gospel.

  16. wmoon Says:

    Jeff, who says the rider DIDN’T have her bike in gear? IIRC, she had taken the MSF class and therefore should’ve been trained to keep the bike in gear at a stop.

  17. 1200 supportster Says:

    Wendy, I have to disagree with you on stopping in neutral. I teach, and practice the following :
    Stop in first gear.
    Have an escape route ready to execute.
    Keep your eyes moving from escape route to rear mirrors.
    If it looks like the car approaching from behind is not going to stop (screeching tires, abnormal speed), get the hell out of the way–it may only be between the rows of cars, but get out of the way.

    It may only happen very rarely, but you are not any less dead if it did happen.

    I seem to remember a you tube of a bike getting run over from behind. He evidently was in neutral–and almost made it out of the way. I could be wrong, and it may have been staged, but it didn’t look like it.

    The moral of the story is “always have an escape route”


  18. Dave B Says:

    I remember when I was doing my RSS Instructor Training and was teaching a class of 12 students. When we were doing one of the early braking exercises, I would correct the student to stop the “perfect” way. My Chief Instructor watched me for a few minutes then slowly walked over to me. He whispered in my ear, “You want them to do it perfectly, don’t you”? I said, “Sure do”. He said, “Ain’t going to happen for about six months”. Valuable words of wisdom.

  19. vstromer Says:

    I guess we might have to agree to disagree on this one. I’m going to keep stopping with my bike in first gear. I check my mirrors for traffic behind me. I leave plenty of room between my bike and the bumper in front of me. Like 1200 sportster I plan an escape route. However, I agree that only a small portion of crashes are rear-enders. Seems like I remember seeing a 3-4% number.

  20. wmoon Says:

    Both you and 1200 Sportster confuse having an escape route (which you need when you’re in motion as well) and keeping the bike in first gear.
    Iirc, rear-end fatalities (which include a large number of bikes in motion) are 6% of all fatalities).

  21. Dave B Says:

    I believe (and Wendy, you probably will have the exact info) there was a study done in Germany? that was presented at some recent motorcycle conference that indicated that the motorcyclist stopped in a shorter distance when applying the brakes and staying in the gear that they were in when applying the brakes.

    I know the MSF wants the students to come to a stop in 1st gear (and deducts points for it on the Skills Evaluation) but the main thing is to stop in the shortest distance when the need arises.

    And as Wendy points out, rear end collisions are very rare with motorcycles even though they do happen. Motorcyclists hitting the car pulling out in front of them (or deer) is much higher. Don’t you think we should use, practice and develop the habit of the technique that works best?

    You can always shift to 1st gear after you’ve come to a stop.

  22. wmoon Says:

    Ste. Longstreet, You ignored the vast majority of my comment which made it clear that having the bike in first gear is highly unlikely to save a rider and twisted my words around. That’s stupid arguing. If you have nothing worthwhile to add to the conversation why don’t you run back to the MSF instructor list and talk about wearing cones on your head to teach students or argue about where the cones are supposed to be placed or what adult learning is. That’s more your speed. This site is for intelligent people who bring something to conversation other than magical thinking.

  23. wmoon Says:

    There was a study done in Canada–I haven’t heard of one in Germany. The Canadian one found the opposite–stopping was faster when riders didn’t take the time to make sure it was in first gear.

    And, yes, Dave, as you point out, the motorcycle front end colliding with an object is almost 80% of all fatalities whether that comes from rear-ending a vehicle or t-boning or head-on. Responsible instructors, like you, concentrate on honing the best braking skill they can have before they go on the road.


  24. vstromer Says:


    I agree that shifting into first gear during a stop as opposed to, say, leaving the bike in third gear, isn’t going to improve stopping distance. The most important thing during the stop is for the rider to stop in time, safely, without hitting something in front of them.

    However, once stopped it is a good idea to be in first gear if a potential threat from behind exists. In my view it doesn’t matter if the downshift to first gear occurs during the stop or after the stop, but the rider should be ready to move out of the way if it becomes necessary. Being in first gear prepares the rider for this possibility.

    This is taught in the BRC and ERC (MSF curriculum), the BRT (Idaho STAR and Team Oregon), and S/TEP (Evergreen Safety Council). This has also been mentioned in MCN safe riding articles.


  25. wmoon Says:

    Yes, I know all that. But it’s next to useless unless the rider is aware of what’s happening behind him and that’s the missing part. This is what is typical of almost all riders:

    The reality is: EVERY driver with an automatic transmission, at least, already has their car in gear at a stoplight. They can put on the gas and pull ahead, too if there’s clear road ahead of them just like a rider. And yet it doesn’t save them from being in a crash (though with potentially less injury). But somehow going to save a rider…because of …what? Why? Just why, exactly, do you all think that riders will do–day in and day out–what you don’t do as drivers?

    And something none of you defenders of first gear in a stop has addressed is lane position because in all my years of riding I don’t see riders (even instructors) pulling up at stoplights positioned to be able to dart around the car in front or with enough room to do so. An escape route with clear path of travel, as some have rightly pointed out, is more important than being in first gear.

  26. vstromer Says:

    Escape routes vs being in first gear – one doesn’t preclude the other. No argument that an escape route is important. The rider must plan an escape route. Having done that, and having positioned my bike where I can use my escape route, I’m going to be in first gear. I check my mirrors for traffic behind me, ready to escape if necessary.

  27. wmoon Says:

    My first thought was to write, “if it makes you feel safer” but that’s exactly my point: the rider education community serves motorcyclists poorly by leading them to believe things make them safer that can put them in greater harm. I realize that instructors are going to continue to teach something that adds precious time to stopping and can cause more severe crashes or at best is ineffectual and do so based on no evidence that it can help in the very rare occasions that not only are they aware that someone is not stopping but that traffic will allow them to move forward safely.

  28. Dave B Says:

    OK gang. Let’s not let this turn into an MSF forum. Strong beliefs are hard to change even when the reality behind the belief is carefully examined.

    Statistically, seat belts save lives. There are some occasions where they don’t. You were able to choose whether or not to wear one before seat belt laws were enacted.

    I’m assuming that us instructors are trained well enough to stop in 1st, have an escape route and check for traffic all around. What percentage is this of the entire riding public? The entire riding public isn’t that well trained and a small percentage of them take more training. As Wendy pointed out, the vast majority of the riding public can’t do what we have trained ourselves to do.

    And how many riders ride with their feet on highway pegs? Now that’s a smart way to shorthen stopping distance.

    It’s also like teaching DDC courses. I tell people what to do to avoid an accident. The vast majority won’t change their driving habits.

  29. Loki Says:

    Just some more food for thought on the stopping in neutral vs. stopping in first gear question. From an Instructional and Learning standpoint, which is simpler for the novice to learn?:

    Method 1:
    *both hands squeeze (front brake and clutch)
    *both feet press (rear brake and shifter)
    *right and left side of the body are essentially doing the same thing – bilateral symmetry

    Method 2:
    *both hands squeeze (front brake and clutch)
    *both feet press (rear brake and shifter – but press the shifter just enough to get neutral, or if you get first, bring it back up half a click to get neutral)

    Also, whatever shifting takes place (to first or to neutral) will work more easily when the transmission is moving. Shifting at a stop is very often more difficult and more time consuming than shifting in motion.

    I completely agree that ‘style’ issues such as left foot down first, the ability to stop with both feet still on the pegs (balance at a stop or ‘pause-and-go), parking with the handlebars turned to the left, etc. are so far down the priority list that they really have no place being emphasized in an entry-level rider training curriculum. And I am confident that we will not see such things in the soon to be released national standards for entry-level rider training curricula.


  30. wmoon Says:

    Loki, I see your point but it’s more of a point for basic training where students can press both shifter and brake and end in first. Once on the road, they can use valuable mental time trying to figure out if they’ve downshifted enough. And I’m sure we’ve all seen newbies who didn’t get to 1st and lug or stall the engine as they try to take off or spend their time at the light figuring out if they’re in first and not watching behind or ahead/sides of them.

    But no one has addressed the core issue: car drivers are in gear at stops–and yet even when they are the first in line do not take off to avoid being rear-ended–so why do instructors think that motorcyclists are going to do better as riders than they are as drivers?

  31. 1200 supportster Says:

    One more shot–tho I don’t think you’ll change your opinion/habit. In the Sept issue of MCN, Ken Condon responded to a question not specifically about this subject. “…To help prevent being involved in a rear-end collision when stopped, I recommend leaving the motorcycle in first gear for a quick escape, aggressively scanning the mirrors for careless drivers and stopping far enough behind cars to allow an escape route.” Same thing as we have been saying, but he gets the big bucks to say it!!

  32. Bob T Says:

    Just wondering where you get your facts from? I am the Delaware MSF instructor whose bike what hit by the student in exercise 2. I’ve never ridden a Harley. Yes a student was severely injured but the other facts of the incident are inaccurate also. The only 3 ranges in Delaware are separated by 100 miles of road.
    Can you see why I may be skeptical of your other information stated.
    Bob T

  33. wmoon Says:

    I read the newspaper article about the crash. I don’t think I said it was a Harley you rode, but I do remember you whining on the MSF list about the damage to your bike and whether it would be covered. I remember being shocked that you were all about how you were being treated unfairly and not a word about the student. The article said she rode across three ranges at the DMV. It said she had the crash early in the morning on Saturday and that she broke both her legs in multiple places.

    If you care to give us more details of the crash, we would all be more than eager to hear what you have to share. And if you do, why don’t you explain why you were more concerned about your motorcycle than you were about the student in the week after the crash and why you didn’t talk about what when wrong then. I’m sure we’d all be very interested in hearing your perspective of what happened.

  34. wmoon Says:

    1200 Supportster, Ken doesn’t address lane position nor does he address the reasons why even if scanning the rearview mirrors that it’s unlikely that a rider will escape in that situation.

    The point is, yet again, riders–and especially safety experts and instructors–put too much faith and lead others to do so in things that will not realistically save their lives or prevent injury. And by leading riders in this sort of magical thinking other riders who have even less knowledge are led to take on risks that aren’t mitigated and therefore can exceed the level of risk they would willingly take on if they truly understood the risk.

    To me, that’s just wrong. And it can lead people to take on even more risks because they believe that they have neutralized ones that, instead, are not diminished and, in some cases, can be exacerbated because they have been ignored. It’s unjust and unfair, imho, to mislead others as to the true amount of risk they undertake.

    And it’s not just the individuals well-being and life that matters; it’s the societal opinion of motorcycling which results–that riders are excessively risk-takers and therefore not deserving of the same rights bicyclists, pedestrians and car drivers enjoy. And that, to me, is unjust on a larger scale.

  35. Mark Weiss Says:


    From your comparison at x.4 you wrote: “At this point, RSS students are 60 mins in and doing what the BRC students did at 30 mins.”

    This is a misleading statement. You are comparing the time at which MRC:RSS students began the exercise with the time at which BRC students complete (the same) exercise. At the beginning of x.4, RSS students are indeed approximately 30 minutes into the course. At 30 minutes into the BRC, BRC students are about to begin the exact same task.

    At the end of the first hour of the MRC:RSS, the students have just completed riding back and forth across the range, practicing starts and stops. The same skills in the same time as addressed in the BRC. It is after this point, the beginning of the second hour, where the two generations of the basic curricula diverge.


  36. Jeff Brenton Says:

    And something none of you defenders of first gear in a stop has addressed is lane position because in all my years of riding I don’t see riders (even instructors) pulling up at stoplights positioned to be able to dart around the car in front or with enough room to do so. An escape route with clear path of travel, as some have rightly pointed out, is more important than being in first gear.

    Well, you’ve not seen me ride, then. My normal lane position at a stop puts me where I can see around the car in front, and that, coincidentally, is also where I can zoom past their tail, if things get wonky behind me. Even riding in pairs, I’ll be on the right side, looking around the vehicle in front.

    Now, I don’t sit there with the bars turned toward the escape route, clutch in the friction zone, holding the bike stopped with the rear brake, like was recommended in the local motor officer training, but I’m definitely in a position to escape, with the bike ready to go (i.e., in gear).

    One question, related to this. Are you saying we should stop talking about things that have a low-percentage of “saves”?

    Inattention at an intersection is not going to kill you every day, but paying attention (which the whole in-gear, scanning everywhere discussion falls under) can keep you out of bad situations. I encourage my students to treat any time they are in a vehicle, as driver or passenger, as an opportunity to practice their strategy, be it SEE, SIPDE, SPA, or whatever, as if they were on a bike. Practice makes it automatic.

    What disadvantage is there in recommending that the bike be shifted into first gear during the stop? What advantage is there to not recommending it?

  37. wmoon Says:

    Jeff, what is wrong with all you people that you still don’t get that my main point is that instructors and the motorcycling community should not mislead people into thinking the risks are lower than they are–either by allowing more frank discussion in the classroom along with the reality out there (for ex. my RSS class so many years ago presented the main findings of the Hurt Study, something that is gone from today’s classroom)–or by misleading them as to how safe helmets are or the efficacy of little things like keeping the bike in gear.

    To me it is irresponsible and unethical–if not immoral–to let students leave the class with a driver’s license-waiver but an unreal belief in the real risks of riding.

  38. Mark Weiss Says:


    The BRC devotes far more classroom time to discussing risk than was included in the MRC:RSS.

    In the MRC:RSS, just 10 minutes from Module 1 was devoted to Risk. Five minutes on risk awareness and five minutes to risk acceptance. These durations are indicated by the time checks in the Instructor Guide (IG VII-9, 11). Also, the Cheif Instr. Guide stresses that the Instructor Candidates should understand that the discussion of risk acceptance be contained to a maximum of five minutes, tops (CIG Unit 7, VII-8).

    In contrast, the 45 minutes of BRC Unit II is taken up by a 5 minute “welcome” video, ends with a 3 minute “risk” video, and includes 37 minutes of discussion in between. Of the 18 Key Learning points to be covered during those 37 minutes, 14 are devoted to risk. Looked at percentage wise, that would devote about 30 minutes to discussion of the dangers of riding a motorcycle.

    While the Hurt Report is specifically included in the MRC:RSS coverage of risk awareness, whichever of the two risk awareness discussion options was chosen, discussion time was still constrained to just five minutes. Although the BRC does not specifically mention Hurt, the information is still there.


  39. wmoon Says:

    Marc, while risk is discussed in the BRC, it’s poorly discussed and what is missing or truncated is many techniques for mitigating risk. And, no, the key information that Hurt found is NOT there.

  40. Dave B Says:

    Risk really isn’t discussed or elaborated on. Since the vast majority of instructors/coaches/facilitators use the Question & Answer template format in the classroom, those risk questions are just answered by the students and they quickly move on to the next question so they can get the hell out of the classroom ASAP. Some sites only have a classroom for a certain time frame. Some sites have 24 students in a classroom. How can you effectively discuss and elaborate any critical motorcycle concept under these conditions?

    Damn it. Some sites have the students answer the questions on the MSF website BEFORE they get to class so they can fly through the classroom. The classroom will probably be eliminated and put online.

    And when one of my classes was audited by someone, they told me to talk less about the risks and more about the fun. Where the hell are we going?

  41. Mark Weiss Says:

    To Dave B.

    It sounds as if the problems that you note are with the program, much more so than the curriculum.

    If classroom is being conducted by merely finding the answers to the questions, then the RCs are NOT following the template provided in the RiderCoach guide. The RCG clearly states that relevant issues are to be discussed and clarified. Find, Report, Highlight, Discuss is the basic cycle that is described in the RCG.


  42. wmoon Says:

    Mark, I had worked out the time available for discussion and the number of questions that MSF says have to be covered and to cover the material gave 1.5 mins per question. Iirc, that was after the answer was read from the handbook. Not much time for a meaningful discussion.

  43. Mark Weiss Says:


    If the questions were to be treated individually, you’d be precisely correct. There’d either be no time for disucussion or class would run overtime (in practice, the time overrun is 50%). RiderCoaches are able to meet time management and content treatment goals by managing the discussion around groups of related questions.

    Without going into a lot of detail, if you look at the questions for Unit II, and consider them as grouped by content, two to four questions per group, you now have groupings which allow for three to six minute discussions. If the RC can restrain themselves from providing too much additional information, this is enough time.


  44. Dave B Says:

    You’re right Mark. A lot of sites across the country have evolved the classroom into “read the question, answer it, and move on to the next question”. The attitude of the instructors seems to be “let’s get this classroom stuff done ASAP and get out on the range ASAP”.

    As I stated prior, some sites book 24 students in a class so they have to fly through the questions ASAP to get out in time. It’s unfortunate because I see so many students with the “deer in the headlights” look when they leave the classroom. That feeling has to carry over to the range with some students, especially the ones that have never used a clutch.

    That’s one reason why I like the Rider’s Edge program because we’re allotted more classroom time and range time.

    I just wish the students had to come back and take a 2nd MSF class to get the waiver. Reserach indicates that you retain about 10% of what you learn from taking a seminar, workshop, course, etc. 10% isn’t good enough for staying alive on a motorcycle.

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