This Harley Davidson Riding Academy review of the new rider course, is about the new and improved riders program that was formerly known as the Harley Davidson Rider’s Edge course. It is a learn to ride program for those wanting to…, well learn to ride a motorcycle.
I took the Rider’s Edge course about 6 years ago, having never rode a motorcycle previously. After the course, I posted a review on my personal blog, and thought now would be a good time to update that focusing on a Harley Davidson Riding Academy review for the new rider course.
The updates found in this Harley Davidson Riding Academy review will focus on the differences between the Rider’s Edge program and their new rider course.
By the way, if you’re not a fan of Harley Davidson… Since I took the Rider’s Edge course, I’ve become the proud owner of a Triumph Thruxton. Yep you don’t need to be obsessed with Harley’s to take their new rider course.
I’ve always been fascinated with motorcycles, and had wanted to ride ever since I was a teenager. For reasons beyond me, motorcycles always seemed intimidating.
Now I had done lots and lots of research through the years, and my observation was riding a motorcycle was confusing as all hell. You’re having to balance a bike that weighs in excess of 400 lbs., deal with two different brakes, and work the transmission with both your hand and foot. Throw in terms like counter-steering, when you have to turn your handlebars one way to go the other.
Wait what? See what I mean.
I don’t know if it was a mid-life crisis or what, but I told my wife I wanted to learn how to ride and buy a bike. Thinking back I probably asked her if I could.
I had two options when it came to selecting a learning to ride course:
- Take a new rider course offered at a local school with 50 plus other new rider hopefuls
- Take the Harley Davidson Riding Academy new rider course and hope for a more individualized approach
Now granted, the Harley Davidson Riding Academy is a bit pricier ($300) than the local riding program ($50). But my expectation was a smaller class size would lead to more one-on-one tutoring.
Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review
Given this post, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess which course I selected, the Harley Davidson new rider course.
The key selling point for me? I liked the fact that the riding day’s on the range would be limited to no more than 10 or so riders. I figured I would get a whole lot more attention from the instructor(s), than I would have with 50 plus riders in the state sponsored course.
One other little tidbit if you’re on the fence. A few of the instructors that taught in the Riding Academy new rider course also taught the state sponsored course. So it’s really the same principals, but you get more individualized instruction.
Ok, enough of the intro crap, lets get into the Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review of the new rider course.
How To Register
Registration is very straight forward, and was done on-line using the Harley Davidson new rider course website.
During registration, I learned a bit more about the program. The class is actually made up of approximately 12 people for the classroom portion of the class. They broke the class into 2 groups for range days, one group rode in the morning, the other in the afternoon.
A week prior to the class, I received an email from the instructor detailing everything I would need for the course:
- Drivers License
- Eye Protection (or a helmet visor)
- A long sleeve shirt of jacket
A few day’s prior to the course, the instructor actually called me asking if I had any other questions.
Very impressed with the whole registration process, and was looking forward to the start of class.
Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review: Day 1
The first day started at the Harley Davidson dealership at 5:00 pm.
After filling out some quick paperwork and doing brief introductions, we got into the sales part of the course. I was aware this was coming based upon the research I had done, and this was the one thing I wasn’t looking forward to since I had no interest in purchasing a Harley.
I’ll be honest, this was one area of the new rider course that really stood out for me. Since I had never set foot in a motorcycle dealership, it was eye opening for me. We got an overview of the different Harley’s, both new and used, and had a chance to sit on the different bikes. They also explained how you can customize the bikes to your liking as part of the sales process, be it from a different seat to other handlebars to improve your comfort level.
From there we went to the service bay, and got a tour on how they service the bikes. After that, we got a chance to browse the merchandise shop, and learn all about the different riding gear that was available.
To my surprise, this tour was all about understanding how a motorcycle dealership works. It wasn’t a sales job at all.
The remainder of Day 1 and all of Day 2 of the new rider course focused on classroom work. This was a grueling 4 hour session where we reviewed the Rider’s Handbook, watched videos, and had classroom discussions. The focus during these sessions was on motorcycle safety, and to this day I still look back on the things I learned from this course.
We also had a chance to sit on the bike we would be riding on the range, a Buell Blast 500. Having never really sat on a bike before, this was the highlight of the classroom session for me. The instructors highlighted each of the controls, and gave everyone a chance to sit on the bike and try things out first hand. This was very valuable, as we had a chance to try things out before hitting the range the following day.
Note: One major improvement in the Riding Academy new rider course is the upgrade in bikes they are using. You’ll learn how to ride on a relatively new H-D Street 500. Be prepared, this isn’t the 250 pound entry level bike that you’ll find in the state sponsored courses. The Street 500 is a 500 pound honest to goodness Harley. In my opinion, this will only help to prepare you more for the real world of riding.
Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review: Range Days (Day 3 and 4)
It’s not really a range, it’s more of a large parking lot, that’s made up of a number of different stations for the exercises you’ll be doing.
Prepare yourself as you’ll be spending the next 6 hours learning to ride, and another 6 hours on day 4. Oh yea, you do get about an hour break for lunch.
I liked how they structured the riding sessions. You start with the basics and learn more with each follow up exercise. You’ll start with a detailed overview of the exercise from the instructor, and mount your bike to perform that drill. Each participant has their own bike for the duration of the course, so there’s no standing around waiting for someone to finish a drill before you get a chance to try it out.
All in all, there are a total of 16 exercises you’ll perform with the bike over the course of the two range days. Here’s a brief run down on some of key things you’ll be learning:
- Mounting and getting a feel of the bike, playing with the controls, and start up
- Understanding the clutch, engage and disengage the clutch
- Riding in a straight line with feet on the ground using only the clutch skills you learned in the previous exercise
- Riding with feet on the pegs
- Riding in a circle, focusing on counter-steering
- Shifting to second gear
- Breaking and emergency breaking, and downshifting
- Slow speed maneuvering
I walked away from the range day’s full of confidence and ready to hit the road.
Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review: Day 4
At the conclusion of the riding exercises on Day 4, we were ready to take the riding exam. You’ll use the knowledge you gained in the classroom portion of the class, and the things you learned on the range to take the test.
Assuming you pass, which everyone did, you’ve got yourself a free pass to get your motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. No need to take a riders test at your local DMV, as the Riding Academy course just did that for you.
After all the tests were scored, we were given the secret motorcycle handshake from the instructors, the motorcycle wave.
Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review Summary
Is it worth the extra cost? Yes!
Did I learn anything? Ah yea!
Not only did I learn a great deal on motorcycles, dealerships, safety, and various riding gear, I walked away learning how to ride. Six years later I’m still riding, and enjoying every minute of it.
I bought a used starter bike after the course to refine my riding skills on the streets, and purchased a brand new Triumph Thruxton a few years after that.
I would recommend this new rider course if you can afford the additional cost over the basic riding course that is offered by your state. The individualize instruction alone is worth the additional cost.
That in a nut shell is my Harley Davidson Riding Academy Review of the new rider course. Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve taken the course, and let me know how it went for you.