Two Ways to Two Wheels

“So, what’s the process for learning how to moto (ride)?”

I get this question alot. So, I’m going to tell you what kind of options you got, and then you can decide which option is the best.

Option One

If you’ve got $250-$300 spare dollars lying around, you can take the MSF Basic Rider Course (Motorcycle Safety Foundation). They assume you’re coming in with nothing but your pants and some kind of idea that you want to ride a motorcycle.

Prerequisite experience is not needed, although probably being proficient on a bicycle helps. Prerequisite money is required. They provide you with helmet, moto, educational courses, and riding instruction, from scratch. You take home instructional materials, new motorcycling skills, a card signifying you passed the riding portion of the test (or not), and the raging desire to buy a moto so you can start riding (or not).


Passing the MSF riding test allows you to skip the DMV riding test (which is a bitch) and just take the written portion of the motorcycling test to get the glorious “M” on your license. Of course, if “M” is the only thing you wanted on your license, you could Sharpie it in, but you’d probably get arrested.


  1. It takes a weekend of your time to start learning a skill that could change your life forever.

  2. Good instruction.

  3. No need to worry about equipment.

  4. You’ll feel more confident getting out there in the real world.

  5. You’ll meet some new people and maybe even make some new friends if you’re not a hater.


  1. You pay monies.

  2. You might run into arrogant, egotistical assholes who think they don’t need the course cause they spent a couple of hours on a friend’s motorcycle. They will be the first to eat pavement. Try not to laugh out loud.

  3. You get arrested for Sharpie-ing an “M” on your license.

Option Two

Go to your local DMV office. Wait in line for a couple of years. Fill out the driver’s license application. Take the written test. Get a permit. Find a motorcycle to practice on. Potentially crash it. Pass the incredibly bitchy DMV motorcycle skills test. The hardest part is doing the small traffic circle (tip - drag a little bit of rear brake to tighten it up, give it a healthy amount of throttle, and slip the the clutch).

If you couldn’t tell, I don’t particularly like this method because there’s no formal instruction. A new rider’s abilities will be influenced by his or her friends, so if they’re the reckless type, they’ll breed recklessness. However, if you learned this way and are doing just fine, then good on ya’! I just feel that the probability that this leads to best riding practices is pretty low. This method also makes you deal with the DMV twice, or even three times. I ain’t got time for that shit.


  1. You save a weekend.

  2. You save money.

  3. You don’t have to wait around to take a class.

  4. You come out just fine, provided you got a solid head on your shoulders.


  1. Multiple visits to the happiest place on earth. The DMV.

  2. You pick up bad habits from potentially shitty riders who don’t know how to teach (or ride).

  3. You potentially lose your life because of those bad habits, or you have a higher probability of getting into an accident after you get your license.

  4. Did I mention more visits to the goddamn DMV?

I think there is a clear winner (option one), since it streamlines the initial learning process (you won’t be an expert by any means after one class). More practicing in parking lots will help. But not everyone has money lying around like that too, so choose your poison. Even if you’re strapped for cash and hate classes, I would still recommend option one. Better skills equals better handling and control, which equals a higher probability that you remain alive. If you’re dead, you can’t moto. Save a dollar a day for a year if you have to.