Rider Skills

A big part of being a responsible rider is to be a skillful and proficient rider. In this section you will find resources for becoming a better rider. Studies and reports regarding rider training are found in Research.

Rider Education Resources for Safe Motorcycling

Start with Basics to Become a SMART and SKILLFUL Rider

There are eight steps you can, and should, take to become a more skillful rider. These steps are logically sequential. That doesn’t mean you need to implement only one at a time or that you must do things in precisely this order, but if you are a new rider starting from scratch, the order suggested should be helpful.

  1. Take an introductory skills-development course
  2. Engage in independent study.  Reading List here. 
  3. Practice.
  4. Take an intermediate skills-improvement course.
  5. Ride a variety of bikes.
  6. Ride off-road.
  7. Attend a track school.
  8. Repeat.

“Practice” is listed as the third step, after taking an introductory course and engaging in independent study. Why? Because practice makes permanent, and only by practicing perfectly does it become perfect. If you have not learned the “what” and the “how” through taking a course or by independent study, practice is of little value and will even be detrimental if it reinforces bad habits.

For a supplementary explanation about each of the above steps, read How to Enhance Your Street-Riding Skills. Here is a List of books which address learning to ride and enhancing your riding skills.

To enjoy a long life as a motorcyclist, become a lifelong learner.

Excellent Resources for Motorcycle Riders

Be Crash Free is a web-based motorcycle rider membership program. To be eligible for membership, riders make a pledge to Ride Legal, Ride Sober, Ride Protected, Ride Skilled, and Ride Informed. Every month, members will get a riding tip as well as a reminder of the pledge they have made. In addition, members get discounts from a variety of partner companies.

MCrider.com is a source for free on-line rider training videos.  All MCrider videos are produced by Kevin Morris a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Total Control instructor in Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Texas. New videos are released every Friday.  As of this posting Kevin has more than 150 videos available for free viewing at his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/kevinmorris22/videos

Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF):  The most comprehensive resource available for both novice and experienced riders; visit the MSF website or call 800-466-9227 to find a training course near you.

  • The MSF Basic eCourse:  Highly recommended by SMARTER for beginning riders as well as experienced riders seeking to enhance their knowledge
Key messages of the MSF:
  1. Get trained and licensed
  2. Wear protective gear – All the gear, All the time – including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the DOT
  3. Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs
  4. Ride within your own skill limits
  5. Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider course

Roads We Ride: Beautifully produced and inspirational motorcyclist safety campaign videos with a difference – rather than the usual re-tread of the “do this, do that” format, these videos draw upon regular, experienced riders to tell us about their favorite road and how to make the most of it while staying safe.

More Rider Training Opportunities

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses are offered in many states, but not all.  Some states have developed their own curriculum.  There is also a wide variety intermediate, advanced, on-street and off-road courses available.  One source for finding courses is webBikeWorld.

SMARTER does not endorse any specific rider training providers; however, our members have reported positive experiences with courses offered by the following:

American Motorsport Training

American Supercamp

California Superbike School – Keith Code

CLASS– Reg Pridmore

Jason Pridmore’s STAR


Penguin Racing School

Ride Like a Champion – Nick Ienatsch

Rider Choices – Contemporary Motorcycle Rider Education and Consulting

Riding in the Zone – Ken Condon



Street Skills – Cornering Confidence

Total Control

Rider Skill Test: Diagrams, dimensions and examiner instructions for the test many states use to assess rider skill as a prerequisite for motorcycle license or endorsement issuance.

Rider Skill Test:  A description of the test development and links to videos and practice guide.

A Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling

Motorcycling Safety Tips and Techniques to Enhance Riding Skills

2011 – A Study of Motorcycle Rider Braking Control Behavior

2021 – Braking Capabilities of Motorcyclists – An Update, Literature Review

This article reviews published  studies related to the deceleration that motorcyclists can produce by braking. An important concept the article points out is the difference between the braking capabilities of a motorcycle and the deceleration an average rider can achieve on that motorcycle.  Most riders will not be capable of fully utilizing the braking capabilities of their motorcycle. Second, most studies are conducted with riders who were not confronted with actual emergency situations.

Brake the Motorcycle – Don’t Break the Fun of the Ride.  This is a SMARTER developed curriculum guide for getting the most out of your Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) /traction control equipped motorcycle.  It contains information on the history of ABS, why ABS is an important safety feature, how ABS and traction control systems work, tips and techniques for braking and descriptions for practice riding exercises.  No permission is necessary to download and use this curriculum although we would appreciate an e-mail to smarterusa@gmail.com.

Motorcycle Safety at webBikeWorld

New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants (NZMSC):  A “one-stop” riding skills information site.

Motorcycle Tips & Techniques, Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics:  The fundamental purpose of this site is to promote the safest possible motorcycling by providing you with information to help you eliminate rider errors, thereby significantly reducing your odds of having an accident.

Do I Brake or Do I Swerve:  A 2006 presentation paper.

Deer: A Deadly Hazard for Motorcyclists:  Deer Avoidance tips written specifically for motorcyclists.