Paperback: 192 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 8.25 x 10.5
Full color illustrations and photos. Publisher: Whitehorse Press; (August 2005) ISBN: 1884313477
The original Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Guide to Motorcycling Excellence (wBWreview) was first published in 1995. The book has been updated to reflect ten years’ worth of experience and also to include information on the updated MSF “Basic RiderCourse” [sic] training for beginning riders.
The MSF claims that over 3 million motorcyclists in the U.S. have taken one of their courses, taught by over 7,000 trained RiderCoaches [sic]. There has been some controversy lately about MSF strategies and tactics, but like it or not, you have to admit that without the MSF training, there would be many more unskilled motorcyclists on the road.
Back in the old days, as I am fond of reminding webBikeWorld visitors, formal motorcycle training consisted of having a friend show you how to get the bike going on the back 40 (or the parking lot next to 104 N. Lake St. in my case) and keeping your fingers crossed. But not while riding, of course!
We’re fortunate enough to have several different MSF courses, including the very popular Beginner, the Experienced, and, coming soon, the “On-Road RiderCourse” (not sure where they come up with these names) for graduates of the Beginner RiderCourse. Motorcyclists can also choose from the MSF ScooterSchool [sicr DirtBike School in selected areas.
And don’t forget the variety of training venues available with training by the likes of Freddie Spencer, Keith Code and many others. One of these days, I’ll attend one or more and report back…
Whether or not all this training has created safer motorcyclists and fewer accidents is debatable. I have read a few articles that claim that basic training for motorcyclists does not affect accident rates, but who knows where the truth lies? All I can say is that I rode motorcycles for, believe it or not, 20 years or so before taking my first MSF beginner’s course and I could not believe how much I didn’t know about motorcycling. I use the lessons I learned in my beginner’s and experienced courses every time I ride.
The Second Edition of Motorcycling Excellence consists of 16 chapters and several appendices, each focused on an aspect of riding. Much of it will be familiar to MSF graduates and readers of the original Motorcycling Excellence book; chapters entitled “Basic Riding Skills”, “Riding Straight” and “Protective Riding Gear” are de rigueur, but necessary for all of us to touch base with now and again.
What’s different is that all of the information has been updated, the writing style is more contemporary, and several famous guest writers appear. For example, World Champion Kevin Schwantz wrote a short page on safety gear and one on motorcycle control. Freddie Spencer added an interesting article about trail braking — can you imagine, trail braking in an MSF book!
There are sidebars by Reg Pridmore on riding smooth; Rich Oliver on stopping distances; Race Tech’s Paul Thede on suspension, and more. Any time you can get this type of talent all gathered in one place, you’re on to something! Granted, many webBikeWorld Motorcycle Book Reviews visitors will have read versions of these infobits in books written by these famous authors, but adding their wisdom really spices up the Second Edition, especially when compared to the soporific original.
The MSF has realized that the world of publishing is much different than it was a decade ago, and the book’s tone, layout and content is competitive with some of the best motorcycle training books out there, some of which now need updating in comparison. Although we were not smitten with the original version of Motorcycling Excellence, we recommend the Second Edition as a worthwhile addition to every motorcyclist’s bookshelf.