One of the biggest advantages up-and-coming riders enjoy today is the wide selection of riding schools and training materials. A parent may be a skilled rider, but that doesn't necessarily mean that person is a good teacher. With so many training resources available, it makes sense to take advantage of them.
Honda highly recommends enrolling new riders in an off-road training course, such as the DirtBike School (DBS), sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). DBS training is a fun, one-day hands-on training session available to anyone 6 years of age or older, where students are taught basic riding skills, responsible riding practices, risk management and environmental awareness. In many cases, entire families are enrolling in one session.
The DBS is now available in many areas of the country, including Honda's Rider Education Center in Colton, California. This center also offers training in MSF-approved street bike programs as well as all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) training sponsored by the ATV Safety Institute.
If a local training program is not available, families can still find plenty of help. The MSF publishes materials that are full of excellent teaching tips to help novices learn the proper fundamentals of off-road riding. Two handy booklets, Parents, Youngsters & Off-Highway Motorcycles, and Tips & Practice Guide for the Off-Highway Motorcyclist, are chock-full of suggestions for a smart and safe start. Some of the high points from these booklets include operation of controls, starting and stopping the engine, putting the motorcycle in motion, braking and stopping, proper riding posture, shifting and turning.
Like any other skill-intensive activity, riding must be taught in a step-by-step process that includes rules, knowledge of skills, practical hands-on training and lots of practice. The child's rate of learning sets the pace. Most importantly, since children are both young and inexperienced, nothing takes the place of a parent's immediate supervision. When a child starts riding in a real-world environment, it is wise for a parent to plan to be a coach rather than a rider for the first few family outings.
Done properly, learning to ride an off-road motorcycle is the most fun many youngsters—and adults—will ever have. A camera and/or video recorder will capture those priceless moments and, in all likelihood, they will be the rides that the family remembers fondly for the rest of their lives.
For more information, contact:
Honda Rider Education Center
Colton, California (909) 430-3000
Motorcycle Safety Foundation