Got a comment in from Ronald H. Ronald decided it was time to get back riding again after a 25 year hiatus. He turned to a motorcycle training school thinking that it was the right move to help him get back on the road, and was disappointed with the results.
We’ve had good things to say about our experiences with the motorcycle training schools in Ontario so far, but not everyone shares the same mind, and Ronald’s comment brings up quite a few points about what the training schools do and don’t offer to students.
Have a look and decide for yourself.
From Ronald H., YouMotorcycle reader:
“After I did not ride for 25 years I decided that I would like to get back into it again. I felt that taking a M-1 exit course would definitely be advantageous. Was I ever wrong! To obtain a M-2 you are after the ability to;
1 – Ride at night.
2 – Take a passenger with you.
3 – Ride on all highways. All with safety in mind.
The college course that I took cost me $500.00. There were about twenty to twenty five of us. We were given the most poorly serviced and maintained bikes I have ever seen. I am a Licensed Auto Mechanic and these bikes definitely would not come close to passing a provincial safety.
We were not allowed to leave the parking lot or exceed Twenty Klms. per Hour. All training was done during daylight hours, no night conditions at all. The fact that riding with a passenger affects the performance and handling of a motorcycle to a large degree was never even considered or demonstrated.
The best part of the course was spent with balance and handling a bike at speeds that are slower than walking speeds. I believe this skill to be a nice skill to have, however like most skills practice and time are required. More than a weekend. People who showed that they could drop their bikes on a regular basis passed the course some how. Try that skill on a busy road!
The result was disappointing, I failed the course. I was unable to handle the bike at very slow speeds through a preset course and maintain proper balance. My braking, and handling at 10 to 20 klms. per hour were fine. I was told that I could retake the test or course at a cost in the near future. I don’t think that will happen. Since than I have rode my Virago 1100 for 10,000 klm. without incident on a M-1 License. I plan on doing the Ministry test for the M-2 at a cost of less than $100.00.
– Ronald H.”
Please leave your opinions on the M1 exit course in the comments.
So what’s the deal? Is the M1 Exit Course all that bad, or is it just fine?
I was going to share my own thoughts on Ronald’s comment, but I decided to leave this one open to other readers. Please leave your opinions in the comments.
I was a little bit disappointed in my m1 exit course for similar reasons but overall I was happy. The low speed was a challenge at first but has turned out to be a valuable skill on the road and especially In parking lots or traffic. I had very little experience and it got me comfortable with riding. What it doesn’t do and should try to is introduce people to the road. Staying in a parking lot going 20 to 30 km didn’t give me the confidence I needed to go 80 km on most durham roads or the confidence to drive close to other cars and people and such on the roads. I passed the course and did fine, but I’d like to see the course take some time to setup more obstacles or traffic conditions and possible take bikes on a proper ride. All that said, the course did fail some people and wasn’t a breeze so was worth it and I did Very well and am a more confident rider now.
I unfortunatly did not pass my M1exit due to the fact that we we tested on travelling no more that 33km/h then coming to a controlled stop. None of the bikes that were supplied had speedometers ..so turned out that I was going to slow…Kreskin I am not.. how are we to judge our speed without proper working equiptment.
Any idiot can drive in a straight line. If you can drive slowly and and make the BASIC manouvers it takes some skill.
Well, I coming all the way from Ireland to do the M2 Exit course, IF i can rent a motorcycle because I believe if I only learn one good thing on it, that one good thing may save my butt someday so its money well spent. Hey out there, if you know anyone who would rent a bike for the test let me know, I presently ride a Honda ST1300 so can handle anything more or less……
I am a certified instructor of the Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Training Program and I’m sorry to say that Ronald’s comments sound a little like “buyer’s remorse” based on his not having successfully completed the program. Let me comment on some of Ronald’s statements.
1. With regard to students who drop their bikes passing the course: No student at the college motorcycle course can drop their bike during the TEST and get a passing grade. During training….yes….but in the test…it’s an automatic FAIL.
2. Ronald claims that students seek an M2 to “ride at night….take a passenger…..ride on all highways”, when in fact almost none of my students ever name these elements as goals. Most profess a desire simply to “learn to ride safely”….or “become better riders”. (Some admit to seeking cheaper insurance rates!)
3. High(er) speed training and access to public roads just isn’t practical for such a program when many of the students have literally never mounted a bike before. Aside from personal safety factors, the public liability issue is makes these options impossible to incorporate.
4. As for the quality of the equipment, all the college bikes are given a “once over” for tire pressure, chain tension and lube, straight control levers and overall “tightness” the night before hands-on training starts. If Ronald had an inferior mount, he should have complained and asked for one of the spare bikes that are always on hand.
Overall, the Canada Safety Council program does a great job at being “as many things to as many people” as possible, given the variety of skill levels and expectations that are found in such a diverse group of students.
Great points. Maybe what might help is a course between the M1 exit and m2 exit that teaches someone to apply the learned skills in more real life. deal with some challenges such as higher speeds, downshifting from higher gears and motorcycle maintenance. Any ing more to give people more confidence and practice and hey…the colleges and programs wouli make more money. I thought I Had after my course was if they offered an open ride membership to meet up once a week for an hour or so for practice and tips in the same lot. I’m thankful for my course and skills I’ve usend but wish there were further options to learn with an instructor and get even better.
Living in the States, I’m not very familiar with the Canadian M1 and M2 process. But it’s interesting that your program seems to encourage continued education and skills development. 22 months of experience (with an M2), before you can test for an unrestricted class M? Failure to complete testing, and you must start over?
In most of the U.S., graduated licensing is unheard of, so new bike riders are free to ride anything and anytime they want… with predictable results. There’s nothing stopping a high school kid from buying a used 5 or 6 year old liter bike, capable of near 200 mph speeds.
Most talk of graduated licensing is met with arguments about personal freedom, or the encroaching nanny state. But I for one, would like some assurance that the rider of the crotch rocket next to me, has a clue how to handle 100 horsepower before we turn him loose in traffic.
Hey, Kurt…..thanks for the kudos…..but Canada still doesn’t have it completely “right”.
A budding biker in Ontario can do exactly what you suggest……..get a new Hyabusa for his birthday……..go out riding, equipped only with his M1……and promptly kill himself doing 200 MPH on a secondary road at high noon!
We still need to go that final step (the one the Brits took) by limiting engine displacement based on experience levels.
Mind you, nothing stops suicide.
Limitation by displacement, or limitation by horsepower and torque, Michael?
I see where you’re comin’ from, Adrian, but if some smarty-pants M1 can get 100 BHP out of his 125cc Honda…….more power to him! (No nuclear engines allowed though! Oh, and no turbos on those Kymco’s! :-)
I recently took the Motorcycle Safety course at my local college. It was advertised as 3 hours theory and 16 hours riding. Riding time was expected to be 9am-5pm Sat-Sunday. HOWEVER each day the motorcycles were packed up and put away and we were dismissed by 4pm. I ended up failing my course, not due to technical issues, but because I didn’t get up to the required speed. I truly believe if the course time had have run the full time advertised I would have had a better chance of passing. The 2 hours that got chopped off of our practice time would have been more than enough to give me confidence to increase my speed. I feel I was extremely short changed. Unfortunately I was the only one in class without previous motorcycle experience, most of the class rode their bikes to the course! So losing that practice time was not going to affect them.
I hope to retake a course, but will be going with a different training company that advertises 18 hours of on bike time and a testing system that puts more focus on accuracy and less on speed in general. Oh, and the other company offers free practice time and free retesting if required!
Free retesting was definitely something my ex and I took into consideration when we booked our courses. Best of luck on the retest!
Not sure where you took your training, Pauline……but here at Niagara, the College website (http://www.niagaracollege.ca/content/ContinuingEducation/CourseGuide/CourseDetails/tabid/3524/ncAcademicTermId/1142/ncAcademicCareerId/CNED/ncSubject/GENI/ncCatalogueNumber/1120/ncAcademicGroupId/CE/Default.aspx) says FOUR hours of theory and on-bike activity from 8:30 to 5:30 on the other two days.
If you “feel” shortchanged……or actually WERE shortchanged, by all means take it up with the college admin/continuing education office and I’m SURE they will make it up to you either in some sort of refund or a rate reduction on any subsequent program. (That’s just ME talking…….but I’m sure they’ll do what’s fair.)
I retook the course at another location and did pass it this time. (YaaaaY!!!)
I tried to get some kind of refund, or even a discount to retake the course where I did it the first time, but no luck at all. So, I said nuts to that, and went somewhere else.
One thing I can say, is there does not seem to be much consistency in these courses. I sat in on the classroom section when my son took his course (because he is a minor and parents were encouraged to learn what kids were getting into with the signed waiver). Some of the core ideas remained the same, such as the ATGATT recommendation, and using “SEE” as a form of defensive riding.
But many other bits were contradictory. One class said swerve, break and do whatever possible to avoid hitting small animals, another said, if they are small, just brace yourself and maintain control. Unless it is a turtle or a porcupine! So no idea how to deal with fluffy bunny if one crosses my path!
There was conflicting information on other situations as well.
I know this post will get a lot of flaming but observed history from driving bikes since 1969 has formed my opinion.
When I started riding in Alberta you could ride any motorcycle up to 100cc with a learners permit at 14 years old any time of day or night in any weather.. Weather permitting the parking lots at high schools were full of little Honda Cubs, Mopeds and Hodaka dirt bikes with light kits. This was the golden era when you could buy a $5 dollar liability card instead of insurance. You had to have a drivers license (16) to drive a bike over 100cc. There was no separate motorcycle license at all. Of course kids were cracking up their little bikes all the time, lots of road rash, bent rims and bruised egos. But eventually they did learn how to ride and ride well.
I had read of other jurisdictions at the time that required a motorcycle license and test and I thought what a great idea. It would reduce accidents. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now we have people whose first exposure to a bike is in a parking lot doing S turns and trying to figure out how a clutch works. A lot of them are middle aged and really don’t have the coordination down pat. Once they fumble through that and manage to pass their test they go out and buy a Harley or BMW GS1200 or better yet a liter sport bike.
If you really want to get the basics of motorcycling down pat buy a 250 cc dirt bike and drive that for a summer then go take a course.
Actually I have to agree with you. I started on a 50cc scooter, twist-and-go, learn to balance and learn to ride in traffic. My first ride was away from the dealership, in a laneway for practice. Made it 30 feet before the two-stroke decided to take off and I wiped out. I’ve owned a half dozen cruisers, reviewed some of the biggest bikes offered by Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, and Honda, but before all that I put 40,000+ km on a couple of 250ccs.