Harley-Davidson Riding Academy New Rider Course

The Motor Company’s version of the MSF

Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academy New Rider Course Logo

After successfully training more than 350,000 new riders over 14 years, Harley-Davidson has rebranded its Rider’s Edge training course with a new name and a new motorcycle as of May 2014.

The Harley-Davidson Riding Academy will use the same customized version of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)-approved rider training experience it has used since 2000 when the program was launched guiding students from the classroom to the street with an emphasis on building confidence.

The Harley-Davidson Riding Academy New Rider Course provides nearly everything students need to take the first step on their motorcycle riding journey, including Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)-certified instructors, use of a motorcycle to learn on and a minimum of 20 hours of combined classroom and range training with a guaranteed 6-to-1 student/instructor ratio. All students need to bring to class is appropriate riding gear.

Harley-Davidson Riding Academy students will learn to ride on the new Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle. Its confidence-inspiring handling and agility, smooth powertrain and authentic Harley-Davidson Dark Custom styling not only appeals to young, urban riders around the world, but also make it an ideal vehicle for learning to ride.

Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academy New Rider Course
The Harley-Davidson Street 500 replaces the Buell Blast previously used in Harleys rider training. “Were taking rider training to a new level by incorporating a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that students will want to keep long after class is over,” said Angela Thundercloud, Harley-Davidson Rider Training Manager.

Additional features developed specifically for use in the Harley Davidson Riding Academy include an industry-first Power Limit Calibration that puts a ceiling on the vehicle’s low-gear speeds, allowing only the maximum rate a student needs in the course, and a unique Vehicle Protection Kit that dispells student fears of damaging the vehicle in a tip-over.

“Instilling confidence is vital to preparing new riders to move from the classroom to the open road,” Thundercloud said. “We designed everything—the experience, the curriculum and the equipment—to inspire that needed confidence and empower new students to have a ton of fun learning to ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”

Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academy New Rider Course Street 500
The Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycles that are used in the Riding Academy are outfitted with “crash bars” and grip extenders that protect the motorcycle should it tip over.

In many states, completion of a Harley-Davidson Riding Academy course can exempt riders from needing to take an additional road test before becoming licensed, and many insurance providers offer discounts to graduates.

In addition to changes in the United States, where more than 180 Harley-Davidson dealers offer training courses, Harley-Davidson Riding Academy is expanding globally into Mexico, China and South Africa.
What does the course cost and how long does it last?
At the time of this storys posting, the price of the Riding Academy New Rider Course, which varies by dealership, runs between $275 and $350 for the multi-day program. The course is approximately 25 hours long and is taught over three or four days depending on the location.
What requirements does one need prior to taking the course?
You will need a valid automobile driver’s license and the ability to ride a bicycle, which means that you can balance on two wheels.
What kind of gear is needed?
– A long-sleeve shirt or jacket
– Jeans, chaps or leather pants
– Over the ankle, sturdy footwear
– Full-fingered gloves
– A helmet that meets DOT requirements
– Eyewear
How is the Riding Academy New Rider Course different than the MSF Basic Rider Course?
Harley-Davidson adds information to its program that introduces students to the Harley-Davidson brand. The course also uses a Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle as its training bike. Non-Harley MSF facilities use a metric beginner motorcycle like a Honda Rebel, or Suzuki TU250.
To learn more about Harley-Davidson Riding Academy, or to find a participating dealer, visit Harley-Davidson.com/new-rider-course.

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20 thoughts on Harley-Davidson Riding Academy New Rider Course

  1. I think the editor should just stop commenting. So many women have been so disappointed with the course that it should just be discontinued. That’s where the editor could best place his/her efforts. I’m never taking it.

    1. Celeste,In your state of Pennsylvania, your safe rider curriculum follows Lee Parks’ Total Control Beginning Rider Clinic. So, no worries, you don’t have to take this course! And although it looks like there are a lot of negative comments about this Harley-Davidson Academy curriculum, there are a lot more success stories that go untold than the negative experiences in our comments section.Sorry if my comments were off-putting to you. My passion is training riders to be safe, and I only mean them to be encouraging to those who have been discouraged by others.

  2. I am 62 years old and have very little motorcycle experience but have had my heart set to buy a Freewheeler for a few years now. Financially, I am waiting until I stop working. I have been on a test ride and several trips to different dealers to learn as much as I can. I wish I could take a course on a 3-wheeler before I spend almost $30,000. I understand that they are expensive machines, but I would feel much more sure about the investment if I could spend a few hours on one handling the turns and gears before the purchase. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Motorcycle MaMa,As a matter of fact, Can-Am is currently offering a special deal for women’s mentorship program who sign up to take a 3-wheeler course. Check out its web site here for more info.

  3. I am horrified to read those negative comments! I am waiting for the winter weather to clear up here and then I will take a safety class, probably at a Harley-Davidson dealer nearby. About those negative reviews: if an instructor can’t deal with absolute beginners in a beginner class, then he/she should not be an instructor. As a true beginner, I pay my money and expect to learn to ride. I’m not at the same level as others who have ridden before, but I surely expect the INSTRUCTOR to “do his or her friggin’ job,” to quote Bill Belichick. They can drop the attitude because I will call them on it, right on the spot. Now I see what I might be up against in a beginner safety class. But also, that scenario may never happen. As when riding on the road or going anywhere, confidence and a little attitude, when needed, can help you deal with bad situations.

    1. Hi Leslie,As a MSF RiderCoach and site manager, I can attest to the fact that a great many of us are actually there for you, the beginner. There are sour apples out there for sure, but I hope you approach the class with enthusiasm and excitement, and I pray you have a couple of RiderCoaches who work well with you. It doesn’t hurt to ask around either… ask the folks working at the dealership for recommendations, ask how long each instructor assigned to that class has been teaching, and ask for a former female student recommendation. If you aren’t happy with the answers, you can look into your state’s MSF program for alternatives. For example, Massachusetts’ Rider Education Program (MREP) currently has 13 MREP approved training schools at 26 locations throughout the state. Ask the same questions when you go to sign up. And if you can’t get the answers, ask for the site manager’s contact information. I know as a manager myself, I could easily answer these questions about my coaches, and this would lead you toward success.Best of luck!

  4. I am so disappointed in this course. I was looking forward to it and can’t stress enough that this is not a course for people that have never ridden a motorcycle before. Additionally, if like me you are of the shorter heavier persuasion those bikes are not easy to handle. The timing of this course is very fast and very disproportionate.1. This course is not for new riders that have never been on a bike. 2. The instructors spent 30 minutes going over how to get on the bike and turn it on and the same amount of time was allotted to learn how to get our balance and maneuver.3. I also felt that I was meant to feel stupid and singled out for not “getting it” or being confident to speed along and ride the clutch.4. The instructors scared the crap out of me every time I made a mistake and kept harassing me about how I was holding everyone up, and it was hot. Then they said it was not safe for me to continue the course after only three hours of me trying to ride. 5. Finally, to add insult to injury, the dealership is refusing to refund me the $350 that I paid for the course.

    1. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, Terry. As a RiderCoach and a site manager myself, I read comments like yours very carefully and take them seriously. These courses are not guaranteed to work for everyone, but in fact are designed for brand new riders with little or no experience. However, many students take it several times before having enough confidence and skill to get through them successfully. Some new riders do much better in a private or semi-private lesson. I would suggest to you that you inquire with another program and give it another try.A google search for Illinois motorcycle safety programs will bring you to many options besides taking the course at a Harley dealership which will put you on different motorcycles. And some of these classes are free!Hang in there. There are good coaches and bad coaches. I’m sure you’ll find some great ones if you keep looking. Good luck!

  5. I was also very disappointed in this class. I wasn’t given a chance to get comfortable with the skills before being forced into the next. During one skill being told I’m supposed to “ride the clutch,” then being yelled at for riding the clutch during the next? No explanation as to when/why I should/shouldn’t. Super helpful.This course is not for true beginners. All other people in the class had been riding dirt bikes since they were very young and were just there to get their licenses. This class is for them. As a beginner I was singled out, made to look and feel stupid, and they asked me not to return to finish the course. Great “teachers,” unwilling to teach me. How am I supposed to learn? At home on my own, on my friend’s larger bike? Super safe, great idea.The whole class experience has left me shell-shocked and too intimidated to ride.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. I recommend contacting the administrator of the program where you signed up and give them feedback. This class is designed for true beginners. Sometimes there are students who are there who already know the basics, but you are not expected to know anything about motorcycles when you sign up for this class.Also note there are good RiderCoaches and bad RiderCoaches. Unfortunately, we hear about far too many bad ones. I would ask around for recommendations for RiderCoaches in your area from others who have taken the class. You may consider seeking out another program at a local college or other school if the RiderCoaches are limited to only the ones who you had a bad experience with at the Harley-Davidson Academy.Finally, there are options for private lessons at some of these schools. You may feel more comfortable with this type of instruction.

  6. I just took this course. I have to say I was very disappointed with the amount of time spent with us. It was not 20 to 25 hours! The reason I took this Harley-Davidson course was because it was more hours than the MSF course. Wrong! They only spent 14 hours teaching us and that was with class time included. The riding was only about 8 hours at the most during the 3 days! One hour of that was spent on the riding test. I needed more time to adjust to the Harley-Davidson Street 500. I asked if I could ride around a little more to get warmed up and was told that is not how they do it. I don’t feel I was taught. I was told what they wanted me to do then I had to do it.The Harley-Davidson dealership where I took the class was two hours from home so I stayed overnight two nights. I could have saved a lot of travel time and money by taking the course from the MSF with a smaller bike and more training.

    1. That is disappointing to hear, Kat. I hope you expressed your concerns with the dealership. The only way to make the program better is to provide feedback to the program manager. There’s a good chance they aren’t aware that your instructors were short-changing students. And, if they value your future business, they will offer you another class at a discount or no cost at all.Good luck.

  7. I took the Harley-Davidson riders course and was very unhappy with the course. What I wish I would have done is rent a small bike and practice with someone who knows how to ride. Starting out on a Harley Street 500 is too much for us small women as specified in there workbook. You need a bike that you can manage and feel comfortable with. Don’t waste your money as I did!

  8. I took this course at the Harley-Davidson in Munster, Indiana, in July on the new500. It’s October now and I purchased a 2004 1200 Sportster and have ridden more than 500 miles. One day I did 330 miles. I have found the freedom they speak of. Love it and encourage anyone who wants to learn how to ride to do it. This is a great experience. Go ahead. Knock it off your bucket list!

  9. Is there any place like this near me I can learn to ride?

  10. Took the Riders Edge course at a Harley-Davidson shop in a Maryville, Tenn., on the Harley 500. Loved the course and this bike! Well worth the cost of $265. Recommend for anyone interested in learning how to ride! I had never ridden a bike except on the back of one for years, and took this course. I not only passed, but have my license! I feel that this course taught me the safety I wanted and needed to learn. I felt challenged but exhilarated at the same time. Thanks guys for an awesome class and experience. My favorite moment? Having the honor of ringing the “Harley Bell” at the conclusion of graduation and hearing those motorcycles starting up and horns blowing!

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