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Team Oregon Moves Motorcycle Training Online

As more and more education moves into the digital world, it was just a matter of time before motorcycle rider training made the leap. YouTube videos aside, online instruction has many benefits. It's self paced, minimizes interruptions and often comes at a comparatively cheaper production (considering the potential reach), and user cost.

With all of the noted benefits of course, motorcycle riding is still very much a "non-digital", I.E. "real world" experience. Can an online classroom replace, or perhaps enhance in person training?

Taking a step in that direction, Team Oregon, the organization behind the state's new rider training since 1984, recently rolled out its E-rider program for both beginner and intermediate training levels.

While the online portion is not a substitute for the second half of each course, where individuals actually operate the motorcycle, it is now offered as a replacement option for the "in-class" sections. After completing the six modules, over an average period of 4-6 hours and passing the in browsers tests, a new or returning rider is then "certified" to head to the range.

Precisely because motorcycle riding is such an "in person" and mentally active skill, skepticism is abound. But after personally completing the beginner rider training modules and thoroughly pouring through the content, I have to say, I think Team Oregon got it right.

Starting in module one, with a thorough examination of appropriate riding gear, Team Oregon offers a head to toe discussion of rider protection, with an emphasis on "all gear all the time". Riders who practice this maxim may join me in wondering how thoroughly this is addressed in other training programs, as a ride on any sunny day often reveals many a t-shirts, shorts and even "flip flops". Educating new riders on what is appropriate, sets an expectation, that hopefully, will lead to long and enjoyable riding careers.

Moving through the basics of motorcycle operation in section two, modules 3 and 4 are where the program really starts to shine. Thorough examination of escape routes, space cushions, counter steering and braking really put a new rider in position to succeed. Time and again in this industry, conversations with instructors will end with some comment about how "it's really all about the basics" and I tend to agree. With that in mind, as an "experienced rider", I must say that I thoroughly appreciated the review. The constant attention to situation awareness, along with skill development was very well executed and further ignited my interest in pursuing the "intermediate" level training.

From theory to practical tips in module 5, Team Oregon takes students into "Riding in The Real World". A discussion with Path Hahn, the organization's communication and outreach director said it best when he noted "There are 1000 things to learn in motorcycling and we are trying to communicate the most important 100". Of note here, is the dialogue on group riding and cargo loading.

As more new riders load up for dual sport adventure, cargo loading goes far beyond just carrying the occasional passenger. Too often, even well traveled motorcyclists do not take into consideration the effects that and extra 30lbs can have on a bikes stability and performance. Making new riders aware of this, is an excellent move.

In regards to group riding, motorcycling is not like driving a car. Skill levels and bike design can vary wildly and informing new riders of what to expect really is a necessity. Though the materials presentation is a bit cringe worthy in its cheesiness, I do think that it is a topic worth mentioning.

Module 6 winds the program up with a cursory discussion of drug and alcohol use, dealing with emotional distraction and motorcycle selection. The information is fine and many riders may find it useful, but there is nothing of particular interest to note here.

Overall, the experience was really quite pleasing and as the trend here in the Pacific Northwest continues to move away from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum, I know that I am not alone in applauding continual development and innovation.

Developing the skill, is part of the appeal for most motorcycle riders and I hope that Team Oregon continues to expand the program, create more advanced rider training and open it up to all interested riders, not just those in the state of Oregon.

Hey it may not be as entertaining as YouTube, but it is much more useful.

Derek Roberts/October 2015

You can listen to our live interview with Pat Hahn during the October 2015 Sound RIDER! Show.

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