Los Angeles Times
More than 65,000 Californians will learn to ride a motorcycle this year. Many of them will do so through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which will not only teach them how to ride on bikes provided through the course, but prep them to pass a skills test and get a license.
Here's how it works. Riders can find and register for the program either online (www.ca-msp.org) or by phone at (877)-RIDE-411. They then go through 15 hours of training, typically on a weekend.
Five hours are spent in the classroom, where videos and a workbook teach riders the risks and responsibilities of motorcycling. Then it's off to the parking lot to learn how to ride. The training includes clutch control and proper braking techniques.
Since 2004, the number of California training sites has more than doubled from 63 to 156. Still, there is often a wait for courses, though California law prevents the lag time from lasting longer than 90 days. For the first three months of 2012, the average wait time was two weeks.
The California Vehicle Code requires all riders 151/2 to 20 years old to take the Basic Rider Course; for those riders the state caps tuition at $150 versus the maximum $250 that training sites are allowed to charge. Riders 21 and older are not required to take the class to get their M1 motorcycle license.
Although participants take a written exam, they still must pass a written test administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles. They don't have to take the DMV's riding test portion if they pass the program's skills evaluation.
This evaluation happens in the final hour of the course, during which students demonstrate what they've learned. If riders successfully pass the skills evaluation, they receive a DL 389 certificate in the mail. If they also pass the DMV's written test, they'll get their M1 endorsement.
Riders who don't pass the program's riding test are allowed to repeat it free.