With the release of the new film “Wild Hogs,” the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has an important message for all riders: Complete a training course. The MSF is reminding all riders that despite what they might see on the big screen, for their own safety, as well as the safety of others, they need to take motorcycling seriously.
The new film, which opens Friday, depicts a group of middle-aged friends and their adventures when they hit the road on a motorcycle trip. Dr. Ray Ochs, director of training systems for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, outlined his thoughts on the film from a safety perspective.
“From what I’ve seen of the film from clips online, it shows the fun and camaraderie of a group of friends who go on a road trip together,” Ochs said. “I caution everyone to realize that it is a movie. In real life, someone who hasn’t ridden for a while needs to review the basic fundamentals of motorcyclist safety before getting back in the saddle.”
Ochs emphasized the MSF’s five key points for all motorcyclists:
- Get trained and licensed
- Wear protective gear - all the gear all the time - including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the DOT
- Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs
- Ride within your own skill limits
- Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses
“Whether you’re a new rider, or one returning after years away, the best first ride you can take is the one at an MSF Basic RiderCourseSM near you,” Ochs said. “The MSF Basic RiderCourse is a learn-to-ride program that provides not only the knowledge and fundamental skills needed to start out safely, but also covers risk-management using specific techniques and strategies.”
The MSF Basic RiderCourse course is offered by state and independent motorcycle training programs throughout the nation, and worldwide by the U.S. military. In addition, Ochs outlined several other options for new or returning motorcyclists. Especially useful for people getting back into motorcycling, the half-day, hands-on MSF Experienced RiderCourse enables the student to assess, refresh and build upon existing skills. Riders have the option to take the course using their own motorcycles.
In addition to the hands-on courses, the MSF also offers individual classroom-only programs as part of its Rider Education and Training System. The MSF Guide to Group Riding focuses on navigating the highway while sharing the ride with others. The MSF’s SeasonedRiderSM kit outlines the effects of aging on motorcyclists, and provides a series of safety tips and practices.
“New or returning riders need to be aware that their skills diminish over time,” said Ochs, a long-time rider who is 58. “And there are certain effects of aging that we shouldn’t ignore. Middle-aged riders like me need to accept that slower reaction times and deteriorating vision are a fact of life. Once a rider acknowledges the realities of aging, there are many techniques to improve their safety and that of those around them on the road – such as giving themselves more space behind the vehicle in front of them, and thus more time to react.”
Ochs and other MSF staff hope that moviegoers see “Wild Hogs” for what it is, a fictional comedy, and not any kind of example for how to ride.
“We have to be concerned that someone watches the film and gets the idea that it’s perfectly fine to ride in a certain manner, making all sorts of bad choices,” Ochs said. “Maybe it’s someone who wants to ride and just doesn’t know any better. Maybe it’s a longtime or returning rider, and the film just reinforces the bad choices they’re making. But in the real world, there are no second takes. Our goal is that all motorcyclists live to ride another day.”
Since 1973, the MSF has set internationally recognized standards that promote the safety of motorcyclists with rider education courses, operator licensing tests, and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders may enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling. The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW , Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha. For RiderCourseSM locations, call (800) 446-9227 or visit www.msf-usa.org.