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October 21, 2009 > Seal of approval for Rider's Edge

Seal of approval for Rider's Edge

By Simon Wong
Photos By Simon Wong

Fremont's Faultline Harley-Davidson/Buell on Albrae Street has become the seventh California-dealership, and the only one in the San Francisco East Bay, to host the Harley-Davidson Motor Company's respected rider-training course.

"It's taken a year to bring everything together,' said Mike Genthner, one of the dealership's partners. "We provide the training facilities - classroom, range, a fleet of bikes to ride, study materials, food and beverages and, as per instructions from head office in Milwaukee, schedule the courses locally and arrange for Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)-certified instructors to deliver Riders Edge. The dealership and Rider's Edge are separate businesses but we decided to tie-in with the rider-training course to add value to our services and clients."

The only prerequisite for enrolment is students must know how to ride a bicycle. They will learn everything they need to know to ride a motorbike safely. For some, Riders Edge is a refresher course; for others, they start from scratch.

Anyone riding on a learner's permit, issued after passing the DMV's written test, has up to 12 months to take the DMV's practical test which has a high failure rate. Examinees must bring their own bikes which are often too large to negotiate the course. Moreover, a lack of formal training, unfamiliarity with the DMV's range and nervousness compound the situation.

Rider's Edge is sanctioned by the DMV and California Highway Patrol. On successful completion, students are exempt from the DMV's practical test but they must still pass the DMV's written paper to qualify for a full motorcycle license if they do not already hold a learner's permit.

Each class includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the dealership and has a maximum of six students per instructor. They spend two-and-a-half days in the classroom plus a day-and-a-half on the range astride a Buell Blast. The fifth, and final, day consists of revision, a written test and after-class celebration.

The theory covers subjects such as risk, protective attire, visibility, routine maintenance, controls, riding skills, how to share the road with other vehicles, what to do in different situations... The instructor provides guidance whilst students work together to educate and support each other.

Practical training on the range consists of 17 exercises. Turning, emergency stops, negotiating obstacles... are covered. A rider must incur no more than 20 penalty points to pass the practical test. Consolidation exercises, before leaving the range, allow students to enjoy themselves without the pressure of being tested.

During the class, students note milestones and their thoughts in the Rider's Edge Roadbook to map their progress and reinforce what they have learned. Teaching materials are supplemented with "The Joy of Motorcycling," produced by the MSF.

The inaugural Rider's Edge class in the East Bay was attended by Dennis Anderson, Doyle O'Neil, Mark Prochnow, Pam Salata, Josh Tredway and Dede Wynne. Union City resident John Davis was their instructor.

"We've learned and achieved so much more than is possible in two four-minute practice sessions and a test at the DMV range," remarked Prochnow who has resumed motorcycling after almost twenty years.

"I'd recommend Rider's Edge to anyone to ensure their own safety and that of other road users," added Wynne who has had informal instruction in the past.

Becky Tillman, Rider's Edge Regional Manager (Western US), flew in from head office to assess the quality of the Fremont class. She gave the instruction and facilities her seal of approval.

"Rider's Edge started in 2000 and has trained more than 190,000 riders. The class follows the excellent MSF curriculum to which we've added Rider's Edge elements and activities," explained Tillman.

"This class is an opportunity for members of the community to learn to ride defensively, confidently, sensibly and safely," stated Jill Ellwangre, Faultline Harley-Davidson/Buell. "The MSF rates Rider's Edge as a premier rider-training course and the California Motorcycle Safety Program's Basic RiderCourse as standard. The latter lasts 15 hours and the former, 25 hours. Both exempt successful students from the DMV's practical test but Rider's Edge delivers greater benefit through additional activities, in the classroom and on the range, and a smaller class size so students have more time to work together and with their instructor. Some insurers also offer discounts to policyholders who have completed this class," concluded Ellwangre.

For more information and to enroll for Rider's Edge ($395 class fee), visit and click on the Rider's Edge link/logo, call Jill Ellwangre on (510) 657 7200 or email

Rider's Edge Class Schedule

Oct 29 - Nov 3
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Tue

Nov 5 - 9
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

Nov 12 - 17
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Tue

Nov 19 - 24
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Tue

Dec 3 - 7
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

Dec 10 - 15
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Tue

Dec 17 - 22
Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Tue

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