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May 4, 2005 - 8:30:00 PM - Print

Learn to Ride During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

(ARA) – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the perfect time of year to shift into summer by learning to ride. If you’re dreaming of the open road, you aren’t alone. Motorcycling is more popular than ever, and according to a Motorcycle Industry Council survey the sport is attracting a surprisingly wide range of new riders.
For example, while the U.S. motorcycle market enjoyed its 12th consecutive year of growth in 2004, the surge in the number of motorcycles in the United States – up 34 percent from 1998 to 8.8 million in use today – seems to have been fueled to a large extent by women. The MIC survey found approximately one in 10 motorcycle owners is now female, up from 6.4 percent in 1990.

According to Eric McGraw, manager of Harley-Davidson’s Rider’s Edge, a popular rider education program, “Women are a huge factor in the rising popularity of motorcycling. Since launching the Rider’s Edge New Rider Course in March of 2000, Rider’s Edge has helped more than 50,000 students get comfortable on a motorcycle and improve their riding skills, and almost 40 percent have been women.”

For men as well as women, rider education programs can be a great way for experienced riders to take it to the next level or total beginners to learn from scratch, even if they don’t yet own a bike. Quality programs such as the New Rider Course can usually provide motorcycles to new students who need one.

“There’s often an obstacle confronting new riders,” says McGraw. “They’d like to buy their first bike or maybe upgrade to a newer, more powerful one, but they worry about their ability to handle it safely. Rider education programs are the answer. Our New Rider Course participants can improve their skills on their own bike or learn on one of our Buell Blast motorcycles, an exciting and easy-to-handle motorcycle with a rider-friendly design.”

The option, it seems, is attracting would-be riders. Harley-Davidson has seen its Rider’s Edge New Rider Course (www.ridersedge.com) grow in popularity and has trained tens of thousands of riders, while its line of H-D MotorClothes apparel has also helped new grads look the part. The Rider’s Edge program offers three courses: the New Rider Course, the Skilled Rider Course and the Rider’s Edge/MSF Guide to Group Riding Course.

McGraw suggests the growth of the rider education business reflects the larger growth in motorcycling as a whole. “We’ve seen an explosion in rider interest. Between 2000 and 2003 we trained 10,000 riders. Since then, we’ve trained 40,000 more. While a third of our students already owned a bike, another third purchased a bike within four months of completing Rider’s Edge. The remaining third said they were planning to purchase a motorcycle.”

Purchase or no purchase, more people every year are riding a motorcycle. And while 24 million Americans rode one at least once in 2003, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month serves to remind us that any ride is only as thrilling as it is safe. That’s why, from first-time rider to longtime rider, this May is the perfect time to better enjoy the thrill of the open road by learning to ride it more safely.

Courtesy of ARA Content







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