Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about Stayin’ Safe. If you don’t find the answer to your questions here, please don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or through the Contact page.
Is Stayin’ Safe a Driving School or a Touring Company?
We’re a little of each, but not exactly like either one. We have established enjoyable single and multiple day riding tours that include some of the best, most scenic motorcycling roads in the country and an outstanding mix of riding environments in which to advance skills. Our highly qualified tour leaders/coaches provide running commentary and guidance to riders in real time and at breaks, introducing proven concepts for discussion and consideration. Note that, unlike driving schools, Stayin’ Safe does not prepare a rider for any license examination. Our program is designed to provide experienced, licensed riders coaching to hone skills and enhance their safety margin when riding mountain roads and navigating traffic. It’s an ideal blend of vacation and learning that no driving school or touring company can match.
How is this different than other training programs?
Parking lot-based courses, like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s basic and experienced rider courses teach physical riding skills on the range and strategic concepts in the classroom. Our program builds on the physical skills and introduces strategies to real-world riding. Unlike track days, which are excellent ways to build confidence and physical riding skills in a consistent, predictable environment with no traffic risks, each Stayin’ Safe tour introduces the rider to unfamiliar roads complete with driveways, tertiary roads and traffic which he or she must interpret and execute safely.
I’m an experienced rider with many years of riding under my belt. Why should I sign up for a Stayin’ Safe advanced skills tour?
Most of our participants are life-long students looking to continually improve their riding skills, riding enjoyment and to increase their margin of safety. These well-trained riders regularly tell us that our on-street program had a dramatic impact on their riding, changing habits they’d had for years and opening their eyes to things they had never seen before when riding. We feel that riders of all skill and experience levels will come away with something valuable. As one of our students told us, “I thought I had more than 20 years of riding experience. What I learned is that I had about a year of experience repeated 20 times.”
What can I expect to learn?
Each of our tours is designed to introduce and hone skills that are vital to survival on the street and to the enjoyment of motorcycling. Picking up where parking lot courses leave off, Stayin’ Safe tours apply proven strategies and introduce the component of real-world, real-time coaching. While situations often govern the exact content, all tours address the following:
- Visual Strategies – how to read the landscape, the road and traffic patterns to gain intelligence that will work to the rider’s advantage. Through effective visual strategies, along with appropriate action, we believe more than 90-percent of all traffic crashes are avoidable.
- Lane Position – knowing where to place the motorcycle within the lane at any given point to achieve greater visual advantage and distance from potential hazards.
- Cornering Lines – how to select the best line through a single curve, combined curves, and blind curves for maximum smoothness and to minimize those heart-stopping surprises mid-turn.
- Throttle Management – Tied closely to visual strategies, throttle management presents how to select speeds appropriate for what visual information is available.
- Braking techniques – understanding when to brake (and when not to) and proper braking technique for smoothness and efficient slowing/stopping.
How do the tours differ?
The advanced skills tours are different in that each route offers diverse terrain. For example, on the Switzerland of Ohio tour you’ll encounter lots of twisties spread out over the foothills for a real “roller coaster” effect. This rolling terrain provides an excellent environment to work on visual strategies as the line of sight continually changes. The North Georgia/Smoky Mountains tour and the West Virginia tour have steep climbs and descents, with all the dramatic mountain scenery you’d expect (elevation changes of over one mile!) – and excellent opportunity to develop throttle control and braking along with visual strategies. The Shenandoah/Blue Ridge training tour is a cross between the two, alternating between the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge (about 3000 ft. elevation). Blending challenging canyon roads with scenic jaunts through populated areas and long, open sweeping sections, the Southern California and Colorado tours provide a mix of learning opportunities.
Am I going to be expected to ride fast?
Stayin’ Safe advanced skills tours are not speed events. And, while we may occasionally adopt a spirited pace (always respecting posted speed limits), each participant is encouraged to ride his own ride, never allowing other riders or the coaches to influence him to ride at a pace faster than he is comfortable with. The only speed requirement we have is that we expect all riders to be able and willing to maintain the speed limit on straight sections of road in the interest of safety.
How much experience should I have to participate in an advanced skills tour?
We generally recommend that participants have at least 5000 miles of recent on-road experience (minimum requirement is 2500 miles and one full season of on-road experience) prior to enrolling in a training tour. It is also helpful if riders have at least some prior experience riding on mountain roads – especially those riding large touring or cruiser bikes.
How does Stayin’ Safe compensate for riders with different levels of riding experience?
While differences of rider skill and experience level are inevitable – from riders with 1 year to riders with 40+ years on a single tour — we attempt to group participants with compatible riders and split the varying skill levels into separate groups. However, all participants must be able and willing to ride at the speed limit on straight highway sections.
Can I bring a passenger?
Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it and there are often couples who ride together on our tours. If you are comfortable with the operation of your motorcycle with a passenger on board we invite you to bring your “second rider” with you. There is much a passenger can enjoy and learn from our tours and the coach’s commentary. Second riders quickly learn that they play an active and important role in motorcycle travel. A Stayin’ Safe training tour is the perfect opportunity for a “two-up tune up.” Please understand that there will be a nominal additional cost to cover accommodations, meals and radio (usually $200).
What is a “chalk talk”?
When we stop for a break from riding, it’s not unusual for our coaches to break out a piece of sidewalk chalk and begin drawing curves on a parking lot or sidewalk to illustrate a concept. It is often easier for riders to visualize a concept when it is diagrammed in this way. Students are also invited to discuss the pros and cons of various lines through corners or other strategies that are drawn on the ground. A simple piece of chalk and a flat, clean surface transform any break into a virtual classroom.
What is a “polite” exhaust and why do I need one?
While we don’t require that riders have a stock exhaust system on their motorcycles, we do encourage participants to have an exhaust system that is not offensively loud (i.e.: no straight pipes). Because radio communication is so critical to our training, excessive noise can interfere with clear coaching and, therefore, could contribute to confusion. Also, on a couple of our training tours we conduct drills in neighborhoods where repeated passing by loud motorcycles can be viewed as a public nuisance. If you are not certain if your exhaust is suitable, just contact us to discuss.
Does Stayin’ Safe rent or provide motorcycles?
No. But we can help coordinate motorcycle rentals in the area from reputable rental agents. Usually, riders can rent Harley-Davidson and sometimes BMW and Honda motorcycles and dual-sport motorcycles such as the Kawasaki KLR 650, depending on the tour location. All rental agreements will be with the rental company and not Stayin’ Safe.
Still have questions?
Just complete an information request or simply drop an email or give Eric a call at 412-758-1916. We’re always glad to help!