MSF Dirt Bike School Review: Starting Young
One of the first stories my husband told me about himself was how he and his friend secretly bought a motorcycle when they were in college. My husband’s parents didn’t find out about this hobby until a relative happened to see my husband riding on the street and reported it to his parents.
The story was funny to me at the time, but when our 10-year-old son got interested in motorcycles, I realized that I wouldn’t want to find out from someone else that my son is riding dirt bikes behind my back. This was when we decided to look into riding schools for our son. We researched different schools and settled on The MSF DirtBike School, a one-day course at the Honda Rider Education Center in Colton, Calif.
In addition to The MSF DirtBike School, the Honda Rider Education Center also has classes for street bikes, ATVs, and SxS vehicles.
The online sign-up process was easy. After a couple of weeks of waiting excitedly, my husband and I arrived at the location, ready to witness Ben’s first dirt bike riding experience. At the front office, we were greeted by our friendly coach Cameron.
The class consisted of four kids, ranging from 7- to 10-year-olds. Coach Cameron gave the kids and parents a short introduction to the class, after which the kids were off to get geared up. The school provides all the necessary gear, including the bikes, though you must bring mid-calf socks.
We had a set of Fly Racing Youth Kinetic K220 Racewear for Ben, which looked great and functioned perfectly. The Fly Racing gear was supplemented by a roost guard and goggles from the well-stocked MSF DirtBike School gear supply.
Once everyone got geared up, Coach Cameron took them out to the field and introduced them to their bikes. The younger riders were given Honda CRF50Fs, while older classmates rode Honda CRF110F trail bikes. Personal motorcycles are not allowed. As a 10-year-old, Ben rode the CRF110F.
The lessons were broken down into easily digestible instructions. First and foremost, Coach Cameron talked about safety and prevention of injuries. The excitement began when the kids were finally allowed to get on the motorcycles.
The kids were first instructed to ride in straight lines across the open dirt expanse. As they gained more control of their motorcycles, and more confidence in themselves, they were instructed to try longer routes. Eventually, the kids were riding across and around the field, maneuvering around the cones, making small turns, and learning to ride standing up. Each lesson was accompanied by a short break for water and bathroom, which was much needed on a hot day.
The class ended with the thrilling ride all around the entire off-road training course at the Honda Rider Education Center. Coach Cameron led the kids like little ducklings through puddles, heading up small hills, and down sloped turns.
All kids received a certificate of completion, along with a Honda Rider Education Center T-Shirt that they can proudly show off to their peers.
Some of the key characteristics of a great coach are patience and skill to recognize each child’s abilities. Coach Cameron was extremely patient and wouldn’t move on to the next level until he recognized that each trainee had reached the right level of competency. He built up a strong rapport with the students, and they listened to him with rapt attention during instruction and while riding.
As a parent, it was most impressive to see how quickly kids were able to operate the vehicles, given their inexperience and complexity of the machines. Certainly, the automatic clutch and electric starting on the CRFs made the first step a bit easier.
It was also rewarding to learn that dirt bike riding can teach kids many valuable lessons, such as staying focused, following directions, and making decisions. It reinforces the importance of safety and caution and teaches responsibility while having great fun.
It’s one thing to experience the lesson as an observing parent, but another is to experience it as a child riding a dirt bike for the first time. I asked Ben what he thought about the class, and whether or not it was as he expected. Ben enjoyed the fact that the facility was spacious, and the field had a great variety of trails. He also enjoyed that it was challenging in some ways, yet easy in others. Ben also became very fond of Coach Cameron and how technical he was with his instructions, yet very funny at the same time.
Dirt bike riding might not be for every child, but if you have an adventure-seeking youngster in your family, The MSF DirtBike School at the Honda Rider Education Center is the perfect place for them to learn dirt biking the right way!
Photography by Yana Marutyan and Don Williams
- Helmet, jersey, gloves, pants, and boots: Fly Racing Youth Kinetic K220 Racewear
- Goggles: 100% Accuri Jr
- Roost guard: Troy Lee Designs 5955 Youth Chest Body Guard
- Knee guards: Fly Racing Youth Barricade