I’ve always loved riding a bike. In India, it provides the advantage of finding easy parking, faster maneuverability and it takes up less space in the garage. I owned a 100cc Splendor in India and it served it’s purpose but I always envied friends with faster and larger bikes. I wanted to get a CBZ as my first bike but why I didn’t end up getting one is an entirely different story (Stupid salesman and his thoughts on speeding!!!).
When I came to Texas for grad school, I noticed a large number of people driving on I-20 using cruiser bikes and I always felt that when I grow old, this is something I can see myself doing as well and don’t get my started on my love of sports bikes!! The zippy machines that zoom past you during the morning traffic on 101 do generate some envious glares from the car drivers. And then one of my friend ended up getting a bike in Texas and that meant I should at the very least get a head start in pursuing this dream to cruise around at old age. The first step is to get a driving license from DMV. Now, there are two ways to do this
- Get a learning permit, drive a bike around for few months and finally give your driving test at DMV
- Join a Basic Rider Course, attend classroom sessions and at the end of the course, get the DL389 (waiver to give riding test)
For the approach 1, you need to have a motorcycle or know someone who has one to clear the driving test. I opted for option 2 as the classes arrange for the bike, give you practice and then finally test you on the skills acquired during the course.
First off, please start looking for a class way in advance… these classes are always full and it was very difficult to get into one for me. I booked a class for September labor day weekend almost a month in advance. The classes are divided into classroom sessions and riding sessions. The class I took had following schedule:
Classroom 6:30 PM to 10 PM on Thursday, Riding session 1:00 PM to 6 PM on Saturday followed by 6:30 pm to 10 PM classroom and finally one more riding session on Sunday from 1:00 to 6 PM. PLEASE BE ON TIME as they are not kidding about the timing policy and I actually had 2 people sent away just because they were a minute late.
The first classroom session was with Chris (The professor) and he was really fun. The classroom chairs are such that it starts hurting after sitting continuously for 4+hours but the session was informative and fun and Chris encouraged asking questions and spoke about his bike, his driving experiences and such. The second classroom was taken by Chris which was kind of slow and I got a seat in a corner and he was seating most of the time so I didn’t have as much fun as the professor’s class. Both the classroom sessions simply went over a prepared presentation but the information from the instructor’s driving experience was good.
The riding sessions were HOT!!! Temperatures went up to about 90 degrees and so please bring water, dollar bills for food or carry something with you. Clifton and Chris (Lean older guy who is super lean and wears cowboy hat) took the riding sessions. They seemed a little patronizing and I was super nervous reading the reviews beforehand on yelp. At first, I didn’t understand if the guys were joking with us or seriously scolding someone. However, they were really helpful in getting rid of our bad habits and Cliff was super helpful once I survived the first day. I can totally imagine hanging out with these two instructors and learning about bikes. Just drive as best as you can and hang on to each of their words and you should be good. They make you practice all the stuff prior to riding test and so you are well prepared. I deducted one start because I felt that they could have provided more help/insights and were sometimes not paying as much attention even when we were making mistakes.
The riding test was 5 rounds of different tasks. It was easy if you paid attention but the last test is kinda difficult to understand where they ask you to mimic real life driving situation. They give you feedback and test results on the very same day so that was cool to know that I passed with the highest score in my class 🙂 I got my DL389 in mail in about 4 days and then you simple need to schedule a written test with DMV and get your M1 license. Overall, I recommend this class to catch up on your riding skills but it might be slightly difficult for totally new beginners.