The Beginner

A beginner typically has no riding skill and has never ridden a motorcycle, scooter or moped.

The beginner may have experience riding a bicycle or even as a passenger on a motorcycle. These are both pluses for the beginner.



The Novice Rider

A novice typically has minimal riding skills. They only gain the skills necessary to be a novice after successful completion of the Basic RiderCourse and, then only if they became very familiar with all five basic riding skills. Most of these riders still have considerable deficiencies in two or more of the five basic riding skills at the end of the beginner/novice licensing course.

The Intermediate Rider

The intermediate rider should be competent in the five basic riding skills, especially in tight/slow maneuver situations. In addition, the intermediate rider should be competent in emergency actions such as braking to avoid a hazard, swerving to avoid a hazard and braking and swerving (brake and escape) to avoid a hazard in their path. While some deficiencies in one or more skill might be present, they can be greatly improved with proper training.

The Advanced Rider

The experienced or advanced rider, and even the seasoned rider, should be proficient in the five basic riding skills. In addition, the advanced/seasoned rider should be proficient in emergency actions such as braking to avoid a hazard, swerving to avoid a hazard and braking and swerving (brake and escape) to avoid a hazard in their path.

Note: most seasoned riders are high novices or intermediate riders. They generally are seriously lacking in slow controlled maneuver skills (CTC/FZ/Stability w/Rear Brake, etc.).

The Expert Rider

Motor squad officers in your local police department are at the top level of expert riders. So, you would think there is no need for training at that level. Consider this: not only are they gaining and maintaining their skill levels with daily riding for 8 to 10 hours, but they are required to undergo rigorous retraining and recertification several times a year. With this in mind, it stands to reason that expert riders who aren’t motor officers must also practice their skills regularly to continually improve or at least maintain them. Just riding on day trips or even longer trips and maybe commuting daily back into the work does not qualify the rider as expert or advanced.

Riding in a Straight Line

Riding in a straight line sounds pretty basic, well, because it is pretty basic. Depending on your skill level your ability to ride in a straight line will vary from shaky to smooth. At the lower end of the scale you might see the learning beginner riding slowly and wobbling as they try to maintain their balance until they gain enough speed for stability. On the upper end of the skill scale, you probably won't notice anything remarkable, except possibly the comfort level of the rider.

Shifting Gears

The process for shifting gears seems quite simple when read or explained. However, to the beginner it can be difficult to learn and master. The smooth shift from one gear to another, especially shifting to a higher gear, requires the timely coordination of throttle, clutch and shift lever. Problematic for most beginners is the smooth use of the clutch and completing the shift quickly - before losing momentum.


Stability is a key factor in turning. Most riders give little thought to the process when riding at speed. That is, until the enter a curve too fast or with improper lane position. Slow-tight turns are the nemesis of many riders — even seasoned riders. Regardless, it's all about keeping the motorcycle stable all the way through the turn.

Using Both Brakes to Slow or Stop

Beginners are taught to use both brakes any time they want to slow or stop. And, for the most part, that is a truism. It is important to learn the proper pressure to use on both front and rear brakes in a variety of situations. When applying either or both brakes, the rider must know what output to expect from their input.

Clutch/Throttle Control (CTC)

Proper CTC, or use of the friction zone (FZ), eludes especially novice riders and many seasoned (experienced) riders. CTC is not used just to shift gears. Riders find many situations where they want only a portion of the power offered by the gear/throttle combination to be transferred to the rear wheel. This is especially true in slow tight turns, such as U-Turns in restricted spaces.

Skills vs. Training

What’s My Skill Level and What Training Do I Need?
Skill Level
Hover over the skill level for more information.
Training Courses to Consider
GroupIndividual (Private)
Never ridden a motorcycle or scooter
Familiar with the 5 basic riding skills
Competent in the 5 basic riding skills
Proficient in the 5 basic riding skills
Expert in the 5 basic riding skills

The Five Basic Motorcycle Riding Skills
Hover over the riding skill for more information.

  • Riding in a straight line
  • Shifting gears
  • Turning
  • Using both brakes to slow or stop
  • Clutch/Throttle control (friction zone)
The Natural Training Progression for the Motorcycle Rider