Make Sure You’re Completely Prepared for the MSF

picture of motorcycles

Taking the MSF course can be a really exciting experience, however, a lot of new riders can feel overwhelmed and underprepared. Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can make sure you are prepared for the MSF.

The best way to prepare for the MSF course is to read the registration email, study the MSF Handbook, and make sure you have the correct gear. You should also review the controls of a motorcycle, mentally prepare for success, and practice on a bike if possible. This will make you fully prepared for the MSF course.

The MSF course was made for absolute beginners, however, these steps will help you be that much more prepared. Keep reading for further insight into each step.

1. Read the Registration Email

The first and most important step is to read and review the registration email you received when you signed up for the MSF course.

The registration email will contain important information about the specific course you are taking. This will tell you the date, time, and location of the course. There will also be an outline of what you are required to wear and bring to the course.

In addition to the requirements, the registration email will also include helpful tips and other resources to make sure you are ready for the course.

2. Study the Official MSF Handbook

One of the best ways to prepare for the MSF course is to study the official MSF Handbook.

Not only will this teach you a lot about the safe operation of a motorcycle, but it will also prepare you for the written portion of the MSF test. The MSF handbook covers all the topics and questions you will go over in class.

The MSF handbook even includes a series of practice questions you can drill to make sure you have the information down pat.

By studying and grasping the information from the handbook, you can avoid having to worry about the written test and focus all your attention on learning the skills on the bike.

3. Make Sure to Wear the Correct Gear

Another vital step in preparation for the MSF course is making sure you wear the right gear.

In fact, most instructors will turn you away if you show up without the correct gear. This is another reason why it is so important to read the registration email. The registration email will typically detail all the necessary gear you need to wear. Luckily, all MSF courses follow the same rules when it comes to gear.

The gear you need to wear to the MSF is:

  • A DOT-approved Helmet – Your helmet must be DOT approved and either be a full-face or 3/4 shell helmet.
  • Eye Protection – If you do decide to wear a 3/4 shell helmet, you will have to wear some type of eye protection. Whether that be goggles, sunglasses or normal glasses will be up to the course you are taking.
  • Full-Fingered Gloves – You also have to wear full-fingered gloves. This will protect your hands in the event of a fall. It is also recommended that they be motorcycle-specific gloves.
  • Over-the-Ankle Boots or Shoes – Next on the list is a solid pair of boots or shoes that completely cover your ankles. This will protect your feet and lower leg in the event of a tip-over.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirt or Jacket – Most courses only require a long sleeve shirt, however, you may want to wear a jacket depending on the weather.
  • Jeans or Heavy Pants – Finally, you need to wear a good pair of jeans or other heavy-duty pants. This is another form of protection for your lower half.

For a better understanding of the gear requirements and nuances that go with it, check out this article on the gear you need to wear to the MSF.

4. Review the Basic Controls of a Motorcycle

Absolute beginners who have never been on any type of motorcycle may be nervous about the basic operation of a motorcycle. But don’t fret, there are a few ways you can easily get up to speed on the basic motorcycle controls.

One of the easiest ways to learn the basic controls of a motorcycle is to read the MSF Handbook. The handbook has an overview of all the controls on a motorcycle as well as how they work.

To see everything in action, you can also review a few Youtube Videos of the controls and how to start, ride and stop a motorcycle. For a great video on the controls of a motorcycle, check out this video from Srkcycles.

Whatever you do, try to at least review the controls before you hop on a motorcycle for the first time. This will prepare you for the MSF course by making sure you have a grasp of the basics so you can start learning how they work.

5. Practice Riding on a Bike

Another great way to prepare for the MSF course is to do some practice drills on a bike.

It may seem far-fetched but you can actually really benefit from practicing on a bike before you take the MSF course. This is especially true if it’s been a long time since you’ve been on any kind of bike.

Practicing low-speed maneuvers on a bike can help you with your vision, balance, and control when you’re finally on a motorcycle. A lot of the same principles apply and will cross over once you’re in the class.

Just like the handbook can prepare you for the written test, doing practice drills on a bike will prepare you for all the drills you will be doing on the motorcycle. This is a great way to skyrocket your confidence before the course.

6. Bring Water and Snacks

In addition to the required gear, you should also bring some water and snacks for the MSF course.

Although you will have a lunch break during the course, you will also have breaks in between drills and classroom work. And believe it or not, you will need these breaks. There is a good chance you will be sore and tired from working the clutch, brakes, and throttle all day – not to mention the core workout it is keeping the motorcycle balanced.

Not only will water and snacks help you maintain energy, but a full stomach will also help you maintain focus.

7. Get a Good Nights Sleep Before the Course

Just like any big event, you should always get a good night of rest before taking the MSF course.

Getting a good night’s rest will help you have the energy and mental clarity you need to be successful during the course.

For even more benefit, try to eat a good breakfast and use the bathroom before you get started.

8. Bring the Right Attitude For Success

Finally, one of the best ways to prepare for the MSF course is by having the right attitude.

A lot of people are nervous about failing the MSF course. And when they make a mistake or struggle with some of the drills, they lose all motivation. This causes a lot of riders to get caught up in their head instead of focusing on the drills they are learning. The whole situation becomes a spiral of self-doubt.

Before you start getting down on yourself, remember that the MSF course does not need to feel like a pass-or-fail thing. Regardless if you do pass or fail the MSF, you will at least become that much closer to getting your motorcycle license.

Mentally preparing for the MSF course will get your mind in the right place so you can focus on the drills instead of getting caught up in your thoughts.


In conclusion, the MSF course should have you more excited than nervous. And a great way to shake those jitters is to make sure you are completely prepared before you even walk into the course.

Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can get prepared and virtually guarantee a level of success during the course.

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