Author Topic: So, You want to get on a Motorcycle? [How-To]  (Read 8341 times)

February 04, 2013, 02:28 AM #0

boostfreak Offline

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I receive at least one PM or email a day on this topic, so I felt the need for this thread was definitely there.

Like most of my threads this will be a lot to read. There are about a dozen or so riders on this forum and they can feel free to chime in or provide opinions at any time. If you strongly disagree with one of my points then please send me a PM, as I would rather have a mature discussion than a ****fest.

I have been riding motorcycles and two wheeled powered machines for a little more than a decade. I have fallen, crashed, dropped, been dumb, been smart, gone too slow, gone too fast, and have had way more close calls and have spent way more money than I like to admit. Has it all been worth it? Absolutely.

Done properly, motorcycling is very rewarding, fun, and a great way to relieve stress and even save money, in some cases. Lets get started.

How do I know motorcycling is right for me? Isn't it dangerous? Isn't insurance crazy? Will I die? I want to go fast!!!11!BBQ

If you're interested in motorcycles, watch some beginner videos on youtube. Read some books. Read this thread. Talk to responsible people that are riders and ask them what it does for them. Come to TTi meets on Fridays, as there is usually a decently sized bike crew attending, with different makes, models, and styles of machines (not everybody rides a crotch rocket). Make sure it fits your budget, and decide what you want out of it.

Humans are built very delicately and frail by nature. People have and do die on motorcycles, there's no point in avoiding that fact. You might get injured, killed, or disfigured, just as you might riding in a car, plane, crossing the street, or sitting in a Tims drive through. If you are smart and responsible enough about it, you can make motorcycling just as safe, if not safer than cars, for yourself and the people around you. It is not easy.

Insurance here is fairly high, yes, especially for people residing in Winnipeg. You only pay for 5 months, May to October, but the bike remains insured all year long. The payments may seem high based on that alone, but motorcycles are very, very fuel efficient, and depending on how much you ride, the yearly insurance can be offset by the fuel savings. Its up to you whether you think it is worth it or not.

How do I acquire a motorcycle (Class 6) license in Manitoba?

First you go down to your local broker and ask them for a Motorcycle handbook. It costs $5-$10 I think, I don't exactly remember. Read it over a couple times. Once you're confident you know the material, call the broker up and schedule a written test. It is 15 questions with an error threshold of 3 questions, and costs $10.

Once you pass that, the broker will issue you a Class 6M licence, which is training only. This license allows you to register and take the Motorcycle Training Course provided by Safety Services Manitoba.



There are two courses, the 8 hour, and the 21 hour courses. The 8 hour is for people who have a decent amount of experience on two wheels already, and by that I don't mean your bicycle. I do not recommend this course to very many people. I took it because I had lots of previous experience, and MPI screwed me over on my Class 6 from before. Even still, I think I should have taken the 21 hour, as everyone will learn something in that course, novices or experts regardless.

The 21 hour course is for individuals completely new to the concept, and, if you pass, is actually cheaper to take than the 8 hour, since MPI refunds you $200 once you complete it. I recommend this to almost everyone. You will learn much, much more and be with people that have a similar level of experience. And its cheaper!

You will need some proper riding gear for the course, but do not have to provide your own motorcycle.

Once you complete the course you are in the Learner stage for a minimum of 9 months. After a road test, you are in the Intermediate stage for 15 months. There are restrictions for each stage, night riding/BAC/passengers and such, all that info is in the Handbook.

You can find more info and register here: http://www.safetyservicesmanitoba.ca/driver-safety-training/motorcycle-training/motorcycle-faq/

I can't wait to get on a bike! How do I choose one!? What gear should I wear?

Excitement is normal, but patience and responsibility is required. By all means, no one is stopping you from going out and buying a brand new or used Honda CBR1000RR or Yamaha R1, or riding it in your sandals, jean shorts, and wife beater. If you think that is within your ability, then go for it. I used to know a few individuals who had those same thoughts, and sadly they are now a statistic. One is missing the lower half of his arm, and another is missing half a leg. They were the lucky ones.

Being unsafe, riding beyond your scope or ability, and not wearing the proper gear does nothing but drive insurance premiums up and make us all look bad. "Proper gear" means nothing more than a helmet to some people, and that is their choice to make. I choose not to ride with such people, and that is my choice. You can make your own.

As for the type of machine, that depends on the type of riding you plan to do. Are you commuting to work? Are you looking for a sporty ride in the morning on the way to work across the city? Long distance while carrying some luggage? Racing? A little off road?

A good rule is to never, ever start on something brand new. Above 90% of people drop their bike in the first year, whether on the road or just walking it around, and replacement panels are NOT cheap, as there rarely is any place to get them other than the OEM. You will feel much more comfortable learning control and how a bike is set up on something cheap from Kijiji than you will something brand new. And you won't have to worry about damaging it. When you're done, sell it to another learner for what you paid. Ride it for a few months or however long it takes until you are confident in your skills.

Another good rule, is to keep the displacement (size of engine) relatively low. 500cc and under is a safe bet, and insurance rates are much cheaper for anything under 501cc's. Keep that in mind. Larger engines are of course heavier, and take some getting used to compared to a CBR125, for example.

Don't be afraid of carburetors or points. With a decent service manual you can learn to maintain and repair your own machine, and there are a few people on here that will provide helpful experience if you need it.

I'll go off on an opinion tangent here, but I believe the best starter bike for anyone is the Honda CBR125R. They are cheap to buy used, extremely reliable, take a beating (10,000RPM for an hour or two straight is nothing), and cost almost nothing to maintain. They are very, very light, have that sporty look, and get 90 mpg without breaking a sweat. It is also one of the bikes used for training in the safety course, which makes it very easy to get used to.

Have a look for what is out there, and choose accordingly. The "hug the tank" riding position on the CBR is much different than a cruiser or touring style machine. Some prefer it, others don't.

Whatever you do, choose the bike that is right for YOU, not your buddy or his dad or neighbour or anyone else. There will be people saying "YO DUDE YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY THIS SICK CBR600 I SAW ON KIJIJI!!!". You can decide whether that is an intelligent choice for a beginner. Lots of people do start on such bikes, and in turn their rate of accidents and slides is much higher. Once you ride for a few years, you can easily spot the guys who started on a rocket, and those who took small steps and learned progressively.

Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 03:49 AM by boostfreak
BNRJAMZ
'13 Fiat 500 Turbo
Originally posted by: Igor
i don't know why you would want to say its an sti, especially around people that know what they are looking at. like buddy, its a wrx, who cares. personally i find it insulting that he calls it an sti

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    So, You want to get on a Motorcycle? [How-To]
    « on: February 04, 2013, 02:28 AM »

    February 04, 2013, 02:49 AM #1

    boostfreak Offline

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    Whew. Maybe take a break after reading all that. ???

    Now lets talk about gear. As said before, nobody can tell you what to buy, so if you think you look cool wearing a helmet and beachwear, with your girlfriend on the back wearing even less, do so.

    Truth is, (and you can ask guys on riding forums or in person who have been around the block and been down on their bikes) you look very uncool and unprofessional. A police officer has even told me you have less chance of being pulled over in the proper gear, as you give the appearance you take the sport seriously and know what the hell you are doing.

    There is another known fact about riders; that there are two types: Those that have been down on their bike, and those that will go down on their bike. Your gear is literally the ONLY thing protecting you from the elements, rocks, bugs, and accidents. Frankly, your skin alone does a pretty piss-poor job of it, trust me on that one. In a car you have a roof, doors, and tons of safety features incorporated. Comparatively, on a bike you have almost nothing.

    Now no one said you had to run out and blow your budget, or save up $1500 to spend on gear. These are the more critical items:

    - Obviously, a well rated helmet that fits properly. Needs to be DOT or Snell rated, the course/MPI will accept either. Go into a local store and try a few on. Buy it online to save a few bucks. The more expensive ones will have more features, but not necessarily be safer, if you make sure they have the same federally mandated rating. Things like easily removeable visors, venting, speakers, removeable padding, anti microbial moisture wicking blah blah blah. That all adds up.

    - A proper textile or leather riding jacket. Armor is nice to have in a fall/slide, and trust me you would rather have it than not have it. Proper spine protection is crucial as well. Shop around for whatever style fits your budget and look. A key point with jackets is that the manufacturers all give the middle finger to each other so to speak, so if you plan on buying AVG pants they will not zip to your Alpinestars jacket, and vice versa. Zippers are built differently depending on brand, so do your research on what will fit what. Granted this is only if you plan on zipping your leathers together, I find it more comfortable, some don't.

    - A good pair of riding gloves. I don't think I need to describe this one. You can get full length or half length, better knuckle protection, etc etc. Fact is, sliding on your hands is much better with gloves. Even if you don't slide, your hands will get sore or even blister without gloves.

    - Riding boots with ample ankle and toe protection/support. You can get riding shoes too. Again, as with anything else, air flow and other features will cost more money. I wear very thin socks when riding, so my boot size is smaller than my shoe size. You won't get much movement out of a pair of boots as far as walking goes, as your feet are stationary when riding, and only pivot to shift gears or apply the rear brake.

    - Riding pants is subject to debate. I wear them, a lot of my friends wear them, however they are not required for the course. Good denim will help in a slip, but not better than a proper pair of pants. Your choice.

    Now remember before you run out and buy your stuff, check the SSM website for their gear requirements for the course. No sense in buying gear twice.

    Two great sites for equipment that I have used almost exclusively are www.canadasmotorcycle.com and www.revzilla.com. It is easy to get everything you need for about 5-600 bucks. Gear ain't cheap, but shop around for deals, and don't forget the cost of shipping/bringing it over the border.

    Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 03:49 AM by boostfreak
    BNRJAMZ
    '13 Fiat 500 Turbo
    Originally posted by: Igor
    i don't know why you would want to say its an sti, especially around people that know what they are looking at. like buddy, its a wrx, who cares. personally i find it insulting that he calls it an sti

      February 04, 2013, 03:22 AM #2

      boostfreak Offline

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      In this post I will help explain some of the different styles of bikes out there, and differences in them that apply to a beginner.

      Those enormous adventure bikes, full dress cruisers, supersport race bikes and many in between might look incredibly fun and believe me, they are, but they are in no way suited for a beginner. Motorcycles are built with differing levels of experience in mind. Like many things in life, if you START with the ADVANCED option there's a very good chance it won't work out in many different ways, and when you're risking not only your own but other people's lives and an expensive piece of machinery, you best have what's properly suited for you.

      For beginners there is more often just one type of machine they want to ride, and that is the sportbike, or crotchrocket, such as this Kawasaki Ninja 650R.



      Yes they are the sexiest things on the road, however I don't recommend such a machine to people starting out, and here's why. Power doesn't have as much to do with it as some people think. Just because the bike can do 270km/h doesn't mean you have to.

      The riding position/ergonomics. For people not used to it it can be uncomfortable to start with, and not being comfortable = placing not enough focus on other things. Having your back straight, your legs not binded up, and your neck not constantly craned up offers a much better position for control of the levers and pedals. If you take the course, they have a few different styles of bikes to choose from, so let your choice influence what bike you purchase for yourself. They will let you try all of them if you ask nicely.

      The engine. A sportbike engine is more commonly a high revving, twitchy inline 4 cylinder. It is not as easy to start off from a stop without stalling, because you must raise the RPM past 3k to get it going. A single cylinder, V-twin, or parallel twin engine arrangement is much easier, because of the additional low end torque they offer by design. Lets face it, nobody likes being seen stalling. The easier the better.

      The ride. Sportbikes are designed as younger family members for their racing counterparts, and between their suspension setup and ergonomics, the ride can be a little unsettling to somebody who is not used to riding on two wheels at all. Think of it as starting in a slammed track car for your first car.

      A list of great starter bikes to look into:

      - Honda CBR125R
      - Honda CBR250R
      - Kawisaki Ninja 250
      - KTM 125 Duke
      - Honda Rebel 250
      - Yamaha XT250
      - Suzuki DRZ400

      This might seem like a laughable list, but remember, they are ALL still faster than a normal car, acceleration wise. To be honest, these will be a LOT more fun to you starting out than a bigger bike. They'll be a lot easier to handle and you'll be able to pay closer attention to what you're doing, gaining you better skills and knowledge and well, you'll have a lot more fun flogging them around those twisty roads than on something that feels like it will kill you.

      Not only that but, there are so many "oh ****" situations that happen up on you, where on a big bike you will instinctively not know what to do and end up not being able to properly handle it in a dangerous situation, where as, your chances are MUCH better on a proper beginner bike

      Or, even start on a road legal scooter to start out. We all know how cool the Ruckus is, and there are always one or two for sale.

      Now, those bikes are all fairly new, and some have perks like fuel injection, ABS brakes, digital displays, etc. Old bikes are also a great choice under 500cc's, are usually much cheaper to obtain, and are cheap on insurance. Keep in mind they may need a little TLC to be roadworthy and such, but it can be a great learning process. Bikes are easy to work on, with minimal tools required.

      Remember to pace yourself accordingly. Don't be afraid of being laughed at for riding a 125 or 250. I wish I myself had a 125 to toy around on, they are so damned light, easy to flick around corners, and all around fun for cheap. The old timers will applaud you for not driving their insurance up too.

      I started riding on an old 80's Suzuki 250. It was terribly ugly, never ran right, tires leaked air, etc etc. It was a great learning experience and I contribute my riding ability today entirely to that old girl, all because I was able to control it properly without being too afraid of it, and not caring if it got a couple scratches here and there. Learn within your own boundaries.

      -bfrk
      Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 03:51 AM by boostfreak
      BNRJAMZ
      '13 Fiat 500 Turbo
      Originally posted by: Igor
      i don't know why you would want to say its an sti, especially around people that know what they are looking at. like buddy, its a wrx, who cares. personally i find it insulting that he calls it an sti

        February 04, 2013, 06:40 AM #3

        SavageTaco Offline

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        Great post! I think that covers evey aspect.

         I wish I could still ride on the streets, but Iím relegated to the track as I can't choke down the insurance rates at the moment.
        Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 06:47 AM by SavageTaco
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          February 04, 2013, 07:26 AM #4

          Nhil Offline

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          Great writeup, thanks for this Dave
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            February 04, 2013, 08:12 AM #5

            sabu243

            Just a tip regarding the Class 6 Intermediate stage. If you have already gone through the GDL program for your Class 5 and have completed the 15 month intermediate stage, you will NOT have to spend another 15 months in the Class 6 intermediate. Only if the Class 6 is your *first* Manitoba issued driver's license.

            I would also like to x2 for getting a small bike to learn on. I took my CBR125 down the backlane and was shocked by the power it had. If you're just starting out, I would HIGHLY recommend a small displacement, light bike. Even just getting to know how to move the bike around by hand is a learning curve. If you don't balance it properly or lose your balance, that bike is going down. I've already had a few close calls dropping mine even though it hasn't left the garage. These machines require a great deal of respect and training in order to operate them correctly and safely.
            Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 08:30 AM by sabu243

              February 04, 2013, 09:56 AM #6

              99blackSE Offline

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              Throw the trusty GS500E/F and Ninja 500R on the beginners list too, great bikes that have been around for more than a decade for a reason.  You may want to talk to your folks about getting into the sport too.  My mother wasn't all too happy when I brought home my GS but it is something to think about due to the potentially higher risk.  That reminds me, I haven't gotten around to making up a will yet either.

              Leather will have a higher abrasion resistance than textile but it does get quite toasty in the summer if you're not moving or if you have armour underneath.  Look for perforations in the gear for ventilation.  Spine protectors are a must in my opinion.  The dinky pad that is placed in most jackets will do next to nothing and besides the head the spine is the next most important thing to protect.  Check out Forcefield or Knox to see some good examples. Regular denim is okay for the course but on the street will do nothing as well.  Textile pants or riding denim is a cheap investment.

              Proper gear does give the impression that you take the sport seriously, and in one instance when I went to distance myself from a cage cluster and got tagged for 120 in a 90 I believe it was a contributing factor to me getting off with a warning.  Also if you can choose bright colours, red, orange, yellow, etc.  Visibility is your first line of defense on the street.  My Arai RX-Q has reflective sections in the back, my Kreiga pack has reflective panels in the rear and on the connecting patch in the front, and my luggage has reflective piping too for night time visibility.  I once seen a group from Ontario on Pembina with some BMW sport tourings that had bright neon green vests on over their gear, smart folks as far as I was concerned.

              My greatest regret about the sport is not getting into it when I was in my teens.  I use it now to allow me to afford having a truck as my sole 4 wheel machine and to save money in the summer.
              Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 10:16 PM by 99blackSE
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                February 04, 2013, 09:59 AM #7

                Murderjetz Offline

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                Awesome thread.
                I'm wondering exactly what is textile and how does it differ from leather? Also, are mesh jackets completely useless?

                  February 04, 2013, 10:12 AM #8

                  slowbalt69

                  Great write up. My first bike was a cbr600rr. Bigger bike but I had a lot of experiences with bikes so I knew I could handle it. That bike was perfect especially after I chipped it. Small bike, perfect riding stance and can easily keep up with a 1000. Paid 1900 in insurance which wasnt to bad! Wish I still had it though miss it like crazy

                    February 04, 2013, 10:18 AM #9

                    99blackSE Offline

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                    Originally posted by Murderjetz
                    Awesome thread.
                    I'm wondering exactly what is textile and how does it differ from leather? Also, are mesh jackets completely useless?

                    Textile/mesh are basically the same.
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                      February 04, 2013, 10:26 AM #10

                      boostfreak Offline

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                      Textile is high grade nylon /polyester etc. As Brad said, leather offers much better abrasion resistance, no doubt about it. In my worst slide I was wearing a textile jacket and it nearly wore through the elbow, but I didn't have a lot of weight placed on it. On the track leather is the only choice.

                      Again as Brad said, proper armor inside is very important. My jacket came with weak foam padding (if you could even call it that) in the armor spots that I removed and placed the upgraded hard armor pieces in instead. Even still, I bet in a fall over 40 mph I would end up with a little road rash. Leather is just superior in that area.

                      However even in my textile coat it got sweaty occasionally last year. Sitting in traffic in the sun gets hot fast. Leather will be even hotter, so it's a trade off everyone has to decide. Heat stroke in leather isn't unheard of. I bought my jacket because it has great air movement and bright, reflective colors.

                      Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 10:29 AM by boostfreak
                      BNRJAMZ
                      '13 Fiat 500 Turbo
                      Originally posted by: Igor
                      i don't know why you would want to say its an sti, especially around people that know what they are looking at. like buddy, its a wrx, who cares. personally i find it insulting that he calls it an sti

                        February 04, 2013, 10:58 AM #11

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                        Wow great write up, covers everything haha, should answer everyone's questions.
                        Originally posted by Winter Beater
                        If a car is shows that a solid effort was made, and the car is reasonably well executed I can respect that. Even if it's not my cup of tea..

                          February 04, 2013, 07:09 PM #12

                          arynnoelle

                          Solid write-up. Definitely a good read for anyone thinking about getting a bike, and even for people who have been riding for years.

                            February 05, 2013, 05:43 AM #13

                            Murphenur Offline

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                            solid writeup.  should mention motorcycle book is available for FREE :) on MPIs website in pdf format.  and its still $5 at your local friendly broker, or ask me for one, and i can bring it to a meet ect.

                            I took the 21 hr course, and there is one that is done over 5 days... I've heard that is much better for first timers on motorcycles.  I took the 5 day one with a buddy who had never ridden and he loved it.  I had ridden bikes for a few years, dirt and street in BC... but the class was totally worth it.  definitely had bad habits from before, and learned much better control and manoeuvres that will likely save my life.

                            oh and motorcycle rallies are the best.  just saying.

                            p.s. Dave please move the Ride For Dad event to this section
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                              February 05, 2013, 11:28 AM #14

                              Darkness Offline

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                              Originally posted by Murphenur
                              should mention motorcycle book is available for FREE :) on MPIs website in pdf format. 
                              Here's the direct link for people wanting it:
                              http://www.mpi.mb.ca/en/PDFs/Motorcycle-handbook.pdf

                              Edit: Updated link
                              Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 10:19 AM by Darkness

                                February 06, 2013, 09:40 AM #15

                                arynnoelle

                                I'm sure it's somewhere on the website, but I'm not sure where exactly to look--due to my work hours [once I'm on my regular shifts, 430pm-3am Monday-Thursday], does anyone know if there is a weekend course available? For the 21 hour. Weekend is the only time it would work for me, as I don't want to take any time off and lose a few days/nights' pay for this, or use vacation time on it, but I obviously need to take it.

                                  February 06, 2013, 11:34 AM #16

                                  99blackSE Offline

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                                  Pretty sure they have weekend courses.  Nothing is on the site yet though.
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                                    February 07, 2013, 12:22 AM #17

                                    Murphenur Offline

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                                    Originally posted by 99blackSE
                                    Pretty sure they have weekend courses.  Nothing is on the site yet though.

                                    yeah there is... but it still has one Wednesday or Thursday class... then the rest is dine Saturday and Sunday.  I think its 4hrs, then 8.5 and 8.5.  word to the wise, you cannot be late whatsoever.  if you are even 5 mins late they can disqualify you from the course.  they booted two guys from my course for being late.  no refund.
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                                      February 07, 2013, 03:39 PM #18

                                      j.onathan Offline

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                                      Good writeup!

                                      The weekend courses are usually for the 8hr course to get it done in one day.  However they told me that its usually the out of town locations that are offered on weekends. 

                                      I took the two day 8hr course last summer, I've ridden a few dirtbikes and rockets prior to that, and still learnt alot from the course. 

                                        February 07, 2013, 05:39 PM #19

                                        arynnoelle

                                        Originally posted by Murphenur
                                        yeah there is... but it still has one Wednesday or Thursday class... then the rest is dine Saturday and Sunday.  I think its 4hrs, then 8.5 and 8.5.  word to the wise, you cannot be late whatsoever.  if you are even 5 mins late they can disqualify you from the course.  they booted two guys from my course for being late.  no refund.

                                        Dang. Well, I guess I WILL have to take a work day off, after all. :/ Thanks for the info!

                                          March 03, 2013, 05:26 PM #20

                                          SpeedPls Offline

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                                          I don't think this was in here,

                                          How does the road test work?
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                                            March 03, 2013, 08:17 PM #21

                                            boostfreak Offline

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                                            When I took it, they either gave you an earpiece to wear (they follow you in a vehicle) or honked once or twice depending which way they wanted you to turn.

                                            You can take it 9 months after being in the intermediate stage.
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                                              March 03, 2013, 10:19 PM #22

                                              99blackSE Offline

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                                              When I did mine it was the earpiece Dave mentioned.  Pretty short test, maybe 15-20 minutes.  You get credit for the intermediate stage of your class 5 so you basically go straight from 6L to 6F when you pass your road test.
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                                                March 03, 2013, 11:15 PM #23

                                                Murphenur Offline

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                                                Originally posted by boostfreak
                                                When I took it, they either gave you an earpiece to wear (they follow you in a vehicle) or honked once or twice depending which way they wanted you to turn.

                                                You can take it 9 months after being in the intermediate stage.

                                                Originally posted by 99blackSE
                                                When I did mine it was the earpiece Dave mentioned.  Pretty short test, maybe 15-20 minutes.  You get credit for the intermediate stage of your class 5 so you basically go straight from 6L to 6F when you pass your road test.

                                                buddy of mine used to administer these road tests, so he showed me the usual route they take, not much to it. 

                                                $20 fee for the test if I remember correctly, gotta book it through a broker or at a service center.  Road test at Mcphillips is generally easier from what I heard.
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                                                  March 04, 2013, 11:34 PM #24

                                                  SpeedPls Offline

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                                                  Okay good to know! Thanks guys!
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                                                    « Reply #24 on: March 04, 2013, 11:34 PM »