The Skilled Rider Course by Harley Davidson

Jeff Yalden rides The World Famous Dragon

As a motorcycle enthusiast and road captain for Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG), it is my goal to be one of the most educated riders on any ride.  Being an educated rider fosters a safe and enjoyable experience for all riders, where they can trust in their road captain and know that every ride is going to be safe, fun, and memorable.   I take great pride in being a Road Captain and sharing my love for motorcycles and safe riding.

Recently, I decided to enroll in Harley Davidson’s Skilled Rider Course, which was an 8 hour class of lecture and practical application while riding your own bike. At first, I thought this was pretty basic, but I stayed with the thought, “If I can learn one thing this class would have been worth it.”  Surely, as the day ended, I reflected on what I learned and was glad I took the time to stick it out because it was certainly workth it for any rider with all types of riding experience.  By the way, I did get a perfect score.  I really enjoyed the practical application of riding through cones and learning different techniques to better yourself as a rider.  Furthermore, the instructors were awesome!

We went through 10 lessons that we had to be able to navigate safely through.  I am not going to go through all 10 lessons, but I will point out some lessons that I think are noteworthy to becoming a more confident and safer motorcyclist.

First lesson is proper braking.  I remember back in 1993, my divorce had become final.  I was a young stud of a Marine and decided that instead of a women in my life, I needed a motorcycle.  It didn’t take too long to find that love of my life, but in order to ride on base, you needed to have taken the Experience Riders Course.

During that course, I remember learning that you should use 70/30 rule in braking.  That is 70% back brakes and 30% front brakes.  This was in 1993, nearly 20 years ago when I learned this.  Now, some 20 years later, I have learned that it is quite the opposite now.  Today, it is taught that you use 70/30 in 70% being the front brakes and 30% being the back brakes.  I honestly didn’t know that and this information inspired me to reevaluate my riding skills.

No matter how good of a rider you think you are, I think there is always room to become a better and safer rider.  Oh yeah, during my recent 20,000 mile tune-up, I had to get new back brake pads.  The front brakes were fine.  Just an FYI and lesson learned!

The second lesson I learned has to do with braking again.  Suppose you are cornering at a high rate of speed and you need to slow down because you hit the corner too fast.  What do you do?  Is it still 70% front brakes and 30% back brakes in the curve?  Do you even brake in a turn?  What happens when you use too much front brakes in a turn?  Don’t try it . . . You are down before you have time to let off the brakes.  Using too much front brakes in a corner is a recipe for disaster.  Do NOT ever brake while manipulating a curve in the road.

So what do you do in a curve?

The rule is to enter all turns and curves at a safe rate of speed so that you can maneuver and handle the bike safely.  Most accidents happen on a motorcycle while trying to manipulate corners, curves, and turns.

Upon entering a turn, you brake before you start your lean into the corner or turn.  Brake enough so that you enter the turn at a safe rate of speed.  Then you turn your head to be able to see where you are going.  You then roll the throttle right into the curve and ride your ride.  Always remember, when riding a motorcycle, you RIDE YOUR RIDE!

So, you enter the corner at a safe speed.  Always brake before you start to lean the bike.  Then, turn your head and roll the throttle as you lean into the curve.  By following this rule, you are surely going to enjoy riding in corners while being in control and riding safely.

In the event that you think you’ve hit the corner too high a rate of speed, you have a choice:

  1. You can either lay the bike down and take the ride (not recommended)


  1. You can roll the throttle, turn your head, and lean into that curve

The bike is capable of much more than you think.  You will go where your eyes are looking.  Look to where you want to go and roll the throttle as you ride that bike through the turn.  Just remember, don’t ever brake in a turn.  You are better off to turn your head, lean, and roll that throttle as those tires will grip the pavement and that bike will handle that curve like nobody’s business.

Braking in any turn or curve is a recipe for disaster and could quickly end your love of riding motorcycles.

Always ride safe and enjoy the experience!


Jeff Yalden

Road Captain, Cape Cod HOG

Activities Officer

Membership Officer



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Author:Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker

Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Life Coach. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has been mesmerizing audiences with his engaging style and passion. Jeff is a story-teller that every where he speaks, he guarantees he is real and in the moment, perfect for every audience. He is one of a kind. He's interactive and nobody pours as much energy and passion into their programs that Jeff does. Guaranteed, Jeff will be a defining moment and a highlight of your students lives.

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