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Improving the pass rate for women who take the Basic Rider Course

Old 06-24-2013, 01:33 PM
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Improving the pass rate for women who take the Basic Rider Course

I've been teaching the Canada Safety Council Basic Rider Course for about 14 years at a local community college. The course consists of a three hour evening classroom session and one and a half days riding CBR125's in a large parking lot followed by a test. The course is designed for people without riding experience.
The pass rate generally is about 85%. Roughly 10% of the people we teach are women. The pass rate for women is much poorer, roughly 25%.
I'm having difficulty figuring out what the fundamental problem is.
I read a book by Liz Jansen, "Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment" in which the women whom the author interviewed described how learning how to ride a motorcycle gave them the feeling that they could achieve whatever they wanted.
That wasn't the case for me or for any man I've talked to about it. Motorcycling was just a huge amount of fun. Being able to do it didn't mean that I could do anything else.
If learning to ride a motorcycle means something different for women, should the approach to teaching women be different too?
While I appreciate that most answers will involve stereotyping, do forum members, preferably those with experience teaching others to ride, have any helpful opinions on improving the success rate for women taking motorcycle training?
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by comedo View Post
I've been teaching the Canada Safety Council Basic Rider Course for about 14 years at a local community college. The course consists of a three hour evening classroom session and one and a half days riding CBR125's in a large parking lot followed by a test. The course is designed for people without riding experience.
The pass rate generally is about 85%. Roughly 10% of the people we teach are women. The pass rate for women is much poorer, roughly 25%.
I'm having difficulty figuring out what the fundamental problem is.
I read a book by Liz Jansen, "Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment" in which the women whom the author interviewed described how learning how to ride a motorcycle gave them the feeling that they could achieve whatever they wanted.
That wasn't the case for me or for any man I've talked to about it. Motorcycling was just a huge amount of fun. Being able to do it didn't mean that I could do anything else.
If learning to ride a motorcycle means something different for women, should the approach to teaching women be different too?
While I appreciate that most answers will involve stereotyping, do forum members, preferably those with experience teaching others to ride, have any helpful opinions on improving the success rate for women taking motorcycle training?
I may be entirely daft altogether, but wouldn't it be a question you should ask the women at the course? I mean, they shpuld have an idea what's missing for them?
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by comedo View Post
The pass rate generally is about 85%. Roughly 10% of the people we teach are women. The pass rate for women is much poorer, roughly 25%.
I'm having difficulty figuring out what the fundamental problem is.
Why does there need to be a fundamental problem ?

We have achieved legal and actual equality, there is no more need to be forever helping women specifically.

Riding a motorcycle requires a fairly high amount of coordination and the ability to stay calm and not react to fear...most women do not take up hobbies that would develop these traits....

If you joined a cooking or sewing class I doubt anyone would be wondering about some "fundamental" problem if you weren't as good at it as the women who likely had more experience with that type of work
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by comedo View Post
If learning to ride a motorcycle means something different for women,
I'm not about to say I know anything about this subject, but I'd imagine if you can answer what is different, you can figure out how to pass more.

I'm extra proud if my girlfriend can tell the difference between a Jeep and a Subaru (all SUV's are Jeeps to her, with different levels of "cuteness"). Everything else is a car, van, or truck. She's just not interested in vehicles. Some girls are, but speaking anecdotally, I'd say 25% who pass is pretty good. How many of them are there because a significant other is? How many grew up riding bmx or mountain bikes to develop some level of motor skill base to build off of? How many drive a manual transmission vehicle because they think it's cool and want to experience the ride rather than just passively be a part of it?
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:45 PM
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Comedo, I'm in the same boat as you. I've been teaching for 9 years now.

Truth is, its simple... We're wired this way. Goes back to caveman days. Men are hunter gatherers, we take risks. Women are all about self preservation, to continue the species, and keep children safe.

Its the way we are wired. Don't take this as a sexist statement at all.

I think of it like this, men are too dumb to know better, so we trust the bike and do as we're told. Women are smarter than us, so self preservation kicks in. They often have an inability to trust leaning the bike, straighten it up, and look straight and shoot out of the corner.

There is exceptions to the rule. I've had women that can outride men, and men who should never ride...

Age can come into play as well. Younger people tend to pick up new skills much faster than older.

It all comes down to this. -Men progress faster because we take more risk.
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:47 PM
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Simple get a female instructor to teach female classes. They communicate differently, surely you know that by now!
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:50 PM
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All the people who take the course are given evaluation forms. The responses from women usually are positive. However, the forms are handed out at the lunch break before the test and provide an opportunity to review the programme rather than an opportunity to set out the obstacles, if any, to their own progress.

Most people who fail the test do so because they either have poor clutch control, don't look where they want to go or are uncomfortable opening the throttle. Some smaller riders drop the bike when stopped. They lack the upper body strength to keep the bike vertical. Sometimes the anxiety created by the test itself causes good riders to forget their skills.

The problems I see during the teaching phase of the course are overthinking, being overly self-critical and lacking confidence.

Often, the students don't have much insight into the reasons why they were unsuccessful. They can appreciate, for instance, that they didn't ride through a test section fast enough. They know that to go fast enough they have to open the throttle more but they don't know why they didn't. I don't know what to say to them to make them want to go faster.

Tweety: You're right. They do have an idea what's missing for them. Too often it's: "I'll never be able to do this."
blamecanada: You're right. You have to have some physical skill, a higher than average level of risk tolerance and a measure of self-control to ride a motorcycle safely. I can't think of a way to significantly increase risk tolerance in a very short length of time.
7moore7: You're right too.

I'm just not ready to give up. I appreciate your comments. I'll keep thinking about it.
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by HRCA#1 View Post
Simple get a female instructor to teach female classes. They communicate differently, surely you know that by now!
We have several female Instructors, but the outcome does not change.

In Utah we get a lot of women who mountain bike, drive jeeps, etc. They tend to ride well. "Older" women who want their own HD tend to have more trouble...... and ones who are there because Hubby wants them there don't often do so good.

As with men, more time on early clutch/throttle control and emphasis on squaring the bars for a stop will help all students do better.

BUT, some people shouldn't ride...
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:45 PM
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Hard to say really. Taught my girlfriend to ride fairly easy and had her riding a Heritage Softail in no time, even with me on the back for fun. However after a couple tries her mom never got off past the little rebel in the parking lot, and never rode again. She was too darn scared. Then again she gets scared going around an on or offramp at legal speeds in a car...in fairness I've seen plenty of young guys who were just the same. It's just not for some people...
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:48 PM
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Both of my ex wives rode before I met them although I did meet my 1st at an experienced rider course. They both told me the instructors talked down/patronized them. They both passed but felt that way!
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Old 06-25-2013, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by slo1 View Post
We have several female Instructors, but the outcome does not change.
As do we, and they can ride the ***** off most bikes.

"Older" women who want their own HD tend to have more trouble......
Older men as well. I often get told "I see motorcycles on the road all the time, it looks so easy!"

and ones who are there because Hubby wants them there don't often do so good.
This is a huge issue for me. If you don't want to be there for yourself, then you shouldn't be here for him...

BUT, some people shouldn't ride...
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Old 06-26-2013, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by HRCA#1 View Post
Both of my ex wives rode before I met them although I did meet my 1st at an experienced rider course. They both told me the instructors talked down/patronized them. They both passed but felt that way!
We have had several "relationships" bloom from students meeting each other at class

And it is sad that so many instructors have that attitude when dealing with women. Hopefully, like the old military "Brown Boot" guys, they are a dying breed. It's the 2000's, people should just be people by now, sex/race/etc makes no difference to the way one should be treated. Unless you are in Mississippi
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:28 PM
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Here's another thing. The CBR125 makes a great first streetbike, but we only put a rider with experience on one of those.

With an enduro, such as a KLX140, a DR200, or TW200, the riding position is much more upright and natural. Wide bars make steering transitions much simpler and "user friendly".

Slow Speed Maneuvers exercise is much harder on the 125's.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:06 PM
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A lot of political correctness in this thread, but, sorry, I can't be so....correct.

Women do not evaluate speed and distances as men do, and, this has been scientifically proven. Women can not evaluate at a street corner, when there is an on coming car adjacent to them, if they have time to merge before the car arrives, or should they wait.....so they wait. They also can not evaluate size. You have all seen women parallel park. More often then less, it's a tedious task for them.
Yes, some men have difficulty with these issues also, but if you are to put it in percentage wise, it's still in our favor...largely.

I live in the racing world on four wheels, and have been for more then the past 18 years. I've seen my share of women behind the wheel. More often then not, if there's an accident, they are implicated in it. We can find excuses all we want, does not change that fact.

I have a few girl friends that ride, including my tender half,and, well, it always turns into an interesting ride when I ride with them.

I have a friend who like you comedo, teaches. He once told me the customers he fears the most are women, especially when they hit 40, then it's usually a disaster. His words, not mine.
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Old 08-08-2013, 04:52 PM
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I'll be one of the 25%. I passed my safety course at 19 on a zx-6r. I grew up with the boys on dirt bikes and with race cars. It's surely not for everyone, and the other women in my class didn't pass...frankly, they didn't have the ***** for it. I noticed that with most women and the inability to control the bike comes from a lack of instinct. We tend to over think instead of maneuvering or acting. I (thankfully) don't do that too often as riding would be a real chore at that point instead of fun and relaxing.
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ChikinLady1011 View Post
It's surely not for everyone, and the other women in my class didn't pass...frankly, they didn't have the ***** for it.
that's awesome.

My Daughter, who is now on a Diavel, says her ***** are so big God had to put them on her chest
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:08 PM
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I want to thank everyone for their comments. They've given me a lot to think about. I also found this article relating to teaching women downhill skiing. http://www.skilikeawoman.com/docs_pdf/Fear.pdf Motorcycling is analogous in a number of ways.
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by slo1 View Post
that's awesome.

My Daughter, who is now on a Diavel, says her ***** are so big God had to put them on her chest
Tell your daughter I'm stealing that!! Classic!
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ChikinLady1011 View Post
Tell your daughter I'm stealing that!! Classic!
+100 that's the best Quote I've heard all year!
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:44 PM
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The basic issue is that yes, motorcycling has inherent tasks of speed, danger, focus and mechanical coordination.

Downhill skiing is not the same. I have race both but you can crash on snow at 60 without a scratch. That is unlikely on a bike.

My theory is that due to thier lifegiving abilities, women tend towards preserving life, not risking it.

I get that you are trying to bridge a gap, but are you doing these women any favors by it? The reality is that riding a bike will bite you in potentially life changing/ending ways. If they are not passing, then the reality is that alone may be saving lives.

Pushing someone through (or whatever) is not going to change the real world where failing can be disasterous. In the scheme of a human life, failing the test is immensly preferable to the next result of failure.

Heck even guys (or girls) who have been riding since they were kids in the dirt and stay sharp are still up against it out there.

I have only instructed on a track where basic skills are already in place, but when safety is an issue (like teaching street riders), its for the greater good that inept riders stay off the street or practice on a bicycle or scooter so less of their dime is taken up on fundamental.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by smokinjoe73 View Post
The basic issue is that yes, motorcycling has inherent tasks of speed, danger, focus and mechanical coordination.

Downhill skiing is not the same. I have race both but you can crash on snow at 60 without a scratch. That is unlikely on a bike.

My theory is that due to thier lifegiving abilities, women tend towards preserving life, not risking it.

I get that you are trying to bridge a gap, but are you doing these women any favors by it? The reality is that riding a bike will bite you in potentially life changing/ending ways. If they are not passing, then the reality is that alone may be saving lives.

Pushing someone through (or whatever) is not going to change the real world where failing can be disasterous. In the scheme of a human life, failing the test is immensly preferable to the next result of failure.

Heck even guys (or girls) who have been riding since they were kids in the dirt and stay sharp are still up against it out there.

I have only instructed on a track where basic skills are already in place, but when safety is an issue (like teaching street riders), its for the greater good that inept riders stay off the street or practice on a bicycle or scooter so less of their dime is taken up on fundamental.
+1, I guess not much to add to this, well said!
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:36 AM
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Me me me me!

I have one thought after what Joe said... if we are generalizing and women do tend to be the more cautious and safer sex, wouldn't we want as many of them on the road as possible, all else being equal (dexterity, experience, etc.). You don't see too may accidents due to women showing off in front of their peeps, or racing the WRX next to them at a stoplight.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by 7moore7 View Post
Me me me me!

I have one thought after what Joe said... if we are generalizing and women do tend to be the more cautious and safer sex, wouldn't we want as many of them on the road as possible, all else being equal (dexterity, experience, etc.). You don't see too may accidents due to women showing off in front of their peeps, or racing the WRX next to them at a stoplight.
*whistles and backs into corner...*

It's only been one accident from showing off and I learned my lesson...
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Old 08-09-2013, 02:24 PM
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Well......here is the problem with that logic. The life preserver thing only comes in when they feel their life is threatened. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect while a woman is driving. They sadly have no concept of physical inertia or bodily harm.

When every guy is a boy on a schoolyard, at some point you learned that you can only mouth off so much (or maybe your parents taught you) before you really pissed off the wrong guy and got punched in the face.

All the while we were learning this, girls were learning how to manipulate thier parents and others (boys & girls) to get thier way. No getting hit. As we grew, we played baseball & got beaned, football and got clobbered, wrestled boxed, whatever.

Guys have learned what an impact is like. Not to say that NO females get it but figure 99.9999% dont & the rest are sure they wont get hit anyway.

I could and have written pages on this topic but this is it in a nutshell. No backround of kinesthetics, and rare sympathy of injury.

This is why my bike will get knocked over by a woman trying to park with miles of room, where a guy will be more cautious. (punch in the face prospect never really leaves, especially with my bike).

If you are sitting at a light, a woman just wont fully care if she gets too close/bumps you. They dont comprehend the potential injury.

I have talked at length about this with my wife and she totally agrees. BUT she is also a NYC Hong Kong girl, which gives here a certain toughness and yet she still agrees.

Chicinlady, if you really think about it, you will agree. If not about yourself but about women in general.

The old saying is you cant understand women. Women understand women and they hate each other...

BTW, I love women, I just understand there are differences. Like dirtbikes and sportbikes.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:34 PM
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I will never disagree with the generalities about women...stereotypes are derived from truth.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:38 AM
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I wish more women would be on bikes on the road for many reasons including the reasons mentioned above, the one thing that would be avoided for sure is texting!
All I see lately is women texting while driving more then men, maybe it's the multitasking ability? Not sure... We all know the potential consequences, but not much have been done with that except some police enforcement that seems not to work at all...
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:47 AM
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Dont get me started on texting.

Never thought we'd wish for good old drunk drivers.
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