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Do All Motorcycles Have a Reserve Tank? (A Simple Guide)

The purpose of the reserve tank is to act as a safety net for riders giving them a heads-up warning that they are running low on fuel.

It is a very simple concept but one that can raise a lot of questions sometimes.

Not all motorcycles have a reserve fuel tank. Most FI motorcycles do not have a reserve tank. However, carbureted motorcycles usually have a reserve tank. Some motorcycles can have a fuel gauge or a low fuel light instead of a reserve tank.

This means that your motorcycle may not really have a reserve fuel tank, and that should not be considered a cause for concern.

Below I go more in-depth about what you should know about your reserve fuel tank.

Why do motorcycles have a reserve?

The purpose of the reserve fuel tank in motorcycles is to serve as a low fuel warning. When the fuel in the main fuel tank gets too low, the motorcycle will start to sputter, notifying the rider to switch to the reserve tank and look for a fuel station to refill their tank.

How reserve works

The reserve tank is not a separate fuel tank from the main fuel tank. The reserve is a part of the main fuel tank. The reserve tank should be considered to provide a low fuel warning similar to the fuel gauge or the low fuel light some motorcycles have.

Usually, inside the fuel tank, there are two outlets of a different length through which the fuel can flow from the fuel tank and into the engine. When the fuel gets low enough to get just below the longer outlet, the rider will have to switch to the lower outlet, which is the reserve.

Once the fuel gets too low in the main fuel tank, the rider has to switch to the reserve in order to use the rest of the fuel in the fuel tank. That way, they know they are left with just enough fuel to get them to a fuel station.

If you are interested in knowing how much time you have to find a fuel station after switching to the reserve, read my article about how far motorcycles can go on reserve, where I give you some real-world numbers and examples.

Running on reserve

So what will happen if we run the bike in reserve mode when the tank is full?

Since the reserve is part of the main fuel tank, this means that riders can run the motorcycle on reserve all the time, even if the tank is full. Nothing bad will happen to the motorcycle, but the downside is that the rider may not notice they are running low on fuel and get stranded on the road with no means of refueling.

I have gone into more detail about the possible dangers and downsides of running your motorcycle on reserve all the time in my article about what can happen if you run on reserve all the time.

Also, you do not have to worry about the reserve running out of fuel before the main tank or having to refuel the reserve tank separately. The main fuel tank and the reserve share the same space

How to find out if your motorcycle has a reserve tank

Now in order to find if your motorcycle has a reserve, there are a few very easy steps that you can take.

Look for the fuel switch underneath the fuel tank

The easiest way to find out if your motorcycle has a reserve fuel tank is to look for the fuel switch (i.e., fuel petcock valve) located on the left side of the motorcycle under the fuel tank. Fuel switches usually have three positions, “ON”, “OFF”, and “RES”.

  • For normal operation, the position of the petcock should be in the “ON” position, which allows the fuel from the fuel tank to reach the engine.
  • Switching the petcock to the “OFF” position will prevent the fuel in the fuel tank from reaching the engine, which prevents the motorcycles from starting.
  • Switching the petcock to the “RES” position allows the fuel in the reserve fuel tank to be used.

Some motorcycles will also have another setting called “PRI”, which stands for prime. This one is a little different and usually used after long-term storage, if the motorcycle has been tipped over, or after running out of fuel to fill up the carburetor.

If you have the fuel petcock on your motorcycle, this means that your fuel tank also has a reserve.

Check your motorcycle owner’s manual

Whether your motorcycle has a reserve fuel tank should also be noted in your owner’s manual detailing the capacity of the main fuel tank and the reserve fuel tank.

This is actually excellent information to know as it allows you to know how far your motorcycle can get on a full tank or after switching to the reserve.

If you are interested in some real-world data and comparisons, check my article on how far motorcycles can get on a full tank of gas. It can give you a good perspective of what you can expect on average from most motorcycles and what can affect the total distance traveled.

Check if your motorcycle has a low fuel light or gauge

Some motorcycles will have a low fuel light, gauge, or another means of displaying how many miles you have left before having to refuel.

If your motorcycle does not have a fuel petcock underneath the fuel tank, and nothing about a reserve fuel tank is mentioned in your owner’s manual, your motorcycle most likely does not have a reserve.

Why do some motorcycles not have a reserve?

Many of the older and carbureted motorcycles have a reserve because this is a very inexpensive way to be notified when the level of the fuel in the tank is getting too low.

Of course, there are other ways riders can keep track of how often they may have to fill up their motorcycles.

One of the most basic ways to do that is to figure out the fuel consumption of your motorcycle. Knowing your average MPG, which can be different from what the manufacturer has stated originally, you will know how many miles you can go on a full tank of gas. Then all you have to do is keep track of the distance you have traveled since your last refueling, which can be done using your trip meter or a GPS.

I go into more detail about how to calculate your fuel consumption and MPG and how this can benefit you in the long run in my article on how to calculate the fuel consumption of your motorcycle.

Today motorcycles may not really need to have a reserve tank anymore because there are alternative ways to keep track of how much fuel is left in the tank. Usually, today this is done by using a fuel gauge or a low fuel light.

Fuel gauges, low fuel lights, and reserve tanks are not 100% accurate all the time, but they are good ways to prevent you from running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.

Now, if you are looking for tips and tricks on how to not run out of fuel, I recommend checking my article on how to not run out of fuel on your motorcycle.

How Many Miles Can You Get on Harley-Davidson Tires? (Examples)

How long your motorcycle tires last is no doubt an important question.

Not just that, but also how long they should be lasting is also worth looking into. 

Tires are easily one of the highest unexpected costs when it comes to motorcycles, simply because they do not last as long as car tires, for example.

How many miles can you get on a Harley tire? Riders can expect to get between 5,000 and 28,000 miles on a Harley tire with normal riding. On average, riders can get 5,000 to 15,000 miles out of their rear-wheel Harley tires, and front-wheel Harley tires last between 9,000 to 25,000 miles.

Of course, these are good average numbers.

However, they cannot give us all details. 

Below I go into more detail about how many miles riders should expect to get out of their Harley tires and how different factors will affect the actual miles.

How many miles can you get on most motorcycle tires?

Motorcycle tires, in general, wear out faster and do not last as long as the tires used on other motor vehicles, for example.

  • Car tires generally are expected to last between 50,000 to 75,000 miles or about 5 to 10 years.
  • 18-wheeler tires will usually last around 300,000 to 350,000 miles.
  • Tractor tires can last upwards of 30 years. (They are usually measured in work hours and not miles.)
  • Moped tires last, generally, between 2,000 to 6,000 miles or about 4 years. However, some moped tires can last as much as 15,000 miles.

Generally speaking, motorcycle tires will usually last about 2,500 to 17,000 miles or about 5 to 7 years. 

The different types of tires also tend to perform a little differently. Sports tires and tires designed for more performance last on average about 2,500 to 9,000 miles

Touring and sport-touring tires can last on average about 10,000 to 17,000 miles. 

Motorcycle tires wear out so fast because of their design, how they are engineered, and the compounds used. This also plays a role in why motorcycle tires can be so expensive sometimes. That being said, other factors can also play a role in how fast a motorcycle tire will wear out, like riding habits, overall quality of the tires, the road surface and condition, and the lack of any maintenance and care.

Now that you have a good idea of how long most motorcycle tires last, let’s take a look at how Harley tires fare in comparison.

How many miles do Harley Davidson motorcycle tires last?

On average, Harley tires last between 5,000 to 30,000 miles. Front tires can last between 9,000 to 28,000 miles, and rear tires can last between 5,000 to 17,000 miles in certain cases.

In terms of age, most manufacturers recommend replacing your Harley tires after 4 to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer.

The most commonly used tires for Harleys are Dunlop, Metzeler, Avon, Pirelli, and Michelin.

See article: Is changing your own motorcycle tires worth it?

OEM Dunlop Harley-Davidson motorcycle tires

OEM Dunlop motorcycle tires, which are used for the majority of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, are designed to last between 15,000 to 18,000 miles or up to 10 years from the date of manufacture. 

However, many riders can get 15,000 to 28,000 miles on the front tire and about 10,000 to 20,000 on the rear tire.

Metzler motorcycle tires

Metzler motorcycle tires are another good option that many riders pick. They are intended for use up to 4 years from the date of manufacture. That being said, Harley riders usually report their rear Metzler tires lasting between 7,500 to 15,000 miles and their front Metzler tires lasting about 10,000 to 22,000 miles.

Avon motorcycle tires

According to Avon, riders should replace their motorcycle tires within 5 years from the manufacture date, and riders should not use Avon tires older than 7 years at all. 

Avon tires generally have good mileage of about 10,000 to 20,000 miles, and many riders really seem to enjoy using Avon motorcycle tires.

Pirelli motorcycle tires

Pirelli hasn’t posted any official data. However, most owners report their tires to last between 5,000 to 18,000 miles with normal riding.

Michelin motorcycle tires

Michelin motorcycle tires should be replaced after 10 years from the date of manufacture. Michelin, in general, should last between 6,500 to 18,000 miles.

Car tires (Running Darkside)

Some Harley riders are also running Darkside, or in other words, using car tires. So it is worth looking into how car tires on a Harley will perform in terms of mileage.

There are many different car tires brands that Harley riders use, like Bridgestone, Yokohama, Dunlop, Goodyear, Pirelli, General, and more. All of these can perform and feel a little differently. 

Some have noticeably better tread life, some will be better at twisties and have great traction, some handle better being flat, while others can be slightly asymmetrical or heavier.

Most car tires on a Harley can last between 12,000 to 35,000 miles. However, some Harley riders can get only 6,000 to 12,000 miles on their car tires depending on a number of different factors like riding style, tire quality, and road and weather conditions.

What determines how many miles can Harley tires last

How many miles riders will get out of their Harley tires depends on a number of different factors. These factors are, but not limited to:

Riding style

Everyone’s riding style is different.

As a general rule of thumb, the more aggressive the riding style, the fewer miles the tires will last as they will wear out faster.

For example, burnouts, skids, or locking the wheels for one reason or another can all wear out the tires faster.

Both hard acceleration and engine braking, especially with high torque motorcycles, are going to cause more tire wear, as well.

It is not uncommon for riders who ride very aggressively to wear out and replace their tires at anywhere between 2,500 to 5,500 miles. Even car tires can be worn out at 6,000 to 10,000 miles.

Tire type and quality

Not all tires are created equal. Some are designed for performance and are softer, while others will be designed for durability and will be harder.

Softer and grippier tires will tend to wear out much faster compared to harder tires.

Type of riding

The road conditions have a big say in how many miles Harley tires will last.

For example, highway riding tends to wear out tires faster than city riding.

Twisties also can wear out your tires faster and unevenly.

Overall load

The heavier the motorcycle and the more weight the tires carry, the faster they tend to wear out. Riding over the load limit with extra luggage, pulling a trailer, even having an extra passenger will noticeably lower the number of miles you can get out of the tires on your Harley.

For example, riding two-up can lower the mileage one gets from a potential 20,000 to 30,000 miles down to 12,000 to 18,000 miles on the rear and front tires, respectively.

Road and weather conditions

Riding on hot asphalt during the summer can be particularly unrelenting on tires and help them wear out faster.

Some roads and types of asphalt will simply be rougher on the tires, which will significantly speed up the natural wear and tear of the tire. It is no surprise that some road surfaces can be referred to as tire eaters.

Tire pressure

Tire pressure is very important as it can affect how fast the tire wears out. This is why spending more on a good and precise gauge is highly recommended.

One of the mistakes some riders make is not using the correct, manufacturer-recommended tire pressure.

The thing is, some tires can take higher pressure than other tires. For example, Avon tires take different pressure than Dunlop tires. So riders should ensure they are not under-inflation or over-inflating their tires.

What CC Motorcycle Should a Beginner Get? (Best CC for Beginners)

Arguably, one of the very first questions any beginner has is about what cc motorcycle they should get.

There are just so many motorcycles, and many numbers are through around, making matters very confusing.

What CC should a beginner get? Generally, 250cc to 650cc motorcycles are good for beginners to start on, depending on the rider’s physical size and height. Beginners looking to get a cruiser type of motorcycle can get a 500cc to 750cc for their first motorcycle because they are less powerful than street motorcycles.

These CC ranges are the ones that are most commonly used by beginner riders. But these numbers do not tell us the whole picture as there is more to motorcycles than just engine size. 

If you want to know more, continue reading below; I go into way more detail.

Best CC for a beginner

Street motorcycles

Most 250cc to 500cc street motorcycles can make for excellent beginner motorcycles. But 650cc motorcycles are suitable for beginners, too. For more information, check out my list of the best 650cc motorcycles for beginners.

This does not mean all motorcycles below 650cc are recommended. 

For example, 600cc motorcycles are often not suitable for beginners because many of these motorcycles come with inline-four engines that are not as predictable and forgiving.

Inline-four engines tend to have higher top speed, less torque power at the low end, and a notable jump in power at higher RPMs, which can catch beginners off guard. In contrast, a v-twin engine tends to have a smoother performance with higher torque values throughout the whole rev range. That said, even inline-four engines can vary in how they perform.


Cruisers are another category altogether.

Cruisers are not designed to perform the same way sportbikes are. They are designed to have high torque and power throughout all RMPs. As a result, they are more sluggish although equipped with higher cc engines.

Even 1100cc cruisers are not very fast, but they can be hard to ride because they are usually large and heavy.

Going with cruisers that have a lot of ccs is not recommended for beginners.

The best cc size for beginners when it comes to cruiser-type motorcycles is around 500cc to 750cc, like the Honda Shadow 750, which is very reliable and has plenty of power but nothing too extreme.

Dirt bikes

When it comes to dirt bikes, things, yet again, can vary a lot.

Generally, 200cc to 250cc 4-stroke dirt bikes are good for beginners to start on. They have more linear power, making them more manageable but have more expensive maintenance. Some riders can start on smaller 125cc 2-stroke dirt bikes, depending on what type of riding they will do.

How many CCs is too much for a beginner?

Technically speaking, people can start on any motorcycle. Complete beginners can start, and have been known to start, on 300cc, 600cc, 1000cc motorcycles, and even more powerful motorcycles.

Here’s the thing.

Even a 50cc can be too much and get the rider in trouble if the motorcycle is not treated with the necessary respect and ridden maturely.

That being said, some countries do have certain laws and regulations that can limit how much cc a beginner rider can start on depending on their experience, like Singapore and Australia, for example.

Most v-twin motorcycles like the Suzuki SV650 are very manageable due to their reasonable power and predictability and can make for great beginner motorcycles.

However, 600cc inline-fours or 675 inline-threes are a lot more dangerous. They can be significantly more powerful and unpredictable and be too much for a beginner to handle.

The general consensus is that up to 650cc v-twins are suitable for beginners. When it comes to inline-four engines, smaller ones like 400cc can be good, too, like the Honda CB400, but larger inline-four and inline-three engines are not recommended for beginners.

Two motorcyclists riding behind one another.

How to choose what CC motorcycle you should get as a beginner

The best way to pick the right cc motorcycle for you is to pass an MSF course. MSF courses are totally worth it, and they are not very expensive. MSF courses usually provide 250cc motorcycles, but sometimes motorcycles between 100cc and 500cc are also offered.

Passing an MSF course will not only develop your riding skills but also allow you to get a good feel for how motorcycles in specific cc ranges feel. Although many riders initially aim for more powerful motorcycles, they often realize they do not need such a powerful motorcycle after the MSF course and scale down, so to speak.

Having a good general idea of where to aim in terms of ccs is recommended, but having hands-on experience is vital, and a simple MSF course can help you with that.

Now there are a few factors that you should look into before making a purchasing decision.

City commuting

Your motorcycle should fit the type of riding you will be doing. If you are riding mainly on back roads and around your town, you may not need as powerful a motorcycle as you will if you are riding on highways and interstates.

For general riding around town, a 250cc is more than enough.

Highway commuting

If you are going to be riding on highways a lot, it is recommended to get a powerful enough motorcycle with enough top end to handle highway speeds. 

A motorcycle that can reach and maintain 70 mph comfortably while still having enough top-end to quickly accelerate out of dangerous situations is recommended for highway commuting.

This is why going below 250cc is usually not recommended, and 250cc is probably the lower you should go. Most newer motorcycles in that range will do fairly well on highways, but older 250cc models may not perform well enough.

Riders find 300cc to 400cc motorcycles to perform significantly better on highways, but even these motorcycles can be a little sluggish at times, depending on other factors.

Most 500cc to 650cc motorcycles usually allow for a lot more comfortable highway commuting and cruising, with 650cc motorcycles considered significantly better for beginners.

For more information, I recommend going over my articles on how many ccs are needed for the highway, where I go into more detail about the different motorcycles.

Rider’s physical size and height

A motorcycle should always feel comfortable. There are cases where new riders purchase a motorcycle before doing enough research only to find their new motorcycle is uncomfortable, they feel cramped on it, or they cannot safely reach the ground.

Larger individuals should take into consideration their height as not all motorcycles are ideal for taller people. Riders that weigh more usually go with slightly more powerful motorcycles, as well.

Furthermore, the rule of thumb is to pick a motorcycle that you can hold up easily. Beginners are more likely to drop their motorcycle, and a heavy motorcycle is harder to lift. On top of that, different maneuvers at slow speeds can be more difficult to accomplish.

See article: Why you may regret buying a motorcycle

Other factors

There is a number of different factors that will have an effect on how the motorcycle will perform and behave on the road, like:

  • The type of engine, its configuration, tuning, number of cylinders, bore/stroke ratio, compression ratio
  • The power to weight ratio
  • Gearing ratios
  • Performance mods
  • Aerodynamics
  • Tire dimensions and threads
  • Braking horsepower (BHP)
  • Exhaust system

See article: Should a beginner get a motorcycle with ABS?

Why it is not all about the CCs

The engine size or the ccs do not tell us the whole picture.

Consider the ccs as a piece of a larger puzzle. We can draw some conclusions based solely on the ccs of a certain motorcycle, but other variables also have to be considered.

Engine configuration, power output, and weight of the motorcycle are often even more important than the cc of its engine.

Let’s take a look at some real-world examples.

Over the years, the different Suzuki SV650 models have come with 650cc v-twin engines capable of a maximum power output of 64 to 75 hp.

In comparison, The Honda CBR600RR has an inline-four 600cc engine, but the different iterations of these motorcycles throughout the years have been capable of generating between 97 up to 107 hp. A notable increase in power.

The Honda VT600C, a cruiser, is also 600cc, but because it has a V-twin engine, it is not very powerful, generating about 42 hp. More than half of what the CBR600RR can do with a similarly sized engine.

Another example.

Sitting at 900cc, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 can get a maximum power output of 50 hp with its v-twin engine.

On the other hand, the Kawasaki Ninja 650R and the Kawasaki Vulcan 650S, both sitting at a 650cc, both with a parallel-twin engine, have a maximum output of 64.8 hp and 53.5 hp, respectively.

In comparison, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, with its 636cc inline-four engine, can reach up to 113.8 hp at the rear wheel. And the Ninja ZX-6R motorcycles that come with the 600cc engine can reach between 89.2 and 107.7 hp depending on the year.

While the cc of the engines went down almost twice, the power output increased more than twice. This means that a Vulcan 900 with its 50 hp will be a lot tamer than a ZX-6R.

Should you get a motorcycle with more CCs as a beginner?

Of course, there are always people who may start on a 600cc or 1000cc supersport. Does this mean they will inevitably crash?

Well, no, but it depends.

Many motorcycles rocking more ccs are simply less forgiving if you make a mistake and more difficult to handle. 

And the problem is that new riders are more prone to making mistakes. 

In fact, even experienced riders who have been riding their whole life admit that they are still learning new things.

See article: How Long Does It Take to Get Good at Riding a Motorcycle?

It is important not to overestimate one’s skill level and capabilities. Motorcycles are powerful machines. They can be very unforgiving, and the consequences can often be very serious. This is why they should be treated with respect and care and ridden maturely at all times.

Many experienced riders recommend starting cheap but safe, often going for a second-hand motorcycle that is not too powerful. 

And as you accumulate more experience and your skill level increases, you will get a better idea of what the perfect motorcycle for you should feel like. Then you can adjust accordingly.

How Much Does an MSF Course Cost? (With Price Examples)

Passing an MSF course is very much recommended. There are a ton of benefits to it. But at the end of the day, what you pay for it also matters.

MSF prices vary—in some instances, a lot.

This raises some questions, like what is considered a reasonable and fair price for a Motorcycle Safety Course?

How much does an MSF Course Cost? MSF courses cost between $50 and $450, with an average of $280. The prices of Motorcycle Safety Courses taken through colleges and universities can be between $50 and $150, but they can be completely free, too. The MSF can also be free for LEOs, military and emergency personnel.

During my research, I looked at the prices in the different states and also considered some quotes by the various training providers offering MSF courses, collecting more than 120 price quotes in order to come with the average prices and costs of MSF courses.

What follows is more in-depth information and break down about how the prices are formed, what you can expect to pay normally, and more.

MSF prices by state

Depending on what state you are in, the prices of MSF courses can vary significantly.

Some states cover the full costs of the MSF course, others will cover only a part of the cost, and some will not offer any incentives or price reductions, leaving the rider to pay the full price of the MSF course.

Below you will find a detailed look at what the prices of these courses look like. However, although I have looked at more than 120 quotes, these numbers should be considered as general guidelines and not final data. Keep in mind that these prices can and do vary a lot. Even state-subsidized courses costs can change or be discontinued.

Average prices of MSF courses by state
Average prices of MSF courses by state (Prices may vary)

The MSF course in Pennsylvania is subsidized by the state and is entirely free.

MSF courses in Illinois are also free; there is usually a $20 registration fee that is fully reimbursed upon course completion.

In Ohio, the Basic Rider Course is partially funded and costs $50.

Michigan also offers partially subsidized MSF courses that cost $50.

The course in Delaware and Wyoming costs $50 through the DMV.

In Kentucky, it is about $150.

However, private MSF courses can also be found in all of these states, mentioned above, that can cost between $200 to $365.

In Florida, the MSF or the Basic Rider’s Course (BRC) costs between $175 to $450, depending on your area and course training provider, with an average of $250.

The prices of MSF courses in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, Hawaii, and New Hampshire vary between $100 to $250 on average.

In Idaho, riders can take the Idaho Star Program, which offers cheap Basic Rider Courses costing about $145.

MSF courses tend to cost between $100 to $375 in Louisiana, Mississippi, Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Nevada, Nebraska, Alaska, and Arkansas.

In Texas, the average cost of MSF courses is about $250.

The MSF courses in New York, Arizona, Connecticut, California, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Massachusetts tend to be a little more expensive on average, costing about $220 to $385.

There is also the New Rider’s Program offered by Harley-Davidson dealers, in most areas, which tend to be on the more expensive side, costing about $300 to $350 on average.

Why are there cost fluctuations?

Although the state where you will be taking the course will have a huge impact on the course’s price, there are also other variables to consider. Like:

  • the length of the course
  • the gear provided
  • when the course takes place
  • private lessons.
  • rescheduling fees

MSF courses normally involve both classroom lessons (5 hours) and on-the-range riding (10 hours) and take about 2 days to complete. In certain cases, it can even be a single-day course.

However, some MSF courses can take as many as 5 days and even offer more hours of practice. This naturally will affect the course’s price.

The next thing to consider is what is supplied by your training provider and what you are expected to bring yourself.

Different places may require you to bring different gear. It is recommended to check up with your training provider and find out what they provide and what they require you to bring and wear.

Usually, you are required to wear a long-sleeved shirt over the ankle footwear and long pats, protective shatterproof eyewear, and full-fingered gloves. 

Some places may require you to bring your own DOT-approved helmet or gloves, but others may provide you with a loner helmet and gloves. (It is recommended to bring your own, though.) 

Usually, you will also be provided with a motorcycle. But some places may require you to bring your own ride, in which case the course should be significantly cheaper. On top of that, some training providers may offer significant discounts if you are using your own motorcycle. The same applies to scooters. Although most places will have some scooters on site, others may ask you to bring one yourself.

The prices will be somewhat uniform, but some places may offer lower prices depending on when the course takes place. For example, the courses carried out during workdays may be slightly cheaper than the ones during the weekends.

Some places offer the option to ride with fewer students or even private one-on-one lessons, which often means higher prices. For smaller group lessons and private lessons, you can expect to pay between $370 up to $450 for your MSF course.

Another thing to consider is that failing the MSF course may result in paying additional fees. Usually, the rider is not eligible for a refund, though some places may allow them to try again, one to three times, for free, allowing for more practice at no additional cost. 

Some places may require the rider to enroll again in a new class paying a small rescheduling fee.

If you miss a lesson or an exercise, you will be required to reschedule what you have missed. While some places may do that for free, others may require you to pay a rescheduling fee, which can cost about $25 to $50 on average.

Can MSF courses be free?

MSF courses are not free. However, in certain cases, it is possible not to pay anything for an MSF course.

But here’s the thing.

Even in the instances where the rider will not be paying anything, the costs are usually subsidized by the state or another party. 

Community colleges, universities, the army, and local bike shops and dealerships are good examples of institutions that often cover partially or fully the costs of MSF courses. (More detailed information on this in a bit.)

In some instances, the rider may be required to pay a small registration fee (usually $20 to $50) that is sometimes fully refunded upon completion of the MSF course.

How to save money on an MSF course?

Seeing how some states offer subsidized MSF courses, some riders may never have to worry about prices. However, others may be looking at somewhat steeper expenses.

There are a few ways some people may be able to lower the amount of what they pay for their MSF course.

MSF course prices if you go through a college or university

Some community colleges and universities offer MSF programs at reduced costs. Going through college, the average cost for an MSF course is about $25 to $150. 

That being said, some colleges and universities may offer completely free MSF courses.

MSF course prices for riders under 21

People under 21 are often offered a small discount. Generally, the MSF course can be reduced by $50 to as much as $100 for beginner riders under 21, while people 21 and over usually pay the regular price for the MSF course. 

This is done to encourage younger riders to pass the Motorcycle Safety Course and is often required in order to acquire the motorcycle endorsement.

MSF course prices for people in the army, police, and first responder personnel

The Army, Marine, Navy, law enforcement officers, and first responder personnel, including current and ex-military, in general, may often be offered partially or even fully subsidized MSF courses. 

Some may even be required to pass an MSF course during duty, which means that they are essentially being paid to pass the MSF course. 

Usually, the prices that they will be looking at vary between $0 to $125.

Offers by manufacturers, dealerships, and shops

Some manufacturers, dealerships, and shops offer between $50 to $300 towards the purchase of a motorcycle from them. Some limitations may apply, however. Some even offer to reimburse the full cost of the MSF course if you purchase your motorcycle directly from them. If you are looking to buy a new motorcycle, this can be an excellent two-in-one deal.

It is worth asking around to see what offers are available to you.

However, it is usually best to first pass the MSF course as it will allow you to get a better feeling of what you want your first motorcycle to be like.

See article: 17 Reasons Why You May Regret Buying a Motorcycle

A motorcycle rider taking the MSF course.

How much does the MSF Basic eCourse cost?

The MSF Basic eCourse costs $19.99.

However, lower prices may be available, too. For example, recently, Triumph has teamed up with the MSF to offer new riders a free MSF Basic eCourse.

The MSF Basic eCourse is an interactive introductory online program. No practical riding is included. It teaches the basics of riding a motorcycle. Included are different photos, illustrations, and videos to further supplement the lessons. 

The MSF Basic eCourse takes 3 hours to complete, but you do not have to do it all in one session.

The MSF Basic eCourse, should not be confused in any way with the standard MSF basic rider course. It cannot be used as a learner’s permit, a license waiver, or a license to ride a motorcycle.

It is a fairly basic introductory course that teaches the basics and can be used to determine if riding a motorcycle is right for you. It cannot substitute the real hands-on MSF course. In some places, the rider may be required to pass the MSF Basic eCourse before applying for the standard MSF course.

Are MSF Courses worth the cost?

The majority of riders, beginners and experienced alike, all agree that MSF courses are worth taking.

Although the Motorcycle Safety Course is an introductory course, it teaches you a lot of the necessary knowledge that every rider needs to know. 

Everything taught in the course can not only save the rider’s life one day but also make them feel a lot more confident going on the road or when buying their first motorcycle.

In addition, passing the MSF course sometimes means that you will not have to take the road test at the DMV. This means that all you are left to do is the written exam. And this is a good thing considering that the DMV test can be fairly difficult in some states.

Sometimes you do not have to take even the written exam, and your training provider sends your motorcycle endorsement directly to the DMV.

And lastly, in some instances, you can also receive a discount on your insurance. Depending on the insurance company, the premium discounts can vary between 5% up to 20% in some cases.

This alone can make the MSF course pay for itself in no time.

Overall regardless of what you pay for your MSF course, the price is almost always worth it. There are some extra benefits to it, but it is one of the best investments you can make in your safety as a rider—and nobody can put a price on that.

Can You Take the DOT Sticker off a Helmet? (Explained)

For a motorcycle helmet to be road legal, it needs to pass certain safety standards.

There are different standards, but all helmets intended for on-road use sold in the USA must be DOT certified.

Helmets that meet the DOT requirements come with a special DOT sticker on the rear of the helmet, which many riders prefer to peel off and remove for aesthetic purposes.

Can you take the DOT sticker off? Motorcycle riders should not take the DOT sticker off their helmet. It is recommended to keep the DOT label on the helmet and keep it visible. Removing the DOT sticker from the motorcycle helmet can result in a ticket from a law enforcement officer in certain states.

There are a few caveats here that riders should consider and be well aware of when considering taking off DOT stickers. So let’s take a look.

Do all DOT-approved helmets have a sticker?

According to the NHTSA, all motorcycle helmets that are DOT certified are required to have a permanent and legible DOT label. The DOT label must be easily read and accessed without removing any of the liners or padding.

The NHTSA further expands on the format, content, and appearance of the DOT labeling:

  • The symbol “DOT”, horizontally centered on the label, in letters at least 0.38 inches (1.0 cm) high.
  • The term “FMVSS No. 218,” horizontally centered beneath the symbol DOT, in letters at least 0.09 inches (0.23 cm) high.
  • The word “CERTIFIED,” horizontally centered beneath the term “FMVSS No. 218”, in letters at least 0.09 inch (0.23 cm) high.
  • The manufacturer’s name and/or brand, horizontally centered above the symbol DOT, in letters and/or numerals at least 0.09 inches (0.23 cm) high.
  • The precise model designation, horizontally centered above the symbol DOT, in letters and/or numerals at least 0.09 inches (0.23 cm) high.
  • All symbols, letters, and numerals shall be in a color that contrasts with the background of the label.
  • No other information, other than the certification information listed in parts A-E above, shall appear on the label.
  • The label shall appear on the outer surface of the helmet and be placed so that it is centered laterally with the horizontal centerline of the DOT symbol located a minimum of 1 inch (2.5 cm) and a maximum of 3 inches (7.6 cm) from the bottom edge of the posterior portion of the helmet.

However, the DOT label will not always be in the form of a sticker. Many helmets actually have the DOT label directly painted on the rear of the helmet.

In certain cases, the specific design of some helmets can make the placement of the external DOT label on the rear of the helmet at the exact spot required by the law impossible, making the helmet illegal for road use even though it may be covering all the necessary safety requirements.

On the other hand, a DOT sticker located on the rear of the helmet does not guarantee that the helmet is actually DOT approved. There are counterfeit DOT stickers that are being sold which riders can stick on the outside of a non-DOT compliant helmet.

Many helmets that are being designed for and sold in other countries around the world can meet a lot more stricter and tougher standards but not be DOT approved simply because they have not been submitted for DOT approval. Nonetheless, these helmets are not road legal in the USA.

DOT certified helmets must also have a manufacturer’s information label located on the inside, which indicates the manufacturer’s name, size, model, month and year of manufacture, construction materials, and instructions to the purchaser.

Other stickers may also be present on motorcycle helmets, such as where to pull the helmet in an emergency (which should also not be removed) and other miscellaneous stickers.

Why is the DOT sticker so important?

The DOT standard (FMVSS 218) is intended to improve the safety of motorcycle riders.

Although it is not guaranteed that a motorcycle rider will crash, it is a well-established fact that motorcyclists involved in crashes suffer more serious injuries and overall consequences than car drivers. And head trauma is among the leading reasons for fatalities when it comes to motorcycle crashes.

Thus it makes sense to seek ways to improve the safety of the riders by focusing on motorcycle helmets, among other things.

This DOT standard sets the minimum requirements that a motorcycle helmet should meet and sets the bar for what is considered a legal motorcycle helmet and what is not (This is why motorcycle riders cannot legally wear a bicycle helmet while riding a motorcycle in many places.)

That being said.

Depending on where the rider lives, the laws they must comply with regarding wearing motorcycle helmets can vary. In the USA, there are states where wearing motorcycle helmets is not mandatory, while others may require a certain group of riders to wear helmets. And in certain states, all riders may be required to wear protective headgear.

See article: What is the best color for a motorcycle helmet

Should you remove the DOT sticker on a motorcycle helmet?

It is not recommended to take the DOT sticker off your motorcycle helmet. Especially if you live in a state where wearing DOT helmets is required by the law. Removing your DOT sticker can lead to potential tickets by a law enforcement officer.

It is required from a DOT-approved helmet to have both the outside DOT sticker and the inside manufacturer’s label. If these labels are missing, the helmet may be deemed illegal for road use.

In fact, on many MSF courses, one of the first things that beginners are told is to always wear a DOT-approved helmet and keep the DOT sticker on (or the DOT label painted on).

Leaving the DOT sticker on can also be helpful if you intend to sell the helmet later, and it is of particular significance if you are considering buying a used helmet.

See article: Is it OK to buy a used motorcycle helmet?

What can happen if you take the DOT sticker off a helmet?

Although removing a simple sticker off the helmet should not affect its protective capabilities, it can lead to problems when it comes to proving to the authorities the helmet is road legal.

A law enforcement officer may decide to ticket the rider if the DOT sticker on the outside of the helmet has been removed, even if a DOT label is present on the inside of the helmet. 

In certain cases, the police officer may not allow the rider to leave without a proper motorcycle helmet in certain cases. This can lead to your motorcycle getting towed and impounded if no one can bring you a DOT-certified helmet and you are not allowed to park in the area.

And even if you get away only with a warning, this can be used as a reason to get pulled over again. On top of that, a ticket for a non-DOT-approved helmet can be added on with another offense, such as speeding.

Police officers are well aware that there are riders who are wearing non-road legal helmets, and they can be keeping an eye on anything that looks even a little suspicious.

They are also aware of the fact that people can use fake DOT stickers sometimes, which is illegal in itself and makes matters even worse.

That being said, the focus is often placed on motorcycle helmets that are more likely not to be DOT certified, like half helmets.

Usually, riders wearing full-face motorcycle helmets or high-quality ones like those sold by reputable brands may be less prone to helmet inspections by the police.

See articles: 

Taking off the external DOT label on a helmet that has a DOT label on the inside may not cause as much trouble to the rider since they may be able to prove to the police office it is a DOT-approved helmet. Nonetheless, some officers are looking for labels under clear coat and specific lettering, and in some states, it is required for the label to be visible, so there is no guarantee the rider will leave ticket-free.

At the end of the day, this is a highly situational issue. In certain states, the laws can be fairly ambiguous, leaving place for different interpretations.

Many riders have been peeling the DOT stickers off, have never had any problems with the authorities, and have never been asked to prove they are wearing a DOT-approved helmet. However, there is no guarantee this cannot happen. And at the same time, there are riders who have been pulled over and ticketed because of a peeled DOT sticker. 

Best 650cc Motorcycles for Beginners

There are just so many different types of motorcycles that it can be difficult to pick one sometimes—especially for beginner riders.

Beginner riders are recommended to always start with a motorcycle that has a smaller engine displacement—read, fewer ccs—that is not very powerful for safety reasons.

This is perfectly sound advice that should be followed. However, this does not mean that beginners cannot start on something a bit more powerful—650cc motorcycles can be suitable for beginners, too.

This is why the best cc for beginners is around 250cc to 650cc, but there are some exceptions. For example, most 600cc motorcycles are usually not suitable for beginners because of their engines.. Some 650cc motorcycles can go very fast, too, and be less predictable or have other little quirks, so not all bikes will make for a good beginner motorcycle.

There are some excellent 650cc motorcycles that beginners can start with and prove to be not just great starter bikes but also long-term ones. Below you will find some of the most commonly used 650cc motorcycles by beginners.

Suzuki SV650

  • Motorcycle type: Street motorcycle
  • Displacement: 645 cc
  • Engine type: 4-stroke 8-valve DOHC 90° V-twin
  • Max power: 64.2 hp (47.9 kW) at 9000 rpm / 73.4 hp (54.7 kW) at 8800 rpm / 74.9 hp (55.9 kW) at 8500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 165 kg (364 lbs) up to 198 kg (437 lbs)

The SV650 has been in production since 1999, with a little break between 2012 to 2016 and it has gone a long way from its humble beginning and are still highly regarded even today.

There are some slight differences between the different generations of SV650, however, it can be said that overall they are pretty much the same motorcycle.

For example.

After 2003 the SV650 models got fuel injection. And from 2007, the SV650 also came with optional ABS.

The Suzuki SV650 is considered one of the best 650cc street motorcycles for beginners by both owners and experts, and it is one of the most recommended 650cc motorcycles to beginners looking to start on something more powerful.

There is a good reason why people refer to these motorcycles as the most fun per dollar on the street. It has just enough power but not too much. It is a very predictable motorcycle. And if you are looking for a good beginner and long-term motorcycle, look no further. It looks good, and it can be found for cheap.

Suzuki V-Strom 650

  • Motorcycle class: Sport touring
  • Displacement: 645 cc
  • Engine type: Four-stroke liquid-cooled 8V
  • Max power: 66 bhp (49 kW) at 8,800 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 speed
  • Weight: 427.6 lbs (194 kg) (Dry); 485 lbs (220 kg) (Wet)

It is not uncommon for beginners to be split between the Suzuki SV650 and the V-Strom 650.

Both motorcycles are somewhat identical and, at the same time, slightly different.

The V-Strom 650 can be a great beginner bike. It has a slightly more comfortable and puts the rider in an upright riding position.

This motorcycle is not too powerful, but it is heavier, which can be considered a downside for beginners that are still learning.

That being said, taller people looking for a beginner bike can have trouble finding something that is both reasonably powerful and comfortable, but the V-Strom 650 is an excellent option. This is often one of the motorcycles that taller and heavier riders will feel more comfortable on, and it can be taken on some less technical off-road tracks, too. But much like any other motorcycle should be ridden with respect and care.

Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS 650cc

  • Motorcycle class: Cruiser
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: Parallel twin, fuel-injected 4-stroke engine
  • Max Power: 61 hp / 44.5 kW) at 7500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 speed
  • Weight: 498 lbs (226 kg)

The Vulcan S 650 is an overall amazing and solid cruiser that can definitely do for a great first bike. The neat features like ABS, the improved fuel-injected engine, and more are all good news for any beginner rider.

The Vulcan S is not very light, but it is nothing that a beginner should not be able to manage. In fact, the bike feels a lot lighter than what one would expect from a nearly 500-pound motorcycle.

The Vulcan S is super easy to maneuver, handle, and control. It has plenty of power that it can offer but nothing too crazy. Usually, beginners can start higher CC cruisers due to how these motorcycles are designed to perform.

Cruisers usually have a very manageable amount of power, and the Vulcan S is a good middle ground if you are looking for something that you will not outgrow too quickly.

The ergonomics are adjustable, which means that both shorter and taller riders can find the Vulcan S comfortable and be able to flat-foot it. The Ergo-Fit (A Kawasaki exclusive sizing system found on Vulcan S models) allows for high levels of adjustability of the seat, footpegs, and handlebar.

Since this is a cruiser, we are also looking at lower insurance rates.

BMW F650GS / G650GS

  • Motorcycle class: Dual-sport / Multi purpose motorcycle
  • Displacement: 652 cc
  • Engine type: Single-cylinder
  • Max power: 48hp (35kW) at 6500rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed
  • Weight: Dry: 395 lbs (179 kg); Wet: 421.1 lbs (191 kg)

The BMW F650GS can make for a good first bike. In fact, the whole F650 family has a good reputation. Some of these motorcycles have even been called “Funduro”.

The BMW F650GS is fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver and control—it really feels like a dirt bike. Overall it is great for city riding and going off road. It has plenty of power to overtake cars, too, but it is also very forgiving.

On top of that, F650GS motorcycles can be found for cheap, and with their excellent and reliable engine and low mpg, it is no surprise that a lot of riders love these motorcycles.

However, it is not really a great option for highway commuting and overall long-distance traveling. The single-cylinder engine tends to produce some vibrations, and you may already be pushing it to the limits at around the 70 to 75 mph mark.

See article: How many cc motorcycle do you need for the highway?

In addition, keep in mind that the F650GS (2000-2007) was renamed to G650GS (2008-2016). The F650GS made between 2008 and 2012 is a 798cc parallel-twin motorcycle.

Kawasaki Versys 650

  • Motorcycle type: Adventure touring crossover
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: 4-stroke 8-valve DOHC parallel-twin
  • Max power: 67 hp (50 kW) at 8,400 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 454 lb (206 kg) (Wet)

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is another excellent motorcycle that can be a great beginner bike. It is a comfortable motorcycle that is easy to maneuver and turn, and it is not too heavy. It is fairly inexpensive, too.

These motorcycles are not just reliable but super fun to ride as the throttle is very responsive. The Versys 650 offers plenty of power but nothing too excessive.

It can also be taken off-road and can do well on even tougher tracks and trails. It can do pretty well on the highways, making it an excellent touring motorcycle.

Kawasaki KLR650 

  • Motorcycle class: Dual-sport
  • Displacement: 651 cc
  • Engine type: single, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke,
  • Max Power: 41.7 hp at 7100 rpm
  • Transmission: 5 speed
  • Weight: 337.3 lbs (153 kg) (Dry); 416 lbs (189 kg) (Wet)

The Kawasaki KLR650 can be a good beginner bike. It is reliable, durable, and offers just enough power, but nothing too crazy.

To an extent, it can be considered the jack of all trades, master of none type of motorcycles. It is a decent street and highway motorcycle, but not too fast. It is also a decent off-road bike but not really geared toward highly technical sections and hard offroading.

However, it may be more suitable for riders that are taller—the KLR650 is a little on the heavier side and fairly tall with a higher center of gravity.

And this is the biggest concern here—it is a tall motorcycle, so long the rider can flat foot it, it can be a good choice to go with.

The KLR650 are easy to maintain, tough, and reliable. They are excellent all-rounders and, with a little tinkering, can be extremely fun and a great choice for a first bike.

Kawasaki Ninja 650

  • Motorcycle class: Street / sportbike
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin with digital fuel injection
  • Max Power: 64.8 hp (48.3 kW) @ 9,000 rpm; 71 hp (53 kW) @ 8,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 410 lb (186 kg) (dry); 465 lb (211 kg) (wet)

Riders often tend to be a little split on whether or not the Ninja 650 can make for a good beginner motorcycle. These bikes are very easy to handle and maneuver, and they are fairly light. They are not just fun but also fast and very reliable. Maintenance is also easy.

A Ninja 650 can be a good starter motorcycle that a rider may not outgrow and feel the need to change for years.

That being said, the Ninja 650 is a relatively powerful and fast motorcycle. But it should not be too powerful for beginners to manage. The twin-engine it comes with is fairly forgiving and delivers a more predictable and linear power.

Nonetheless, 650cc’s are enough to get the rider in trouble. 

A Ninja 650 should be ridden with care, discipline, respect, and patience—especially by newer riders.