I attended the 2010 Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Conference today in St. Paul. It was hosted by the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center and Saint Paul College.
The conference started at 9am and upon entering the parking lot I met Charles, another Ural rider. He’s the first motorcycle I’ve seen on the road in 2010! He is also the chair of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee, and an interesting rider to talk to.
The first hour we all met in a large group and learned about advanced training opportunities available in Minnesota. Apparently, 2010 is the first year sidecar and civilian motor-officer training will be offered. I already signed up for the sidecar course in June, and may sign up for the motor-officer training too.
After the welcome session in the Theater, we separated to six breakout sessions. The topics included: group riding, see and be seen, seasoned riders, street smarts, advisory committee open forum, and motorcycle maintenance. I chose the motorcycle maintenance session which turned out to be hands-on!
It was a good learning experience. The ten students were separated into four groups. We rotated through four different learning stations while our two instructors guided us through the exercises on the practice bikes.
The above are the two Suzuki GZ250 training bikes we used in class. They are also used in the basic rider course (BRC) taught in Minnesota.
I really enjoyed the maintenance session. Sure, some of the material was review, but I did learn a lot. We all had the opportunity to learn how to: fix a flat tire, change brake pads, check rotors, replace and gap spark plugs, check and replace fuses, adjust suspension sag, align wheels, replace turn signal bulbs, adjust hand and foot controls, replace broken throttle and clutch cables, and change the engine oil and filter. A lot of material for six hours!
After two hours, we stopped for lunch which was provided as part of the conference. During lunch we heard a presentation from Bill Shaffer the MMSC program administrator principal.
His talk was sobering. On the plus side, there are fewer crashes per 10,000 motorcycles on the road in Minnesota over the past few years. On the other side, those fewer crashes are more deadly. It seems many of the motorcycle deaths in Minnesota are single vehicle accidents. That is, just the motorcycle crashing and killing the rider. Most of those single vehicle accidents are caused by riders who had been drinking. Crashes and deaths which could be prevented.
The morning sessions were also repeated after lunch to provide maximum learning opportunities. I went back to my hands-on maintenance session.
In the afternoon, we learned how to plug a tubeless tire.
They let us pick which hole to patch!
Inserting the plug after reaming the hole.
The finished plug.
I really learned a lot from this conference and found it totally worth the $45 fee. I met a number of interesting riders and some new friends. I collected some new posters for the garage and a number of websites to review later. It was a great conference and I am looking forward to the 2011 event.