Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Conference

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.

conference poster

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.
training bikes training 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!

learning about replacing a throttle cable
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.

talk at lunch

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.
screwed tire
They let us pick which hole to patch!
inserting the tire plug
Inserting the plug after reaming the hole.
patched tire
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.


  1. Sounds like it was well worth the time. Thanks for the review.

  2. Dear Chris:

    What a cool experience! I would have paid the $45 bucks just to have gotten the lesson and practice with repairing the tubeless tire. I have all the gear for fixing a flat, including the compressor to reinflate the tire (plus a C02 back-up) on the bike. I would also have appreciated getting the latest consensus on the protocols of group riding.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Dear Jack:
    We pretty much followed the directions on the back of the repair kit. It was slightly different than the one I carry on my bike. Next time you go to change the tires on your bike to new ones, put a nail or a screw into the tire first. Then get some practice repairing it. I think I might do this with my SV for fun in April when I get my new tires.

    I would have liked to visit other sessions like the group riding too, but the maintenance session was the entire day.

  4. Sounds like a very worthy conference and cheap to say the least! I too would have loved the maintenance class too. I took one and was the only female. Did you happen to notice how many females in your class? I love skills courses like that. They reinforce what we need to always keep in mind.

    The stats you shared are similar to others I've read about single vehicle crashes. A striking number are related to alcohol use. It is challenging enough to navigate a motorcycle fully alert, I can't imagine trying to do so under the influence...

  5. Thanks Sojourner. Most of the class was female. Eight female and two male out of ten. It was a good refresher and taught some basic skills that could save a bunch of money every year.

    I also can't imagine operating a motorcycle or any other vehicle under the influence.

  6. Chris:

    I have the same mind as Jack. I would like to repair a flat under supervision, rather than having to do it under duress for the first time at the side of the road in the middle of no where while talking to myself

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  7. Bob, Practicing in the garage is much, much better than on the side of the road, in the cold, dark, rain. Feel free to come visit, and I will help you do it on a real tire. I saved my old tubeless from the scooter. :)