Honda Rider Education Center: FEATURE

Adam Booth | September 30, 2016

Want to learn how to ride a motorcycle? Take our suggestion and visit a Honda Rider Education Center to get started.

Honda Rider Education Center
A great way for kids to learn how to ride a motorcycle the correct way is at a Honda Riding Education Center, like this one in Colton, California.

You know you want to. There is no denying it. The voices in your head keep saying, “I want to ride a motorcycle!” and it’s been saying that for a long, long time. Well, it’s time to stop ignoring those voices and making up excuses not to do it. Go for it! Do it now! Get on a motorcycle and start enjoying what thousands of motorcyclists already found out a long time ago—that they are so much damn fun!

Honda Rider Education Center

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Photography by Adam Booth

What Is the HREC?

Great, you’ve finally decided give in and go for it. But now what? “I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle,” you say to yourself. Well, here is a great suggestion how to get started: Visit a Honda Rider Education Center, like we just did.

Honda Rider Education Centers (HREC) are facilities dedicated to helping riders—young and old—develop safe and smart riding skills. And you don’t have to know how to ride to participate, they will teach you! However, for adults, they do recommend that you can balance on a bicycle first. However, you don’t need to have your own motorcycle, the HREC will provide you with one, including a helmet. It’s all part of the $180 fee.

Honda says it is proud to be the first motorcycle manufacturer to have created sites specifically designed for dirt bikes, street bikes, ATV and side-by-side training and instruction. The Center claims that more than 11,000 “students” a year participates in their program, which are designed to accommodate riders from six years old (minimum, and they must be able to ride a bicycle) to adult. Basically, you’re never too old to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Instructors are all MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation)-certified and try to make learning how to ride a motorcycle a fun experience for everyone.

To find out, we attended the Honda Rider Education Center in Colton, California, which was the first Rider Education Center ever constructed. It also has the distinction of being Honda’s first Environmental Learning Center, featuring a two-acre plot of land with trails that span five distinct ecosystems. Inspired by trails native to nearby San Bernardino National Forest and the Mojave Desert, riders can get a feel for grassland, chaparral, woodland, riparian and desert terrains. Over 2500 different species of plants grace the property.

Honda Rider Education Center
For this story, we focused on kids, but people of all ages can get their feet wet at the HREC. It’s never to late to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Class Is In Session

A day at the Honda Rider Education Center flows smoothly and goes by faster than any rider would like. After signing in at the front desk, riders are fitted with the proper riding gear under the supervision of instructors. Then it is out to the riding area to learn the basic riding mechanics of the provided Honda dirt bikes.

Understanding the controls, like throttle and brakes, and in most cases gearshift and clutch, is obviously important. Once students understand these must-know fundamentals, the first step is to learn to start the bike. This is made easier on bikes with electric starting, of course, but everyone should learn how to operate a manual starting system still commonly found on dirt bikes. Ask them to show you.

Honda Rider Education Center
The HREC facility even offers a cool and fun off-road loop. Warning: Once your kid does a loop here, he’ll be hooked on bikes forever.

Then, before the students are allowed to pin it to win it, the instructors show how to slowly move forward a few feet and stop safely. With the students aboard the bikes, the instructor bravely stands in front of new riders so they can catch them if they get a little too rambunctious with the throttle. After starting and stopping for a little while, students move onto a large oval, experiencing more freedom.

Continuing to burn in the basics of starting and stopping into the brain, cones placed around the oval mark where riders are supposed to slow down, then stop.

After mastering the oval students move onto more complex drills, like weaving through cones. The instructors really emphasis mastering the basics and all the skill drills incorporate a wide range of skills to improve overall ability.

Paxton gives you the lowdown on how it all works in this video.


At the end of the day, it was cool to see riders who had never ridden a dirt bike go from zero to hero, navigating around the dirt facility with an ear to ear grin controlling the bike confidently. In reality, motorcycle riding is not hard especially when taught correctly. You really don’t want your next-door neighbor to teach you, no matter how experienced he, or she, says he is. Just watch the movie On Any Sunday and you’ll understand.

The day’s instruction ends with an awesome ride around the off-road portion of the facility, which features single track, hills and small mud puddles, giving students a taste of the fun that is waiting for them out in the hills and their new skills.

For this story, we focused on the kids. I took my six-year-old son, who has spent a lot of time on an Oset 12.5 electric trials bike and a piston-powered Yamaha PW50. They set him up with a Honda CRF50F, a bike that is slightly bigger than his PW50, so he had a little bit of trouble touching as comfortably as he does on his PW50, but the instructor was very accommodating and patient, helping him (but not too much so he would learn) when he needed it.

Honda Rider Education Center
All the basics are taught here. Even experienced riders can learn a lot.

Even for riders who know how to ride, it is beneficial to learn new techniques from qualified instructors who know how to convey the information in digestible ways. My son learned to look farther into corners and has a newfound excitement for improving his skills. Hey, I pretty much ride motorcycles for a living and know a thing or two about riding bikes, yet I found the Honda Education Center instructor to be right on the mark and felt very comfortable handing my son over to her without any qualms. These people know their stuff and I was happy to just stand back and let her do all the work.

Honda Rider Education Center
Motorcycling is truly a family activity. Mom, Dad, sons and daughters can all participate at the same time.

Keep in mind that the HREC isn’t just for learning. They also offer a variety of advanced classes for the street.

The Honda Rider Education Center truly is for everyone, not just for kids or first time riders, it is for riders of all ages who want to learn and improve their skills. Private classes (two students) and family classes (up to five family members) are offered on request for weekdays or weekends. As mentioned, cost is $180, but call for group/family rates.

Just get out there and do it. Lean how to ride a motorcycle. You will be glad you did. Really!

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Adam Booth