California DMV Motorcycle Driving Test (bribery or idiocy)?

Discussion in 'Bay Area Bikers' started by Shaft Drive, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. Shaft Drive

    Shaft Drive Guest

    4. Shaft Drive Jul 29, 3:56 am show options
    From: "Shaft Drive" <> - Find messages by
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    Date: 29 Jul 2005 03:56:52 -0700
    Local: Fri, Jul 29 2005 3:56 am
    Subject: Re: MSF take over of Calif. cycle traininng
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    I won't go into the details, but, search for "CA DMV bribery idiocy" in and you'll find postings by hundreds of riders
    which generally summarize to the fact that both methods of testing are

    I, for one, am an older rider who has decades of real world experience
    (in multiple states) who has taken both the CA DMV motorcycle riding
    test on my K1200rs (i.e., idiocy) and I've taken the $200 CA CHP MSF
    class on a 125cc toy bike (i.e., bribery).

    Every single rider in my $200 bribery (aka the MSF class) passed (even
    those hapless newbies who missed the u-turn box by more than ten

    On the other hand, almost every single experienced rider I watched take
    the idiotic (aka CA DMV) keyhole test failed on a large bike.

    See the details, but, basically everyone on a large bike fails the
    idiotic DMV keyhole test (sure, some *say* they could pass it on a
    GoldWing but I don't believe 99% of them as I've tried it and I've
    watched others fail it) ... and everyone passes the MSF bribery class
    to get their MC license (sure, some will say the absolute worst
    actually fail but in my particular class, I watched folks miss the turn
    entirely and knock down cones on the outskirts of the turn and everyone
    still passed the MSF class!. This was on teeeny tiny bikes no less!

    Shaft Drive, Jul 29, 2005
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  2. Shaft Drive

    Rayvan Guest

    See the details, but, basically everyone on a large bike fails the
    I have a CA DMV about a mile from my house. Just for the heck of it I
    went and tried it on my Harley Softail and it was not a problem at all
    to do the keyhole test. My bike has a similar wheelbase (66.9") to a
    Goldwing (66.6) inches so it can be done. Perhaps you should practice
    more when the place is closed.
    Rayvan, Jul 29, 2005
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  3. Shaft Drive

    Shaft Drive Guest

    Hello Rayvan,

    I think you may be wrong for two (maybe three) very obvious and
    innocent reasons ...

    #1 ... My experience (quoted in the original article previously
    bespoken about) is that the experienced riders (including me) *thought*
    we passed the test but when we had a critical observer (not a passenger
    on our bike) only a few feet away, they noted exactly where we strayed
    an inch over the line. (Remember, there is no way you can even *see*
    the line on any decent sized bike ... certainly you can not see the
    lines on any reasonably well faired bike). So, how do you know your
    tire didn't stray an inch over the line (they allow for ZERO failures
    .... unlike the MSF class which practically allows for infinite

    #2 ... My experience (again, previously quoted) is that most riders see
    the keyhole but don't know the actual test (there are multiple parts,
    multiple loops, cones which aren't there except during the test,
    multiple directions of travel, straightaways, circles, weaves, etc.).

    In case #1, I'm not saying you lied ... I'm just saying you offered no
    reasonable proof you 'passed' because you didn't even bother to station
    a disspationate observer two feet from you when you "passed" your test.

    In case #2, I'm again not saying you lied ... I'm just saying you
    offered us no proof that you actually took the same test that the DMV
    requires. Sure you were on the same course, but, what test did you
    actually run? Did you just loop around lazily once, wheels crossing the
    line at the 5 and 8 o'clock position and then call it an evening?

    Then there's case #3 ... you get ONE CHANCE and only one chance (per
    DMV appointment). In a practical sense, that's ONE CHANCE PER TWO-WEEK
    PERIOD (or so). For example, if you, on your Harley, failed on the
    first three tries and then bagged the fourth in a day, that does NOT
    COUNT! You have to pass EVERY TIME for a practice run to be worth it.
    And NOBODY (nobody I've seen yet) can pass that California keyhole DMV
    riding test every time on a large bike. Personally, I doubt the police
    can either ... but I have not seen any evidence either way on those
    admittedly expert riders.

    In my experience, everyone passes the DMV test IN THEIR OWN MINDS
    (especially those lucky folks from other states which have realistic
    tests), yet, almost everyone, in reality, fails (on a big bike) when
    they really run the idiotic California DMV motorycycle riding test with
    an impassionate observer recording the results and when they only get
    once chance a week (or so) to pass.

    This woudn't be any big deal if it weren't so different with the MSF
    class (which, in my experience, everyone in my class passed which NONE
    (not even me) would have passed the CA DMV idiotic test).

    The fact that you pay the $200 bribe to the CHP to take the MSF class
    is indeed a sign of motorcycle intelligence as opined earlier!
    Shaft Drive, Jul 30, 2005
  4. Shaft Drive

    Shaft Drive Guest

    This has also been covered in the past.
    The DMV security guard will kick you out if he sees you practicing.
    (See my testimonial to that effect in my prior posts.)

    There are signs posted as noted by others saying no practicing.
    They won't even TELL you the test beforehand (as I and others

    And, if you don't get to the latter parts of the test, you only find
    out about them as you slowly work your way (in three two-week
    intervals) to them as you begin to learn exactly what the actual test
    entails. (Again, these are all covered in prior posts and I speak from
    my own experience where I admit I FAILED the test multiple times, each
    time finding out more and more about the upcoming portions of the

    For these three or four reasons, I, for one, do not believe you (or
    almost anyone who *says* they can pass this test on a Softail or
    GoldWing) actually *can* pass the test given the conditions I've
    outlined in my last post.

    Of course, I would LOVE to see statistics which California can provide
    that says what kind of bike DID pass the test and in what percentages
    (as they KNOW exactly what bike you took and they know the results
    exactly whether or not you passed and how many times of the three tries
    it took you).

    I suspect the true California statistics (were they to be published)
    would indicate the only purpose of the DMV keyhole test is to fail
    riders who then pay the $200 CHP bribe for the MSF class to obtain
    their California motorcycle license. As stated, it's DMV idiocy and MSF
    bribery ... but the good news is once you realize that (i.e.,
    motorcycle intelligence) ... you too can have a California motorcycle
    license endorsement!
    Shaft Drive, Jul 30, 2005
  5. Shaft Drive

    Shaft Drive Guest

    I love it!
    You understood (and succinctly described) the essence of the situation!

    My personal problem is that it took me months to figure this truth out.

    By then, I had already spent my $200 on the bribe to the CHP to give me
    the MSF certification. And, I had already taken the DMV idiotic test
    multiple times (and failed further along each time) on a big bike. I
    even dropped my K bike and scratched it up before I realized it just
    wasn't worth it to practice (illegally as it turns out) for the CA DMV
    idiotic keyhole test.

    That makes all of you who knew this wisdom ahead of time (as all native
    Californians seem to be) smarter than I and more naturally a California
    biker than I (admittedly an east coast warm-weather-twisties wannabee).

    Shaft Drive, Jul 30, 2005
  6. An interesting practice area is an empty parking lot with some
    of those concrete wheel stops separating the fronts of the
    facing parking places. You can get quite a bit of interesting
    practice weaving around through the concrete dividers.

    I got interested in this kind of practice after participating in
    a baby type trials event for liter bikes.
    Rob Kleinschmidt, Jul 30, 2005
  7. And a lot of practice fixing your bike after hitting one of those
    dividers... ;-)

    BTW, are you the same Rob Kleinschmidt who worked at Altos in the early
    Jerry Gardner, Jul 30, 2005
  8. Shaft Drive

    Eric Guest

    In my experience from watching quite a few tests at the San Francisco DMV,
    it's not the case that they allow ZERO failures. In probably a third of the
    dozen or so tests i've happened to see administered, when the testee strayed
    slightly outside the lines, the tester either passed them anyway or allowed
    them to try again (even twice more!) and then passed them when they succeeded.
    The degree of leniency didn't appear to correlate at all with the ethnicity
    of the tester, contrary to the claims of the racist/nazi/whatever guy that
    didn't like various groups.

    Then there was the one guy who sat there in line for his turn and then failed
    the test because his bike wouldn't start. :)

    When I get the chance to ride a friend's bike, I like to go over there since
    it's only a few blocks from my house, and try the keyhole test. My subjective
    perceptions of difficulty of those i've tried:

    Honda VF500 "interceptor": pretty easy. This is the one I passed the test on.
    Honda CB-1 (400cc) : easy. it's tiny.
    Honda VFR750 : moderate, but doable after a couple of tries.
    Honda Hawk NT650 : easy-moderate.
    Honda CBR929 : difficult. two years ago i arguably couldn't do it, but
    maybe now with more practice i could
    BMW R100/7 : easy to moderate. big bike, but good slow-speed steering.
    BMW R60/6 : same as R100/7
    Kawasaki KZ1000 ex-cop bike : really easy. easiest of all of them, even.

    just my 2c.
    Eric, Jul 30, 2005
  9. Shaft Drive

    Rayvan Guest

    Perhaps you should practice more when the DMV is closed. =
    Then I suggest you come to the South San Jose DMV and practice where
    there is no security an no signs whatsoever telling folks that they
    cannot practice.
    Rayvan, Jul 30, 2005
  10. Shaft Drive

    Rayvan Guest

    #1 ... My experience (quoted in the original article previously
    Perhaps that's it then. my big Harley has no fairings.
    I can see my front tire circle the entire thing and can absolutely
    assure you that my front tire did not go outside the lines in either
    direction. I ran the circle about ten times in both directions,
    entering and exiting w/o even touching a line. If you have broadband I
    can have a friend video it for you (the video will be bigger than about
    30 megabytes). I can promise you that it can be done. Do you have
    Rayvan, Jul 30, 2005
  11. Shaft Drive

    Rayvan Guest

    BTW, are you the same Rob Kleinschmidt who worked at Altos in the early
    What a trip! I worked at Altos in the early/mid eighies repairing those
    old MPM/CPM boxes in the customer service dept! :)

    Rayvan, Jul 30, 2005
  12. Shaft Drive

    kriyamanna Guest

    I'm a bit confused here. The last time this discussion took place, I
    seem to remember that you wanted to take the MSF course and compare it
    to the DMV test and when you went down to the DMV, I seem to remember
    that you said they wouldn't let you take the keyhole test because you
    already had a
    motorcycle endorsement.
    kriyamanna, Jul 30, 2005
  13. Shaft Drive

    Rayvan Guest

    In my experience from watching quite a few tests at the San Francisco DMV,
    About a year and a half ago I sold my Nighthawk 650 to a friend (Mark).
    He had
    his permit, but had yet to get his licence. He figured after a few
    weeks he'd try it.
    The DMV failed him for the keyhole test. He rode the bike straight to
    my house
    saying basically the same thing as "Shaft Drive". "The CB650 was too
    big for the"
    test. He asked if he could borrow my old Honda Trail 90. I said "I
    wouldn't mind
    but the wring for the tail light had been broken and it wouldn't pass
    the DMV
    safety inspection." I then told him that I think his CB650 would be
    fine based on
    watching another friend pass the test with a Harley Sportster with a
    year before.
    He wanted me to demonstrate. He wanted me to ride his CB650 and "prove
    to me
    that it couldn't be done".
    So I followed him to the DMV after they'd closed for the day and while
    he was
    parking the CB650, I rode up to the keyhole on my big Softail (longer
    W/B than
    a Goldwing) and went around it a bunch of times in both directions! I
    parked my
    bike and Mark says "I guess I've got some practicing to do"
    Rayvan, Jul 30, 2005
  14. Hi Jerry

    Yup. Started on a monday, '89 quake on a tuesday. Pretty much
    the way things went at that place most weeks.
    Rob Kleinschmidt, Jul 30, 2005
  15. How else can you assess the control a person has over a bike? With a
    car the examiner can just hop into the passenger seat and have you
    drive around a little. That wouldn't work on a bike. So the test has
    to be in a small enough area that he can observe. Anyway if you can
    pilot the bike around a parking lot, it'll probably be easier on the

    (Of course I haven't taken the test in years and years. I'm not
    saying I could pass it these days. But years of experience without
    accidents or too many tickets provides a better evaluation of one's
    skills than a test in a parking lot).
    Oxymoron. If EVERYONE has the privilege to ride, then it's not a

    Personally I think it's too easy to get a driver's license OR a
    motorcycle license. If the test was anything like what you need to go
    through to fly an airplane, you would never see commute-time traffic
    jams! 8^) Seriously, though, I think we could raise the bar a little
    higher. Maybe test drivers a little more often. Of course that would
    cost more and then everyone would be bitching about that.
    Also I think motorcycle skills are much more dependant on experience
    than car skills. Something like half of all bike accidents happen in
    the first year of riding. But the only way to get through that first
    year is to go out and ride. At least the MSF has the chance to weed
    out the really incompetent (or really stupid) ones.

    Maybe we should have some kind of graduated license. You have to
    start out on a 250, and when you've ridden that for a year, if you're
    still alive, you can graduate to, say, 50 hp. Another year and your
    license is unlimited. What percentage of all accidents happen to
    testosterone-poisoned young men whose first bike is a 125 hp rocket
    blazing laser, Jul 31, 2005
  16. Still think it's a joke,as is the written test. I'm told some states
    have the examiner follow you on a bike, or even (gasp) get on back!

    If you haven't renewed your 'sickle license within the last six years,
    you have to start from scratch...w/ the beginner's permit, etc.

    I do think the course is a good idea. Someday, I hope to be able to
    afford the "Advanced" dI've been riding street & dirt for 36+
    It's really not for EVERYONE!

    What percentage of all accidents happen to
    Dunno. Might be comparable to those who start off with one of the new,
    overweight, overpriced "cruisers".

    The CHP & MSF are not too forthcoming with these kinda figures, IMO.
    croaking_lizard, Jul 31, 2005
  17. Never heard of such a thing! I'd give him a ride he'd never forget!
    Is that true? Well six years is a long time. If you haven't been
    riding in that long you probably should start over anyway.
    I don't think cruisers have been recognized as a separate category for
    very long. Many cruisers of as late as 10-15 years ago were standards
    with 'custom' decorative features.

    I tend to think new riders don't take the chances on cruisers they do
    on sport bikes. The whole style is more relaxed and mellow. People
    who ride in groups always complain that the cruisers lag way behind.

    But I read somewhere that something like half of all buyers of new
    Harleys, it's their first bike. That's sort of scary if you think
    about it.
    blazing laser, Jul 31, 2005
  18. Problem is that we've been doing it this way (no retesting subject to
    minimal good behavior standards) for so long that people feel entitled
    to that -- it's sort of an extension of the "innocent until proven
    guilty" concept. In the absence of an overwhelming case to the
    contrary, I'd oppose any change.

    That's the British system. It makes a lot of sense, but it will also
    distort the motorcycle market considerably. The windfall gains and
    losses it will produce suggest that we be reasonably sure that a public
    purpose is defined and demonstrated.
    Rich, Urban Biker, Aug 1, 2005
  19. Shaft Drive

    doc Guest

    The "It makes a lot of sense" is pure California-think. EVERYTHING makes a
    lot of sense to you droids.

    Ever try thinking for yourselves?

    doc, Aug 1, 2005
  20. there's more to it than wheelbase. steering rake, trail enter heavily
    into it, as does lock angle. My BMW R1100RS sport-tourer hits the lock
    and I have to lean the bike down closer to the ground while holding my
    body upright to make turns that tight. As the RS has a tall first gear
    and a throttle thats somewhat throbby just off idle, this is tricky as
    hell. Oh and a dry single plate clutch, so you really shouldn't slip the
    clutch much.

    honestly, I think the test inspector is as interested in how assuredly and
    smoothly you handle the bike as whether or not you stay exactly in the
    lines. Of course, this varies a lot per tester, I'm sure.
    John R Pierce, Aug 1, 2005
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