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Harley-Davidson and the University of Wisconsin Bring Motorcycle Riding to the Classroom

You are probably aware of the struggle facing the motorcycle industry when it comes to bringing new riders to the sport. We have to applaud Harley-Davidson for their effort with the University of Wisconsin to introduce a college course in motorcycling, including how to ride a motorcycle. It is efforts like this that will help fuel the passion of the next generation of motorcyclists.

Have a look at Harley’s press release:

MILWAUKEE (May 1, 2019) – Second-semester college students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee now have a new favorite class to consider just in time for the start of summer: Harley-Davidson Riding Academy.

Offered through the Department of Kinesiology Sport & Recreation Office at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences, Harley-Davidson Riding Academy begins May 2. The elective course includes required reading and classroom lessons on the parts and functions of the motorcycle, suggested riding behaviors to promote confidence, and of course riding practice.

“Harley-Davidson is committed to building the next generation of riders and meeting them where they are – in this case on campus – is a natural extension of that strategy,” said Claudia Garber, Harley-Davidson Marketing Programs Manager. “While many may consider college itself to be the ride of a lifetime, we’re looking forward to broadening horizons even further with a real-life skill and access to a mode of transportation that they may not have considered before.”

Students who complete the course will receive one general credit toward their degree and an MSF completion card, which in many states exempts them from the riding portion of the state motorcycle license test and may qualify riders for discounted motorcycle insurance. The course includes use of a training motorcycle, course materials, and insurance.

Interested students must have a valid automobile driver’s license or learner’s permit and the ability to ride a bicycle.

Harley-Davidson will use the learnings from this pilot with the goal of equipping dealers to offer Riding Academy as a course option at other colleges and universities.


Students beyond UW-Milwaukee can raise their hands to show they want Harley-Davidson Riding Academy added to their course catalogs by posting in social media using #IWantRiding101.For those a bit further off campus, H-D Riding Academy is offered at select Harley-Davidson dealers and provides expert guidance on basic motorcycle functions, rider safety skills and confidence boosting practice rides. Search for classes at or visit


  1. Tim says:

    That’s cool. As long as I don’t have to pay off their student debt.

  2. todder says:

    Got an idea. How about give people a very significant discount on auto insurance if they complete a couple MSF courses and license a motorcycle. Might get some otherwise people who wouldn’t ride hooked on two wheels. Plus like someone mentioned, makes better drivers and reduces claims for bad driving. Just might be a great incentive which would benefit the industry.

  3. fred says:

    IMHO, this is a good thing. Good for the school, good for the community, good for the students, and good for Harley-Davidson.

  4. troop says:

    Wow .. Lotta haters

  5. DickJohnson says:

    Do females get a free tramp stamp?

  6. rider33 says:

    If it gets more people into training it’s a good thing, no matter who or how it’s done. And, from some of the stupid rec electives I remember being offered, this just might save somebody’s life down the line, badminton or ping pong, ‘not so much. If you want to get different results you have to try different things. Like the new model development plan, it’s good to see the lads from a Milwaukee in there swinging, & swinging hard.

  7. Ricardo says:

    To all the Harley haters, have you seen an initiative from any other motorcycle manufacturer, here or in another country, to lure more riders in to the sport or to make riding safer?… I thought so.
    Kudos to Harley for taking the lead, all other manufacturers will also benefit on the sales too!

    • Dave says:

      Every motorcycle brand that participates in amateur racing and makes scooters, small displacement motorcycles, and motorcycles for juveniles is doing more than HD does to bring in new riders.

    • Kent says:

      I think this is a fine idea.

      At the same time, let’s not forget that HD has done more to damage the view of motorcyclists in the eyes of many non-riders. For decades they promoted loud bikes with straight pipes, and it has hurt *all* of us. All riders.

      Call me a Harley Hater all day if you like; you’ll be wrong.

      For their next step, how about if they start to sell motorcycles that are a good choice for new riders – like the Ninja 300, the small Hondas, KTM 390 Duke, BMW 650 whatever, Ducatti Scrambler, and on and on. A 650 pound 45 horsepower Sportster is not a good choice in my opinion.

    • RyYYZ says:

      No, I have to give H-D full credit for this and other efforts they’ve made around rider training. I’m sure they hope that having trained or Harleys that these new riders might go out and buy one. Unfortunately H-D’s offering for new riders are rather limited (neither the Street 500 or 750 strike me as being anywhere close to the best bang for the buck in their classes). Still, this is all good stuff. It’s a pity the other manufacturers aren’t equally involved in promoting riding, and rider training.

    • mickey says:

      For what it’s worth Yamaha had a program to teach non riders how to ride back in the early 70’s .. Called the Yamaha Learn To Ride Program. I was one of the instructors, but it wasn’t a college elective. Anyone 16 years old or older, male or female was welcome to take the course. Yamaha provided the bikes.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be new to motorcycling. Now go polish your chrome.

    • bmidd says:

      Looks like about every manufacturer does.

  8. Mikey says:

    So this is a sales pitch that YOU actually pay for?

  9. GT08 says:

    Resume of the course.
    -First day ;How to do tatoo with sharpie
    -Second day ; Riding gear, need flip flop, and T-shirt (if we have time : why helmet are dangerous)
    -Third ; How to drink…pass… your are at University after all
    -4 ; how to look and speak like you dont know to read and never attend school
    -5 Mechanical skill ; hammer and loctite
    -6 Mechanical history ; why push-rod V-twin are better than anything in every circumstance
    7- Travel ; How to speak bar tender
    8- Security ; Why it dangerous to wave back other motorcyclist

    • randybobandy says:

      Final Exam – The importance of feet forward ” missionary” position- discuss.

      Term Paper- Tassels, the titular turbulent tickler and fashion statement for mustachioed big and tall riders.

    • Mikey says:

      You forgot “How to dress like a pirate including head scarves, skull masks and angry scowls”.

  10. Bill says:

    Great idea! And let them buy a Harley 500 at a discount when they are done with the course.

  11. Roadrash1 says:

    A good idea, for the kids that are staying around for the summer. My daughter goes to the UW in Madison and next week they’ll be taking finals.
    A lot of the college crowd bails town after next week, but I like the idea of this. Hopefully it’ll expand to when school starts in the Fall,

  12. Stuki Moi says:


    Nothing makes people better car drivers, than time spent as softer trafficants; whether on MCs, scooters or bicycles. 2nd semester of college is perfect timing as well. Spring’s coming up, and three more years of school left…..

    • Dino says:

      I think my experience on two wheels has definitely made me a better 4 wheel driver..

  13. gpokluda says:

    This is awesome. Kudos to Harley. Now if we could get bicycle manufacturers to do the same that would be even better.

  14. mickey says:

    Good job Harley!…. and you found something to do with all those 500’s nobody would buy. Win win

  15. RonH says:

    Good on Harley. Wonder if this would have happened if a Japanese manufacturer tried to start a program like this.

  16. bagadonitz says:

    Riding class.

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