Frequently Asked Questions
How long are the lessons?
Each inside-the-lot session is approximately 2.5 hours long. Brains and bodies typically fatigue around the 2-hour mark. Advanced outside-the-lot sessions may go longer as we will cover much more mileage. For advanced training you will need your own motorcycle in good repair, a full M1 license and to have taken at least one previous training session with MMS.
Are lessons private?
Lessons are totally private or with a partner of your choosing. 100% of class time is yours and we always move forward at a pace that is manageable for you.
Does MMS provide a motorcycle/scooter for use during the class? What is the damage policy? Can I choose my class bike?
Our training motorcycles and scooters are available to you at no extra charge. Our current fleet consists of a 2020 Kawasaki Z400, a 2018 Ninja 400, 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 300, a 2004 Honda Rebel 250, a Sym Wolf 150cc motorcycle, a 2018 Piaggio Fly 150 scooter and a 2009 Kymco People 150 scooter. They are all fairly light, nimble and super easy-to-learn-on platforms. The Z400 and Ninja300 accommodate rider heights down to about 5’2″ or a 28″ inseam. The Rebel can take smaller riders down to about 4’11” or a 27″ inseam.
Note: The bike typically goes with the coach. You may request a particular motorcycle but we can’t always oblige. We will make sure that the bike you use during class will be comfortable enough to learn and grow on. Please recognize that our motorcycles are effectively templates and that skills learned on one can be applied to another.
Damage policy: Our Damage Policy (below) is essentially an honor system that amounts to “you break it, you buy it.” We expect that when you initial this section of the student agreement and liability waiver that you will be of your word. Integrity is one of our most precious qualities so please recognize that a breach of this agreement by YOU may force us to adopt stricter policies that will effect future students.
“In consideration of Monkey Moto School not requesting an up-front damage security deposit I agree to pay for the replacement of any parts broken, damage done to the motorcycle or repairs needed as a result of my use. This includes towing fees, public transportation and taxicab costs required due to the motorcycle being out of commission but excludes repairs needed due to normal wear and tear of the motorcycle or scooter.”
I am height-challenged. Will I be able to put my feet on the ground?
Having your feet flat on the ground is not a prerequisite and matters much less than you may think but we want to pair you with a motorcycle that will help you learn best and our instructors are trained to help shorter learners overcome the height challenge. Make sure to complete the height question on our contact form so that we can fit you with the proper bike.
Older or more sedentary short riders should chat with us about your circumstances (as well as about purchasing a bike that will be a good fit for you).
What about a helmet and gloves?
Monkey Moto School’s DOT-spec loaner helmets and gloves are included with your fee, although getting your own helmet is encouraged because it will surely fit you better than our loaner. If you have a particularly large head it is possible that our helmets may be too snug. Definitely let us know if you have a big head.
*Note on helmets: Please always purchase a helmet that at least has the DOT safety rating. One of the following additional safety ratings is also encouraged: Snell Foundation and the ECE (European) safety rating. Your skull is worth the investment. Here is a good video explaining the differences between the three.
Note: It is best to purchase your helmet from a local shop where you can try on several brands to make sure that you ride away with the one that is best for you. We recommend that you keep a helmet on your head for about 20 minutes inside the store to really know if this helmet will work for you.
Can you teach me to ride on my motorcycle?
Yes, we can teach you to ride on your own motorcycle although we may not be able to meet you where the bike is to bring it to the lesson location. Enlisting a licensed riding friend may be necessary to bring your bike to our class location. You may also consider using our motorcycle for your first class and then possibly riding your own to additional lessons.
Note on using your bike for class: Please make sure your motorcycle is in good operational condition prior to the lesson. If you last had it running two weeks ago it does not mean that it will start today. You should turn the engine over once or twice per week and leave it running for a few minutes. A trickle charger or battery tender is a good investment for bikes that will sit un-ridden for longer than a few weeks. If there is not enough air in your tires we can ride to a gas station prior to the lesson and fill the tires with air together but let’s not waste your class time trying to figure out what’s wrong with your motorcycle.
Note: DO NOT attempt to ride your motorcycle to class if you don’t feel comfortable and reasonably safe doing so. Use ours for the session then go home and you’ll likely be able to get on yours and practice with more confidence.
Note on purchasing a new motorcycle: Before you pull the trigger and buy that brand new Ducati Scrambler, Triumph Bonneville, Yamaha R6 or Harley please speak with your coach. Keep in mind, your learning curve is highly dependent on which motorcycle you decide to learn/grow on. Our feeling is that for your safety you should make yourself earn the big new bike. You will probably change your mind several times in the first year about which bike you want anyway.
Note on purchasing a used motorcycle: When deciding whether to buy your used motorcycle or scooter from a private owner (such as from Craigslist) or from a motorcycle shop there are several things to consider. The best place to begin is by doing a web search for “how to shop for a used motorcycle,” “used motorcycle buying tips” or something like that. There are several sources with helpful information and tire kicking guidelines. Here’s one of our faves. Feel free also to talk with your coach during class. We are here to help you to become informed when purchasing your used motorcycle or scooter.
Do I need to have a motorcycle license (M1) or permit before taking the class?
Monkey Moto School does not require that you have a permit or M1 license for our parking lot riding lessons. It should be known that state law mandates that people have some level of certification to drive in public spaces, however the likelihood of being asked for credentials while clearly learning in a controlled environment is extremely low. In short, it is a good idea to secure a permit ASAP but it won’t be a roadblock to booking your riding lessons.
Permits: Download the current version of the California Motorcycle Handbook and take the available practice tests by visiting the DMV website. The permit test is 25 questions multiple choice. Making an appointment or showing up to the DMV early or on a Saturday afternoon may be your best bets for a less stressful and time-consuming visit.
Will private motorcycle lessons allow me to bypass the DMV driving test?
Monkey Moto School is an independent org and we cannot issue DMV bypass certificates. However, since we aren’t shackled to a state contract we are free to offer the highest quality of rider education possible, tailored to each person. MMS does not need to conform to a simplified curriculum and students get as much time and practice with each skill set as they require.
Techniques plus repetition equal proficiency.
Monkey Moto School’s full spectrum training will leave you deftly riding a motorcycle or scooter on the streets in real situations as well as having the confidence to pass any skills tests.
What do I need for class?
Before you take motorcycle or scooter lessons you must be able to pedal and control a bicycle. You are paying us your hard-earned dollars to teach you how to ride, not how to balance. We reserve the right to terminate your lesson early if after making a solid effort to help you balance (pushing you with motor off) you remain unable to keep the bike/scooter upright. Your class fee will not be refunded but we will likely offer a discounted rate upon returning with the requisite skills.
Apparel: It will always be up to you to decide which protective gear to use (other than a helmet which is required by law) and shoes with an enclosed toe box, but for beginner lessons we suggest comfortable weather-appropriate clothing. Check the weather reports for the lesson location (it may be hot where you live and cold where the lesson is). Your best bet is to come prepared for anything.
Shoes: Over-the-ankle boots (or motorcycle-specific boots) is preferred but sneakers will be okay. Flat and smooth soles are much better for riding than separated heels or chunky shoe treads. Please double knot and tuck in longer shoe laces. Open-toed shoes will not be allowed. If you wear open-toed shoes to class it most certainly tells us something about your common sense and you will not be allowed to ride.
Motorcycle gloves are snug fitting and will protect your hands from cold as well as road rash if you fall, even in a slow speed drop. MMS can provide gloves and a helmet if you do not have your own.
Sunglasses: Head-fitting plastic sport frames (the type used for running, biking and sailing) will function best under your helmet.
Food/drink: Definitely bring a thirst-quenching beverage along. Feel free to bring a snack. Make sure you are well-fed and well rested prior to your motorcycle lessons so that your concentration can remain high. We have a lot of material to cover!
MMS will provide a helmet and gloves for you at your request and at no extra cost. If your head is particularly large you may want to go helmet shopping prior to your lessons.
Note on safety equipment: Your brain is your best asset for improving your “safety quotient.” A well-trained rider who makes good decisions is the best protection for your body and your motorcycle. No amount of brightly colored, reflective or armored clothing is superior to a skilled rider when it comes to safety. …Always ride within your comfort zone.
I want to learn to ride a scooter. I bought/am getting a scooter. Can you teach me to ride it?
Absolutely! Our scooters are a 150cc Kymco and a 150cc Piaggio and should be very similar to whichever scooter you buy. If you have your own scooter please make sure that it is running well prior to the lesson. Start it up at least twice per week prior to your lesson, including once on the day of. You will want to make arrangements for someone to ride it to the lesson for you.
I have a 3-wheeled Piaggio MP3. Can you teach me to ride that?
MP3s are neato. We have taught several lessons on MP3s and are happy to instruct you with yours. As stated above, you may need to get a friend to bring it to the lesson. Additional fees may apply to pick you up at your house (see below).
How many lessons will I need?
Monkey Moto School runs through a protocol of skills that we believe are essential for rider safety on the streets. Each person comes to us with a different background and a different capacity for learning so it is not possible to provide an exact number of training sessions that a given student will need. The average number of lessons to achieve these goals is 2 – 5. Some folks will need a lot more. We are committed to helping you get there as quickly and safely as we can.
We promise you two things: First, your coach will neither rush you nor hold you back. We want to make sure that you are learning at a manageable pace in a non-stressful environment. Second, you will know when you are ready for the streets right about when we do. The process of becoming a motorcyclist begins as “instructor-to-student” but manifests into a much more collaborative relationship.
Can you meet me at my house?
Not too likely but you can ask. Depends on that day’s schedule and if where you live is on the way.
If you have your own motorcycle and are not comfortable riding it to the lesson space we might be able to arrange a pick-up. The MMS bike can stay at your home and your coach will ride you on yours to the lesson space. If your bike is at the shop where you bought it or at a garage or other third party location we may be able to meet you there. Following the lesson we will bring you and your motorcycle back to the same location or to your home in which case we request either a car ride back to the MMS bike or taxi/Uber fare to retrieve it.
There is a variable fee for these services, time/location-dependent.
**Update 2022: Due to increased lesson demand it has become more challenging time-wise to travel beyond our route to the lesson space. While learning on your own motorcycle/scooter may feel preferred, the skills and muscle memory developed with another bike are most definitely transferable. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that this does not deter you from learning with us.
Where are the lessons? Where shall we meet?
Lessons are held in a top secret government-secured location that is under heavy guard and requires a special ID with fingerprinting and blood sample to enter. Seriously though… We use a few locations in/around San Francisco. Prior to your lesson we will decide which space to use and whether to meet there or elsewhere. Please do not show up to the “office” address listed on Google. It is only our home and administrative HQ.
I live in the East Bay/South Bay/Marin. Can you teach me near my home?
By arrangement we may be able to travel to your location. There will be a variable travel fee. The further out you book the more likely it is that we can travel to you. Since you are likely more familiar with your area than we are some help may be requested to locate a suitable training lot.
**Update 2022: Due to increased demand it has become more difficult to travel beyond our traditional practice spaces and the ability to do so is less likely. We apologize for the inconvenience but hope that traveling to us does not deter you from learning with Monkey Moto School and we assure you that it will be worth the trip.
Can I sign up for two lessons back-to-back on the same day?
While taking two classes in one day might seem like a great way to bang out your basic rider training all at once it is NOT the most effective way to learn and definitely won’t be as valuable in terms of your investment.
Learning to ride a motorcycle involves a lot of concentration. Many skills are covered in the course of each class and we have found (over and over) that most students reach a saturation point typically around the two hour mark. In addition to a diminishing ability to absorb information peoples’ bodies (particularly their hands) can become fatigued which further inhibits the learning process and limits the efficacy of training. Reaching fatigue also presents a safety concern.
Trust us, you will want at least an evening to rest and let things sink in before adding new skills.
Cancellations, rescheduling and rain policy?
If you need to cancel or change your appointment we will make every effort to re-book the spot -and we often can given enough notice- in which case your payment will carry over to a future date. If we can’t fill your time block MMS will retain the fees paid for that lesson although we may offer a price break to reschedule. (situational)
Please understand that operating a small business comes with its challenges and scrambling to find a replacement among the other administrative duties can be time consuming and not always fruitful. For best results, when you book lessons kindly make sure that your calendar is clear during that block of time.
Rain: If rain is on the forecast we typically make a same-day call. If poor conditions necessitate postponement we’ll reschedule you for the next available opening. We want to teach you as much as you want to learn but safety and productivity are our primary concerns. You will not lose any of your payment due to naughty weather. Be advised, we’ll factor in the time/distance you need to travel in order to get to the training session but please do not expect us to make the call based on your wish to make alternative plans.
*Cancellations involving pre-purchased gift certificates: Again, the time has been set aside for YOU and thus we are not going to schedule it for anyone else. In the event that you must cancel we will try to fill the spot but otherwise our cancellation policy applies.
The pandemic has been rough on us all. It has effected each of our lives and livelihoods in one way or another and Monkey Moto School recognizes that there will be some necessary cancellations.
Even so, we ask that you please be considerate around cancelling. If you wait until the last 48 hours or less before your lesson to tell us that you don’t feel comfortable coming in or that you are sick when you knew this many days in advance you can expect to be charged some or all for missing the session. The more notice that you can provide the more likely it is that we can fill the spot and carry your payment over to a future date.
Keep in mind, lessons are outdoors, they are private and we do make proximity adjustments for covid-related safety without effecting the quality of the training. We follow the known science and we neither under-react nor over-react.
Mostly, we want to provide you with the fine services that you’ve paid for and we want our time to be respected.
Thanks for understanding! May you all remain healthy and as stress-free as possible during this truly crappy time.
What is your class schedule & Hours?
Varies, coach-dependent. We typically offer mid-morning and mid-afternoon sessions throughout the week and are generally finished by 5pm. No evening classes are offered at this time.
Classes are approximately 2.5 hours duration. Advanced lessons that involve outside-the-lot riding may go longer.
When filling out our contact form list your preferred days/times using the check boxes. Keep in mind that weekends fill up fastest and we would like to reserve these spots for people who truly cannot train during the weekdays.
Note: We do not schedule lessons after dark.
What are your rates?
Two-lesson program (beginners start here!) $400. Covers full spectrum private instruction, rider psychology & philosophy, traffic theory, guidance on the licensing process and appropriate bike/gear recommendations. This is the most complete introduction to (or re-acquaintance with) motorcycling that is available in the Bay Area and we regularly re-evaluate our techniques and methods in order to provide the best education possible.
Single class rates:
1st & 2nd class: $200 each
3rd & 4th class: $180 each.
5th & 6th class: $170 each.
7th + classes: $160 each.
Riders with some prior experience seeking to build on their existing skills or those wishing to try out motorcycling to see if they like it can start with one class and add more as desired.
Partner training (two students, one instructor, shared bike unless you bring a second bike): $320 ($160 each)
Scooter training: same single session rates as above.
Scooter rental for DMV test: $140 for students; $180 for non-students.
You can take the M1 riding skills test on an automatic scooter! Our 150cc step-through scooter is available for rental to our students for $140 and non-students for $180 which includes short pre-test meetup with assessment and test guidance. This is available for the San Francisco DMV only. We are located just a few blocks from the San Francisco DMV office. Use our contact form and select “scooter rental” or ask your coach during your lesson.
Partner Smart Start $680 ($340 each). First class is with partner ($160 ea.); second class is private ($180 ea.).
Advanced/Half Day Starts at $300. Session begins in the lot to assess and refresh skills then continues to urban traffic and twisty roads. You must have completed at least one class with Monkey Moto School prior to taking any advanced training with us OR have taken another course beyond a Basic Rider Course. M1 endorsement and your own motorcycle in good repair are required. Reserve about 3 – 3.5 hours of your time for this class as we will likely be traveling outside of the city limits.
**Ask about group advanced lessons! Six riders max.**
Travel outside of San Francisco: Rate varies. Please inquire.
Do you rent scooters for the DMV test?
Yes! $140 for students; $180 for non-students.
You can take the M1 riding skills test on an automatic scooter! Our 150cc step-through scooter is available for rental to our students for $100 and to non-students for $160 which includes short pre-test meetup with assessment and test guidance. This is available for the San Francisco DMV only. We are located just a few blocks from the San Francisco DMV office. Use our Contact Form (link to contact form) and select “scooter rental” or ask your coach during your lesson.
Using a scooter for the motorcycle test is a bit of a legal loophole in California and it will count for the full motorcycle endorsement but it is not the same as being qualified to ride a motorcycle on the mean urban streets. Please, if you are planning to ride a motorcycle and not just a scooter get the full training that you need for your well-being in the city.
What do I need to rent a scooter?
What we need from you:
- Current M1 permit.
- Appointment confirmation for your DMV test.
- Meet up prior to rental date. Expect this meeting to take just 20-30 minutes and serves two purposes:
- We want to make sure that you can ride the scooter safely prior to a rental agreement . If we do assess that your skills are not adequate to safely pick up the scooter/return it safely and to have a reasonable shot at passing the test we will not rent it to you and you will not be charged for the meetup. We highly recommend taking a full skills class with Monkey Moto School.
- We want to provide you with some tips and tricks so that you have the best chance to successfully pass the test. Assuming that you already know how to ride a scooter most of these things will be fairly quick to pick up, thus the 20ish minute session.
On the evening prior to your lesson you will be given detailed instructions on where to pick the scooter up and drop it off after your test.
How can I pay you?
*Credit card (MMS uses the Square system). We will send you the link to our web store.
Can I tip my coach?
Yes! Coaches really appreciate gratuities just like everyone else in the service world so don’t be shy about showing your love for the great work they do.