Smokin’ Harley-Davidson Riding Academy

By Mat Batts

For the first time since opening the doors seven years ago, Smokin’ Harley-Davidson will soon offer the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy for those aspiring to ride. It is also a great opportunity for those debating riding a motorcycle to see what it is like, and then make a sound decision upon completion.

The three-day course is scheduled to begin at Smokin’ Harley-Davidson in July and run every weekend through November. The courses include a three-hour classroom session on Friday night followed by two days of range work on Saturday and Sunday. They are limited to six students per week, offering hands-on interaction for participants with the course’s instructor. The cost is $295 for participants, with approximately 20 hours of tutorials over the three-day weekend.

“It just gives us a chance to touch those that may have been straddling the fence and just didn’t know how to go about the proper way to learn how to ride,” Bill Dotson, Smokin’ Harley-Davidson Marketing Manager/Riding Academy Manager, said about the courses. “It gives us a chance to touch that segment of the community and let them know what the Harley- Davidson lifestyle is all about.”

Dotson called the benefit of the course two-fold. By offering a certification through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, riders who successfully complete the course will be offered discounts through many insurance companies. After completing Riding Academy, the student only needs to complete the DMV’s written test for a motorcycle endorsement, having already completed Harley-Davidson’s road training during the academy.

Dotson said the dealership hopes to offer the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy each week through the winter, taking December and January off during the colder inclement weather. The academy, Dotson said, is perfect for prospective riders of all experience levels, saying the only pre-requisite is knowing how to ride a bicycle.

“If you’ve always wanted to know about riding, this is the perfect way to do it,” Dotson said. “It gives you a chance to feel things out before you make that initial investment. It takes three days to find out if this is for you.”

Riders will complete the range training on a Street 500cc Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which is provided by the dealership. Riders must wear jeans or leather pants, a long-sleeve shirt or jacket and over-the-ankle boots during the range training, and must provide a Department of Transportation approved helmet and full-fingered gloves.

Participants can expect to receive extensive safety training during the three-day course as well as training on motorcycle maneuvers such as braking, turning, controlling skids and surmounting obstacles.

“I explain riding in one word: ‘FREEDOM.’ It just clears your mind,” Dotson said. It relaxes you, and you have a chance to just think about things you might not think about during your regular work day or at home with the family.”

Anyone seeking more information or wishing to register for the Riding Academy course can do so by emailing Bill at or calling the dealership’s business line at 336-722-3106. Smokin’ Harley-Davidson is open seven days a week, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.