I recently had an opportunity to visit with Stan and Elaine Rogers, owners of Midwest Motorcycle Training Center (MMTC) in Olathe, Kansas. Their classroom is located inside the Great Mall of the Great Plains, and their riding range is located in the parking lot behind the mall.
During my initial visit I went inside the mall to check out their classroom. I’d never been inside the Great Mall of the Great Plains before, but this has to be one of the nicest malls in the Kansas City area. As you stroll past the movie theater and food court, this seems like the last place you’d expect to find a motorcycle training facility, but MMTC is not your typical MSF training facility. Stan and Elaine were outside in the parking lot conducting a class, so the classroom was locked; however, I was able to look inside at the very nice and spacious training area. Very classy!
I visited MMTC on two back-to-back weekends, which enabled me to observe the riding portion of two Basic RiderCourses (BRCs). On my initial visit, Stan, Elaine and David Mazurek were training 12 students, consisting of 5 men and 7 women. On my second visit, Stan, Elaine and Rick Weaton had another full class with 6 men and 6 women.
During one of their breaks, I had the opportunity to talk with Stan and gather some additional information about himself and MMTC.
CC: How long has MMTC been in business?
Stan: This is our 5th training season.
CC: Stan, what makes MMTC different from other rider training facilities?
Stan: Although there are now others in the State of Kansas, MMTC was the first of its kind in the state. We are a private training site; a commercial driving school, specializing in motorcycle training. Plus, as you noticed, we operate out of a shopping mall.
CC: How long have you been a MSF RiderCoach/RiderCoach Trainer?
Stan: I was first certified in 2000 as an Instructor; now called a RiderCoach. I was then certified in 2002 as a Chief Instructor, which is now called a RiderCoach Trainer. The difference being that a RiderCoach Trainer can train others to become RiderCoaches.
CC: Why did you decide to become a MSF RiderCoach?
Stan: To help people learn to ride more safely and responsibly. During my 27 years in law enforcement, I saw many motorcycle accidents where proper training might have made a difference. Statistics show that about 92% of accidents involved motorcyclists who were self-taught by a friend or family member.
CC: Where did you receive your training to become a MSF RiderCoach/ RiderCoach Trainer?
Stan: Terre Haute, Indiana as a RiderCoach and Colton, California as a RiderCoach Trainer.
CC: How many RiderCoaches does MMTC currently have?
Stan: Besides my wife and myself, we have nine other independent contract RiderCoaches we are privileged to have work with us. At MMTC, not only are the RiderCoaches certified, they are also licensed by the State of Kansas. Generally, the site affiliated with a college or school district is not required to have this added state licensing.
CC: Approximately how many students do you train each year?
Stan: For the BRC, approximately 600+ each training season, with an additional 40-60 going through the Experienced RiderCourse (ERC) .
CC: What is your maximum BRC class size?
Stan: There is a maximum of 12 students per class with two instructors. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) suggests a 1 to 6 ration.
CC: On average, what percentage of your BRC students are female verses male?
Stan: At least 30% are women.
CC: How would you describe the “typical” BRC student?
Stan: Most BRC students have ridden before and are just getting back into riding. Many of the ladies we train are tired of riding 2-up and want to have control of their own motorcycle.
CC: What would you say is the average age of most BRC students?
Stan: Probably 38-42. My youngest student was 14 and my oldest student was 79. He wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, which was the next thing on his checklist of things to do while he was still healthy and in good shape. He had recently gone skydiving before his BRC class, which was also on his list of things to do.
CC: What type of motorcycles do you provide for your BRC?
Stan: All are 250cc cruiser-style motorcycles. We own the eight Honda Rebels and each year through the manufacturers’ loaner program, Olathe Suzuki provides us with four new bikes. This program is also available through other manufacturers such as Honda. Shawnee Cycle Plaza was instrumental for MMTC with this same program when we first started and still would help us in this respect if needed.
CC: What is the most challenging part of the BRC for you as a RiderCoach?
Stan: Counseling out a student who wants to learn to ride but simply doesn’t possess the balance and visual/directional control to safely learn. Some are unable to achieve the clutch and throttle control taught early on. A combined lack of these necessary skills and the student can quickly become a danger to themselves and others. This happens, but thankfully it’s relatively infrequent.
CC: What part of the BRC do students seem to find the most challenging?
Stan: Relaxing and enjoying the experience without judging themselves and being too critical of their own performance.
CC: On average, what percentage of students pass the BRC?
Stan: We have a 95% (or slightly better) success rate.
CC: Do you have any tips for someone thinking about taking the BRC?
Stan: For the total novice, it’s the best place to start in determining if they really want to ride “before” purchasing a motorcycle. For someone who is coming back to motorcycling after a number of years, the BRC is an excellent refresher. If you’ve ridden for years but want to get “legal,” even you will learn and may correct some bad habits.
CC: What is your maximum ERC class size?
Stan: Same as for the BRC. 12 students with 2 RiderCoaches, which is a 6 to 1 ratio.
CC: On average, what percentage of your ERC students are female verses male?
Stan: Probably 80% male and 20% female.
CC: What is the most challenging part of the ERC for you as a RiderCoach?
Stan: Big bikes tend to make riders lazy and bad habits can result. It’s sometimes a challenge to get the experienced riders to revert back to the basics in order to reinforce proper methods.
CC: What part of the ERC do students seem to find the most challenging?
Stan: To not judge their own performance and to not feel intimidated by the other riders In other words, not wanting to appear less skilled.
CC: On average, what percentage of students pass the ERC?
Stan: The version of the ERC we offer is not a pass/fail, but more skill improvement.
CC: Do you have any tips for someone thinking about taking the ERC?
Stan: You can never learn too much when it comes to motorcycling. When you think you know all there is to know, that may be when the bike curbs your over-confidence.
CC: What has been your most enjoyable training experience to date?
Stan: The people factor is an amazing part of this. If you don’t like interacting with all different types of people, being a RiderCoach would not be for you. Every class is enjoyable in most respects although each season usually has one student who stands out as most memorable. Every student is unique. We truly enjoy having students come back by to see us and show off what they’re riding
CC: What was your least enjoyable training experience to date?
Stan: To be honest, nothing really stands out as not enjoyable, other than counseling someone out.
CC: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about MMTC or rider safety/training in general?
Stan: Safety should be the #1 priority in any motorcycle training program and that is certainly our goal at MMTC. We aim for, and believe we achieve a consistently high quality program. Our students deserve a “top notch” training experience and that’s what we strive to provide. I’m also excited about a new MSF RiderCouorse coming soon called the Skill Enhancement RiderCourse (SERC), which teaches advanced riding techniques similar to those used on the racetrack. This course is geared more towards sportbike riders.
For additional information or to register for a class, call Stan and
Elaine at (913) 432-7033, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their web site at www.mmtcridertraining.com. Classes fill up quickly, so make your reservations now!
Interview & photos by Mike Schweder