Safe Riding

Who Needs Motorcycle Rider Training?

Written by  January 31, 2004

I was just beginning to think we might get by this year with another mild winter; that is until the January 4 and 25 artic front and ice storm blew into town bringing well below freezing temperatures. Needless to say, I connected the battery tender and put one more blanket over my motorized steed. Now most of us will have to wait for this cold weather pattern to move on, as not many brave souls will venture out on their bikes in these frigid temperatures. Although, all is not lost, as this is a good time to put on any new parts you received for Christmas, if you haven’t already. In addition, this is the time to sign up for spring motorcycle riding classes, as the long cold winter can dull the skills just a bit, or maybe you were lucky enough to get a brand new ride for Christmas!

These courses are not meant only for new riders or those having problems, but also as a refresher, to possibly learn a few new techniques and gain a bit more confidence. Since many of you have been asking me to write an article on riding skills, I thought it best to seek out a true professional instructor for advice. As luck would have it, while I was attending Gail’s Harley-Davidson Premier Invitational Bike Show, I was introduced to such a person. Stan Rogers is a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Chief Instructor, Rider Coach Trainer and owner of Midwest Motorcycle Training Center in Olathe, Kansas. It turned out that Stan was my wife’s instructor when she took her basic rider course at Kansas City Kansas Community College two years previously. I asked to interview him, and he graciously agreed.

CC: How long have you been riding a motorcycle?

Stan: I have been riding various motorcycles for 43 years, with well over 100,000 miles of road time.

CC: How long have you been officially training students and when did you get your MSF Chief Instructor and Rider Coach Certification?

Stan: I’ve been certified by MSF and training riders for the last five years.

CC: What motivates you to teach?

Stan: The love of motorcycling and promotion of safe riding. I like to see the magical transition of a new rider, going from uncertainty and fear, to an eager and confident rider.

CC: How should the new student prepare for the basic rider’s course?

Stan: First of all, take the rider’s training course because “you” want to learn, not because someone else would like you to obtain the training. Secondly, go out to the MSF website and work the Riders Course 123’s: Interactive tour, complete the test review and do the simulations until you feel very confident.

CC: Is the certification good for life, or does it expire, especially the possible 10 percent insurance discount?

Stan: Depending on the insurance company, you can get a 10 percent discount on your insurance premiums. In Kansas, the insurance companies usually honor the discount for up to three years. Once this time period is close to being over, you might consider taking the Experienced Rider course to retain the discount and sharpen your riding skills.

I asked the following professionals, who represent some of Kansas City’s leading motorcycle rider training centers, what words of wisdom they would like to share with our readers.

Stan Rogers of Midwest Motorcycle Training Center in Olathe, Kansas stated, “You can never learn too much about motorcycling. To become a great rider, you need to understand the mechanics of the bike, dynamics of the bike, environmental effects, speed and your skills which includes the rider’s mental attitude. Accept that a rider’s age and health does effect his or hers reflexes and response times. By staying abreast with rider’s training, it is better for everyone: the rider, passenger, other vehicles on the road and loved ones.”

Clarence Wildes of Rolling Wheels Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri said, “Get yourself trained. Your skills will improve, you will enjoy your riding more, and you will reduce your risks. If you are a passenger, your life depends on the skills of the person in the front seat. Know your limits, and ride within them. There is no good way to drop a bike.”

Elaine Miller of Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Missouri suggested, “Never get in a hurry or let anyone rush you while on a motorcycle. Feeling hurried will draw your focus away from the immediate moment, make you sloppy and cause you to make mistakes. The opportunities for small mistakes are abundant in every riding situation, and will cost you plenty. If you constantly pay attention to the smallest details, think AHEAD of your next move and perform every move with precision, you have gone a long way in keeping the bike upright. Also leave your ego at home. It's the one thing you will never need to take with you.”

Dale Shaw of Kansas City Kansas Community College in Kansas City, Kansas said, 'Training, experience and the right attitude will help you become a great rider. Learn from others' mistakes, develop your own riding skills and take a refresher course if you have not been riding for more than six months. Ride with friends who's skill level matches your own, then you won't be tempted to override your capabilities. Share the road and environment with everyone, respect everyone's rights and don't provide non-riders a reason to dislike motorcycle riders.'

I would like to thank these professionals for taking the time and providing valuable insight our readers can use. The rest of this article should provide you with enough information to help find the exact course, location and times to meet your needs.

The various courses and seminars offered are Basic Rider, Experienced Rider, Group Ride, Touring and Trailering, Off Road riding and ATV riding. Each rider course is taught by fully certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors. Their focus is to ensure you are ready to obtain your motorcycle endorsement from the Department of Motor Vehicles, obtain operational skills and mental awareness, safely operate a motorcycle in traffic and be a responsible rider. The course teaches you the mechanics and basic skills in safe riding. You will learn about proper riding gear, maintenance pre-checks, weather effects, and riding techniques: turning, backing, swerving, braking and includes picking up your bike. In the basic course, the bikes are provided! This saves a lot of expense on your part, not to mention a broken heart. All courses and seminars are not offered at every training center, so please shop around.

It is best if you take and pass the course in your current motor vehicle operator licensed state to obtain your Kansas MSF Certification of Completion or Missouri MSF Completion Card. The Kansas certification validates you passed both the written and riding skills requirements, which entitles you to get your motorcycle endorsement on your motor vehicle driver’s license. The Missouri completion card validates your riding skill requirements; however, you must still pass the written and vision tests at the Missouri State Highway Patrol examination station. A small fee is charged by each state for the motorcycle endorsement.

Each training center has certified instructors, offer various course levels, priced competitively and have numerous training timeframes to meet just about everyone’s needs. Visit each of your state’s local training centers for their course requirements and schedules. Classes usually begin in February and run through October. The early courses are filling up fast and it is on a first come, first serve basis, so don’t delay. Also, Dale Shaw pointed out that all new riders wishing to sign up for motorcycle training must first have a valid driver’s license. Also, if you are not a current rider, please get a bicycle and work on your balance and maneuvering skills, it will help you immensely.

I would like to mention a few of the sponsors for the MSF training in this area: Gail’s Harley-Davidson, Shawnee Cycle Plaza, Jack Miller Motorcycles of Kansas City, Central Harley-Davidson, and Worth Harley-Davidson.

Training Center Locations in the Kansas City area:

Kansas:
Kansas City Kansas Community College
Midwest Motorcycle Training Center


Missouri:
Maple Woods Community College: 816-437-3011
Rolling Wheels Training Center, LLC
Worth Harley-Davidson North’s Riders Edge program


Special Links:
Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles
Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program
Motorcycle Safety Foundation


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