Safe Riding

Rolling Wheels Training Center - Kansas City, Missouri

Written by  April 30, 2007

Clarence and Pat Wildes and their team of MSF RiderCoaches have been teaching students to ride since November 2003. I had the opportunity to visit Rolling Wheels Training Center on two separate occasions and observed students completing the riding portion of their Basic RiderCourse (BRC). Rolling Wheels is located in a strip center at Noland Road and 40 Highway, and a large section of the parking lot is blocked off to create the riding range where students get to practice what they learned in the classroom. Their facility has two classrooms, which enables them to train up to 24 students at the same time. On weekends they offer an early and a late class, which enables them to alternate students between the classroom and range.

Rolling Wheels offers a variety of basic and experienced rider training courses such as their new Premium Basic RiderCourse, in which the riding portion of the course is approximately 40% longer than the Basic BRC, and the classroom portion includes more activities and a segment on group riding. They also offer an Additional Riding BRC, which is designed for students who have completed the BRC (pass or fail), and provides approximately 4-5 additional hours of riding instruction. This course gives students who did not pass the skill test during their original BRC the opportunity to earn their completion certificate if they take it within 30 days of their original BRC and pass the skill test.

An Extended BRC is also available for students who need or want more intense instruction, and is considered a semi-private class with a maximum ratio of three students per instructor and a maximum class size of six. The Extended BRC offers more individualized attention and the student gets more practice time with the same amount of clock time and motorcycles provided. Rolling Wheels' Experienced RiderCouse (ERC), Group Ride Seminars and Maintenance Seminars are also very popular.

The first BRC I observed was being taught by Raymond Nichols and Jody Barry. They had 10 students consisting of 6 men and 4 women. The second BRC was being conducted by Fred Mays, Marke Lane, and Greg Parish. They had 12 students and the class was split 50/50 between men and women.

I also had the opportunity to gather additional information from Clarence about his background and Rolling Wheels Training Center in general.

CC: Clarence, what makes Rolling Wheels different from other rider training facilities?
Clarence: We are a dedicated training facility. This allows us to concentrate on the quality of our program. We offer our instructional staff professional development opportunities and we have an internal quality assurance program to ensure our customers are provided the best training they can buy in this area.

CC: How long have you been a MSF instructor?
Clarence: Over 10 years.

CC: Why did you decide to become a MSF instructor?
Clarence: I saw a need for initial and continuing rider education – this was an opportunity to save lives.

CC: Where did you receive your training to become a MSF instructor?
Clarence: In 1997, I attended a MSF Instructor Preparation course at the Missouri Safety Center (CMSU) conducted by the Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program. In 2001, I attended a MSF RiderCoach Trainer Preparation Workshop in Colton, CA.

CC: How many instructors does Rolling Wheels currently have?
Clarence: We maintain 17 to 20 active RiderCoaches.

CC: Approximately how many students do you train each year?
Clarence: We average about 960 BRC students and about 60 to 100 ERC students.

CC: What is your maximum BRC class size?
Clarence: 12 students.

CC: On average, what percentage of your BRC students are female versus male?
Clarence: From 2003 through 2005 the percentage was 50/50. In 2006, percentages were approximately 40% female.

CC: What type of motorcycles do you provide for your BRC?
Clarence: Honda Nighthawks, Honda Rebels, Suzuki GZ250s, Suzuki DR200s, and a Kawasaki Eliminator.

CC: What is the most challenging part of the BRC for you as an instructor?
Clarence: Keeping the force of personality of the RiderCoach from overriding the needs of the student. This requires constant adjustment of instructor inputs to match as well as possible the different learning styles of the customer.

CC: What part of the BRC do students seem to find the most challenging?
Clarence: There are as many challenges as there are students in any one class. We are dealing with motor skill development for two-thirds of the BRC, and most of the challenges involve learning new motor skills. However, students normally only struggle with one or two new skills and do fine with the rest.

CC:On average, what percentage of students pass the BRC?
Clarence: At Rolling Wheels we average 95% pass.

CC: Do you have any tips for someone thinking about taking the BRC?
Clarence: If it has been a long time since you have ridden a bicycle, it might be a good idea to ride one for a short while to reestablish your bicycle balance. Otherwise, arrive well rested.

CC: What is your maximum ERC class size?
Clarence: 12 students. Each student may also have a passenger.

CC:On average, what percentage of your ERC students are female versus male?
Clarence: We don’t track this, but I would estimate 80% male.

CC: What is the most challenging part of the ERC for you as an instructor?
Developing interest in continuing rider education amongst experienced motorcyclists.

CC: What part of the ERC do students seem to find the most challenging?
Clarence: If there is a skill missing from the rider’s skill set, that skill will present the most challenge. I think turning and stopping quickly are the skills most need to work on.

CC: On average, what percentage of students pass the ERC?
Clarence: The ERC is a continuing education course with no criteria for passing or failing so long as the student can demonstrate basic control abilities in the first range exercise. If the state eventually adopts the License Waiver ERC, we will provide a skill test and written test for that module. I would expect a higher pass rate than the BRC because the experienced rider will have a lower dropout rate.

CC: Do you have any tips for someone thinking about taking the ERC?
Clarence: You take the course on your own bike, so I would ride it for a couple of hours in the days before your class.

CC: What has been your most enjoyable training experience to date?
Clarence: When the lights come on, and a student stops struggling and has fun.

CC: What was your least enjoyable training experience to date?
Clarence: If 95% are successful, then there is the other 5%. The most difficult experience we have is confirming that, indeed, a student is not going to be successful.

CC: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Rolling Wheels or rider safety/training in general?
Clarence: If you want to ride, get trained, get licensed, and keep the shiny side up!

For additional information or to register for a class, call Clarence and Pat at (816) 478-3677, e-mail them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit their web site at www.rollingwheels.org. Classes fill up quickly, to you'd better act fast!

Interview & photos by Mike Schweder