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Northwest Rider Education

The choices are many

It used to be you could take one kind of motorcycle safety course in the Northwest.  Today there are almost as many courses offered as their are major brands of motorcycles on the market.  Whatever phase of your riding years you're in, there's bound to be one or two classes offered that will help keep you on your toes with your riding skills and knowledge of your bike.  At the bottom of this article we have listed the Northwest providers of these courses and what they each offer.  But first a look at the various class choices.

Basic Rider Course - First time and returning riders are encouraged to take the basic rider course provided by contractors who are sanctioned and subsidized by the state.  The class takes a commitment of one weekday evening and an entire Saturday and Sunday.  I recall taking my first one after 25 years of riding.  What a wake up call that ever was.  For those who ride and have never taking a basic rider course it's time you do.

Additional Riding Course - Some people need a little more time with the various exercises covered in a basic rider class.  For those who do there is the Additional Riding Class where each student is provided extra time to work on the exercises most important to them before taking their skills to the street.

Experienced Rider Course - It's good to brush up every few years.  An experienced rider course only takes a day to do and keeps you on your toes about the little things you let slip from your mind since your last class.  There are those who take the class about every two years, often in the spring as a tune-up for riding season.  Many contractors will work with various clubs to schedule a group class so you and your pals can get instructed together.  Often times this may include a small discount on the group buy.

Sidecar/Trike Education Program - Looking for something a little different to keep your chops up?  How about taking a Sidecar/Trike instruction class.  You may never plan to own a sidecar or trike, or perhaps you're toying with the idea of owning one.  When you take the class the vehicles are provided to you so you don't need to have one of your own.  It's similar to a basic instruction class only you're doing all the exercises on three wheels.  There is also classroom and field instruction specific to the dynamics of the rig itself so you better understand the differences from a two wheel rig.  For those of you who took advantage of the window back in 2004 in Washington State to get a 3 wheel endorsement on your license - even though you didn't have the skills to operate one, it's time you sign up and legitimize the endorsement for your own piece of mind.  You'll be glad you did.

Photo:  A student wondering if 3 wheels is for him, completes an exercise on the course provided Gold Wing trike.

Dirt Bike School - For years the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has offered a curriculum for riding dirt bikes, but no local contractors ever picked it up until recently when Puget Sound Safety began administrating the course.  Here again the bikes are provided so you don't need to own one to get your feet wet.  Riding motorcycles off-road is vastly different from on pavement and again this my be your choice for an educational brush next time you sign up for a class.

Photo:  Sound RIDER! publisher, Tom Mehren, straddles the easy log crossing during MSF Dirt Bike School.  Photo by Bret Tkacs/Puget Sound Safety

Scooters Only - If you ride a scooter you can take a standard BRC and get a completion certificate just like any motorcyclist can.  But if you'd like to do it in the exclusive company of other scooter enthusiasts the Evergreen Safety Council has purchased a number of scooters and teaches a basic rider course using their in-house harem.  The shifting aspects of the curriculum are gone and more time is spent on other exercises.  ESC has even gotten approval to teach an experienced rider class with scooters as they did for the Northwest Scooter Enthusiasts in the spring of 2006.

Photo: There he goes again, same riding gear, different class, Mehren practices looking through the turn during a scooter only ERC offered by Evergreen Safety Council.  Photo by Constance Gay

Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic - The author of the popular book, Total Control, Lee Parks has developed a curriculum for instructors to work from that provides street smarts blended together with track smarts.  This program is not a state endorsed program.

Motorcycle Maintenance - Even if you never plan to perform your own work on your motorcycle a basic maintenance class will help you to better understand your bike and trouble shoot issues going on with it.  The class only takes an afternoon and covers basics like fluid changes, brake inspection, tire assessment and cable adjustments.  With hourly shop rates nearing $100 per hour a class like this can save you hundreds of dollars a year in basic maintenance costs.

Photo:  A bin filled with electrics and fluids used during one of Puget Sound Safety's Motorcycle Maintenance class.

Provider BRC ARC ERC S/TEP Dirt Scoot LP Mtnc.
Idaho Star X   X          
Team Oregon X X X          
Columbia Motorcycle Training X   X          
Evergreen Safety Council X X X X   X    
Gray's Harbor MC Education X   X          
Motorcycle Safety Company X   X          
Motorcycle Training, Inc. X              
North Sound Safety X X X          
Olympic Regional Motorcycle Program X   X          
Pacific Northwest Motorcycle Safety X X X     X    
Peninsula Motorcycle Rider Education X   X          
Puget Sound Safety X X X   X X X X
Vancouver Parks and Recreation X   X          
Westside Aries Northwest X   X          

For an entire list of providers and locations click on a state below:

Idaho, Oregon, Washington  

PT/Summer 06





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