Commonwealth Journal

April 16, 2014

A Wheelie Good Idea

Motorcycle rider training class cranks up; knowledge gained saves lives in the clutch

by Ken Shmidheiser
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Okay, despite Tuesday’s blustery snow showers, the weather last weekend was an ideal introduction to spring. And over at Hal Rogers Fire Training Center on Oak Leaf Lane in north Somerset, five fledgling motorcycle riders were enjoying another kind of introduction.
Their successful completion of a three-day Basic Rider Course (BRC) sponsored by Somerset Rider Training, in conjunction with the Kentucky Motorcycle Program, not only earned them the privilege of road test-free motorcycle licenses along with insurance discounts, but also the knowledge vital to a lifetime of safe motorcycle operation.
“Riders who successfully complete the course receive waivers which allow them to go to the Circuit Clerk’s Office and obtain their motorcycle endorsements without having to take a road test,” explained Ron Coffey, who manages the Somerset Rider Training program. “In addition, many insurance companies will give graduates of our course a 10 percent discount on motorcycle insurance.”
Although Coffey acknow-ledged that enrollment in the BRC has declined in recent years, that may change this year. A revision to the Kentucky motorcycle operator law now limits to two the number of one-year motorcycle permits a motorcycle rider may obtain.
In the past, many riders would annually renew their motorcycle permits without bothering to take the road test to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license. (A Kentucky motorcycle permit does not allow a rider to carry passengers or ride out of state. Permit holders must also wear helmets.)
Harold Hobson, of Eubank, is instructor of the Somerset Rider classes. Hobson is a long-time motorcycle enthusiast who holds rider safety as the paramount consideration for participants.
Hobson said the BRC is designed for a new rider, or a rider who wants a good refresher course. The BRC is targeted at riders of all ages. Classroom instruction prepares riders for on-cycle maneuvers in a controlled, off-street environment. (Participants must be able to balance a bicycle before attempting on-cycle exercises.)
Riders are taught how to mount and ride their bikes—an advantage of the course is that motorcycles and helmets are provided—how to deal with emergencies like swerving and braking, and receive a knowledge test and on-cycle evaluation.
The BRC costs $90.00. Participants in the Basic Rider Course must provide:
 
• Eye protection
• Over-the-ankle boots or shoes
• Long slacks
• Love sleeves short or jacket
• Full-fingered gloves
 
The basic course lasts 15-20 hours. Participants meet Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 (Participants must be at least 16 years of age. Those under 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian before taking the course.)
 In addition to the BRC, the Somerset Rider Training also offers an advanced course, BRC II designed for riders with licenses or permits who want to fine-tune their street skills. Classroom instruction teaches mental strategies necessary to reduce risk. Like BRC, BRC II on-cycle maneuvers are practiced in a controlled, off-street environment.
 BRC II riders should own a street legal motorcycle, provide proof of insurance, and provide riding gear as required for the BRC. The BRC II course costs $25.00, and participants should come prepared to ride at the first class meeting. BRC II courses are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 7, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 4. Weather conditions may affect class schedules.
 For more information or to register for an upcoming course call or fax 606-423-2084. Class sizes are limited, so early registration is encouraged. 
 “Our objective is to provide riders with the proper training and knowledge they will need to have a safe riding experience,” Coffey concluded.