Washington Motorcycle Safety Pro

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Washington Motorcycle Safety Program – Novice Rider Training

Learn to ride, stay safe, and gain your endorsement

With the never-ending rise in fuel prices and the vast number of options for new 2-wheeled recreation, people are flocking to get formal rider training to stay safe and legal. Whether you are a beginner with no experience wanting to learn to ride a motorcycle or scooter or you’re an experienced rider looking for first exposure to formal education, Washington State has a great program for you.

The novice rider training is a minimum of a 16-hour course combining classroom and on-bike training for riders to learn to ride and for many to earn their motorcycle endorsements. Graduates of this class earn a waiver eliminating the need to take the written or riding test at the Department of Licensing. The curriculum that is used is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Riders Course (MSF-BRC).

The novice rider training starts off in the classroom learning about risk, riding gear, what controls the bike as well as how to use the controls including the clutch and how to shift (way different than a car so don’t sweat it if you have never used a clutch). Proper braking and turning are also covered. Classes are taught using the adult centered learning philosophy with the students presenting information in groups; the instructor stands by overseeing and facilitating with a watchful eye. Many classes get really creative even using games and skits to aid the learning curve, keeping the class lively and fun.

When you get to the range you start off getting familiar with the motorcycle by identifying the controls. The first riding drill starts off with just rocking the bike back and forth using the clutch and "friction zone" followed by walking the bike under its own power and finally, riding it in a straight line. This takes up the first hour. After break, things start moving more quickly as you learn how to stop, shift and turn. Although quality of gear and equipment vary throughout the state, all the schools provide helmets and motorcycles free of charge.

Once you have learned the basics, you will move back to the classroom, where you discuss street strategies to help keep you alive on the road. Such critical skills include lane positioning, being visible, cornering, maximum braking, common riding situations and scenarios, including passengers and cargo, night riding, hills and swerving. For those seeking a motorcycle endorsement, the classroom portion ends with a knowledge test based on what you have learned. 

Riders practicing the "Look through your turn' exercise.

The last riding session is where it all comes together. During this final riding session you build on the previous day's riding trying new corners, u-turns, maximum braking, swerving, even running over obstacles is included as you learn to cross over 2 x 4s that have been placed around the riding area.… Everyone that makes it to the day's end are offered to practice for the licensing skills evaluation and then testing for the license waiver. The best part of this is you get to test on the bike you rode during the class and are tested by your instructors. What a great idea being tested by the same people who train you.

Sounds great you say? What’s the cost you ask? The tuition for the novice rider training varies throughout Washington State ranging from over $250 to the universal subsidized rate of $125. For riders under the age of 18, the cost is only $50 for a subsidized class. The differences in price reflect the true cost to run the classes. You can opt to pay the full tuition cost to take a class (and get in a little faster) or to wait and take a class that is subsidized by the Department of Licensing and save a little green. The money that subsidizes this training comes from our motorcycle endorsements. This means motorcyclists/scooterists use it but we also pay for it. Any person with a Washington State Driver's License is qualified to take a subsidized novice rider class.

Items required for the class:

  • parental permission for students under the age of 18

  • DOT-approved helmet (small supply available from the school)

  • Eye protection (glasses, goggles or face shield)

  • Long sleeve shirt or jacket

  • Long pants

  • Sturdy over-the-ankle footwear

  • Full-fingered riding gloves

  • Prepare for the weather (rain gear, sunglasses, snacks & drinks, etc.)

The types of motorcycles will vary from school to school but these are some common bikes used. Some schools even offer scooters for student use!

  • 250cc Honda Rebel (cruiser)

  • 250cc Honda Nighthawk (standard)

  • 250cc Kawasaki Ninja (sport)

  • 250cc Suzuki GZ250 (cruiser)

  • 250cc Kawasaki KLX250s (dual-sport)

  • 250cc Yamaha XT250 (dual-sport)

  • 200cc Suzuki DR200 (dual-sport)

  • 200cc Yamaha TW200 (dual-sport)

  • 125cc Kawasaki Eliminator (cruiser)

  • 125cc Honda CB125 (standard)

To find the nearest training, go to www.endorseyoursport.com or www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/mototrainingtypes.html

Bret Tkacs/Fall 08

Bret Tkacs is the owner of Puget Sound Safety, a northwest motorcycle training company providing a wide variety of riding courses.

  • For training in Oregon visit the Team Oregon website

  • For training in Idaho visit the Idaho Star website

Please note that Oregon and Idaho programs vary from the Washington program noted here.


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