MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — It might be the freedom, the rush of wind, the economical advantages over paying approximately 50 dollars for a full tank of gas, or it could be that they just look really cool.
Whatever the reason service members choose to ride a motorcycle, learning the rules of the road is vital to maintaining the safety of the rider and the safety of others.
Before stepping off on that first ride toward freedom on the open road, potential motorcyclists must obtain a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license.
Different states may have specific requirements for obtaining a class C license.
Marine Corps Community Services, in coordination with Station Safety here, offers a free Basic Rider Course, an Experienced Rider Course and a Military Sport Bike Rider Course to provide knowledge about the basic fundamentals for expert riders and even those who have never ridden a motorcycle before.
The Basic Rider Course is a two-day course which consists of in-class material and on-cycle skill exercises followed up with a written exam and on-cycle skill evaluation.
The course covers basic skills of controlling the motorcycle, maneuvering around turns, and avoiding hazardous traffic situations on the road.
Outside, first-time riders learn how to accelerate, brake, turn, adjust speed, switch gears, and stop.
“The basic rider course allows riders or potential riders who have no experience to build a basic foundation of the controls of a motorcycle and how they operate,” said Neville Rush, motorcycle instructor with MCCS. “We work on that foundation and those basic techniques to build them up to a level where they can actually ride safely and confidently as a civilian.”
Service members who have completed the Basic Rider Course have the opportunity to continue building their skills to become better riders through the one-day Experienced Rider Course.
“The Experienced Rider Course is an add-on to the Basic Rider Course,” said Rush. “It’s the same basic exercises but we do them at slightly higher speeds and apply a little more technique. We built a foundation in the Basic Rider Course and now we are focusing on developing those skills a little bit better.”
Through the Experienced Rider Course, riders can use their own purchased motorcycle and gear to perform maneuvers and practice techniques pertaining to the specific handling of their own bike.
There are many different types of bikes riders may choose to purchase, such as a standard motorcycle, a cruiser, a touring bike or an off-road bike.
According to Rush, riders should choose a bike that is right for them.
“Each bike handles differently,” said Rush. “Even if you have the same types of bikes, there’s a slight difference in the handling each rider has to get used to.”
When choosing a bike, riders should be able to reach the ground when they are seated comfortably on the bike.
The controls should also be easy to operate from a comfortable position.
Lastly, no matter what kind of bike, it is important for every rider to know the basic fundamentals and rules of the road.
“The same techniques used to control a standard bike are the same techniques and fundamentals used on the sports bike or the cruiser bike,” said Rush. “The basic fundamentals don’t change.”
“You don’t want to do something that will injure someone or injure yourself,” said Staff Sgt. Archie Mardis, utilities specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and participant in the Experienced Rider Course. “You have to know the rules of the road.”
For service members looking to take their ride to the tracks, MCCS offers the Military Sport Bike Rider’s Course.
“The Military Sport Bike Rider Course is specifically designed for sport bike riders to address the specific handling, fundamentals and techniques designed to ride a sport bike,” said Rush.
Because motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous, it is important to know the right type of gear to wear and use while riding.
“It’s important to have the right type of gloves, helmet, boots and clothes,” said Mardis.
During any of the courses, riders are required to wear a shirt with long sleeves or a motorcycle jacket specially designed to protect against injury.
“Motorcycle specific gear has a little more padding and design in it to protect specific areas from injury,” said Rush. “Not only does it protect the rider from the elements, it also protects the body from road rash in case the rider ever goes down in an accident.”
Service members interested in learning to ride a motorcycle for the first time, get back into riding the motorcycle again, or even service members looking to get into the sport of bike riding are welcome to take the courses.
For more information about motorcycle safety or upcoming classes, call Station Safety at 253-6381.
Originally published: Marines.mil