In 2016 I decided to buy a motorcycle for my commute to work. I grew up riding dirt bikes and still had a deep-seated love for motorcycles, but I vowed from an early age never to ride them on the street; it was too dangerous, I thought. Now that I’m older I find the need for speed is not something I’m after and maybe a more mellow “me” would be fine on a street bike. So, I purchased a used Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport motorcycle, something I could ride on the street and – when the mood struck me – in the dirt. After a few months of riding the DR650 to work I experienced my first crash. I was going around a corner and my front wheel hit some loose sand while I applied the front brake. The front end washed out and I went down hard. My injuries were a broken shoulder and a bruised ego.
Crashing is part of the game when you ride a motorcycle. Everyone who rides has a crash story. Now I had mine. I actually thought about selling the bike after the crash, but once the pain in my shoulder subsided a little, I realized that I genuinely loved riding my motorcycle. If I was going to continue riding on the street, however, I needed to take a motorcycle safety course to better arm myself against the perils that can come with street riding.
After a little research I found that OSU offers a three-day basic rider course for $240.00. While that was a viable option, I felt I needed something a little more substantial than a basic course. Then I found the Edmond Police Department’s Civilian Motorcycle School.
According to the City of Edmond’s web page for the program, the free Civilian Motorcycle School was initiated “in an effort to make city streets and highways safer for all.” Edmond PD got approval for the program from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, and the state awarded Edmond $150,000 in grants to make sure the program had all the proper equipment: a mobile classroom, instructor pay and, in addition to Edmond, class locations in Lawton and Durant.
Did I mention it was free? Jackpot!
What To Expect
The Level 1 class I took was a six-hour course centered mostly around riding basics, with a little classroom time between exercises. The first thing we learned was how to properly pick up a motorcycle. For anyone who’s tipped over a full dresser, this lesson was very helpful. Next, we went into a throttle and clutch control exercise to learn how to control our bikes at the slowest pace just by using the clutch and throttle. Keeping your balance at a very slow pace is not as easy as it may seem.
The next exercise dealt with braking as fast as you can in the shortest distance possible. This was all about reflexes and control under extreme braking. After that, we worked on weaving in and out of cones while keeping our eyes on the horizon. When doing this exercise your instinct is to look down at the cone in front of you, but by raising your eyes and looking ahead you can better judge what’s coming. Clutch and throttle control came into play big time during this exercise.
After the single-row slalom course we worked on offset cones to weave in and out of, kind of like riding around parked cars. The emphasis on this task was to let your head and eyes lead you around the obstacle by looking through the turns and not down at the street.
The final exercise of the course was the hardest of them all–executing a low-speed U-turn inside a 20-foot radius. To do this you must draw from everything you learned during the day and put it to practical use.
So, the big question here is: was this class worth it? Absolutely! When most people get on a motorcycle, they spend the first few months on the road trying to figure things out and get comfortable riding in traffic. That’s what I did at first and it was kind of scary. This class armed me with a new skillset and more confidence. I should have taken it before I started out on the road, and if you are contemplating getting a motorcycle, I would absolutely recommend taking this class before hitting the road.
One of the things I found the most interesting was the number of repeat customers taking the course. About half the riders in attendance had already been through the class. For a lot of them it was a chance to blow off the cobwebs of a long winter of no riding. For others it was a chance to hone their skills. It’s also a great way to mingle with the local motorcycle community. I’m already planning on taking the Level 2 course and I’ll definitely do it again next Spring.
For more information about registering online for an upcoming class, go to http://edmondok.com/577/Civilian-Motorcycle-School.
Scheduling for additional schools is first-come-first-served. If you can’t attend a scheduled school you can still register to be placed on a mailing list to be notified of new or upcoming school dates.
- You must ride your own motorcycle
- The motorcycle cannot be smaller than
a 250cc or any type of scooter or three
- You must wear an approved DOT helmet
- Your gloves must have fingers
- You must wear boots that cover ankles
and a long sleeve shirt
- You need proof of liability insurance