Kick-start your riding skills – Metro US

Kick-start your riding skills

If pocket rockets rev your engine, you’ve probably been bitten by the motorcycle bug.
Of course, you need to learn how to tame the beast before you can hop on — and it might help if you know how to fix the darn thing.
Linda Neil, chair of the school of Continuing Education at Centennial College, says the school is seeing skyrocketing numbers of people taking motorcycle riding and maintenance certification courses, something she believes could be in large part due to recent gas prices and the tough economy.
“People are saying, ‘I can’t drive anymore. I’ve got to find a cheaper way of transportation,’” Neil said.
For would-be riders, Centennial offers motorcycle rider training over a weekend, starting with in-class learning on Friday night followed by full Saturday and Sunday sessions on the pavement. At the end, students are tested to get an M2 licence.
Classes are capped at 30 students per session and students must already possess an M1 licence to take the course, though the school provides the training bike. A dress code is in effect, so come wearing a long-sleeved leather or denim jacket, thick full-length trousers, and a heavy boot that covers the ankle and has a strong heel — cowboy boots fit the bill, if you really want to get in the spirit of things.
Experienced riders who already have their own bike can take the M2 exit training course, which also runs for a weekend and ends with a test for the full M licence.
Owning a bike is one thing, but keeping it running is another. For that reason, Centennial offers a series of six 15-hour courses as part of its motorcycle maintenance certificate, teaching participants all about the finer points of motorcycle engines, chassis and electronics.
Neil says the course is popular with car mechanics who want to expand their repertoire, as well as riders who just want to know how to get their own bike out of a pinch.
“A lot of rider training students will take these courses just so they can fix their own bike,” she said.
The rider training courses are all approved by the Canada Safety Council and the focus is always on safety.
“A lot of people have this idea that you jump on a bike and it’s pretty simple, but I think students are humbled by what they need to know to drive a motorcycle,” Neil said.