Warren offers sportsbike safety course

  • Published
  • By R.J. Oriez
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
A recent Air Force Global Strike Command memorandum makes it mandatory for all active-duty Airmen who ride a sports motorcycle to complete a Military Sportbike Rider Course. This is in addition to the Basic Riders Course that is required for all motorcycle riders.

"If you decide to get a sportsbike, you'll be getting both classes," said instructor Tech. Sgt. Christopher Laubin, 90th Operations Group.

The 90th Missile Wing Safety Office held its first MRSC May 30. The new course requirement has Laubin, who has been teaching sportbike classes since 2008, in high demand.

"I am the only resident sportbike instructor in Wyoming, apparently," Laubin said. "We've got about 100 students we need to get through here,"

Troy Weaver, 90 MW traffic safety manager, is the man in charge of getting the base sportbike riders scheduled.

"I have a roster of every rider on base," Weaver said. "If they are on the base riders roster as of November last year, I am going to do what I can so they will be trained before the end of this year -- sometime this summer. That's my goal."

The AFGSC memo gives the wing's safety office the final say, should there be any doubt whether a particular bike model is a sportbike or not.

Laubin said the main point of the class is rider control.

"Being in control of their motorcycle more than they were before they came into this class," Laubin said. "The topics we cover are throttle control, brake control and turning. Those three key areas, then we talk about attitude adjustment and fear."

As Laubin stood in front of the class, he stressed awareness to his students.

"The reaction time for a sportbike rider is supposed to be the same as an F-16 pilot," Laubin told them. "You're going to do 82 actions just to operate a motorcycle going down the road. A sportbike rider has to do about 108, all in the same timeframe. You do 29 in a car."

For Laubin, part of awareness is playing the "what-if" game.

"What if that car pulled out in front of me right now?" Laubin wants his students to ask themselves as they go down the road, particularly while merging onto an interstate highway.

"What if they just didn't see you at all?" Laubin asked. "Are you ready to brake? Are you ready? Don't tell me, tell yourself in your head."

Laubin also covers the physics of sportbike riding with drawn diagrams on a whiteboard, explaining weight distribution in turns and the impact of braking on the suspension.

The second half of the day-long class is spent out on the course.

"We start off with the subjects we covered in the classroom," Laubin said. "Brakes, turning, throttle control and then the suspension."

The brakes, always the brakes. Laubin said what surprises him the most is usually his students' lack of familiarity with their brakes.

"Everybody has an idea about how fast their motorcycle is and maybe have sampled it pretty good," Laubin said. "Almost none of them have any knowledge of the potential of their brakes. What they can do for them to save their lives."

The brakes made an impression on 1st Lt. Philip Duddles, 90th OG.

"I've only been riding a short time. So, some of those emergency stops -- like the back lifting up -- that surprised me," Duddles said. The experience made him appreciative of the course.

"It's better to have your rear wheel pop off the ground in a parking lot, fully protected, than on a street with a car right behind you. I appreciated being able to practice that there," Duddles said. "I feel like I gained years of street time all compacted into one day. It was really helpful."

Not all of the students in the class were as green as the lieutenant.

"I am trying to mix it to where you've got two or three not-so-experienced riders with two or three experienced riders," Weaver said.

One of the experienced riders in this class was Tech. Sgt. David Phillips, 20th Air Force.

"I've been riding about 15 years," Phillips said. Seven of those years were on sportbikes. He acknowledges he was not thrilled by the idea of having to spend a day taking the class.

"I figured it was going to be a waste of my time, basically, but I know I had to check that block," Phillips said. After finishing the course, he was a convert.

"As long as I'd been riding, I did pick up a couple things. I don't mind saying it -- I learned something from him," Phillips said. "I think everybody who is riding sportbikes should take the class. Definitely."