There’s a universal truth about motorbikes: they are badass. They might even trump the “I’m in a band” playing card.
Sadly, I’ve never ridden a motorbike and my coolness factor corresponds accordingly. But, I have thought about learning to ride and getting my license, if only to avoid Vancouver gridlock. So I looked around and found High Gear Motorcycle Training.
High Gear is a different kind of ride. President Desmond Rodenbour and VP Noah Nitikman run the school and instruct, too. They teach students on an individual basis only, so there’s no embarrassing “Where’s the clutch?” questions in front of a group of Hell’s Angels renewing their licenses. Every lesson is tailored to the students’ needs and schedule, so you can go riding at 6am or 11pm if that’s what works for you.
These two dudes got off the road to explain more about the school they founded over the phone (because I’m too chicken to hop on a bike just yet).
Why did you decide to open a school like High Gear in Vancouver?
D: There are some great schools in the Lower Mainland, and that model is already successful. There was a need for a different kind of training style. Lots of people (especially in the city) have careers, and just can’t give up the time for classes or for weekends in a row. We can be booked in short sessions, on your schedule. It really fits into the lifestyle of urban professionals.
How did a love of motorbikes turn into opening a riding school?
N: I took lessons when I was 16 and decided to become an instructor. My first bike was a Yamaha dirt bike that I basically slept in the garage with. I raced home every day from school to ride it – rain or shine.
D: I always knew I would be a lifelong motorcycle rider. I feel like I’m more comfortable riding a bike than I am walking or running.
When I took a course, I was skeptical about what they could teach me. I could catwalk a motorbike – [I thought] what could some older bike rider teach me? But there’s so much to learn about road management, lane position … the basics of riding are only the beginning.
What motivates you to keep teaching?
D: I get the most satisfaction when I see an old student or peer, and they come up and say, “I’ve had incidents, but you were adamant that I learn these safety maneuvers and I’m still alive.”
A good portion of our clients are new riders. We take them from the beginning to passing their ICBC tests and getting ready to begin their career as cyclists. The other third are rusty riders – looking to tune up an aspect of their riding or get used to a new bike.
What’s the best teaching experience you’ve had so far?
D: We had a client last year in his early sixties. Lawyer. Stoic. In his first couple of lessons, he was very matter-of-fact. After his first ride down along the beach, we were just at the end of a session, and he took his helmet off and said, “That was the best time ever! Can we ride for another half hour?!” At that moment I pictured him as a seven-year-old getting off his first roller coaster.
*End of interview*.
Connect with Sarah Gray on Twitter @GraySazz
Feature Image: High Gear Motorcycle Training