Washington State Three Wheel Endorsement Testing

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by Gasket, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Gasket

    Gasket Wandering Samurai

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    424
    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    My friends, it was not my intention to cause such a stir over the test I took so hopefully I can clarify some things. The testers did not lie to me or mislead me in any way. They make it a point that they do not provide instruction during the test since by not taking the course, I implied that I didn't need any. In fact, there was a woman in front of me who was riding a trike and they were very patient with her through the test, which she ultimately failed.

    I emphasize again, I was very impressed with these guys and have no complaint against the school. In fact they are trying to develop a three wheel advanced course of instruction that I will take when it is ready. It is the responsibility of the state and not the school to publish the testing criteria on the state web site.

    Concerning my decision not to take the course, as one who has been riding for over 50 years with some limited experience on three wheels, I decided to ride a bit and talk to more experienced three wheel riders prior to my decision on taking the class. Also keep in mind that the requirement for a special endorsement is not that old in Washington with many states, to include California, not requiring it. I read the Yellow Book cover to cover so that I thoroughly understood the very different dynamics of ride a hack.

    My first venture onto a state road was almost scary with me drifting into the opposing lane before I remembered that I actually had to steer the thing. By the third day I was very comfortable with it and made every outing a practice session. I also spent some time in parking lots practicing different maneuvers and regularly flew the car on a couple of local streets in turns. By flying it I meant that I lifted the wheel a bit through the turn. As Drone knows (because I called him right after my incident), I wound up across the road and in the woods when I was flying the car in a turn and suddenly a deer and fawn were right in front of me. I option was to hit the deer or sharpen my turn, which I did, and suddenly was faced with a car way up in the area and the thought of it coming over. I pulled to the left, slowing as it came down and off the road I went resting up against a tree. I was only slightly injured.

    With all this, while I believe education is always very helpful, I don't believe the course should be mandatory. To me flying a car is akin to doing a wheelie in that it borders on being a stunt, the latter of which I have done many times in the last 50 years but under now way would I do so now. Had I known that it was not part of the test (dumb me. I didn't ask earlier) I would never have done any.

    Edit: And the school apparently wants to do a video of the riding test for the DOL to post. I don't know if the DOL even wants one but I am composing a letter to the director with my recommendations.
    #21
  2. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,856
    Location:
    Fresno, CA
    Flying the chair is something that IS GOING TO HAPPEN (unless you make a habit of driving too slow to be out in traffic!). It's a good idea to be prepared for it, and know what to expect and how to deal with it.
    #22
    HeidiHo, FLYING EYEBALL and rg sw wa. like this.
  3. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    Follow the money ...simple.
    #23
    davebig and Strong Bad like this.
  4. Gasket

    Gasket Wandering Samurai

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    424
    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    I disagree Kip. I ride very aggressively and take the right turns at a good clip. With the ballast in my car and due caution I now don't ever fly the car. In fact, after my mishap, which could have gone horribly wrong, I became very wary of flying the car and have not done so since then. I hate to admit it but I believe I may be a bit fearful of the maneuver.

    I chatted with the gent that runs the 3 wheel training and he fully understood. Several year ago he watched a graduate of the sidecar training course, one who became over confident while riding in front of him on Hwy 14 along the Columbia during the national sidecar association event, lose his life. The guy lifted his car in a long sweeping right turn, lost control, drifted into the oncoming lane and died in a head on collision. The advanced 3 wheel course he is developing will include safely flying the car and all of the dynamics it entails. For me I'l be keeping that damn third wheel on the ground for the foreseeable future. After viewing the wonderful Ural Moab event, one that I hope to attend next year, my biggest challenge might be not be flying the car but rather not going over a 1000 foot cliff as I try to keep up with those guys.

    Claude, I agree with you. It has become a money thing with this state. Now I have to pay $25 for my motorcycle endorsement (WTF) and another $25 for my three wheel. The money is supposed to go for training but I'm sure instead it goes to the bloated state welfare program to buy cell phones for the slugs and dregs who don't want to work.
    #24
    9MCatDaddy and JustKip like this.
  5. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    10,919
    Location:
    north of seattle
    or it goes to the scumbags in power.
    #25
  6. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,856
    Location:
    Fresno, CA
    I have to admit...I don't accidentally fly the chair on my Bonnie rig. The track width is around 56 inches, and the tub, car battery and aux fuel tank are about 400lbs. I have to really be trying to fly the chair at lower speeds, deliberately turning in quickly to get it to come up, and at steady speeds along with the flow of traffic up in the mountains it stays planted.
    #26
  7. Niemand

    Niemand Lurker Extraordinaire

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    60
    Location:
    Nirgendwo
    Thanks for posting the testing points, Gasket. I'll be taking the S/TEP class next weekend through Evergreen, and was as surprised as you to not find specifics readily available.

    I'll pass on the debate/ranting about whether the 3-wheel endorsement should be required, as I have no choice in the matter being a WA resident currently. I'll just try too look at it as a slightly higher fee than the testing without the class, but with the added bonus of being able to go on a test drive before sinking a bunch of money into a rig only to end up sticking with 2 wheels after all.

    I'm looking forward to the class just to have some fun experimenting if nothing else.
    #27
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  8. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    864
    Location:
    IOM - NZ - PNW
    Actually, a correction here: a motorcycle rider that has both a Class 3 endorsement, and a class 5 endorsement...will end up with a combined Class 7 endorsement, which means you can ride both 2 wheelers and 3 wheelers.

    The "joint" endorsement is a Class 7...not a Class 8.

    :jack
    #28
  9. Bobmws

    Bobmws Curmudgeon At Large

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,616
    Location:
    Same trailer, different park, FL
    That's all well & good, but Kip's point is you can't control every situation. There will come a time when you are forced into a maneuver that raises the chair.Get your butt to a parking lot and practice flying it so you will know what to do when it happens.
    I do not advocate flying the chair as an everyday occurance, but the physics of sidecar reactions and the unknown situations you may get caught in should make you want to know how to react. Make it part of a regular practice routine.
    When I took the Evergreen course here in FL they taught flying the car so one would understand how to react to it, not to be used as a normal part of operation.
    FWIW in FL a MC endorsement will allow you to sidecar & trike, but you can get a 3 wheel only endorsement if your first ride is a trike.
    #29
    HeidiHo, JustKip, claude and 2 others like this.
  10. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    We can plan our actions but not our reactions. To develop good reactions takes practice. To increase our skill envelope we must pracrice a little at a time above our present comfort zone in a safe place. In time our actions that were taken during practice will become our natural reactions when required. This has nothing to do with showing off or trying to impress anyone . It has to do with taking some personal responsibility to increase our skills so we react in a way that can save ourselves and our loved ones when the need presents itself. Basic common sense really.
    #30
    Bobmws, Strong Bad, HeidiHo and 2 others like this.
  11. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    Do a circle toward the chair in a safe area. Increase speed gradually or keep making the turn smaller while maintaing your speed...a little at a time. When the sidecar wheel comes up your natural reaction will be to steer away from the turn. Now...ask yourself if this is a good reaction. What would this same natural reaction do if you were doing 60 mph? Some say they are not agressive riders. That is fine and well but it is to their benefit to acquire the skills to be able to make an agressive move when the time comes. Again....common sense.
    #31
    Bobmws and HeidiHo like this.
  12. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    If one runs ballast it is no sin....however....when you practice remove the ballast at first so things happen at slower speeds.
    #32
    Bobmws, HeidiHo and brstar like this.
  13. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    Ramblings on simple practice: Do left circles and right hand circles. Practice braking using just the front brake, just the rear brake and both brakes. Integrated ? No matter do it anyhow. Then practice braking in turns the same way. Then some say " Never brake in a turn" ...well nobody told the deer it could not step out in front of you in a turn or that the tree was laying across the road in a blind curve. Do some weaving back and forth. This will give you a feel for the machine you are on. (Never assume the outfit that your buddy asked you to take for a ride is the same as yours.). Read what you can. Hal Kendall's writing are a free download at sidecar.com. ... Read 'The Yellow Book' (addition #2)...... Don't get all wrapped up over hanging your butt off the seat although it never hurts to practice it. If you are going to do it on a regular basis it is best to do it going into a turn rather than as a corrective measure once you overcooked your speed in the turn. Enter a turn at a speed you are comfortable with , do braking before the turn, enter right handers up near the centerline and shoot for a late apex. Do not worry about going to slow as speed will increase with practice of good technique in a safe way. Gas it through right handers to take advantage of the sidecar tending to lag behind. Easy at first to keep down pucker moments and you will find your pucker tolerance will magically rise to higher levels. Beware of left handers especially on high strung adventure bike based rigs. One 'certified' instructor was quoted as saying" You can do what you want in turns away from the sidecar because you have the outrigger out there".... i do not know where the term bullshit came from but it would apply to that statement, certified or not! Oh, and , yes, go take a course it isn't a bad thing. However, do not be surprised if you are the only sidecar there among a full field of Can Am's and maybe some conventional trikes. Have fun and be safe...we are all 'praccticing sidecarists' and there is always more to learn related to operating these crazy machines we love.
    #33
    Bobmws likes this.
  14. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Single Track Noob

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,759
    Location:
    The Brier Patch, WA
    It's impossible to prove a negative, but have you ever considered the possiblity that maybe you mishap would not have happened or maybe you would have been more prepared had you taken a S/TEP training prior to hitting the open road? Food for thought. We make our choices and take our chances.

    Gasket maybe we should meet up one day this month for some practice time. I'm in the opposite end of the spectrum. I ride with no ballast and only a tool bag in the trunk. I end up lifting a wheel almost every time I turn right. Sometimes just enough to notice it touch back down on exit sometimes more. Maybe between us we can find a middle ground.

    As far as the endorsement requirements they are what they are. It's never a bad idea to have more knowledge or practice. Sure it's money but what about motorcycles isn't money. I see it sort of like helmets. I choose to wear one whether or not it's the law. I'd seek a step class whether or not I had to. Thankfully they are offered in the evergreen state.
    #34
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  15. jaydmc

    jaydmc Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,441
    Some back ground as to why WA has a separate endorsement for 3 wheels. Prior to the requirement if you wanted to ride a three wheeled bike but not a two wheeled bike you had your car drivers license with a restriction added allowing you to operate a three wheeled vehicle. I know, kind of dumb. It was not an endorsement rather an restriction. It is my understanding that the way the law was written to get this changed would have required some extensive legislation that was not likely to happen. Some of the money charged for motorcycle endorsements goes into the training funds. WA picks up half the price of the motorcycle training classes. However as the three wheel license was a restriction rather then an endorsement none of the money for motorcycle training was aviable to supplement the three wheel training class and as such WA would not supplement the three wheel course. The easiest way to deal with this given how hard it can be to get legislation passed was to add an endorsement. Now that it is an endorsement state money supplements the training class. I for one think training is a good idea. I also would like to see a requirement that you actually know how to drive before getting a license maybe even go so far as to make sure that you under stand some basic physics before allowing to operate a multi ton vehicle. And if you think WA laws have issues, look at California. If you want to ride a motorcycle with a sidecar you do not even need a motorcycle license. All you need is your car drivers license. That is why years ago when the "govenator wreaked his sidecar bike and did not have a motorcycle endorsement it was legal. Perhaps if he had, had three wheel training he may not have wreaked.
    I helped David Hough set up the first version of the S/tep class which is used in many states and is now ran by the Evergreen Safety council and I certified as an instructor in the first instructor prep course. I am no longer an active instructor, once there was enough instructors to man the classes I stopped teaching.
    Jay G
    DMC sidecars
    866-638-1793
    www.dmcsidecars.com
    #35
    brstar, rg sw wa. and HeidiHo like this.
  16. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)

    I hate to use this as an example and trust you will take this in a positive fashion. This is a case of someone getting in over their head and steeping across the line where their skill level ended. Yes, there are limits that can be exceeded for sure but we must ask the question are these limits related to the machine we are on or the present skill level of the one operating it. Getting spooked due to a surprise blooper , even if the end result did not produce bodily injury and such, can put a damper on the importance of still wanting to increase one's skill level. This is why it is best to progress systimatically and not to get over one's head too quickly. Fear is a thing that must be overcome with a mixture of focus and wisdom. Practicing in a sytematic way over and over at your own pace has a lot to be said for it if one is diligent to keep focused. Sure take a class but after it is over then it is time to buckle down and begin to put whatever you learned down to where the rubber meets the road in real life conditions. This is THE resposible thing to do and a great investment in the welfare of the driver, his family and others on the road not to mention the future of sidecaring in general. So, cowboy up, grit your teeth and take on the challenge. Alternative? Stay put where you are and pray that you will never have to draw on skills that are beyond your reach. This mindset applies to sidecars, solo bikes and about any vehicle that we may operate. Would someone who drives a car in the snow make sense if they said " Oh I drive easy and see no need to learn to correct for a skid" ...I think not and there is a parallel here and with almost any vehicle to one degree or another. .
    #36
    Strong Bad likes this.
  17. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    ......................................................................................................................................
    Uh...lot more to it than that. How on earth can there be sidecars operated all over the country under the present laws and all seems just fine? Long story....USCA /SSP....Evergreen wanting trikes to be included ....and now we see classes in Va where Can Ams are provided for the course....I could go on a long rant and it would fall on deaf ears to some and not be productive. Kinda nice for evergreen that the state subsidized the classes .lol
    #37
    Strong Bad likes this.
  18. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,406
    Location:
    Middleburg, Pa. (Snyder County)
    #38
  19. Gasket

    Gasket Wandering Samurai

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    424
    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    I seem to have given the impression that I am befuddled by sidecar riding and do not fully understand the dynamics of riding one. In my over 50 years of riding, both on and off road, to include several advanced and adventure riding courses over the years, I have avoided injury by always keeping in control of my bike and the situation, and to know my strengths and weaknesses, one of them getting a feeling of discomfort with decreasing radius right turns in the mountain twisties.

    I intend to do the same with riding a hack. Oh and riding MOAB was intended as a jest. I have no doubt that I'll be fine.
    #39
    JustKip and HeidiHo like this.
  20. pagomichaelh

    pagomichaelh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2013
    Oddometer:
    314
    Location:
    Tafuna, American Samoa
    I took the class the same day we picked up our rig from Jay. Out of state, so I paid full price and considered it good value.

    I failed the braking test as well, I just couldn't bring my mind around to the concept to pretend to do an emergency stop at a cone. If they had used a whistle/gun/horn, I don't think I would have had the issue. I know that when I got out into real life, I was able to do an emergency stop just fine.

    We only have commercial, non-commercial licenses here, so pass/fail was unimportant, I just thought it was a good idea before we drove to LAX.

    The 'Motu o Fiafiaga' plates did attract a bit of attention! :)
    #40