Don Baker wanted to ride with his son, Daniel, but a traditional motorcycle wasn't an option for the 65-year-old disabled Vietnam War veteran.
The Edmond father and son found an alternative in the Can-Am Spyder, a three-wheeler that lets them have a motorcycle-like ride without worrying about tipping over. But Daniel Baker was frustrated that he couldn't find a rider safety course for three-wheelers.
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City will fill that gap this summer by offering a training course specifically for three-wheelers like the Can-Am Spyder. The school's Center for Safety and Emergence Preparedness has purchased a Can-Am Spyder and is training instructors who will begin offering courses in May.
“I've already taken two safety courses for my regular motorcycle, and the Spyders aren't allowed in the regular safety courses,” Daniel Baker said. “I've actually been wanting to look up and find a safety course for a three-wheel motorcycle. I definitely want to take my dad.”
Daniel Baker decided to buy a motorcycle in 2011 so he could join the Patriot Guard, a group of motorcyclists who shield family members from protesters who show up at military funerals.
“I had a couple of scary moments on that motorcycle,” Baker said. “There were a number of times where I was worried that other motorists didn't see me.”
He began looking into three-wheelers and bought one in November.
“It's much safer, and I'll be honest, I love the attention it gets,” Daniel Baker said. “I get all kinds of looks on it. People love them. I've had kids tell me it looks like a Transformer.”
Daniel Baker said he always wanted to ride with his father, who rode dirt bikes as a younger man. But Don Baker has physical limitations that kept him from buying a traditional motorcycle.
After Daniel Baker bought his Spyder, the elder Baker bought his own a few weeks later.
“I was afraid if I tried to ride a two-wheeler, I would lose my balance and turn it over,” Don Baker said. “This you don't have that problem at all. It's a lot more stable.”
Ruthann Baugh, director of OSU-OKC's safety and emergency preparedness center, said many older people are interested in three-wheelers for the same reason.
They also are bigger and more visible than traditional motorcycles.
OSU-OKC already offers a motorcycle safety course, and more than 900 people took the class last year, Baugh said.
Baugh said industry analysts have determined three-wheelers are the largest growth area in the motorcycle market.
“Their sales increase in 2011 was almost 12 percent,” Baugh said. “We had a lot of people come through our motorcycle course that also ride a three-wheeler, and it's completely different. That was something we couldn't find anywhere in the state, so we thought there was a demand.”
Those interested in the course can call 945-3208 or go to www.osuokc.edu/csep. Baugh said courses will begin in May and will be at OSU-OKC's precision driving training center, 3501 W Reno Ave.