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askapro Choosing the best class for you By Lee Parks #162125


Q: I have been riding


five ye rs ve years and wa


for around want


to get better, so I’ve been thinking about taking another class. The only


training I’ve had was my


basic course. Looking at all the street motorcycle training classes out there, there seems to be three basic camps: low-speed precision courses, high-speed racetrack courses and over-the-road courses. How do I choose the best type of course for me?


A: Fortunately, I have experience teaching all three types of courses, so I can possibly shed some light on this very important and somewhat con- fusing topic. Let me start by saying that one type is not better, per se, than another. There is much to learn from each type of training, and I believe that riders benefit from all of them. If you think of your riding as a life-long project, each course is like an addi- tional tool that can help you with your project. As Robert Pirsig said in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mainte- nance, “The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.” To make it easier to understand,


let’s use the same nomenclature that is used in the military for motorcycle training: Levels 1, 2 and 3. Level 1 training is strictly for novices who want to learn how to ride, and in America, it is always done on a paved pad, usually a parking lot. These types of courses include the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse (MSF BRC), Idaho STAR Basic 1, TEAM Oregon Basic Rider Training (BRT), and my own Total Control Beginner Riding Clinic (TC BRC),


100 BMW OWNERS NEWS June 2016


also known as the state-specific California Motorcyclist Safety Program Motorcyclist Training Course (CMSP MTC). These courses are typically done on “trainer” motorcycles such as the Honda Rebel 250, Suzuki TU250, Kawasaki Ninja 300, Star 250, etc. Since you already know how to ride, suffice to say that all of these courses can be an introduction to riding for a non-rider. Level 2 is considered intermediate train-


ing. It includes the Motorcycle Safety Foun- dation Basic RiderCourse2 (MSF BRC2), Advanced RiderCourse (MSF ARC)/Mili- tary Sportbike RiderCourse (MSF MSRC), Idaho STAR Basic II and Experienced courses, TEAM Oregon Intermediate Rider Training and Total Control Intermediate Riding Clinic (TC IRC). These courses are done on the students’ own motorcycles and are also done on a paved parking lot. The highest military motorcycle training


category for personally owned vehicles is Level 3 training. Parking lot courses in this category include the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic (TC ARC) and MotoMark 1 Maximum Control Course. High-speed, track courses in Level 3 include California Superbike School (CSS), Cor- nerspeed, Yamaha Champion’s Riding School (YCRS), STAR School and Total Control Track Clinic (TCTC). There are also dirt-oriented schools in at the third level such as American Supercamp, and MotoVentures Dirt First. Depending on the branch of service, there are additional courses that are approved for each level. As far as deciding between a “low-speed”


or “high-speed” advanced course, both have their pros and cons. In the Japanese rider training community, instructors call slow riding the “Dread Zone.” This is where many riders have a lot of fear of controlling their bikes because of the lack of stability caused by so little gyroscopic forces avail- able to stabilize the bike. On the other hand,


Japanese instructors also talk about what they call the “5 Fasts.” The 5 Fasts are “Going,” “Slowing,” “Rolling,” “Yawing” and “Pitching.” Low-speed, advanced courses are able to


train you to make the 5 Fasts faster. After all, the slower you go, the faster the others can be. The faster you go, the slower the others have to be. That is why we are so impressed watching YouTube videos of Moto Gym- khana competitors in Japan doing incredibly fast turns/directional changes at relatively low speeds. This is also true with Motorcop competitions popular in the U.S. By contrast, high-speed courses allow us


to practice at real road speeds (or greater!). These are thrilling to participate in, but many folks find those kinds of speeds intimidating for learning because of the associated risk of a high-speed crash. Remember, speed doesn’t kill, rapid deceleration kills. My advice is to start with a low-speed advanced course before moving on to a higher-speed one. I’d also like to point out that there is never a bad time to do off-road training. While the rid- ing technique (especially body position) is very different, the overall balance and ability to deal with a sliding motorcycle are critical skills every rider should possess. They are also a hell of a lot of fun. Over-the-road courses are also cool but


very rare in the U.S. due to the high cost of insurance and litigious nature of this nation. Stayin’ Safe Advanced Skills Tours and WMST’s On-Street Courses are some of the best out there. The benefit of being on actual roads with instructor-to-rider communica- tions is real-world, real-time observation and feedback. Of course this comes with real traffic hazards to boot. So be careful, as there be dragons out there. Ultimately, the purpose of training can be


summed up in my English friend Duncan Mackillop’s Rider’s Job Description: “In order to guarantee a successful riding journey, the rider must be able to predict what is going to


skills


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