Chances are that if you are riding a motorcycle on the street, you have gone through some sort of motorcycle training class. While the Basic Rider Course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a great place to start, everything that you learn will begin to fade without practice. Knowledge is perishable. The MSF suggests that you “be a lifelong learner” and offers courses for advanced riders as well as beginners, but there are also other options.
Even if you have no desire to become a racer, the racetrack is a great place to learn and practice new motorcycle skills. Trackdays are a good way to get the adrenaline out in a safer environment. Everyone is going the same direction, there is no cross traffic, and if you do crash, there is an ambulance on site. Most trackday providers have instructors that will coach your riding form, line choice and anything else that they see. “We have about 30 instructors that cycle in and out ranging from MSF coaches to multi class champions” Shawn Reilly of Zoom Zoom Trackdays boasts “A day at the track is worth about a years experience of riding on the street.” Roadracing World Magazine puts out an annual “Trackday Directory” which is a great source for tips prepping for the day as well as locating a racetrack or trackday provider near you.
There are a variety of schools out there, most of which focus on a particular set of skills.
California Superbike School.Keith Code literally wrote the book(s) on cornering a motorcycle, so it makes sense that his school is targeted at teaching you this very important skill. The school has a well defined curriculum that progresses through three distinct levels, each one a full day course. Every level presents five riding topics and a supporting drill for each one. “The crucial skill a rider gains from the school is the ability to corner in a way that best agrees with the design of the machine.” said Andy Burnett, instructor at the California Superbike School. “Though we break “cornering” into manageable subsets or drills, we aim to produce a rider who can optimize traction and stability in a corner by entering the corner at the correct speed, setting the lean angle quickly, being a “good passenger” on the bike and using the throttle correctly.”
California Supermoto Schools Supermoto riding is a blend of dirt and street techniques, and Brok McAllister’s school is a good place to learn. The instructors include class champions in a variety of motorcycling disciplines, but don’t let that intimidate you. Whether its your first time on pavement, dirt, or even if you have never ridden a motorcycle before they offer something for everyone. Their drills and track time concentrate on throttle control, braking, comfort at extreme lean angles and body position among other traits that will improve your skills no matter what type of riding experience you have.
Rich Oliver’s Mystery School Rich Oliver offers a variety of classes all taking place in the dirt. Why should you take a dirt riding class to improve your street riding? “Have you ever had a car pull out in front of you? Have you ever had to ride in the rain? Got your bike out of shape over the railroad tracks, paint lines, whatever?” Asks Rich Oliver, “See, you’ve got to have some built in reflexes when you get in those situations, and those reflexes better be the right ones!” He claims (and hundreds of racers agree) that spending some time riding “out of shape” in the dirt will make you a much more confident rider on the road when conditions are less than ideal.
If you are lacking the time or money to attend a school or a track day, there are a number of books that you can read to help learn some additional skills, and magazines such as Sport Rider offer articles focused on specific areas of improvement.
However you choose to further your riding education, make sure to always wear your gear and give your bike a once over before you head out to take advantage of your new-found knowledge.