One of Cycle Gear Racing’s own had a rare opportunity to ride with and learn from two world class riders and teachers and she was kind enough to share her experience with us. Ride along below, and thank you Sarah!
Ken Hill Coaching and Feel Like a Pro
A few months ago Brian Bartlow the owner of Feel Like a Pro told me about the class he was putting on with Ken Hill and Scott Russell. The price of the class included the day rental of a 250 ninja, track day, and coaching by Ken and Scott. I jumped at the opportunity to take the class, but I must admit I did have a few questions and reservations before taking the school. Below are the questions that I had before I took the class and what I came to find the answers to be.
Why a 250 ninja?
The 250’s are a great option for a rider who might be intimidated by the power of a larger bike. I chose to start racing on a ninja so that I would be focusing more on what I was doing and not have to worry about the power of the bike underneath me. Riding on smaller less powerful bike on a track day is a great tool to learn corner speed. I admit if you are an experienced rider on a more powerful motorcycle this may not be for you, but you still might want to give it a chance.
Will What Ken and Scott Teach be Relevant to a 250?
Ken immediately addressed this question when the class started. He explained the basic techniques of riding are the same on any bike. The theory behind the class is that whatever we learned riding the 250’s could later be applied to riding a more powerful motorcycle. In fact, the basics we were learning would allow us to transition to a larger bike safely.
Would the Varying Skill Levels be an Issue?
The class was structured in such a way that no matter what skill level you have on a motorcycle you would come away with something. You may ask how is this possible. The answer is that each session focused on the very basics of motorcycling that any skill level of rider needs to focus on. Basics allow you to ride your motorcycle more efficiently and safely. Each time we went out onto the track we had thirty-minute classroom session where one topic was focused on. We then went out on track and focused on what was taught in the classroom session. Focusing on one thing allowed me to feel more focused and calm going into the corners.
Would Riding in the B/C Group be a Hindrance for my Learning Experience?
Luckily the day was a pretty light track day, so the class actually made a good majority of the group. I found I was able to get around people easily and being in a slower group allowed me to focus more on what I was doing than trying just to go faster. Being in the slower group also allowed for less experienced riders to take the class long side the racers.
What Will I Take Away From the Class?
In general I came away with a better understanding of the fundamentals of riding a motorcycle. Below are two of the things that I felt helped me the most.
Ken literally has you sit on the bike and puts you into the position you need to be in much like a trainer at a gym shows you the correct form on how to lift weights. For me this was an eye opening experience because I finally had my position correctly shown to me. When I went out onto the track I was no longer fighting with my bike through the corners and my lean angles were decreased. I was amazed at how a few simple changes totally transformed how I felt on the bike.
Ken used one the ninjas to demonstrate in front of us the correct way to let out the clutch smoothly as you are downshifting before entering a corner. This was probably the most difficult exercise for me because I have bad clutch habits. When I finally started to get it right through the corners I could feel how much more stable the bike felt underneath me and turned as I let the clutch out smoothly and slowly. No more of the back end of my bike wiggling around before entering the corner.
The Rest of the Class:
There are other exercises and lessons we had throughout the day, but you will just have to take a class to find out what those are. I would like to thank Brian Bartlow for putting the day together, Ken Hill and Scott Russell for taking the time to come teach the class, and Zoom Zoom for providing such a great track day. For me this was one of the greatest learning experiences and best days I’ve had on a motorcycle in awhile. It was truly an enjoyable and priceless day.