Bike Control Training Day – How good is your bike control?

It doesn`t matter which bike you ride

It was last weekend when I took a training course to hone my bike control skills for the summer season. I`d signed up last year to the course, recommended by many, and had almost forgotten about it until the day was upon me. So after a brief tyre pressure check, armed with a little in trepidation, I bobbed off to Rufforth airfield to await my skills fate.

Felt very underbiked

The day was slightly overcast but reasonably dry as I pulled across onto a service road where I`d hoped I could access the `gang`. I saw a young woman on a superbike being helped across the grit pitted, potholed access road and felt a bit queasy……not because she was struggling (too much) but I just felt very underbiked and perhaps on the wrong course! There were all manner of machines, GS1200s, FS 800s, old and new BMWs alike, across to the superbikes. And there was I on my CBF 500…….

Me after my initial success

Me after my initial success

However, all was well, as we set off on our first exercise. We were there to understand our machines capabilities` and how they worked. The aim was to be able to trust the bike to travel about 40mph whilst we stood on the foot pegs with our hands off the handlebars. Yeah…. right!!
We had a detailed physics lesson covering the theory of gravity, motion and bike stability, whilst the other of our masters demonstrated the physics of his bike. It was great, what a skilled guy, he whizzed up and down the runway with his body in more positions, wrapped around the bike, than the contents of the Karma Sutra.

And you know what? It can be done, I would never have believed it, me in control of my bike with `hands off`! Wall of Death next time. Although I guess most experienced bikers can do this, it was a first for me. Mind over matter and believing the physics; good stuff!

So after that, we moved onto stopping in a shorter distance than I would have believed possible.
Everything we had previously learned about braking we had to `park`. We had to consider how short a distance we could bring the bike to a holt, at 40mph. We were asked to identify, from a line of cones, where we thought we could stop. I had a spotted one of the laid out cones quite a distance away and felt quite confident of my abilities to stop there. Others were more confident of stopping significantly nearer, but none of us thought we`d be able to stop at the first cone……Well, after we were shown a technique, which rather blew me away, we handled our bikes like pro`s and could perform a controlled neat stop. Brilliant.

Bike Turning Corner With Pillion

How to turn a tight corner on a strange bike with a pillion!

This then took us onto hazard avoidance, after slowing (or stopping) for a neat swerve of the hazard. In this particular case, our glorious leader! Thankfully, we all missed him and his reminding us of the physics of counter- steering and the general practice of it, we all impressed him somewhat.

Finally, we were instructed on the mysteries of being in control whilst tight turning the machine! But do you know what? By this time my brain was about to explode as I`d taken in as much as I think I could. It’s something I need to practice in an empty car park. Just using the back brake more effectively and counter steering…..

But, all in all, what a fantastic training day. I highly recommend the company, i2i Motorcycle Academy; interesting, informative and damn right good fun or as their strapline says “outrageous fun and impressive new skills” They got that right!

Van Van Hayes

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