The two day Performance: SPORT course grew out of the one day Performance: BENDS course when we started getting requests for help with issues like riding in mountains and dealing with hairpin bends or cornering in the wet.
Using a unique and carefully researched blend of traditional defensive riding principles from books like “Motorcycle Roadcraft”, riding techniques from sources like Keith Code’s Twist of the Wrist books and input from the Australian ‘Ride On’ safety programme, all combined with my own extensive riding experience, this unique course – no other training school has anything like it – starts by covering the same content as the Performance: BENDS course on day one, then goes onto offer a raft of new insights into riding bends well.
On day one, we’ll ensure you have the core braking, throttle and steering control needed to corner to a good standard, and that you understand the basics of positioning for view whilst minimising risk from side turnings and oncoming vehicles. We’ll look at how to read road signs and other clues to highlight potentially hazardous corners and blind junctions, how to use brakes positively on the approach to such a bend and practice using positive machine inputs to master ‘Point and Squirt’ cornering lines using the SLOW LOOK LEAN ROLL system of easily identifiable reference points to ensure your make your inputs in the right place each and every time. We’ll explain the ‘setting up’ the brakes technique as a more approach to cornering than relying on engine braking alone, and finally explain the Thames Valley Police ‘Thirds’ system to reduce the risk entering the next bend too quickly, and we’ll show you how to deal with mistakes and misjudgments; even the best riders make mistakes.
The second day’s training not only offers more time and more complex bends in which to put the core skills learned on Day One into practice, but also takes you into new territory, providing the trainee with an entirely fresh look at a raft of different cornering techniques not covered on conventional cornering courses.
Modern machines are astonishingly competent and will out-perform all but the very best riders so to begin to exploit our own bike’s capabilities we need to push on and develop our own personal performance by taking our skills to the next level. And if we’ve begun to use those capabilities, we also need better skills to get out of trouble.
The areas you’ll look at on the Performance: SPORT course can therefore be split into ‘sport riding’ techniques to get more from the machine or ‘disaster management’ techniques that give you more additional options to recover the situation when things don’t go as planned.
One of the biggest revelations for most riders is just how responsive their machine is to subtle changes in body position. Traditional training encourages an upright ‘bum in the seat’ riding style but this also means that many riders sit passively on the bike like a sack of spuds, In the worst case, riders are so rigid they almost become part of the motorcycle’s frame. Riders spend hundreds, even thousands of pounds changing tyres and suspension units in an attempt to sort out a perceived handling problem but because virtually all modern bikes handle perfectly well on standard settings at road speeds, the solution in most instances is related to rider input rather than any machine problem. So before spending cash on bolt-on goodies, ensure your own riding technique is in tip top shape.
We’ll help riders understand that rather than sit still, we want our body to become a dynamic partner to the machine’s chassis and suspension and so during the day you’ll discover just body shifting techniques affect the machine’s handling and cornering lines, see how that improves direction changes and how in turn that allows you to make course corrections mid-corner. We’ll explain, demonstrate and give you chance to practice several different techniques. We’ll look at counterweighting (a technique more usually associated with slow control), and show you how it can be usefully applied to speed up the rate of roll and thus direction changes on narrow roads with relatively sharp bends, and how it also improves your view whilst keeping your head out of harms’ way, allowing you to take less extreme positions for better view. We’ll investigate a technique from the USA sometimes called ‘pre-leaning’, as taught by Reg Pridmore on his CLASS courses, and how that can also speed up the bike’s rate of roll but without impacting ground clearance. We’ll also explain the physics of mild hanging off, explain how to use it effectively (as well as point out the drawbacks) and give you a chance to see how it affects the way the bike steers and ‘feels’ as you practice on appropriate roads.
Conventional training is all about getting the speed right before entering a bend. Whilst that’s a good goal to aim for, it’s not always possible so we’ll look at trail braking (braking into bends) and mid-corner braking using both brakes (not just the rear) and discuss the physics of how it is that we can actually use the front brake mid-corner despite all the advice not to use it on conventional training. We’ll explain how these braking techniques can be used to correct speed errors approaching corners or to deal with mid-turn emergencies, then give you a chance to try them out.
We’ll also explore how a rear first, front second braking technique can smooth out deceleration (nice when you have a passenger on the back) and show how to use the rear brake as budget traction control in the wet.
And finally, we’ll take you to a really awkward hairpin bend on a steep hill to make sure you can negotiate one of the most awkward bends you’ll ever encounter anywhere you ride. Trust us, if you can ride our hairpins in Kent and Oxford, you can ride hairpins anywhere. And if you take the course in France, you’ll end up riding a route that take in over a dozen hairpins of different shapes and sizes!
The Performance: SPORT course will be fresh territory for the vast majority of riders, even thouse who’ve experienced training in cornering elsewhere. At the end of the Performance: SPORT two day, course you’ll have an entirely unique toolkit of skills that give you a big pointer towards safe AND FUN cornering.
About the course: Your course begins before you start. We’ll offer free advice on which course to choose to suit you via email or telephone. When you have booked your course, we’ll provide comprehensive briefing notes (including links to useful videos to help illustrate points in the notes) about what’s to come by email.
Each day’s practical training session lasts approximately five hours including pre-ride briefing, lunch break and post-ride debrief. We know other schools offer longer sessions but in our experience five hours is about the maximum that trainees can cope with before getting tired. Time is used constructively and intensely, and most people find that it’s actually long enough. We’re also aware that trainees have to ride to us and then get home again – in our experience longer sessions are counter-productive.
We’ll follow up the course with a comprehensive written debrief delivered via email, offering constructive help and a review of the sessions, and a suggested plan for further development. Finally and uniquely, full post course support is provided by email and via our Facebook page.
The course is suitable for all riders with a full licence including A1 and A2 licences and can be taken on any machine from a 125 upwards. It is equally suitable for geared motorcycles or automatic motorcycles and scooters.
The course is perfectly suited from newly qualified motorcyclists to experienced riders including those who have taken post-test training elsewhere. Whilst it’s always difficult to make exact comparisons, the standard of training for the course exceeds IAM test standard and significantly beats that of the DSA’s Enhanced Rider Course. There’s no test at the end of the course, although we’ll help with guidance if you want to take an external riding test.
If you’re not sure you’re up to the advanced course straight away, a introductory Confidence: BUILDER day can be added to the basic one day course, to ensure you have the basics right. Alternatively, book an inexpensive riding assessment to ensure you’re on the right course for you.
Courses run from March to November at our regular training locations in Buckinghamshire, NW London, Kent and Oxfordshire.