Recently having a baby and being a born again rider I thought I had better brush up on my road craft. Unlike the UK there is no advanced rider organisations like the IAM or BMF, or with the local police force like the BikeSafe workshops.
So last Saturday I took the first stage of the Advanced course with Honda Australia Rider Training (HART) in St Ives, NSW. Assuming I'd be the only Yamaha rider, out of the six students on the course there was a wide range of bikes, MT09, MT09 Tracer, CBR600RR, BMW R1200 Adventure, Classic Harley and a Kymco 550 Maxi-Scooter.
The HART training facility was purpose-built for police driver training in the early 1960s. Due to this it has some very technical sections. Honda purchased it in 1999 and spent $1.4m redeveloping the 40-acre site to be suitable for rider and driver training courses.
As the course is conducted on a closed road course it was perfect for putting into practice the techniques learnt throughout the day. Unlike Advanced 2 and 3, the first stage course only uses half the track but it was great to get a lot of laps both directions around a smaller course as it meant we could practice through repetition the tight hairpins and negative camber corners.
There are three stages to the training: ADVANCED I - HANDLING DYNAMICS
Half day course for new, or returning, riders who want to enhance and refine their physical riding skills.
ADVANCED II - ROAD CIRCUIT
Focuses on building on the riding techniques learned during Advanced 1 training, focuses on four fundamental aspects of motorcycling: Posture, Throttle Control, Cornering, and Braking.
ADVANCED III - TRACK MASTER
The Advanced III – Track Master Course is the highest-level motorcycle training offered by HART in Australia. Coached by Troy Herfoss, Australian Superbike Champion.
The two most important takeaways I learnt about my riding:
I was riding with tense arms
I had absolutely no idea I was riding like this.Loosing my arms and shoulders really made it easier to roll through the series of corners.
I was cornering like I would on a track
I was aiming my ride out of corners as I would on the track, taking up the road rather than finishing tight. After being shown many reasons why wide in, tight out is the best approach I need to rework my cornering.
Video: One of the hairpins, wide in, tight out.
And a few laps on-board with my riding around the track.
So the key takeaways for the Advanced Rider Training were:
Posture: the key to everything
Ride on the arches on your feet, with your toes outward and slightly downward
Knees gripping the fuel tank
Sit forward on the bike
Arms and hands should be relaxed
Back and shoulders should be relaxed
Head and eyes should be level to the horizon, pointing to your intended path. Keep scanning with your eyes.
I was told I should be able to out break my ABS
The front break is the most powerful
Set-up the brake, then squeeze progressively on the front brake level with four fingers
Set-up the back brake to add stability to the bike
Keep your head and eyes up to maintain balance and look for an escape route
At the last moment, pull in the clutch and change down gears
If the front tyre locks, release quickly and re-apply
If the back tyre locks, ease off smoothly and re-apply
Plan your corner early, get the speed and gear right before the corner
Enter the corner wide for best vision
Plan to exit the corner tight, giving yourself more options
Turn your head towards the planned exit of the corner, scanning the surface with your eyes
To initiate a left turn, push forward on the left handle bar
To initiate a right turn, push forward on the right handle bar
To straighten up, push forward on the outside bar
Rev the engine on down changing (use when slowing and stopping)
Roll the throttle off
Roll the throttle on quickly
Push down on the gear lever
Ease the clutch out slowly
Start combining this technique in conjunction to using the front brake with all fingers
If it feels wrong, you are doing it wrong. If it feels good you're probably doing it right.
How does this compare to the UK training, how do you ride and what tips do you have to further safe riding?