Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sandy, Ore. USA
Lee Parks Total Control May 2011 review
I just attended the Lee Parks Total Control riders clinic in Olympia, Washington this past weekend (May 14, 2011). Here's my review...
B+ overall. Through a combination of useful but sometimes rambling classroom sessions as well as targeted and very useful range exercises, I feel my ability to take a corner smoothly and in control is greatly enhanced. Cost: $295.
The course is 40% classroom lecture and 60% range exercises. The lectures were informative but tended to be long-winded, sometimes overly detailed, and occasionally tangential, bordering on completely off-topic. Pete and Jeff, our two instructors, were engaging and very knowledgeable and definitely likable. After introductions were made, we talked about the theory of cornering as well as the mental attitudes needed to ride effectively. Eventually we headed out to the range, a large parking lot behind a nearby mall about 5 blocks away.
The range exercises were the most useful part of the clinic. Anyone that took the MSF Basic Riders Course would find the format and approach very similar. We had a large area to work in, roughly the size of two football fields side-by-side, with circles and routes painted on the asphalt. Pete and Jeff set up several circles and lines using small orange and green cones, then gave us instructions for our first exercise.
To start, we practiced straight-line throttle and brake control exercises, learning to smoothly adjust our speed using a combination of both. Then, after riding around the range to scrub (warm up) our tires, we began some simple turning exercises.
We didn't break for lunch until 1:10 PM and only had 15 minutes to grab something and meet back at the classroom. We continued with another lecture while everyone wolfed down their food. This time the lecture was far more focused and less tangential. We talked about specific cornering techniques with an emphasis on body position. The group moved out onto the parking lot outside for a series of exercises.
One exercise taught us to visualize a corner's turn-in point ahead of time, and then recognizing its position in our mind when we reach it. Then we moved onto a pair of exercises that involved leaning to the side into the arms of two other riders, followed by sitting on our bikes and leaning off with our bodies while other riders held our bike. After that, we suited up and headed back to the range.
The remaining series of range exercises taught us how to locate our turn-in point and how to use our head and direction of sight to ensure smooth cornering. Looking through the curve is probably the most influential part of navigating a corner smoothly. I scraped my pegs a couple of times during these exercises, despite riding the tallest bike in the group. It was easy to tell when my eyes or head moved out of that 'look through' position because my bike would twitch and swerve along with my line-of-sight. Even my throttle control varied with my eye and head position. Whenever I looked steadily through the curve my cornering technique was smooth and even.
And then the rain came. During a lecture on tires earlier in the day, instructor Jeff commented that modern street bike tires are capable of far more than most bikes and riders will demand of them. He also said that they provide up to 80% traction on wet road surfaces, still above what most riders will need. Those comments gave us the confidence to keep taking the curves in the range exercise even after the rain had the pavement soaking wet.
We rode in at least an hour of hard rain, and I personally found it exciting to take the same corners at the same speed but on very wet pavement. It boosted my confidence dramatically.
After retiring back to the classroom at 6pm, the remainder of the session was about suspension. Since the suspension on my V-Strom has very little adjustment capabilities, I decided to bag the rest of the class and head back to my motel in the rain.
I gained a greater knowledge of the mechanics and physics of how a motorcycle goes around corners and much of the details that is involved in that process. I gained knowledge of how I should be moving my head and body before, during, and after a turn. I gained knowledge of how to choose the best line for navigating a corner with control and safety. And I gained the confidence to ride my motorcycle with greater speed and control, even in the rain.
The best way I can judge a product, service, or class is to weight it against the cost/effort. Overall I would say this class is worth more than the cost and time to attend it, and would even consider taking it again if there was one held closer to my home town.
2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650, "The Grey Mule"
2012 Suzuki GSX-R750, "Shoot to Thrill" (sold 2017)
Author, "[URL="http://www.taesia.com"]The Taesian Chronicles[/URL]"
BLOG "[COLOR="DarkSlateGray"][B]Two-wheeled Astronaut[/B][/COLOR]": [url]http://www.ruckerworks.com/category/motorcycling/[/url]