Rider Training Experience and Advice - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
Riding Proficiency Tips and suggestions for improving the rider's safety skills and riding techniques

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post #1 of 12 Old 07-29-2018, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Rider Training Experience and Advice

I know there are people who have never taken any rider training and they are still great riders. I appreciate that, but felt and I needed training and would like to continue to find training that improves my riding skills. I rode bikes in my early 20's, nothing over 350cc. Then in my mid 60's I decided to get back into it, but I was cautious, determined to take it slow and determined to start right. I bought a 2014 Wee, which was probably more bike than I should have started with, but a buddy who has been riding bikes for years told me to start there, or I would be trading up within a year. Now I've been riding for 2 1/2 years. The worst I've had is a couple of slow or no speed spills, but no accidents, although I've had a couple of close calls.

The courses I've taken are:
  1. Before I even picked my bike up, I took the MSF Basic Rider Course on a 250 that belonged to the local MSF School. That went great.
  2. Then I went back and took the MSF Intermediate "refresher" course on the Wee. That went OK.
  3. Then I took the Advanced "Total Control" class. which I only did fair at. I may take it again.
  4. Finally, I took a motorcycle safety course offered by the Virginia State Police Motorcycle Division. That was the best of all the courses and it was free! I did pretty well, but I was not totally satisfied with my performance. They stopped offering that course.

I watch a lot of safe riding videos online and I have read a couple of safe riding books. I have my own cones and I have gotten out and done low speed drills on my own. I have also put about 7,000 miles on my bike on all kinds of roads. Issues I would like to work on are low speed handling, high speed cornering, trail braking and quick reaction swerving, as well just perfecting everything.

Here's what I'm thinking of:
  • Taking "Total Control" again.
  • Taking the New "Total Control II."
  • There are two course in North Carolina that were recommended to me by an experienced rider who is an instructor for them: "CornerSpin" and "Cornerspeed." The first is taught on dirtbikes, on dirt, but it's not a dirt riding course. It is meant to teach street riding techniques in an environment that is more forgiving than the street. the second is a track course, but not a fun "track day." It is a course taught on a track to teach street/road riding skills.
  • Then I have also thought about taking a true dirt riding course and going to a true track day.

Unfortunately, I have limits in both time and funds. I'd like to do what is most effective. Any experience with any of these options, or advice?

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post #2 of 12 Old 07-29-2018, 11:01 PM
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Not sure if it's the same course, but VA State Police still offer a free course: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-ri...ts-43853627380 Right in your neck of the woods too.

I've done BRC, and BRC2. I'm signed up for the ARC this fall. I've looked at CornerSpin, which would probably be the one I'd pick from your list. Total Control seems to get great reviews too.

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post #3 of 12 Old 07-29-2018, 11:20 PM
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I would suggest "corner speed". Learning how to corner well at higher speeds is really a safety course. It will help prevent you from running wide in a corner when you hit it a little hot. That can be life or death on the street. You can also learn some about trail braking on the track more safely than on the street. FWIW. Bobby

I should mention perhaps that taking a performance course at a race track helped me a lot, even after riding for over 50 years. Much more confidence in cornering. I do quite a bit of "sporty" riding with friends and knowing the limits of my bike and myself makes that more fun and keeps me in the lead group.
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-30-2018, 08:18 AM
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Can you elaborate on what parts of Total Control that you struggled with?

I give you two thumbs up for buying some cones and actually practicing what you have been taught. I bet less than 1% of riders ever do this.

High speed cornering....that's where I am weak since all my training primarily focused on slow speed maneuvers, braking, counter-steering and threat/accident avoidance. So its a track class in my future.

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post #5 of 12 Old 07-30-2018, 08:26 AM
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Couldn't agree more, that riding courses are great learning tools. Problem is, that you have to practice what you learnt on a regular basis so that it becomes automatic reaction. I have come across a few riders that despite passing a number of riding courses, think that once the course has been completed that the instruction learnt will stay with them, for the rest of their riding days. I don't think so, not without regular practice it won't.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-03-2018, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motor7 View Post
Can you elaborate on what parts of Total Control that you struggled with?
I struggled with the big turns, both low and medium speed. They tell you to look way ahead, towards the next mark you're turning toward, which I see the wisdom of, but I sometimes lack the confidence to do it. I get in the turn, get insecure and want to look in front of the bike.

I also had a problem with weight shifting on turns. Total Control didn't go so far as full "knee down" turns, but they did teach kind of a "halfway to knee down" technique and again, I had a confidence and timing problems with making that weight shift.

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post #7 of 12 Old 08-03-2018, 09:04 AM
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This may seem heretical, but my opinion is that once you're beyond a certain basic level of competence in the operation and control of a bike improvements in that have very little marginal benefit.

Safety on the street is almost entirely a mental thing. Your anticipation, vision and the decisions you make are what determine if you live or die out there.
The real test of how good a rider you are (and by "good" I mean "safe") is in how often does an event surprise you? A car cutting you off, having to brake hard for a traffic tie up you didn't see until almost too late, a car you didn't notice pulling out of a parking lot in front of you, that sort of thing.
If it's more than once every couple of years you've got work to do.

My advice is to read David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling". Great book.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-03-2018, 06:43 PM
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Books and videos will only get you so far. The students that rely on reading, videos and practice are often the hardest to teach. Although they come in with a higher skill set than other students, they rarely advance any further as their bad habits developed from lack of personal qualified instruction won’t allow it.
Start off with a more advanced slow speed training class such as Pro Rider or Ride Like A Pro. If you have the funds and time, multi day courses at Midwestern training or Lock and Lean will improve proficiency even more. Then move on to track courses if You’d like.
Although most courses teach brake and evade techniques, a secondary benefit of advanced cone training is the consistency of spotting entry and exit locations vs target fixation of a thousand orange cones on a course. This automatically transfers to real world emergency spotting and avoidance of road hazards.

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post #9 of 12 Old 08-06-2018, 03:01 AM
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I wonder which members have not bothered reading https://www.stromtrooper.com/riding-...ce-riding.html
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-06-2018, 06:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichDesmond View Post
My advice is to read David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling". Great book.
I've have it and I've read it. It is a great book. I plan to re-read it.

For me, though, the struggle is not with intellectual understanding. It is partially about experience, but that will just have to develop over time. The reason I'm interested in classes is I feel I need concentrated practice and coaching on some of the basic skills I've already mentioned. I could read a shelf full of books and not be able to do those any better. I could ride my next 10,000 miles and only use some of those skills rarely, not often enough to get better at them. But those few times I do use them, they could make the difference between crashing and not crashing.

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