How not to be a bike statistic
Advanced courses expose riders to the worst extremes, writes Craig Duff
THERE are some simple steps you can take not to join the rising motorbike toll. Top of them is learn to ride your machinery.
The licensing system is designed to give you a piece of paper proving you can hold a bike upright long enough to ride between a couple of witches hats at 25km/h. It doesn’t begin to prepare riders for the roads and traffic, which is why there are so many companies offering post-licence training.
Programs such as Honda Australia Rider Training’s advanced course are as high skilled as it gets before heading to a track. Most of the riders enrolling in them are already ‘‘ advanced’’ in that they understand riders are vulnerable road-users and are looking to minimise their chances of becoming a statistic.
The premise behind these courses is to give motorcyclists repeated exposure to riding extremes, be it braking, low-speed handling or high-speed obstacle avoidance. Repetition is in- tended to program the mind and muscles to react in a specific way to a potential threat.
There’s no pass or fail as such and the most challenging aspect of the course is pushing beyond your comfort zone. As the HART instructors remind us, the 600cc Honda Hornets are barred-up to prevent damage and we’ll learn more trying to stop in a given distance at 60km/h than at 50km/h.
It’s easier said than done, though, which is precisely why the courses are so valuable. Too many riders don’t know where the point of front brake lock-up is, or what to do when it happens.
The weather also helps at our course — streaks of gravel have been washed on to the Attwood police training course circuit in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne.
The instructors do their best to sweep them off and we adjust our pace and line through the debris.
But real roads aren’t that accom- modating and environmental hazards such as that are something too many riders don’t consider.
Statistics show that middle-aged ‘‘returning riders’’ and new riders are those most likely to crash.
It’s an issue HART boss Grant Carr is well aware of, which is why the company has courses specifically set up for both groups.
‘‘Training is for all riders, whether they be new or experienced road riders,’’ Carr says.
‘‘Having professional training helps not only your skills but also your mental approach to staying safe and riding on the road. Most of our students comment on how much they take away from the course.’’
That was true of my group, with everyone noting they’d got value for money. The highlight for most was the supervised laps, with the HART instructors tailing them and then taking the lead on the next lap to point out better lines, body positioning and braking points.
HART’s next advanced course is on January 16, but you need to have undertaken the ‘‘intermediate’’ course to attend and the next one of those will be run on January 14.
Way to go: a rider gets expert advice at a Honda training course.