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Learning low speed motorcycle skills

By Mario

As well as Ride Forever courses, our training providers offer a range of other coaching for riders. Some are custom made, as in a low speed skills course recently laid on by one of our Auckland-based providers at Pukekohe.

We’ve said it before, but it’s always worth emphasising what an enjoyable and satisfying experience it is to do any training. The reasons are many, including the fact that many riders then get ‘plugged in’ to the training provider’s network. That includes the instructors themselves, other professional riding coaches and other riders. At heart, we’re all motorcycle enthusiasts, so there’s a lot in common. 

One of the fruits of this is the chance to take part in more specialised types of coaching. From track-day training to gravel-road riding, handling big adventure bikes to low-speed skills: all this and more is available from the providers who contract to Ride Forever. 

The need for speed. Low speed

A prime example of more specialised types of coaching is a specific low-speed-skills event one of our training providers – Chris Smith of Passmasters – devised in response to rider requests. “We’d had a lot of riders talk about their issues handling big bikes at low speed,” says Chris. “So we thought there was an opportunity to arrange something that focused on what they needed.”  

It’s a small world, of course, especially in New Zealand and even more so in the field of advanced rider training. For example, many involved in Ride Forever know the NZ Police motorcycle riding instructors. Few people know better how to handle big bikes in low-speed manoeuvres than police riders. One reason being the training they go through, including an incredibly tight test course marked out in mini-cones that they regularly have to complete under supervision. 

Some of the riders going through the low speed skills course.

You can't tell, but those guys are learning a lot and having a great time.

So Graeme Bergh of NZ Police was approached to advise on the creation of a suitable course. Using the standard Police course as a guide, it was modified by loosening up some of the most challenging turns. After marking it all out it and testing, the riders who’d expressed a desire to improve their low-speed skills were invited along. 

Rider reaction

The weather played ball on the day earmarked for the course, and fifteen riders turned up at a handily located training area on the edge of Pukekohe. It’s a big space, and sees regular action for such things as basic handling skills (BHS) tests and some off-highway parts of the Ride Forever courses. With plenty of room to play in, four instructors coached the riders on the core techniques before a practice session on an offset slalom. Five ‘bikes were laid on for riders to use in addition to their own machines, including a bunch of old Scorpios that usually do duty as BHS test hacks and a smart Z650 available for hire. 

One of the low speed skills training participants going around the course.

This rider's got it. Check out the bike lean but not the body leaning.

Once they’d picked up a bit of confidence, the riders moved on to the replica Police course. Even with wider turns than the original it proved a real challenge. But, after a few stumbles and run-over cones, riders were soon attacking it with gusto. It actually becomes a bit addictive, and in the afternoon a competitive element was introduced with back-to-back timed runs. 

All it took to know what riders thought of the day was to see the smiles on their faces. That, along with watching them constantly jumping back on their ‘bikes to ‘have another go’.  

Whatever kind of coaching you want to do, the best way to start is to take a Ride Forever course, then talk through the options with your instructor. And the great news is that, until 18th December, you can get the Ride Forever course that’s right for you absolutely free! Just go to our book coaching page, choose a course, a location that suits, and use the code SPRING17 to get the discount (don't worry if the course is full, you'll still get the discount if you go on the waiting list).
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