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Ride Forever by honing your on-road riding skill set
By Mathieu Day • 06/03/2016
MATHIEU DAY JOINS A TRAINING COURSE TO IMPROVE HIS RIDING ON THE OPEN ROAD, UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYES OF A PROFESSIONAL TUTOR
Something constantly overlooked by riders, whether experienced veterans or newbies, is the need to work at improving road craft.
Accounting for just 3 per cent of the vehicles on the road, motorcyclists are 22 times more likely to be killed or severely injured in a crash compared to their tin-topped brethren, according to ACC statistics.
While riders everywhere love to whinge about how horrifically expensive registering a bike can be, thanks to the sizable ACC levy, the statistics don’t lie.
If we had to pay a levy that reflected the true cost of our injuries, we’d be paying an average of $1267 in levies for the privilege to ride, compared with the current levy of $329.80 for sub 600cc machines.
That ACC levy doesn’t just sit in the corporation’s coffers waiting to pay out for injuries. Some goes into ACC’s Injury Prevention budget, which puts money towards training courses such as the heavily subsidised Ride Forever course. For $20-$50 you get eight hours riding with a professional instructor keeping a firm eye on you.
This isn’t your boring in-class, passing notes behind the teacher’s back, course. It is run by motorcyclists, for motorcyclists, and involves practical real-world training.There is no better way to learn than in the environment you’re going to be spending the majority of your riding time.
Ride Forever courses
PRO Rider offers courses in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. For information, visit prorider.co.nz or, to find the nearest ACC-approved course near you, head to rideforever.co.nz
Instead of organising a test bike for the course, I opted to use my own bike, a 2015 Hyosung GV250, which I use for commuting, since I’m more likely to have my backside astride the trusty little Hyo’ than anything else long term.
Mathieu Day astride his Hyosung commuter bike while practicing emergency braking. Photo / Supplied
The day started like most two-wheeled adventures do — with an early meet up at McDonald’s in Botany and a chinwag before hitting the road.
Our group was small, just five riders plus instructor Paul Pavletich who is also the Auckland Motorcycle Club President and Chief Instructor of the Auckland Motorcycle Club ART days ( check out the ART day course bit.ly/1Ry754R) as well as for the day-long Pro Rider run course, so I knew I was in good hands on the open road.
“The course is not only teaching safe riding techniques,” says Pavletich, “But also teaching road skills, such as where you should be placing yourself on the road, how to take a corner and so on.
“The big thing we do across all the courses is teaching hazard identification and ensuring riders are wearing appropriate riding gear.”
The meet at McDonald’s was primarily for a classroom session, inspection of riding gear, and discussion of road safety techniques. Covering a range of topics from the road code, to how tight your helmet should be (FYI: you should only be able to put one finger between the strap and your chin), it set the tone for the day as serious, yet friendly.
With laptop and plenty of video to discuss, the session passed quickly. We were all itching to jump on our bikes but there was no point in hitting the road without a briefing on what we were going to do.
The great thing about this course is you are in direct contact with your instructor at all times, thanks to a walkie talkie with an earpiece in your helmet. This meant, once we were on the road, our instructor could watch us closely and give us advice precisely when it was most useful.
Open road riding is a big component of the Silver level Ride Forever Course. Photo / Ian Robertson
After riding through the streets of Auckland practising hazard identification, and then through the Bombay Hills refining our open road cornering technique, we went to a quiet car park in Papakura to practise low-speed riding skills.
This was a highlight for me. Not only was it useful in terms of getting to know our bikes better, it was also incredible fun.
With a training loop including a slow speed slalom, tight, slow turns around a cone, and emergency braking all being practised in the safety of the carpark, we could take our handling skills to new levels, while staying safe.
Of particular use was the advice about adjusting my front brake lever position.
This meant that, after rolling it forward on the handlebar a little, I no longer was also activating the throttle when jumping hard on the front brake.
Instructor Paul Pavletich demonstrates riding techniques during the Ride Forever course. Photo / Mathieu Day
It made a huge difference while performing emergency stops, giving me an extra car length of additional space over my previous attempts.
Small adjustments could be the difference between you coming away clean or having a really bad day.
One of my riding mates, Dave, was about to sit his full licence and was using the silver course as a refresher to prepare for his test. “I’ve done the bronze course and I figure it’s getting on time for me to get my full, so I’m using it as a bit of a refresher of the basics and getting more training in,” he said.
With a cost starting from $20 for the entry level commuter and bronze courses, or $50 for the silver or gold level courses, you get a day of professional rider training tailored to your skill level.
You’d be mad to not take up the offer of such affordable training, especially when you’ve already partially paid for it through your bike registration.