ADVANCED TRAINING FOR MOTORCYCLISTS PROVIDES MUCH NEEDED TRACK EXPERIENCE
The idea of rider training might be boring to some, but there is a way to get seat time with an instructor and have a blast — an Advanced Rider Training (ART) day at your local track.
I booked a day at the Auckland Motorcycle Club-hosted event at Hampton Downs to get some much-needed track experience. Though I started on the bottom rung of the training course, four levels of rider ability are covered so there is something for everyone. Before I could get started, there were a few things to sort out to ensure I was ready for the track.
A wide range of bikes line the pit lane
With a F800R from BMW-Motorrad NZ, a bike I’ve had on test previously and which thankfully gave me some confidence going into the day, the next mission was getting appropriate riding kit.
The majority of ART days will require at minimum a full leather riding suit that zips together, gloves and boots to cover the wrists and ankles, and a back protector. A few of the items I needed were on special at Auckland ART day sponsor Motomail.
Though getting the gear is not a cheap exercise, it is worth it for the level of protection a leather suit provides.
Add in a back protector and not only do you look the part but you tend to feel a bit like a superhero, too. There is nothing like that feeling of safety (real or imagined) that you get when wearing well-fitted gear, although it will set you back around $1000.
With lunch included, the ART Day costs from $150, or $200 for those who show up on the day without pre-booking.
A tutor takes to the track
The aim of the day is to provide a fun, safe environment to perfect riding techniques, with an emphasis on the fun.
After a rider briefing with the clerk of the course, and important information about the rules of the day, each of the four groups retired to its own pit garage to use as a base camp. This was where the day diverged as each group focused on a different level of riding, group one being the new/novice riders, and four the advanced riders and track day racers. The groups make access to the tutors better than you'll find in most other Kiwi classrooms.
Bike Rider Magazine Editor Kevin Kinghan (center) used the day to test out MV Agusta's Brutale RR in Group four.Photo / Paul Lance/brm.co.nz
Group one had two instructors to cover the eight or so students, while group four tends to be one on one as the track day heroes aim to perfect their riding. Once we were briefed on how our day was going to run, it was time to scout the course. As we stopped at each corner, the instructors described in detail how to ride them, before demonstrating exactly what we were meant to do in order to safely navigate the Hampton Downs track.
Now you might be thinking, what use is learning how to ride on a racetrack to the average rider? Well that’s the point. Sure you can learn this stuff on the road, but that can be hazardous. On these courses the emphasis on safety is paramount, and learning in a controlled practical sports riding environment like the track delivers. After all, there is a time and a place for high speed riding and it isn’t on the road.
The ART day offers the perfect place to refine higher speed riding, as well as the basics of handling your bike.
Motorcycles on Hampton Downs. Pictures / Matthew Hansen
The speed you go depends on which group you are in and how confident you are.
If a person is in the wrong group, the instructors will move them — again, this is to make sure it’s safe for the riders around them, as well as themselves.
The course is aimed at road and road race riders, but is open to riders on all types of road registered motorcycles, as well as road race motorcycles.
“Most people who come to the Auckland Motorcycle Club ART days are on sports bikes,” says chief instructor Paul Pavletich.
“But we also have a number of people with touring bikes who want to give them a bit of a blast in a structured, safe, environment.”
Here are three key lessons: ●Do your braking in a straight line — where the bike is the most stable. ●Change down to the correct gear before the corner, then get your body position right for your turn. ●Go through your turn, and accelerate out.
Essentially, stuff it up and you’re off a corner or wobbling off your riding line.
As Pavletich explains: “You don’t want to be halfway through a corner and change gear because it will cause the bike to become unstable and put it into a wobble.”
If you’re a sport bike rider or simply want to get on track for the first time without hitting a full blown track day, an ART day is perfect.
If you own a lumbering big ol’ tank of a cruiser, there are other options such as an ACC-subsidised road course.
Advanced Rider Training day
You can never stop training to get better at riding and it’s fun