I first heard about the Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS) from our good friend and customer David Bober who credits the school with his vast improvement as both a street and track rider. I’m personally a very safety conscious rider and what intrigued me most about YCRS is that they focus on not only making you a faster rider but rather a safer, faster rider. I also felt a strong sense of comfort in the fact that the classes are taught by seasoned riders most of whom are past and present winners of various motorcycle racing titles. I mean, who better to teach you how to get it done than guys who did get it done? On March 19th I finally got an opportunity to take the Champ Day class and here is a short brief on how it went down.
The class took place at Buttonwillow Raceway, a track I’m familiar with but have not been to more than once or twice before. The instructors didn’t waste any time and we got into learning shortly after arriving. The first part of the class involved an explanation on how to’s and why’s of motorcycle tires, brakes, suspension and body position. Many of us just ride our bikes without ever fully understanding how they work and I found it really helpful to hear about some of the engineering behind motorcycles. We all know that our brakes stop our bike for example but it turns out they also do so much more and I learned I wasn’t anywhere close to using the brakes to their full potential. Learning about how the crucial components of our motorcycles work will completely change your perspective on how you use these components.
After the first classroom session, we were separated into two groups based on our skill level which made me more comfortable as I was nervous about being on the track with racers who can inevitably ride circles around me. We suited up and began a series of riding drills on the track which heavily focused on trail braking and body position. Trail braking is a concept I’ve struggled with for a long time and even though I can’t say I left the class being able to trail brake better, I now know why I have no reason to be afraid to be on the brakes while in a full lean and why it is actually safer to do so. I was blown away by how much more precise my steering input was when I came into turns on the brakes versus releasing the brake prior to entering the corners.
After each 30 minute session on the track doing drills, we reconvened in the classroom to review the drill and set up for the next one. At times between track sessions, we also did drills in the pits which definitely helped everyone fully utilize our time with the instructors. By the end of the day, it seemed like everyone was very satisfied with how much track time and coaching they received. The instructors did an excellent job of making sure they properly balance track time with classroom lectures and demo rides. I left the track feeling confident that with the newly acquired information I received at YCRS I will inevitably become a better rider.
Since taking the course, I’ve had an opportunity to apply what I learned at YCRS on a regular track day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. To my surprise and slight disappointment, my lap times have actually gotten slower than they were prior to taking the course. It really bummed me out at first but after analyzing the situation I realized that it’s probably pretty normal. Instead of just going out there and riding without a second thought, I’m slowing down to analyze each corner and focusing on practicing what I learned at YCRS. I have no doubt that once I perfect even one of the skills we learned during the course, like trail braking for example, my riding will vastly improve and I will be much faster AND safer.
So in conclusion, YCRS delivered as promised and met my expectations. I can’t say I enjoyed every drill during the course and some of the exercises were definitely a struggle but I do understand why these drills are important and how they will help me down the line. The one day school offers an overload of information and is a good taste of what the two day school brings. It definitely left me wanting more. I would recommend taking notes during the lectures or bringing a tape recorder. There is no way you’ll be able to remember every piece of information, there is a lot to learn. I highly recommend YCRS for all levels of riders, especially those who want to learn how to get faster in a safer manner. I will definitely be back but I will opt for the two day course next.
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