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Old 8th January 2013, 09:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A day in the California Superbike School

Just sharing my experience here.. not affiliated with CSS or anyone (i wish)

Recently I had the opportunity to complete levels 2 & 3 of the California Superbike School (Aus) at the world renowned Phillip Island MotoGP circuit. For those who don't know, the California Superbike School is a motorcycle racing/cornering school setup by Keith Code in California, but has now spread all over the world including the UK and Australia. The school runs over 3 racetracks in Australia, Eastern Creek, Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island, where I did my lessons. My first level was done back in April, but I thought it was good to share it with you guys about what I thought about all 3 lessons. It's not a new thing and the previous time I was there, there were a couple of Singaporeans who seemed to be there specially for this.

Phillip island is a very beautiful circuit situated on an island (obviously), it's not a very technical track, but it is very punishing on the left side of the rear tyre as there are plenty of high speed left turns.

First up the school is all about cornering techniques on a motorcycle. It is easy for anyone to ride on the straights, but when it comes to the corners more skill and knowledge is required. Fundamentally many people do not realize the complexity of how a motorcycle handles and steers, it is unlike anything else with 3 or more wheels. Much of the principles associated with motorcycles are counter intuitive and since the rider plays a huge role in the control and handling of the motorcycle, everything down to his thoughts are directly reflected literally to the road and how the bike behaves.

Just like any other sport requiring technique and skill, if we want to do it right we have to start from the right fundamentals. Experimenting and playing around would only lead to development of bad habits which would become more difficult to correct in the future. Unlike most other sports, track riding is not only physically demanding, it is also very mentally challenging as well. The focus and concentration required is intense, and a moment's lapse could result in a mistake. Everyone knows that unlike in a car, a screw up on a motorcycle means either seeing the sky, or the ground, and thousands of dollars in repair, hopefully minus the trip to the doctors.

The school is divided into 4 levels which cover the various key aspects to riding. Level 1 deals primarily with making the bike stable and all of the drills focus on that. A motorcycle steers differently compared to a car, and counter-steer has to be consciously and decisively used in order to accurately steer the bike. The key idea in this level was that the rider is the single source of instability on the bike, which leads to a drop in confidence, lack of feedback, and it continues in a cycle. Starting with smooth throttle control, then moving on to having the right grip and reference points, etc, the effects that these had on the bike was remarkable.

The second level is about vision, knowing where to look and what to look out for. They introduced the idea of reference points, which could be anything, and riding around the full width of the track I realized so many features on the track surface, both intentional and non intentional markings, which are there to help riders identify their precise location on the track. It was a real eye opening experience on the track. The idea about looking further is buying ourselves more time. With more time, our perception of speed reduces and we are able to go quicker and still be comfortable.

The third level is all about body positioning. The rider makes up a significant portion of the bike's overall mass, and shifting this mass (the rider) about has profound effects on the bike's handling and aerodynamic properties. We learned body positions that could help us tighten the turn when we need it the most (kind of like an emergency button should things go wrong), and how to maintain contact with the bike at all times which leads to improved stability. Psychologically it was a stark contrast to the previous level where the focus was outwards of the rider, in this level the focus was back in and it was difficult to coordinate that with looking far ahead.

There is a fourth and final level which can be taken as many times as the rider wants, but it is a personalized program that caters to the weakness of every rider. I thought that I should get a few more track days under my belt first before signing up for it as it is designed to target the weaknesses of the rider which one has to practice first in order to realize.

All in all, the amount of knowledge and theory classes is quite remarkable. There are 5 classroom sessions per level and straight after that it was the practical drills on the track with little time to rest. The student to coach ratio was also very good at 3:1, and the coaches would literally chase us down, follow and observe our riding, before showing us what to do. There was a debrief after every session and he would tell us what went well and what didn't. Another icing on the cake was that in my first level, which was the 2nd time I was ever on a race track on a motorcycle, i scraped the floor with my knee briefly. It was a moment of epiphany and every rider always remembers his first time. Unfortunately I also had a minor crash on that day after that, luckily there wasn't much damage aside from cosmetics.

All these skills and knowledge opens up our mind and makes us more aware of the things that are going on. The more aware we are, the less the chance that we would be surprised which makes us a safer rider overall. I used to be very scared of crashing and had problems with right turns as I had 2 accidents before when turning right. Now I'm a little more confident overall.

my first time there with my old bike (which passed away in an accident later on)








and more recently

Morning safety briefing:


Number 7 for the first day






And lucky number 1 on my second day for level 3:



check out the Ducati Panigale 1199.. very chio!


And a pic of me taken on the first day.




This is the collection of only about 100kms of bugs.


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Old 8th January 2013, 10:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

Pretty cool read. I always thought cars as a step up in difficulty from motorbikes (given their similarities to a bicycle, i know kill me now)

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Old 8th January 2013, 11:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

i'm not a bike fan but i own a bike i'm trying to learn how to race it hahaha

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Old 9th January 2013, 12:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

Originally Posted by chitofan View Post
Pretty cool read. I always thought cars as a step up in difficulty from motorbikes (given their similarities to a bicycle, i know kill me now)
lol.. I used to think that also, which was why I wasn't interested in the past. Made me regret and wish that i had started earlier.

Earlier last year i chanced upon a paper showing that gyroscopic effect was not entirely necessary for balance and stability, which got me realizing that a motorcycle is one of the ultimate forms of sophistication in such a simple package. The addition of an extra dimension in roll (cars dont have to roll to turn) gives an additional degree of freedom and for every speed, corner radius and CG position, there is only one lean angle to achieve a given line which must precisely be attained every time.

To bring it further, the rider makes up about ~80% of the performance of the bike, as opposed to ~20% in a car.

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Old 20th April 2013, 07:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

wow! looking at all these super bikes make me drool and that empty stretch of road make me wanna whack all the way! your sooo lucky to be able to experience it! And that last pic of the bugs collection was funny!

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Old 20th April 2013, 10:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

Those are beautiful bikes.

Hot damn.

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Old 24th May 2013, 10:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

bro how much did you spend for the whole thing?and each level is how many days?
have been riding for a few years...was looking around to learn more about riding...

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Old 25th May 2013, 12:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

Originally Posted by chuawl View Post
bro how much did you spend for the whole thing?and each level is how many days?
have been riding for a few years...was looking around to learn more about riding...
It's about $550 per level and each level runs for a whole day, bike hire is about $365 more and leathers are extra 75 i think. The US version is better with 2 day camps, but they are quite ex at 2+k total, think it includes bike hire as well.

They usually run it 3 or 4 days in a row, so u can do it for consecutive days.

Are you in to track riding also? ^^

They teach from the fundamentals so anyone can benefit from it.. The way the course is structured and carried out is quite professional and the lectures are quite entertaining and fun. It's definitely worth it considering that a normal trackday is about half of the price. Will definitely learn more compared to riding and self experimenting for 2 days.

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Last edited by typeX; 25th May 2013 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 26th May 2013, 08:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: A day in the California Superbike School

Originally Posted by typeX View Post
It's about $550 per level and each level runs for a whole day, bike hire is about $365 more and leathers are extra 75 i think. The US version is better with 2 day camps, but they are quite ex at 2+k total, think it includes bike hire as well.

They usually run it 3 or 4 days in a row, so u can do it for consecutive days.

Are you in to track riding also? ^^

They teach from the fundamentals so anyone can benefit from it.. The way the course is structured and carried out is quite professional and the lectures are quite entertaining and fun. It's definitely worth it considering that a normal trackday is about half of the price. Will definitely learn more compared to riding and self experimenting for 2 days.
bro means I need to get ready about 5k sing $ to fly there and learn ?
do you know of any website for this?
nope I don't track...but don't mind to learn more...

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