“Load the tyre before you work the tyre.”
“Accelerate so you plan to use the brakes.”
If you’ve heard these phrases before but have absolutely no idea how to put them to practice, then, like me, you’ve probably fallen down the rabbit hole of self-improvement YouTube videos.
Truth is, instructional videos and couch-theory can only help so much. If you’re serious about upping your ride skill, nothing beats attending a course led by the very professionals in those YouTube videos.
Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS)
For the uninitiated, the Yamaha Champions Riding School runs internationally-renowned training programmes based on skills and techniques used by racing pros. They aim to teach real-world riders – like you and me – to go faster and stay safer on both the track and the road.
YCRS has been building better riders for over a decade, but they’ve never been brought to our corner of Southeast Asia until earlier this year. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to participate in the inaugural Sepang International Circuit edition of YCRS, held in January 2020 near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The list of instructors in the course read like an honour roll of Who’s-Who in the motorsport world. They included:
- Nick Ienatsch
A veteran of several American Road Racing Association classes, including the Motorcycle Grand Prix racing, AMA 250 Grand Prix class and more.
- Chris Peris
3rd overall in the 600 Supersport Canadian series, among top 10 in AMA Extreme and Supersport, 5th in Daytona 200, and more.
- Eziah Davis
2nd in Middleweight class at N2 / WERA Superbike Challenge / Endurance series, 2nd in Ultra Lightweight class at N2 / WERA Superbike Challenge / Endurance series, and more.
With 6 instructors to 24 students, we would be getting schooled in a strict 4-to-1 student-instructor ratio, with the sort of individualised guidance that YCRS is known for.
“If your tyres are warm, and your body position is correct, your knees will touch down before you run out of grip.”
That has been one of my favourite golden nuggets of wisdom dispensed at YCRS. For most track riders, nailing that “knee-down” is a coveted goal. By the end of the two-day YCRS school, I clocked a proper knee-down in my favourite corners at Sepang International Circuit.
Did you know that scuffing your knee sliders could be an unintended consequence of poor body position? I learnt that there is a world of difference between correct technique and a blind blunder.
Who is Yamaha Champions Riding School for?
If you think that a school like YCRS is only for track riders with a need for speed, you’d be well mistaken. Here’s another quote from the instructors to live by – “The bike does not care if you are on the streets, in the canyon, or on the track.”
Good technique will help you to ride your bike as it was designed – and believe me, that will make all the difference in boosting confidence, safety and sheer joy during your daily ride. Your local driving centre may have legitimised you with a license, but truth be told, it would have done little to prepare you for the realities of real-world riding.
At YCRS Sepang, there were a good mix of students from various riding backgrounds, even one with a freshly minted license. Individualised attention from the instructors helped us all get the most out of the course, regardless of initial skill level. In fact, I enjoyed the session so much that I wouldn’t hesitate to attend YCRS at Sepang again the next year.
As we like to say here at Rude Machinery – don’t leave your riding evolution to trial, error and YouTube!
Watch this space for details on how and when you can sign up for the next YCRS.
Richard finds that riding a motorcycle is less nerve-wracking than navigating around the potholes of art world politics. He is just as happy gripping a paintbrush as a throttle.