Riding a motorcycle is relatively easy. Riding a motorcycle well is a little harder. And riding one well enough to bring home a trophy or two is another level entirely. Fortunately for us mere mortals looking to cut down our lap times, there are several schools around the country offering top-shelf instruction to help you ride faster. As a convenient byproduct, learning the proper techniques for faster riding also makes one a safer rider, too. Because remember, to finish first you first must finish. As we said before, there are several track schools out there. These are just a few examples.
Ed Bargy Racing and Trackday Technique School
With over 44 years of teaching experience, the Ed Bargy Racing and Trackday Technique School is one of the longest-running schools of its kind in the country. Run in conjunction with trackdays at Roebling Road, Jennings GP and Talladega, the Ed Bargy School covers all the material needed for someone looking to obtain their WERA racing license, or someone simply trying to become a more proficient track rider.
Students ride their own bikes and can expect to learn proper racing lines, advanced braking techniques and even wet weather racing tips among the 26 topics covered as part of the curriculum. Like many schools, classes are split between the classroom and the race track, with students immediately able to give the lessons they learned in class a try on the course, with Bargy’s expert coaches available to give tips and pointers along the way. A one day school costs $400, with several discount and package options also available for return students and retired or active military. Visit the Ed Bargy website for more details.
CLASS Motorcycle Schools
The idea of learning proper motorcycling technique from a champion in the field is nothing new today, but that’s because three-time AMA Superbike champion, Reg Pridmore has been teaching riders since 1972. As part of his CLASS motorcycle school, Reg aims the curriculum for everyone from experienced street riders to novice track riders (but not new street riders), with an emphasis on technique that will serve you well both on track and on the street. Pridmore and his team focus on making each student a smoother, more confident rider, with “instruction on more effective braking, shifting, cornering and how to avoid some pitfalls that often occur as a result of bad habits.” Pricing varies depending on the type of school and the track it’s being offered at, so check the CLASS website for more details.
Star Motorcycle School
Does that last name sound familiar? It should, as Jason Pridmore is Reg Pridmore’s son. Like his dad, Jason is a multiple-time champion on two wheels and has a passion for teaching others how to ride faster and safer. For the past 17 years, the Star Motorcycle School has helped riders become the best they could be. Aimed at street riders, track riders and aspiring racers, Star School places its emphasis on teaching students “RPM management, lines, downshifting, body position, and braking” then gives each pupil a chance to put those lessons to use on track. Over the course of the two-day school, the lessons will build upon each other, and by the end of the second day, the goal is to feel a confidence you’ve never felt before. The remainder of the 2015 season will be held at either Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Laguna Seca or the Streets of Willow, with pricing starting at $1395. See the Star Motorcycle School website for more information.
Penguin Racing School
Billed as the oldest motorcycle roadracing school in the country, Penguin Roadracing School has been in business since 1973 (CLASS isn’t a dedicated roadracing school). While Penguin welcomes the street riding enthusiast, and even has programs tailored to street riding, Penguin forged its name on the racer. The schools aim to help teach the skills necessary for a successful racing career and it tutors the experienced racer to help get them to the front of the grid. Based in New England, the school has been helmed by Eric Wood since 1994. With his wealth of knowledge, combined with three national Formula USA championships and a mechanical engineering background, Wood and his team have the experience necessary to help students understand the modern sport motorcycle and how to get the most out of them. Penguin has numerous package deals and options to rent numerous items, including Kawasaki motorcycles. Visit the Penguin Roadracing School website for more details.
Many people will tell you the best way to get quicker on the blacktop is to spend some time sliding around on the brown-top. Getting comfortable with a motorcycle on the edge of its grip limits (and often past those limits) will only help you understand what to do should the same situation occur on your street, track or race bike. At American Supercamp, head instructor Danny Walker and his team show you what it’s like to slide a small Yamaha dirtbike, how different techniques cause different types of slides, and what to do to save them. All of this directly translates to road motorcycles, as evidenced by the amount of top-level racers with dirt-track backgrounds. Visit www.americansupercamp.com for details on pricing, locations and programs.
California Superbike School
Keith Code has been in the business of helping riders become more proficient on their machines for a long time, and the success of his California Superbike School both at home and abroad is testament to how much riders appreciate his teachings. Code has spent decades breaking down the dynamics of riding a motorcycle quickly and has distilled it into bite-size pieces most any rider is able to understand. As such, CSS is slightly different to other riding schools, as Code schools are broken down into four levels, with students required to complete the first level before moving up to the next one. Each of the first three levels presents “five precise technical riding skills,” and all four levels can be completed in one day. A small sampling of champions trained by CSS or Code himself include names like Josh Herrin, Leon Camier, Ben Bostrom, James Toseland, Roger Lee Hayden, John Kocinski, Scott Russell and Wayne Rainey, just to name a few.
California Superbike School has numerous dates around the country, in Europe and in Australia. Visit www.superbikeschool.com for more info.
Yamaha Champions Riding School
A spinoff of the former Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School, chief instructors Nick Ienatsch and Ken Hill have pushed the Yamaha Champions Riding School to become one of the premier riding schools in the country. Both men have a vast knowledge of personal experience to draw from, having won numerous championships, but more than that, the entire staff, which includes guest instructors like Scott Russell, Larry Pegram and Chris Peris study the techniques and habits of the best riders in the world – Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez among them – and teach students what makes them so special. That said, don’t confuse YCRS as just a school for trackday folks and racers – many of the lessons learned at the school directly apply to street riders as well, no matter what you ride, and the staff make a point to emphasize this as well.
YCRS is held at New Jersey Motorsports Park during the warm months of the year, then heads west to Inde Motorsports Ranch in Arizona during the winter months. To see the different schools and pricing options, go to ridelikeachampion.com.
Texas Tornado Boot Camp
Riding motorcycles and shooting guns. That’s really all you need to know about the Colin Edwards Texas Tornado Boot Camp. Consider it an amusement park for those young at heart. Situated on 20 acres of Edwards’ personal ranch in Texas, food, lodging, gear and Yamaha TTR125 or TTR230 motorcycles are provided for you, and you can keep riding for as long as your heart desires since the 300-foot by 150-foot arena is fully lit. There’s obviously instruction from Edwards and his team of talented instructors, however, if/when you decide to take a break from the riding there are the guns, including a Bushmaster .50-cal. rifle. You’re under the watchful eye of Edwards and firearms/range safety instructor Gale Tynefield whenever you’re handling a weapon, and even those who have never held a firearm before can feel confident with their guidance and instruction. Describing an experience this unique could fill up all the space we have for this buyer’s guide, so learn more by visiting www.texastornadobootcamp.com.