How to Ride Like A Pro
MO readers often remark about how impressed they are by the degree of control demonstrated by police officers, as they handle bulky machines that are typically laden with equipment. Most of these readers also said they were curious as to whether police training techniques were available to the public. While we are not currently aware of any officially sanctioned police training courses for civilians, we were able to obtain this video that allows you to train yourself with the aid of some cones or equivalent markers, using the same techniques and exercises as the motor officers you have come to admire.
Jerry Palladino is a motor officer instructor for the State of Florida. His video focuses on the nuances of skillfully riding steel hippos at low speed, with balance and poise. As any rider knows, wrangling a Goldwing through a sharp U-turn at 3mph can be as hairy as piloting a Hayabusa at 180mph. Furthermore, it makes for a much more embarrassing story if you go down! While bodily injury is typically minimal or non-existent, there is no more agonizing blow to the ego than the slow-speed drop. When performed in front of an audience, or with a female passenger riding pillion, the level of humiliation endured can break the spirits of lesser men, and drive them to seek comfort in drugs, alcohol, or (Gasp!) Honda Rebels. Don't give in to these self-destructive urges! There is another path, and Jerry Palladino can show you the way.
Jerry focuses on the application of three core-techniques that as he puts it, will make you "The boss of your hoss" (wince): the proper use of the friction zone (partially engaged clutch), rear brake, and head and eyes. Riding a battalion of hulking beasts, such as the Harley Ultra, Goldwing 1800, BMW LT1200, Valkyrie Interstate, VTX 1800 and others, Jerry demonstrates a series of exercises designed to give you control and confidence maneuvering at a 2-5 mph walking pace. These include weaves, U-turns, figure eights, brake and evades, and circles performed flawlessly inside a 24' diameter ring, with room to spare. These are all demonstrated effortlessly, with silky smooth grace by Jerry, and an instruction sheet and diagrams accompany the video with explicit directions on how to set-up an identical practice course.
As "The Motorman" points out, these are not exceptional feats of skill. Even the bulkiest of bikes are designed to do these things when guided with the proper rider inputs. Jerry claims that most of his students should be able to make it through all of his exercises successfully with just 4-5 hours of practice, and that style and ease can be achieved with about 8 hours of work. Of course Jerry also points out that these skills should be practiced regularly to keep them fresh, and indeed are useless unless applied every time you straddle your steed.
Watching someone ride a motorcycle slower than a road grader could easily induce fits of narcolepsy under most circumstances, but Jerry's control and mastery of his machines actually makes for a captivating view. While the information contained in this video is not new, it may be news to many of you who are unfamiliar with proper slow-speed technique. So while there may not be sanctioned courses provided by an official police agency in these techniques, Jerry Palladino has graciously shared them through his video, so that we can all learn to "Ride Like a Pro" with some regular practice.