California Superbike School with BMW Motorrad – how to hone the craft while taking it to the edge, in safety

Written by:  Mohan K. Ramanujam
Photos by: paultan.org
As seen on: https://paultan.org/2017/02/20/california-superbike-school-with-bmw-moto...

Having ridden and raced motorcycles for over three-and-a-half decades, there are many who ask me for tips and guidance on how to ride motorcycles. To the many such requests I get, I usually decline, pointing them to a superbike riding clinic. But the best of the riding schools, bar none and sworn by riders and champion racers alike, is the California Superbike School (CSS).

Founded by Keith Code in 1980, perfection of the art and science of taking a motorcycle at high speed around a corner featured prominently in the syllabus. Some riders may scoff at this, thinking they know all there is to know about riding because they can get their knee down.

Having previously attended CSS back in the 90s and early 2000, when BMW Motorrad Malaysia offered us a place in CSS at Sepang International Circuit (SIC), we jumped at the chance. Perfecting “the craft”, as we call it, requires constant practice, as well as instruction to iron out bad habits that riders pick up along the way.

Split into four levels, CSS takes riders from the very basics of learning how to ride fast, what to see, and how to see it, all the way up to precision honing of specific advanced skills. No matter who the rider is, world champion or newbie, everyone starts at Level One.

The beauty of CSS is that students, after finishing all the levels, can revisit each level at will, in order to perfect areas where they feel their riding skills are weak. Some don’t go up to Level Three or Four, preferring to further hone their level one and two skills before progressing further.

Levels in CSS are split into modules, with Level One teaching the importance of lines, turning points and looking where you’re going. Most of the drills in Level One and Two limit the rider to one or two gears, and no brakes, so that the rider concentrates on throttle and bike control, rather than outright speed, and students go out on the track after each module to practice what they have learned.

We attended both Level One and Two, and the second stage develops the rider’s visual skills. One of the key lessons in this level is it gives you a sense of how big the track actually is, where your lines are, and how to process the visual information your brain is receiving.

At the end of the two days for Levels One and Two, students were allowed out on track with a “no limits” final session. This allowed all students to combine and practice what they learned throughout the level, in a safe and controlled environment.

Through the entire session, the S1000 RR performed well, and was sure-footed and confidence inspiring on the Pirelli Supercorsa tyres. The 2016 BMW Motorrad S1000 RR retails for RM104,900, and puts out 199 hp at at 12,500 rpm and 113 Nm of torque at 10,500 rpm.

CSS is organised in Malaysia by Singapore-based SBR Trackdays, and there could be another session of CSS at SIC later this year. In addition, CSS is also held in the Philippines and Indonesia. Attending CSS in Malaysia will cost you USD 1,600 (RM7,132) per two-day session, not including a suitable motorcycle, with one level on each day. Rental of track bikes is available through prior arrangement