On Track: California Superbike School – Level 1

One of Australia’s best known rider training providers, California Superbike School have let us loose on a race track for Level 1 of their program. Delivered in partnership with BMW Motorrad Australia, the Broadford State Motorcycle Sports Complex was our host venue.

To say we had a little pre-event nerves and a jumbo sized amount of excitement would be an understatement. And so it was that we turned up to the track in perfect conditions. Blue skies, and a top temperature of 24 degrees. Could it get any better?

Of course it could. After registering, we were given the go ahead to ride the 2023 BMW S 1000 RR M Sport (which looked resplendent on paddock stands with tyre warmers on). But first we needed to familiarise ourselves with the track.

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Situated about an hour north of Melbourne, and with a total length of 2.16km, Broadford is made up of twelve turns and two straights, with corners that offer varying degrees of tightness and difficulty.

We quickly jumped into our track gear in time for a safety briefing from the friendly California Superbike School team to kick off the day’s official proceedings. From there, it was time for our first classroom session, where we were taught about throttle control.

California Superbike School Level 1
California Superbike School Level 1

It’s in this session that we learn how the throttle directly effects the stability the bike in the corner. Armed with this first piece of knowledge, it was time for some drills, and of course, to hit the track. There was a stipulation though – we had to do it with no brakes.

Instead, we were required to use the throttle to control the bike, and we only had fourth gear. It sounds simpler than it is, that’s for sure. It’s a very weird sensation trying to keep a high performance motorcycle where it’s supposed to be.

Throw in a few first session nerves and you find yourself rolling off the throttle very early in the straights to try and ensure correct corner entry speed. It wasn’t long before our instructor for the day would come past and signal us to follow him and observe.

Perhaps the most important lesson in this was that if he could get around the corner – we could too. After our track session it was time for a debrief, with our instructor providing us with feedback and tips on things we could improve in the next session.

The coaching ratio is one instructor per three students, so a lot of improvement can be gained. Our second classroom session would focus on turn points. Here we would learn about turning in and hitting the apex, combined with throttle skills from session one.

California Superbike School Level 1
California Superbike School Level 1

Track drill number two gave us a second gear, but still no brakes. Crosses would be marked on the track to show the ideal point at which you should be tipping into the corner. We found this extremely helpful for longer corners.

We were able to go wider to gain more speed and control. Again, our instructors would follow before leading us on the drill. More feedback and tips followed the session, providing invaluable information for combining all the skills and tools we were learning.

Session three would have us return to the classroom to learn about quick steer. Essentially this is how to make the bike turn into the corner quickly and efficiently, allowing you to get back on the throttle faster, and with more control.

This time we scored us three gears and the use of light braking. This session was the light bulb moment for us. Putting together all the skills we had learnt during the first half of the day, the pace picked up considerably.

Once again the professionalism of the on track coaching was on show, leading us around the track at a more enthusiastic pace – which showcased just how much more control we had, and the improved speed we were able to carry out of corners.

California Superbike School Level 1
California Superbike School Level 1

Session four focused on rider input. This was all about being efficient with control of the motorbike, gripping the tank with your knees, loosening your grip on the handlebars and releasing pressure on your hands.

The ensuing track drill would again see us utilising three gears and light braking, but it’s truly about trust in the machine beneath you – something that pushed yours truly out of his comfort zone.

Our on track coach showed the way. Hell if he could do it, we had to give it a crack and of course, we started to see results. The session debrief would then reinforce our on track learnings.

The last classroom session of the day was about two-step riding. A visual session, it entailed looking at your tun into the corner and aligning with your exit point out of the corner. It was all about vision and training your eyes where they should be looking.

From there, it was time for the last bit of track action. No more restrictions – all the gears and us much braking as we wanted were on offer. It was here we’d put the two-step process into practice, and tie together all our new skills.

California Superbike School Level 1
California Superbike School Level 1

With the day done, the first thing we wondered is why we hadn’t done this sooner. The theory behind the techniques, and the impact they had on the motorcycle were excellent. We improvement in our riding technique, control and speed.

But it’s the realisation that all these skills were not just applicable on the track, but easily translatable to the road, for better riding knowledge all round, that has the most impact. It’s a course for everyone too, not just sports bikes riders (which we had thought it was).

Instead, there was a vast array of different types of bikes and different rider abilities across the group. We should warn you though, once you do one, it’s a bit like a drug, and you’ll be hooked to do Level 2, 3 and 4.

If you are interested in California Superbike School, you can head over to www.superbikeschool.com.au

BWM Motorrad Australia provided our BMW S 1000 RR M Sport, and track test rides can be organised through local dealerships. Images courtesy of SDPICS.

California Superbike School Level 1
California Superbike School Level 1
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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