A Brief History of Schools
The Superbike School was very lonely in 1980 when it started. It was the only technique-oriented high-performance riding school. That was a double-edged sword. On the upside we were the only one. On the downside, people didn't understand the benefits of training. It was uncharted territory.
I won't labor you through the entire history lesson but suffice it to say there are many schools in the 21st century: Reggie Pridmore’s CLASS; Jason Pridmore's Star school; Freddie Spencer; Kevin Schwantz; the Wood familys Penguin School; Ed Bargy; Corner Speed; Mike Sullivan; the list goes on and on and on.
Not only that, but there are enough track day providers to make you dizzy. Access to the controlled environment of track riding is at an all time high.
Learn It Yourself?
Even now, some riders believe they can learn it all on their own with enough saddle time and some can. However "some," in my experience, is a very small number. Unless you are one of that select few, save yourself a lot of time and money, go to a school and get trained.
Getting out to a track where obviously talented riders will cater to you and help sort out your riding is often worth the price of admission. Just watching instructors go around in front of you demonstrating the skills can be elevating, instructional and inspirational. Indeed, most schools have good riders on their track day staffs. They can help.
I’m realistic about my own riding talent. It simply was not my destiny to be world champion. In the 70's, when I was racing Superbikes, on a good day, I got into the top five. The point? Neither my riding coaches nor I are famous race guys. At this point in my life I’m kind of glad I wasn’t a top runner, I think it would have gone to my head.
As our Australian school director, Steve Brouggy, likes to say: “Would you rather have golf lessons from Tiger Woods or Tiger Woods’ coach?” My destiny was to train riders and the dozens of championships won by riders I’ve coached has already gone to my head.
Choosing a School
If the school you choose has some kind of formal structure, it will be far better than one that does not. Most schools have followed our lead and adopted some structure. Chalk talk, ride, chalk talk, ride; on-track instruction; some have adopted the immediate feedback system of hand signals; many are using video; a few have defined individual exercises for their students. The quality of training has improved with competition between the schools. All of this is to your benefit, you now have choices.
All schools, including us, claim to be able to improve riders of all skill levels and motorcycles. You aren’t going to come to one school over another based on that claim alone.
Another point that is common to all is the track-based school concept. It is simple enough, just getting out on a track has enormous benefits in freedom from the rigors, distractions and dangers of road riding. It's hard to lose, you’ll love that freedom at my or anyone’s school.
Think for Yourself
Riders do become attached to different schools and are sometimes fierce in their loyalty. "I went to so and so’s school and it wasn't any good, yours is the best." Every school owner hears this about some competitors' program.
The fact is, if the school has been around a while and has expanded to any degree, they've done a good job with enough riders to stay in business. Student's expectations are often quite high, as they should be, as yours should be.
If you really want to know about a particular school, survey half a dozen different riders who have gone and listen to what they have to say. Don’t just listen to the yip yap of one outspoken guy on some forum. Realize that the schools that have been around for a while have had thousands of students. You'll soon find out that the good reports will outweigh the bad ones, for almost any school out there.
Go to School
Which school you choose largely depends on your goal. Most schools claim to, and strive toward having their own unique character and functions. Of course I hope you can make it to mine.
Here’s the deal: I don’t know everything there is to know about riding, no one can claim they do because our understanding of the sport is still evolving. At the Superbike School we are certain that what we do works and I back that up with a genuine guarantee of improvement.
I’ll be there, hope to see you too. - Keith Code