No matter how good a rider you consider yourself to be, you can always learn more and become better.
Motorcycle training has pretty much been the same forever. There are some great courses and brilliant trainers, but there hasn’t been much innovation for a long time.
Generally, instruction is rider focused. An instructor rides with you assesses your riding and offers instruction to improve. This is great, but the reality is that motorcycle accidents have increased by 20% over the last 10 years. Something needs to change.
With conventional training, we don't learn to explore the limits of the bike and certainly don't know the gap between the limit and our current riding. That’s where MotoDNA comes in.
MotoDNA was founded in Australia by Mark McVeigh in 2000. Mark is an ex-racer of some repute, later moving into engineering where he has worked in top-level motorsport for many years; MotoGP and supercars for starters. Mark has used his unique set of skills to develop MotoDNA and has partnered with various training providers to deliver the courses globally.
In the UK the course is delivered by Phoenix Training, the largest motorcycle training school in the UK.
We probably remember the first time we rode a motorcycle; afraid to lean, thinking we would fall over. Similarly, when you start riding in the wet you assume it's like riding on ice.
A friend of mine once ran off the road on the outside of a bend. He ran onto the grass, fell and broke his collarbone. It was simply because he didn’t have the confidence to lean the bike, so ran wide. He wasn’t even going fast. Imagine having a gauge that tells you you're only at 10% of the capability of the machine and yourself. Think how much more confident and how much safer you would be.
I recently attended a new StreetSKILLS101 training programme. It was the very first session, being run by the awesome Phoenix Motorcycle Training, and as such was a prototype session.
The concept is great. It adds a vital element to training that is unique but so obvious you wonder why this hasn’t been done before; data. It sounds simple, but one of the key elements of StreetSkills101 is data.
The day went like this;
I arrived and was greeted by the team. They’re a great bunch of people, friendly, funny and passionate about motorcycles and helping you to become a safer and better rider.
After I grabbed a coffee and signed on, there was a safety briefing and an overview of the course. We were taken to the car park where the drills were laid out, introduced to the bikes and the drills were explained.
Then practice commenced. This gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the bike and the courses. Once you’ve had some time to practice, it’s time to do the drills for real. There were several drills that included riding around a series of cones, avoiding an obstacle, emergency braking, and riding in a circle and avoiding an obstacle.
Riding around the cones tested cornering, direction changes and slow speed manoeuvring. The emergency braking is straightforward, but we’ll come back to that in a bit.
The obstacle avoidance was interesting; Ride towards the obstacle and swerve around it, but at a decent pace and don’t swerve too early. You can see the obstacle approaching and desperately want to swerve, but have to leave it until the last minute. This tests your bike control and simulates a car pulling out or similar.
Last was the roundabout. You ride in a circle until the instructor raises his hand, signalling that a car has pulled out or has crossed over the white line and you risk a head-on, so you need to take evasive action. You ride clockwise and anti-clockwise and have to swerve away from oncoming traffic. The point of the exercise is that you are already leant over so need to lean more and trust the bike and tyres.
All of these drills are recorded by the GoPro on the bike. This is where the magic happens.
GoPros have telemetry built in, so as well as the video footage, it records the forces generated by your riding. This data is uploaded to the system and available for you to see later.
After the riding portion of the day was complete and the data had been gathered and uploaded, we had a feedback session. This gave us visibility of our data and a fascinating insight into our riding. By visibility, I mean just that. The data is displayed in a very easy-to-see format, giving you a score out of 100 for elements such as throttle, braking and steering, a score for each individual drill, and an overall score based on your performance.
There is also a suggestion about how you can improve.
Because this is data-driven, you simply can’t argue. Take an emergency stop for example. I felt like I gave the brakes a serious tug, and couldn’t do a great deal more. However, the data clearly demonstrates that I could have done much better.
The optimum emergency stop would have achieved around 1.2 G of braking force, but I only actually achieved around 0.6 G and also it took me 6 metres to get to 0.6 G. The system plots a graph of the perfect score, and overlays your data. The perfect emergency stop would have been 1 G at 1 metre, increasing to around 1.2 G, until fully stationery at around 9 metres.
When you see the detailed feedback you get a better understanding of your riding and how you can improve.
Naturally, the feedback leads to opportunities to improve, and additional practice and training can be arranged.
It's interesting looking at the scores. If I took off a bit quicker and pushed on a bit more around the cones, I would have seen bigger lean angles and cornering forces. If I had braked harder & sooner in the emergency stop I would have had a much better score. Maybe if had more practice and was more familiar with the bike........now that's the fun of the competitive element too. As well as cold hard data, there’s a leaderboard. This is where you can see your performance measured against everyone else.
Through the MotoDNA Academy portal you can revisit the drills and you can even do it on your own if you have a GoPro and space to lay out the drills. Then you just upload the new data and hey presto.
The end result for a rider Is more confidence in the machine and your ability, which may well save your life one day.
Give Pheonix Training a call for more information; Phoenix Training