California Superbike School launches Phl classes!
COUNTER FLOW - James Deakin (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2015 - 12:00am

I knew this guy in Australia. His name was Paul. He was with the Royal Navy, specializing in weapons. He was always fascinated by guns and rockets and missiles, and he studied for years to be allowed to handle them. “Very dangerous stuff,” he would tell me in his poorly mimicked Crocodile Hunter (Steve Irwin) accent.

After he aced the exam, he bought himself a Kawasaki Ninja 650 as a graduation present. A week later, he fell off and broke his leg.

Funny, and I don’t mean funny “ha-ha,” but he spent four years studying how to handle weapons that he may never use, but not even a minute or two to learn how to ride a weapon to work every day.

But Paul is not alone. Many men buy themselves high-powered super bikes without the faintest idea of how to ride them. Some even spend more time reading the manual of their new camera or gadget than they would learning the art of riding, despite the fact that motorcycle-related deaths and injuries outnumber camera-related deaths and injuries somewhere around 100,000 to 1.

This is what prompted Keith Code, founder of California Superbike School, (CSS) to develop “The most comprehensive professional school for the motorcycle enthusiast” back in 1980.

Fast forward 35 years and well over a hundred thousand trained riders. Tuason Racing School (TRS), in cooperation with BMW Motorrad, have brought the California Superbike School to the Philippines, in an attempt to offer us locals a world-class program that allows riders to fully understand, respect and appreciate their machines, so that they can enjoy them to their fullest, in the safest possible manner.

This is the second time the program has come to town and I wasn’t about to miss out. I borrowed a 110hp Ducati Hypermotard from Ducati Philippines and some riding gear from BMW Motorrad and TRS and headed straight for the track.

“What is your job!?” Our instructor yells out in his thick Aussie accent. We sit there motionless, waiting for the answer to be fed to us. “You only have one job.” He explains. “That is to stabilize the bike.”

Sounds simple enough.

“Does anyone know how to do that?” He asks, hoping for at least one person to shine. Deadma. Even those who had been riding every day for years sat there quietly, hoping his piercing gaze wouldn’t land on them. “With the throttle,” he says, making a twisting gesture with his right hand that not only mimicked the deceleration action, but somehow released the awkwardness from the room at the same time.

To demonstrate this, we begin the very first exercise, which is to lap around the full circuit using only the throttle and 3rd gear. No brakes, no downshifts, just pure gas—or lack thereof.

Strange as it is at first, we soon learn the importance of the throttle in balancing the bike—especially once devoid of other creature comforts, like, um, brakes. We do this lap in and lap out, for several modules, until it becomes ingrained in us. There are four levels in total, but you cannot graduate until you master throttle control first.

The Ducati Hypermotard makes an excellent bike for newbies. The riding position is comfortable and a bit more upright, while the power (although still quite brutal) is far easier to modulate than the real big boys. It doesn’t take long before I feel totally comfortable on it and start leaning into the corners until my foot pegs touch the apex. I’m starting to become one with the bike and can finally understand what all the Ducati hype is about.

There are several more exercises to master, like looking through corners and proper steering control using the push method, but it’s best left for the professionals to explain it to you. Somehow reading it here just won’t cut it mainly because it is highly dependent on having trained instructors riding alongside, or in front or behind you, to pick up bad habits and then curse, I mean, talk it out of you in the debriefing sessions after each module.

The school focuses on repetition and then puts everything into practice, so you ride out of there with some solid takeaways in handling and safety and not just a cheap certificate that is as significant as a commemorative T-shirt that announces nothing more than the fact that you were indeed there.

The California Superbike School is done in cooperation with BMW Motorrad and supported by Bridgestone, Hitch Pro and C! Magazine. More information can be found by visiting

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