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  • The German Rider Training thread

    A couple of people have asked about my rider training in Germany, so I thought I'd make an actual thread about it. I'll be updating it and adding to it on the fly, so I apologize up front if it gets disjointed. I've got 10 hours in already, so I'll be digging into the memory banks a bit...

    Prequel: I start theory. I attend my first MC theory class. Usually, the students meet the instructors, and pick one. In my case, the instructor picks me. He has no idea what he is getting into, but I roll with it. He is about 10 years older than me, and a generally nice guy.

    1st lesson: Motorbike training occurs in two-session lessons. The Germans decided that it was impossible to teach the skills required for riding in 45 minute segments, so every lesson is two of those - 90 minutes. My first lesson as a complete and total n00b consists of clutch and roll exercises on a BMW F650GS. I am able to roll around in 1st gear by the end of it, and my instructor is out of breath from chasing me. I bond with him when I tell him that I am not worried about riding a big bike, but actually being able to ride. By the end of the lesson, I can clutch and declutch smoothly while controlling speed, and brake using both or either brake. I can also identify all of the controls on the headset and the foot controls.

    2nd lesson: I get "demoted" to the bicycle - a Kawasaki Eliminator 252. However, this is not the end of the world, as I am promised that the BMW will make another appearance if I master the Eliminator. I begin turning and shifting. Seriously - 90 minutes of turning and shifting from 1st to 2nd and back. After a while, the slalom cones come out, and I am introduced to the long (7m) slalom. I produce a recognizable lean and navigate the slalom course.

    3rd lesson: I am instructed to get on the bike and enter traffic. My instructor follows me in the car. I have ears, but no mic. So I am subjected to a stream of "we will turn right. Please put on your right blinker. Now stop with the footbrake and handbrake. Downshift. Turn the wheel of the motorbike and prepare to start driving." I realize that my instructor is far more polite than I deserve. We arrive at the parking area and begin stop-and-starts, slaloms, and begin to try u-turns. I also practice shifting in a straight line. Then comes braking with only front and only rear. On the way home, I have to launch from an incline - no stalls!

    2wk hiatus for German holidays. I read BBO and watch Capt Crash every day over and over.

    4th lesson: I become reacquainted with the motorbike and ride to the training area. The Eliminator is now my best friend, even though the throttle is driving me crazy. However, the rear brake light is not working, so I push my instructor out of the way and begin adjusting the sensor. Later, a coworker informs me that in Germany, women do not work on things with motors. OOOOPS! Some tension builds between my instructor and myself over this, and is compounded by the fact that I lock up the rear brake on a rear braking run. However, I make good by not stalling and by recapping the previous lessons. Ride back from training ground is uneventful.

    5th lesson: We spend time with the engine "bay". I am left alone with the bike for a few minutes, and adjust the idle setting. The bike immediately becomes less of a chore to ride. This time, I do not alert the instructor to my mischief! The ride to the training area is non-eventful, aside from the fact that I attain the speed limit and do not need to be told to speed up at all. Practice and training consist of the u-turn and slow slalom. I am able to u-turn to the left (German rule) with ease by the end. The slalom cones come out again, and we practice low-speed slalom. The cones move for the 3rd gear high(er) speed slalom. This requires pressing, and I begin whining about the low center of gravity on the Eliminator - I can't get it to roll over. On the way back to the garage, I begin standing on the pegs during turns, trying to press it. This seems to work, sort of. My instructor is way less upset with me at the end of the lesson, in fact, he seems actually happy. We discuss some minor traffic rule violations.

    (TBC... as matters progress!)
    Last edited by atomicalex; 08-28-2011, 02:34 PM.
    Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
    2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

  • #2
    Thanks for doing this, atomicalex. I'm VERY interested. Question: Are there any prerequisites before taking the MC training? For example, do you have to hold a car license before you can begin the motorcycle training?
    Chaz

    "In terms of improving one’s mood and general outlook I consider the ukulele to be the big gun." - Loudon Wainwright III

    '16 S1000XR "Raquel" - Red, the "energetic and quick-thinking" color!

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    • #3
      No prerequisites! You basically start from zero. The only advantage to having a car license ahead of time is that they assume you have a basic grasp of traffic rules, so you don't have as many mandatory general theory classes.
      Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
      2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

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      • #4
        Someone should tell this women that she shouldn't be working on an engine...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabine_Schmitz
        '03 Suzuki SV650
        '02 Ninja 250--SOLD
        "Down here, "revolutionary" means peasants storming the palace, not a really small phone that's also a camera." --Dan Walsh

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        • #5
          Originally posted by atomicalex View Post
          The cones move for the 3rd gear high(er) speed slalom. This requires pressing, and I begin whining about the low center of gravity on the Eliminator - I can't get it to roll over. On the way back to the garage, I begin standing on the pegs during turns, trying to press it. This seems to work, sort of. My instructor is way less upset with me at the end of the lesson, in fact, he seems actually happy. We discuss some minor traffic rule violations.

          (TBC... as matters progress!)
          The Eliminator should roll quite easily. All the way until the footpegs scrape the ground. Little footpeg pressure should be required.

          As you sit in the saddle, describe how you are "pressing" please. The answer could be hidden there.

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          • #6
            Is there classroom before the riding portion?
            Ride safe, ride smart, ride ATGATT because sweat dries faster than scars heal

            2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC
            2009 Kawasaki ER-6N

            * If you love your bike set it free. If it comes back to you, you've High Sided

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            • #7
              Sabine is my hero(ine). I spent yesterday morning flogging my car about 500m from her hotel.

              Clair - classroom runs tandem with the practical. Usually, they want to see you in the classroom first to get an idem of potential personality matches with the instructors.

              I am still learning the body language for pressing. so I have no doubt I am doing it wrong! However, I can press my bicycle over with ease, by kind of folding in half sideways. I think that I am not keeping my shoulders up enough.
              Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
              2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

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              • #8
                Wow thanks for posting this, and please continue!
                I just finished/passed the basic rider's course for a license here in Colorado today, it's interesting to see the contrasts in your descriptions.

                From my partner and her Mutti's stories of German auto license testing, I've often wondered what it's like for bikes.

                Keep it up!


                PS Sabine rules!
                Originally posted by wraith0078
                I started to get worried when I was looking for a rear shock from a Gixxer 1000 for the Bandit...
                Current: '93 Yamaha Seca II "Tonbo"
                BITD: '00 Honda XR250R, '95 Yamaha RT 180

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                • #9
                  I can't find the edit key...

                  6th lesson: Keep in mind that this is the mandatory minimum for technical training on the bike. It looks like I will go over a bit on hours, but not too bad. We go out into traffic again, and I must do turns at lights and corners. This is to observe how I look out for oncoming traffic. The practice pad time is used for slalom (fast and slow) and braking from 50kph. Lots of u-turns, as we stay in one lane this time. I successful press the Eliminator over on the high speed slalom, it is ok to stand on the pegs if that will help me find my way. Then it is back into traffic, where we visit a 30kph zone. The traffic rules change dramatically in these zones, and although I do not get hit/hit anyone, it wasn't pretty. There is a lot of emphasis on checking over the shoulder and blinking at the right time. I have a lot of practice driving to do, as the rules change for cars, too. The fact that I generally avoid these zones is biting me pretty hard...
                  Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
                  2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

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                  • #10
                    Sounds like you are trying to press straight down on the handlebars in order to get the bike to lean. That's going to be difficult on on 300-400lb bike. Try pressing forward an inch or two and see what happens. All you are trying to accomplish with the press is to move the front tire away slightly so that the bike can "fall in" on that side. It shouldn't require a lot of body input, especially at less than 30kph.
                    '03 Suzuki SV650
                    '02 Ninja 250--SOLD
                    "Down here, "revolutionary" means peasants storming the palace, not a really small phone that's also a camera." --Dan Walsh

                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by atomicalex View Post
                      I am still learning the body language for pressing. so I have no doubt I am doing it wrong! However, I can press my bicycle over with ease, by kind of folding in half sideways. I think that I am not keeping my shoulders up enough.
                      The bicycle will move with much less input. Consider that the bicycle is easily 180kg less massive than the Eliminator.
                      Take Speeddemon's advice and try pressing forward rather than downward. While somewhat counterintuitive, it will produce much greater results.

                      While sitting stationary on the motorcycle, try various inputs to the handlebars. You are looking for the input which produces the most response from the front wheel with the least amount of input from you. You want to cause the front wheel to turn a little bit away from the direction that you will want the motorcycle to roll (countersteering). This small wheel movement is what sets the bike up to easily roll to whatever lean angle you choose. This is the "press" that you will use while in motion.

                      While moving though, you will use very light force, so little that it will produce almost no front wheel movement, but will cause the bike to lean. Initially, try some gentle weaves at speeds between 15 and 25 kph. Keep your weighting even on the footpegs. Sit relaxed and centered on the seat. Press smoothly to initiate the roll and continue to hold the pressure until the motorcycle has achieved the amount of roll angle that you desire.

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                      • #12
                        Interesting read! Thanks!
                        Looking forward to the end. Don't leave us hanging...
                        “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”
                        - William Gibson, 'Neuromancer' author

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                        • #13
                          It's in realtime now.

                          I'm processing the comments on pressing. I go back out on thursday.
                          Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
                          2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

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                          • #14
                            Do some research on "countersteering". You'll find some really complex explanations; the simpler ones are better. Crash's 60 Second Lesson on Swerving ( http://www.howzitdonecrash.com/60_Second_Lessons.html shows the initial "press" pretty well in video. To translate to cornering, just imagine maintaining the "press" so that the motorcycle maintained the roll attitude.

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                            • #15
                              Crash is cracking me up. I can watch over and over and over.

                              I pulled out my skills card. We get a card that has sets of skills that must be mastered at various levels. All approved and written up by the German Driving Instructors Association. It's designed to provide a "systematic and safe training program, especially aware of energy savings and environmental awareness".

                              Basic level skills
                              Balance practices
                              Standing, rolling, rolling with braking, rolling with left and right turning, rolling back, up on the stand, down from the stand, side stand, climing on and climbing off

                              Seating position
                              Body position, foot position, hand position, mirror adjustments

                              Hand controls
                              Starting, 1st gear, look to the mirror, look over the shoulder, signal

                              Starting and stopping
                              Starting and shifting up to 2nd gear, stopping, downshifting, and neutral
                              Shifting up and down through all gears

                              Intermediate level skills
                              Practice in the unstable zone
                              Walking speed riding (on the test), Stop and Go (on the test), Slalom at walking speed (test), Starting with the front wheel turned to right and left, U-turns

                              Practice in the stable zone
                              Slalom at the same distance (test), slalom at varied distance (test), riding in a circle

                              Braking from 30kph
                              Footbrake, handbrake, both brakes

                              Acceleration and shifting
                              Shifting up and down, Downshifting to a stop, Downshift and continue riding

                              Braking
                              Progressive braking, rear locked from 30kph

                              Hard braking
                              From 50kph, from 40kph (test)

                              Avoidance/Swerving
                              Without braking (test), with braking (test)

                              Hills
                              Starting up a hill, braking, turning, shifting

                              Preparation for the road skills
                              Entering traffic
                              Using lanes, environmental riding

                              Adapting your speed to conditions

                              Safe following distance

                              Traffic awareness

                              Changing lanes

                              Getting in the correct lane, turning
                              To left, to right, turns on priority roads, one-way streets

                              Special traffic situations
                              Rail crossings, public transit, 30kph zones, pedestrian crossings, children, disabled, and old people, bicycle paths

                              Special training trips
                              Urban riding
                              Speed, following distance, eyes on road, Crossings and intersections, curves, overtaking, uphill, downhill, entering places, following road signs to towns, environmental awareness

                              Autobahn (highway)
                              Using the acceleration ramp, following distance, Changing lanes, overtaking, proper speed, parking and rest stops, behaviour around accidents and using emergency phones, environmental riding, behaviour in heavy trffic, using exit ramps

                              Night riding
                              Choosing the proper lights, riding into certain situations, parking, high and low beams, adjusting your speed to your lighting, riding quietly
                              Last edited by atomicalex; 08-31-2011, 08:55 AM.
                              Katherine goes to Fahrschule - the German rider training thread :: Nine Days in the Alps :: BRC 2014 :: Finding GS Land
                              2012 CBR250R (sold), 2001 Super Sherpa, 2004 BMW F650GSa - not a big Ford truck...

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