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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
California Superbike School Level 1 review

Well I completed CSS Level 1 a couple of days ago and for those of you that are interested I thought I would post a review.

First let me tell you about my riding history to give you some perspective of where I’m coming from. I grew up on dirt bikes (like many of us) graduated to street bikes in high school and finally to sportbikes in college. I ended up selling my bike to make tuition my senior year, thinking that I would buy another bike after I graduated. Well, life happened and one day I woke up and I was 40 (still trying to figure out how that happened). So I decided to join the ranks of the born-again riders. I bought an Yamaha YZF-R6, took the MSF rider course and got back on the horse. I put about 10K on that bike and decide that I wanted a less aggressive riding position which brought me to the K12R (about 5K so far). I’m also a fan of formal education so I asked the guys at the bike shop (Richmond Superbike – great guys BTW) which course they recommended. No hesitation – California Superbike School.

On to the actual review.

I decided to ride their bike for several reasons, I don’t have a trailer for mine, it hasn’t been track prepped, I wanted to ride the S1000rr, and if I went down my liability on their bike was capped at the $1250 deposit (BTW CSS requires a valid motorcycle license to use their bike). I signed up for the one day class ($450) at Virginia International Raceway, their bike ($225), and their leathers ($75) – but when I called they asked about my gear and told me that my Firstgear textile jacket and pants were acceptable since they zip together. Right off the bat they were looking out for me.

I made reservations to stay at the track in their Garage Hospitality Suites ($100 a night). They are literally on the Paddock (facing the Start-Finish line) and are above garages that you can rent as well. Very convenient, clean, and simple with a mini fridge and microwave (useful because there are limited restaurant options close by.

The morning of the school registration was at 7am where they assigned me to a group (there were three, level 1, level 2, and level 3 & 4 each with about 20 students). There was food; coffee, fruit, and pastries out for breakfast, more fruit, cookies, cracker, chips and dip throughout the morning and afternoon, and of course plenty of water all day (they also had potassium and salt supplements available). Then there was an orientation meeting at 8am where the CSS team was introduced and policies and procedures were covered.

The level 1 group was in the classroom first where Keith Code lectured on Throttle Control. His style of teaching is very interactive and casual. He asks questions, solicits opinions, and then lectures to the responses. I found it very engaging and informative even considering I had read both of the Twist books in preparation for the class. At the end of the lecture Keith explained that we would be doing a drill on track after each lecture which would be demonstrated by our riding coach who would then observe us performing the drill and provide on-track feedback (via hand signals). We would be on the track for 20-25 minutes, then meet with our rider coach immediately after parking the bikes for more in depth review of our performance. This model would be followed for all 5 skills covered in level 1.

After the lecture we had a break while another class was using the bikes. Once they were in we got on our assigned bikes and went to the Start–Finish Line where our coaches introduced themselves and explained the process again. We then did one lap single file, no passing, as an orientation, went back to Start-Finish to begin the format that would be used throughout the day. We were lined up in two single file lines and one by one Trevor (Course Control) ask us to tell him the drill, he would explain the format (for Throttle Control it was 4th gear no brakes) and he sent us out (about 5 seconds apart).

Once on the track passing was allowed but you could not get within 6 feet of the rider you were passing and there were corner workers and coaches keeping an eye out for this. I did some passing (only when I was sure of the 6 feet rule) but was passed more. Most were comfortably wide from me but there were a few closer than 6 feet (none that I thought were dangerous though). Considering this was my first track experience I felt very comfortable within the first few minutes on the track.

After leaving the track I met with my rider coach (who had two other students as well) who asked what I thought of my understanding and execution of the drill. He asked if there were any areas of the track I found particularly troublesome, noted where he saw an area I could work on, and gave me specific suggestions to address it along with the next drill.

The skills covered throughout the day were:

Throttle Control (4th gear, no brakes), lecture by Keith
Turn Points (3rd & 4th, no brakes), lecture by Dylan
Quick Turning (3rd & 4th, very light brakes), lecture by Keith
Rider Input (3rd, 4th, & 5th, light brakes), lecture by Keith
Two Step Turning (full gears & brakes), lecture by Dylan

Each skill built on the previous one very effectively and the rider coaches were very helpful. If I had one wish it would have been to have more time with the riding coaches. Fortunately (or unfortunately or my wallet) CSS has a two day camp that address that very issue.

At the end of the day we had a debrief with Keith and were free to ask him questions and discuss our opinion of the class. I was very impressed by him and his friendly and open nature to all of the students, although he was quick to tell someone if they weren’t paying attention. He takes the learning very seriously and it was obvious he expected the students to do so as well.

In summary I can honestly say I think this was the best money I have spent since getting back on a bike. There may be other classes out there that are effective as well but having not taken them I cannot do a side by side comparison. That being said I would be very surprised if any of them provided a better over all experience. :clap:

If you have any questions about my experience please let me know I would be glad to elaborate.

Ride safe,
Carey
:ricky
 

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:clap: :clap: :clap:

I'm closing in on the big 40 this year. :confused:

I'll have to check, but on of those books has a bunch of drills for throttle/brake and clutch control exercises. i've always wanted to head to a big parking lot and do those drills. I'll have to find some time before this memorial day's trackdays.

Next up is some solo track days!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
JCW said:
:clap: :clap: :clap:

I'm closing in on the big 40 this year. :confused:

I'll have to check, but on of those books has a bunch of drills for throttle/brake and clutch control exercises. i've always wanted to head to a big parking lot and do those drills. I'll have to find some time before this memorial day's trackdays.

Next up is some solo track days!!!
They tell me 40 is the new 30. What ever the hell that means :dunno: :D

As I recall, Lee Parks "Total Control" had a bunch of throttle/brake drills but its been a while since I read it. I'll have to pull it back out and compare them to Keith's drills. The focus of his throttle drill was to crack the throttle once you are at the max lean for the turn and slowly roll it on evenly throughout the remainder of the turn (0.1 to 0.2 G) to settle the suspension and distribute the weight 40/60 percent front to rear.

It'll be interesting to compare that to what Lee has in his book now that I have some practical experience with this method.

As for track days, I can see how that can become a very addictive hobby (and expensive) hobby!
 

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Great write-up Carey, I loved every single word. I've known of Keith Code and his Twist Of The Wrist bible for years. Even decades now (man, I'm getting old). And I recently bought both his books and the Twist II DVD. If you want to relive the school check out the DVD. Extremely well done from all aspects as it really brings the pages to life. I've watched it twice over a two day period and still am learning.

I'm here in Texas and need to figure out what dates and track would be best for me. If I recall correctly, the two day school is something like $2,250? Do I have that right? I'll have to go back and check. Since I have to travel to the Superbike school, I think two days focusing on levels 1 & 2 would be wise.

Again, thanks much for posting the review. And I best pay attention so Keith doesn't holler at me!

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
David,

I asked about the two day session when I was there and it is $2250 at VIR however it varies - some tracks are a few hundred more. My coach said it was definitely worth the added expense. The class size is less than half that of the one day session, there is one coach to every two students, and you get quite a bit more track time. If I can justify the expense, that’s what I want to do for 2 & 3.

And definitely pay attention, Keith will put you on the spot. We had one squid I thought was going to be kicked out. Keith even said to him “If you are not going to listen to me then just leave”. He got his attention with that!

I agree with you on the Twist II DVD, it’s very well done and I think it’ll be a good review from time to time. Let me know how you like the course and what you think of the two day if you go that route.

Ride safe,
Carey
 

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Who took the pics?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There was a professional photographer there. It wasn't cheap, all of the pix he took of you for $98, but they came out nice.

Almost well enough to make me look good! :teeth
 

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Nice review BTW, I really really really want to take the 2-day course once I get back to the states next summer. really want to ride the RR on the track. heh.

Wow, an extra $98 just for pics... did you get to see the pics first? or you had to hire him, then got pics... and how many pics did you get?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The photographer was taking pix all day and then had proof sheets out for you to order from. As I recall it was about $35 for one then half that for the second and so on. or you could get all of them for the $98 (I got 15 or 16). I figured what the heck, it was my first time on the track.

To be honest I have gotten a lot of miles out of the pix. Non riders think I'm tearing it up out there! :snowlaff:
 

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warregl said:
The photographer was taking pix all day and then had proof sheets out for you to order from. As I recall it was about $35 for one then half that for the second and so on. or you could get all of them for the $98 (I got 15 or 16). I figured what the heck, it was my first time on the track.

To be honest I have gotten a lot of miles out of the pix. Non riders think I'm tearing it up out there! :snowlaff:
Blow one up, posterize it and post it in your garage!

I'd put one up in my bike trailer if I had a good one. :teeth

Funny how these things turn you into adolescents, again. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
JCW said:
Blow one up, posterize it and post it in your garage!

I'd put one up in my bike trailer if I had a good one. :teeth

Funny how these things turn you into adolescents, again. :D

I had a meeting at work last week with one of our strategic partners. It was an annual review, very formal. Well, I had shared a few of the pix with one of the guys right after I'd gotten back from VIR and at the end of the meeting they presented me with a full poster size version of one of the pix! I would have never done it myself but it's up in the garage now. I guess I've started a vanity wall so now I have to go back for more pix...

And yes the old adage is true "The only difference in men and boys..." :p:
 

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'To be honest I have gotten a lot of miles out of the pix. Non riders think I'm tearing it up out there!'

Hey, in that case, can you photo-chop me into those for about 50 bucks?? :rotf:

I'm getting old and need all the help I can get :spank1:

I'd luv to retire next to a track but I think I might need to win the lotto first unless they can give me a part time job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
markap said:
Thanks for the review. I just signed up for the May 16, 2011 session at VIR. Looking forward to it even more now.
I’m glad you found it useful. I also reviewed level two if you are interested:

http://www.k-bikes.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22586&highlight=superbike+school

And I'm planning on doing the 2 day class at VIR on the 18th & 19th for levels 3 & 4. If I make it I'll do a write up and compare the two formats.

ldbikin said:
…Hey, in that case, can you photo-chop me into those for about 50 bucks??...
There are a few pix in the Level 2 review and I had on a smoked visor so there you go! :teeth

And I’m with you needing a lottery win to retire next to the track. Even if they gave the house away being that close to a track would eat up all my retirement savings in one good season.
 

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I've done it at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney Australia. I was impressed, very professional, safe and you really learn a lot in a quite intensive classroom, track riding environment. The course content was identical to what you describe and the rules were the same also.
I'm signed up for Level 2. It's a wonderful way to learn the capabilities of your bike in a controlled environment. In fact I believe I had underestimated my bikes capabilities and I'm now better equipped to manage them. A very worthwhile course and one I recommend to all motorcycle riders. :clap:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ldbikin said:
Mmmm...you might be onto something there, I think I can fake it...

I'm trying to impress some young girls (early 50's :rotf: ).....those might just do the trick :)
:yeow: :leer :hysterica :2beers: :later:
 
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