BMW Philippines introduced a new rider training program in June 2022 for clients and non-clients of the brand to learn how to control and tame their motorcycles. The BMW Motorrad Rider Training Program is a new initiative set up by RSA Motors to give its clients the skills that are necessary to safely and efficiently ride their bikes—BMW or otherwise.
The experience included a bunch of low-speed drills that are essential for riders to learn when starting out. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced rider that needs to sharpen or improve skills and techniques, this course has something for you. As such, here is an outline and the course details of the Rider Training Program.
Who is it for?
The BMW Motorrad Rider Training Program is a course established by RSA Motors in order to promote safe and competent riding. The program seeks to equip new, old, or returning riders with the necessary skills to pilot a motorcycle no matter how big it is.
Open to the public, the Rider Training Program is offered to any and all riders of any brand of bike. You don’t have to be a BMW owner or even a BMW fan in order to secure a slot in the course. Of course, you need a basic understanding and knowledge of how to ride a motorcycle, and it certainly helps if you’re familiar with the clutch and how to row through gears.
In a nutshell, the course is more of an intermediate program for riders that want instruction, feedback, and direction from professional coaches. If you’re struggling with controlling your motorcycle while stuck in traffic, doing low-speed and tight maneuvers, or if you want to gain more confidence on a bike, then this is the course that you should enroll in.
What will you ride?
For the course, you won’t need your own motorcycle. Sure, you can show up on your R 1250 GS or your S 1000 RR, but BMW Motorrad Philippines will provide you with motorcycles to use during the drills so it’s totally risk-free for your beloved bike.
The units that will be lent to you during the course will either be the BMW F 750 GS or the F 850 GS. These middleweight adventure motorcycles are both insured and covered by RSA Motors, so the only thing you have to worry about during the course is learning. Don’t worry about dropping the bikes as BMW will not charge you for brake levers and fairings. The Rider Training Program wants to create a worry-free and fear-free environment for you to learn.
What do I need to bring?
Of course, bring your person and your personal protective equipment which includes a helmet, shoes, pants, and gloves. BMW Motorrad does not require motorcycle-specific shoes or pants, but it is recommended that you armor up just in case you will fall.
As such, bring a padded motorcycle jacket, ensure that you have a helmet that you can use, wear pads or padded jeans, and bring gloves to protect your hands. Also, bring a towel because the exercises you will do may seem simple, but you will sweat a lot. Also, remember to bring an extra shirt or another change of clothes as well.
Before you saddle up or even touch any of the training bikes, you will be briefed by the coaches on how to properly execute the drills prior to every drill. The coaches will teach you the proper form and demonstrate the proper ways to execute and succeed in the drills.
Exercise 1: Find the balance point
The first exercise will probably be the most nerve-wracking for beginners, as it necessitates that you keep the bike upright using one point of contact. The coaches will make it look easy, but once you get your hands on the bike, you may shake a little and be unsure of your movements.
To complete the exercise, you need to take two laps walking around the bike while keeping it balanced. First, you have to lift the bike up to its balance point with either one or two points of contact, then you have to hold it up steadily with one point of contact.
Once you have the bike on its balance point and it feels weightless, you then have to shift your point of contact to another part of the motorcycle. To do this, you can either keep only one hand on the bike at all times, but if you feel uncomfortable you can use two points momentarily to move and shift back to one once the balance point is achieved.
The purpose of this exercise is to get comfortable with the bike. Even if the 750 and 850s from BMW are rather heavy at over 200 kilograms, you will find that they are easily managed as long as the bike sits on its balance point. If you do start to lose the balance point, tip the bike over to its side stand and you can start again. If you want a more advanced version of this exercise, try only using one hand to complete the two laps around the bike, and try it with the F 850 GS.
Exercise 2: The corridor
After you get comfy with the bike, it’s time to ride, but slowly in a straight line and on a wooden beam. The key to this exercise is to keep your head up while you ride and keep your arms loose while going straight.
A corridor will be set up using cones that will be about as wide as the GS motorcycles—handlebars included. The objective is to get your arms relaxed and roll over the wooden plank without looking down at it. Riders are often told to look where they are going and to ride where they look. Looking down at the ground and to the side will influence your bike’s trajectory and can veer you off course, so keep your chin up, keep your arms loose, and ride through the corridor to pass. If you want to test yourself, try riding as slowly as possible without looking down.
Exercise 3: Slalom
How here’s another training exercise that’s usually taken for granted. This drill will teach you how to shift your weight from one side of the bike to the other, but because you’re going slow you will not lean into the turns, but you will lean out of it and counterweight the bike. With momentum and speed, the bike will remain balanced while turning, but without it, you need to create balance on the bike.
The objective of this exercise is to train your body to automatically counterweight the motorcycle while going slow and gain a rhythm by using the slalom course. The slower you go, the more you need to exaggerate your body movements while counter-leaning. Once you’re used to this exercise, try and counterweight even more and go even slower but steadier through the cones. Don’t focus on getting through the exercise as quickly as possible, but focus on your form.
Exercise 4: The U-Turn
U-turns are the bane of all riders who have just started out. Doing a U-Turn is quite possibly the hardest skill to first master on a motorcycle, but BMW will insist that you learn it during the Rider Training Program. Whether you’ve taken a wrong turn on a ride or are exiting out of a parking lot, this maneuver is extremely useful once mastered, or dangerous if not done correctly on a public road.
Take what you’ve learned about counterweighting in the previous exercise and apply it here, only this time you will be doing a 180-degree turn to go the other way. This exercise will likely be the hardest for new riders simply because it necessitates you to go slow, use the rear brake, and work the throttle and clutch to turn while counterweighting the bike in the opposite direction. As such, if you’re not used to it or you haven’t quite mastered clutch and throttle control, prepare to drop a bike.
Bonus Round: Picking up a bike
Now, while it is not explicitly stated in the course list, picking up a bike after a drop is an essential skill to learn.
While doing this, the coaches will assist you and demonstrate the proper form. Put the side stand down if the bike’s fallen over on the right, face away from the bike, hold the tail and the handlebars locked to the fallen side, put your back up to the motorcycle, then push back with your legs then ride again! A number of bikes have already fallen during the pilot testing phase of the program, so several bikes in the fleet come with custom levers! (Sarcastically speaking, of course)
Exercise 5: Figure 8s
After doing one U-turn, you must now do two consecutively and trace the number ‘8’ on the course. Needless to say, you must master U-turning right and U-turning left and stitch everything you’ve learned together.
At this point, a bit of speed will be asked of you, and the coaches will tell you to use the throttle to stand the bike up and reach the other side to execute another U-turn. You will need to dig into the throttle a little deeper for this exercise, and you need to use the front brake to slow down for the consecutive U-Turns. In this exercise, it’s still all about form, but challenge yourself by adding a little speed into the mix so long as your form is on-point.
Exercise 6: Avoidance
Going off the theme of adding speed, the coaches will then give you a scenario that you must react to. Swerving or avoiding an obstacle is an essential skill when riding. Doing so necessitates proper body and throttle coordination. While many riders often brake before initiating a turn or swerving, the instructors will tell you not to use the brakes and instead rely on your throttle and body control to get out of harm’s way and back into your lane.
After the initial warm-up, you will now respond to the instructor’s signals. Once you make it to the cones, the instructor will point the direction that you need to go. This exercise will test your reaction time either to the left or to the right.
Exercise 7: Emergency braking
Now the last exercise is probably the simplest. Its main goal is to familiarize you with the braking system on the bike, with ABS of course. First, you will need to get up to speed and the exercise will be at a constant of 60 km/h, but you can escalate it if you feel that you want to test yourself a little more.
The coach will demonstrate stopping distances from 60 km/h all the way to about 100 km/h, and you will get to see first-hand just how much space your bike needs to come to a full stop. This exercise also goes into training you how to judge braking distances and judge whether you need to swerve or if you have space to stop. Of course, be wary of cars or other riders following behind you if you wish to apply what you’ve learned here on the road.
Okay, that sounds great, where do I sign up?
The BMW Rider Training Program is already open to the public, and it is available to BMW and non-BMW owners, and it is open to riders of any skill level from beginner to advanced.
If you want to enroll in this course, the tuition fee is P17,500. Be sure to prepare that amount after you register via BMW Motorrad Philippines' sign-up sheet found in the related link below this paragraph. After you register, pay the fee via a bank deposit no more than 48 hours or two days after submitting. The course will only entertain up to 20 riders per session.
Other requirements include a beginner level big bike riding skills, as well as the appropriate amount of gear which includes:
- Motorcycle helmet
- Riding jacket or an armored shirt with chest protection
- Elbow and knee protectors
- Motorcycle gloves
- Motorcycle boots or sneakers
You don't even have to bring your own bike as BMW will supply either the F 750 GS and the F 850 GS for you to use.