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Old 12th June 2015, 07:53   #1
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Default My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Prologue:

My trysts with bikes have been always on long winding road trips. You may call me an iron butt but riding the bike has never made me tired and satisfies my spiritual plane of existence as Maslow describes. 100000 kms on bikes show how mad a tourer am. But I have envied those motogp guys who drive their bikes like laser guided missiles and their cornering abilities always have amazed me since I was a kid. Getting a knee down was a distant dream for me and then the bullet was not designed for the same. So I bought the Ninja, a lil rocket but nothing intimidating like those motogp missiles. Getting a knee down still remained a dream inspite of the Ninja especially due to the want of the technique though I came really close on a couple of occasions.

So I enrolled for the California Superbike School India in Chennai in Jan 2010 and did level 1 and level 2.

That experience has been jotted down here. http://californiasuperbikeschoolindia.blogspot.com/. Got a knee down and found that getting a knee down is cool but it isn’t simply the idea of going fast.

So went again to the California Superbike School again in 2012. Took level 1 , 2 and level 3. Got faster.

If you are based out of Pune, you must have heard of Lavasa. It has a wonderful road which goes from Temghar Dam to the City of Lavasa. It is a riders dream as well as nightmare. I found my inner calling every time I hit Circuit de Lavasa. Hit it every Saturday early morning with a bunch of rider buddies and was good fun, be it Rain, Shine or Pain. Kept me alive, really alive for the rest of the week running through the daily chores of office and the demands of being a husband.

Circuit de Lavasa
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-lavasariders-perspectivefull.jpg

But Lavasa has its limitations. It’s a public road and its like the Isle of Mann. Isle of Mann with traffic coming from the other side. It has 55 corners in 7.2 kilometres. Lavasa has all types of corners – Left, right, Sweeping, decreasing, uphill, downhill, U-turns everything (Amby Valley has even more). If Laguna Seca has a 2 storey fall, Lavasa is probably half as wide, has a 5 storey fall followed by a U-turn! Lavasa takes no prisoners. You goof up, you could be dead. It is a test of the nuts that that connect the saddle to the handlebars. Riders have died and bikes have been totalled. So in Lavasa, you cant ride at 100 percent of your abilities. You need to keep something in reserve for those unforeseen circumstances which could keep you still on the tarmac or throw you down the mountain.

So the quest for being faster had to be done at a new avenue and found that the Apex racing academy were doing there Level 1 and Level 2 in Coimbatore in May 2013. They were even giving you race prepped R-15s for a fee. Hit Kari Speedway and did roughly 200 laps in 2 days.

In the meanwhile I shifted to the US for work and the biking had stopped because of no bike and no license.

Got to know that the CSS circus was hitting Thunderbolt Raceway in the New Jersey Motorsports park in May. This was also an avenue to move into the league of the big bike boys, the bike being a BMW S1000RR! Booked a hotel and rented a car in advance to hit NJMP in May.

The track:

The track was the Thunderbolt raceway at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Milville.

My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-njmp-track2.jpg

The Corners
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-njmptrack.jpg

The track had majorly right handed corners with only two left handers.

The set up:
They had two trailers and a tent and a couple of classrooms. They also had the slide bike and the lean bike which every one could take an attempt on.

The trailers
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-trailer-view-_top.jpg

The Bikes -All BMW S1000RRs
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-all-bmw-bikes.jpg

Coach Bikes
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-coach-bikes.jpg

The others
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My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-kawasaki.jpg
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-bmw.jpg
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-bmw-2.jpg
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-other-bikes.jpg
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-race-bikes.jpg

CSS works on the basis of 5 classroom sessions every day followed by track time of around 15 minutes. The classroom session would be different for different levels but on the drills are common irrespective of your level. So it will be Drill 1 with Class1 , Drill 2 with Class 2 and likewise.For info on Level 1 and Level 2 and the different classes, check the link above.

Drill 1: Third gear, No brakes
Drill 2: Third and fourth gears, No brakes
Drill 3: Third and fourth gears, Light brakes
Drill 4: Three gears, Medium brakes
Drill 5: All gears, Med/Hard Brakes

The Action:
Day 1:

The first day was Level 3: The Bike allotted to me was Bike number 18. Coach for the day was Josh Galster. This was my first time on a 1000 and straight up from a 250. Didnt want any nasty surprises. So was taking it real easy.

My Bike for Day 1: Number 18.
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-my-bike-day-1.jpg

On the way to the track

My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-circuit.jpg

The Grid
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-bike-grid.jpg

Class1: Hook Turns
Objective: Tighten up a turn especially for decreasing radius turns
Method: When leaning into the turn you get your upper body as far forward and as far down into the turn as you reasonably can. This shifts as much weight as possible forward onto the front of the bike thereby quickening up the steering.

During the first session I was so slow that every one overtook me like I was riding a 250! . The bike was real heavy, the brakes had some real bite and getting it to turn required some strength. A guy even crashed on the first session and i was a couple of corners behind him and it was a whirl of dust around. The bike was damaged to the tune of $2300 and his day was done! Everytime I had the urge to push, I held back telling myself that dont screw up!

They had the body position bike to practise the same. (Image from the internet)

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Class 2: Power Steering

Objective: Quick turning and turning at high speeds
Method: Lock your "outside" leg into the gas tank by pressing it up into the tank with your foot on the peg. This allows you to be able to press on the opposing bar with as much pressure as required.

It had started raining cats and dogs after the second session. The track was flooded in some parts that you could actually run a small dinghy through it. The wait continued till the rain stopped and we were losing time.


Rainy day
My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-rain.jpg

Brake Bike Drill (Image from the internet)
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In the mean time, I was called for the Brake Bike drill by Joe. The brake bike looked like below and the drill was to get the bike upto 35mph and brake the bike hard so that the front tires lose traction and the bike slide. The idea was to release the brakes slightly and then re-brake fully and come to a complete stop. It sounded scary but the execution was easier. The first time I braked the tyres didnt lock. In the second try, forgot that had to come to a complete stop. All went well in the third try. Got upto 35mph, cut the throttle, slammed the brakes, front tyre lost traction, re-applied the brakes and the bike came to a complete stop without any fuss. Not once did the side wheels touch the ground. The rainy rides in Lavasa had paid off. Didnt expect it to be so easy!

Fortunately the rain stopped in an hour and we had the right time to get through the next three sessions.

Class 3: Knee to Knee
Objective: For Chicanes
Method: For a left to right corner. As soon as you hit the exit of turn1, quickly bring up the inside knee into the tank, lock it onto the tank and set up your outside knee for the oncoming turn. For a brief moment both the knees would be locked to the tank.

This gives you a greater stability on the bike by controlling your body positioning with your lower body rather than your upper body by keeping weight off the handle bars.

Everyone was advised caution due to the wet conditions and everyone was taking it easy. This was a great leveller since the speeds were down and was able to keep up with most.

My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-top-view.jpg


Class 4: Hip Flick
Objective: For faster chicanes

Method: This is where you flick your hips from one side to the other to get your body into position for chicanes. From lean, pull your body back to the center of the bike with the outside leg and set up for the next turn. Great leg exercises.

By this session the track had dried and every one was back to normal. My pace had also increased but had a long way to go.

My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey-side-view-day-1.jpg

Class 5: Attack Drill
Objective: How the angle of entry at turn point affects your exit speed.

Method: Try different attack angles at each turn point on the corners help. You can hit your turn point perfectly but still screw it up because of the wrong angle.



Was really tired by the end of the day that went to the hotel room, checked the go-pro footage for the time and the best time was a 2 min 24 sec! The AMA Superbike lap record was 1 min 22 seconds (Ofcourse with non stock bike and slick tyres)! Bah, that was seriously slow. But the main objective was to make the transition from a small bike to a bigger one which I had done with success considering that there was no crash!

Last edited by n_aditya : 16th June 2015 at 10:04. Reason: mention of alcohol not allowed. Please see rule # 11
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Old 12th June 2015, 07:57   #2
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Default re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Some more photos from Day 1

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Day 2 coming up next week!

Last edited by JayKis : 14th June 2015 at 02:22.
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Old 15th June 2015, 22:36   #3
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Superbike Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th June 2015, 10:10   #4
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

That must have been one awesome experience, Jay. If you don't mind sharing, how much did the course cost you? I reckon it costs a small fortune in the USA considering that they are pretty expensive here in India itself. However, the cost is definitely justified since you're learning from the best out there.

In the event of the crash like you mentioned, who pays for the damage? Do the bikes carry any insurance to protect the rider's liability?

Nice thread. Enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 16th June 2015, 12:03   #5
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

I'd say thank you for the share, but my gratefulness is overshadowed by my jealousy. Absolutely fantastic write up and great pictures too! Established magazines won't cover the Isle of Man TT with the kind of enthusiasm seen in your thread.

I was physically moving about in my chair when you walked us through each class. It's amazing to see just how much goes into proper track riding.
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Old 16th June 2015, 14:11   #6
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Fantastic write up Jay! Am all itching to give this a try now.

Would you know if they allow you to participate in the camps with an Indian motorcycle license?
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Old 16th June 2015, 15:03   #7
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Quote:
Originally Posted by n_aditya View Post
If you don't mind sharing, how much did the course cost you?
http://www.superbikeschoolindia.com/schedule.html says Rs 52,000 for level 1,2 and 3

Last edited by n_aditya : 16th June 2015 at 15:20. Reason: broken quote tags fixed
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Old 16th June 2015, 15:21   #8
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Originally Posted by shetty_rohan View Post
http://www.superbikeschoolindia.com/schedule.html says Rs 52,000 for level 1,2 and 3
Yes, it was 52k INR for the most recent one. I was inquiring how much it costs in USA.
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Old 16th June 2015, 18:11   #9
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Quote:
Originally Posted by n_aditya View Post
That must have been one awesome experience, Jay. If you don't mind sharing, how much did the course cost you? I reckon it costs a small fortune in the USA considering that they are pretty expensive here in India itself. However, the cost is definitely justified since you're learning from the best out there.

In the event of the crash like you mentioned, who pays for the damage? Do the bikes carry any insurance to protect the rider's liability?

Nice thread. Enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Aditya, you are more than welcome. Yes, it does cost an arm and a leg here. $675 with the BMW and $475 with your own bike for a day. Travel and hotel accommodations extra. Bike deposit $1250 just blocked on your credit card. That is the maximum liability. One guy had a major crash worth $2300 and he lost his deposit. Another low sided and he just had to pay $150 for replacing the frame slider. He was real happy though considering the money!

And actually there is no difference with the Indian curriculum. It is the same since I have done level 3 before. The difference is in the other bikes like Body position bike, Slide bike, Video bike and Lean bike they have to offer. Slide bike is a must try. The course is cheaper in India by around 40 percent. But the real steal is the BMWS1000RR for an additional 200 USD.

They do offer the two day camp and C.O.D.E race which are not available in India.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
I'd say thank you for the share, but my gratefulness is overshadowed by my jealousy. Absolutely fantastic write up and great pictures too! Established magazines won't cover the Isle of Man TT with the kind of enthusiasm seen in your thread.

I was physically moving about in my chair when you walked us through each class. It's amazing to see just how much goes into proper track riding.
Thanks. Yes, riding a bike fast really requires more skill than one can imagine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by A_v_i View Post
Fantastic write up Jay! Am all itching to give this a try now.

Would you know if they allow you to participate in the camps with an Indian motorcycle license?
Yes, they do. Doesn't matter which country's license you have. But email them and ask them before you take the plunge.

Last edited by JayKis : 16th June 2015 at 18:16.
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Old 17th June 2015, 04:22   #10
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

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Originally Posted by JayKis View Post

Day 2 coming up next week!
I have heard nothing but good things bout CSS. Your post confirms that I should take one soon.

You did the One day or two day sessions? The one day costs are around $400 in CA in own bike.

Is there any reason you went to the school again? Having done it before, was there learning here? How is it compared to the sessions conducted in India?
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Old 17th June 2015, 05:11   #11
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Originally Posted by kraft.wagen View Post
I have heard nothing but good things bout CSS. Your post confirms that I should take one soon.

You did the One day or two day sessions? The one day costs are around $400 in CA in own bike.

Is there any reason you went to the school again? Having done it before, was there learning here? How is it compared to the sessions conducted in India?
I did two separate day sessions. Two day camps are different and are almost double ($2450) but they come with all bells and whistles.
  • 2:1 student to coach ratio
  • Lower number of students, hence higher number of laps.
  • 7 sessions a day instead of 5 sessions
  • Video bike with over the shoulder video for analysis.
  • Laptime recording
  • Full gear rental
  • BMWS1000RR
India has levels 1-4 as well. The classroom session, track session and the feedback are the same in both the places except the one lap video analysis , the slide bike, lean bike and the brake bike.

Everytime I go there, my speed increases! . Everytime you do it, you identify different sort of weaknesses and then mitigate them. It is an ever continuous learning process.This time the objective was to move to a bigger bike- 250cc to a 1000! There is no better and controlled environment to get used to the big bike. They are pricey but they also ensure that no morons run into you which could be challenging if you go for a normal track day. It is worth the money!
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Old 17th June 2015, 09:21   #12
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

Nice thread. Thanks for sharing. Although would have been even more beneficial on a bike you were more comfortable with. But then again, it must be tempting to ride the S1000RR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by n_aditya View Post
Yes, it was 52k INR for the most recent one. I was inquiring how much it costs in USA.
I got lucky when I did the CSS (2011, I believe it was their second outing in India). It cost me only 15k for all 3 levels.
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Old 17th June 2015, 12:42   #13
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

I did have the opportunity to do levels 1,2,3 in India (2015) and it was an experience i would never forget. The trainers and their method of teaching is out of this world and one gets to learn the many things we do wrong while riding on the streets and on the track. For the ones who think CSS is about speed, its not..they don't encourage speeding, its about right technics, body postures. CSS unfortunately did not have the level 4 this year, so one has to go abroad for it. I highly recommend the course to anyone interested in learning and being more confident with their vehicles.
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Old 17th June 2015, 18:18   #14
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Originally Posted by TheCelestial View Post
Nice thread. Thanks for sharing. Although would have been even more beneficial on a bike you were more comfortable with. But then again, it must be tempting to ride the S1000RR.
I got lucky when I did the CSS (2011, I believe it was their second outing in India). It cost me only 15k for all 3 levels.
Thats great. I was there in 2011. So think we should have met. Was there in 2013 as well! Their prices have gone up over the years from 15K, 23K, 40K to now 52K. Still 40 percent cheaper than the USA.

One has cheaper options like Apex racing now but they have to improve their level of detail to coaching. The Student to Coach ratio in CSS is like 4:1 whereas in Apex it could be as high as 10:1. Having attended both, Apex gives you more track time (We did like 200 laps in Kari in two days) whereas CSS will give u only around 35 per day at MMST. Do agree the tracks are different but 200 laps at Kari would equate to roughly 120 laps at MMST (assuming average laptime of 1.30 at Kari and 2.30 at MMST) . It is kind of a conundrum as we would like more lap time as well as more coaching but i agree we need to optimize somewhere!

Infact, if the intention is to go racing, Apex would be better because they are cheaper (15K for 2 days), run through out the year (at least 10-15 sessions) and also offer open track days for students who just want to skip the classes and do track days and get your bike transported for a fee, if you are based in Bangalore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by speedy View Post
I did have the opportunity to do levels 1,2,3 in India (2015) and it was an experience i would never forget. The trainers and their method of teaching is out of this world and one gets to learn the many things we do wrong while riding on the streets and on the track. For the ones who think CSS is about speed, its not..they don't encourage speeding, its about right technics, body postures. CSS unfortunately did not have the level 4 this year, so one has to go abroad for it. I highly recommend the course to anyone interested in learning and being more confident with their vehicles.
Great! Hope you had a great time. Once you get the technique corrected speed automatically follows. Are they not offering level 4 in India anymore? I wonder why!

Last edited by JayKis : 17th June 2015 at 18:22.
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Old 17th June 2015, 18:55   #15
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Default Re: My experience at the California Superbike School, New Jersey

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Thats great. I was there in 2011. So think we should have met. Was there in 2013 as well! Their prices have gone up over the years from 15K, 23K, 40K to now 52K. Still 40 percent cheaper than the USA.
We did. This is Hyperion from ex-BHP.
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