At the end of March 2018 I did my CBT course at WLMT on an automatic machine, and in early August 2018 I passed my unrestricted motorcycle (A) category with them too. I couldn’t thank their instructors enough for their professionalism, patience and kindness. I learnt so much, and without them I wouldn’t have this amazing experience to share with you.
In September, I spent five days in Hungary and got the idea that I should do some biking activity. I browsed the web and found Safety-Hungary Honda and applied with a friend for the Level 1 Training, which is a two-day off-roading course. Our first challenge, however, was to get to Budapest from Southeastern Hungary, which is 187km. We woke up at 5:45am and hopped on a Honda CG125 and halfway along we switched riders. This was the second time I’d carried a pillion and the distance was difficult, but we managed to arrive at 9am when the training began.
Day One On the first day we had more theory than practical education. The instructors were trained in either Turkey, Spain and Singapore by approved Honda instructors, and their main goal is to improve the motorcyclists’ skills in order to avoid road traffic accidents. In the first hour or so we spoke about bike gear, how to get on and off the bike, and how to apply the side stand properly. We also learnt about the correct body position and keeping our right foot on the back brake. Then the time came to ride! I chose a Honda CB500F. All the bikes were in very good condition and had enormous frames to protect us and the bikes, but on perimeter wall you could see evidence of a few scrapes and scratches.
The first exercise was the straight slalom, like in the Mod 1 test. But this time, we had to use the back brake only to control our speed. After a many rounds the instructors modified the track a little and on the second half of the track we would do offset slaloms. This exercise was very tricky at the beginning as they made the track very, very tight. I hit the rubber cones a couple of times, but it’s all about practise.
We had a decent lunch, which was included in the package, and went back to the bikes. In the afternoon session the instructors taught us the most important skills that riders should perfect: emergency stop and hazard avoidance. During my DAS course at WLMT I practised these skills a lot, and here we got an even more detailed demonstration. The emergency stop demo was done at 40km/h. The instructor did three rounds, first he used the back brake only (with the engine brake), the second time the front brake only, and third with both brakes. Each time we had to estimate the point where the motorcycle completely stopped. The results were very impressive. We saw the back brake is very weak and the front brake is much more powerful, but the conclusion was that, in case of emergency stop we need that extra half meter that the back brake gives us to stop in as short a distance as possible and safely!
The next two demonstrations were about wheel blocking. The instructor intentionally broke hard on the back brake and second time on the front. And then told us not to be scared to just squeeze the brake and reapply it. They told us ABS can help a lot, but skidding can still happen. Then it was our turn to practise. The instructors told us how to accelerate and brake using the back brake, then front brake only, and finally combining the two at 40km/h. They also encouraged us to brake suddenly in order to experience the brake blocking (the ABS on the bikes were disabled). One time I broke too hard and put my right foot down and hit the frame of the motorcycle with my tibia – it was painful, but not a serious injury.
After we practised a bit more, they showed a final emergency stop demonstration at 80km/h – the braking distance was quadrupled. Then we discussed what happened at 160km/h. It was a very impressive and effective demonstration on why riders shouldn’t speed! The hazard avoidance exercise was shorter and had less explanation – the aim was to avoid the cone in the middle of the track while the rider maintains the speed. It’s always good to get extra practise.
Day Two The second day was even more exciting as we learnt a lot of new techniques not covered in full license training. After a quick recap of the previous day’s lessons, we learnt how to use the main stand. The test bike was a Honda CB1000R, around 300kg I think, and we all got it onto its stand, including a 50kg lady! Then we learnt a very useful skill, which at some point every rider has to use: picking the bike up off the ground. For this exercise, we got the smaller Honda CB500F. The instructor showed us four different techniques, which could be used depending on the size and weight of the bike. We all warmed up before laying the bike on the ground, and was told that in a real-life situation it was important to wait a little while to calm down the adrenaline rush and check ourselves for injuries before picking up a bike.
After these handy exercises, we spoke about bends and turns in detail. The training track this time had multi-layered cone circles. We had to do circles in first gear, but could use only the back brake to control our speed. We were forced to lean with the bike in order to make the circuits. We did left and right rounds in the outer and the middle circle and the instructors did it in the inner circle, which was so impressive! We returned to the offset slalom track, but this time counter-leaning the bike. After a couple of turns each, the morning session was over.
After lunch we were taught other important skills. We started with a slow ride exercise, but it was tweaked a little bit. The instructors laid down a long and narrow metal ramp and we were asked to ride along it as slowly as possible, which sounded easier than it was. The objective is to enhance the rider’s filtering skills using the clutch and back brake. On the next task, we had to pass through a wider metal ladder, which was very interesting. The exercise simulates a rough road surface, tram rails or level crossings. The main problem with this exercise is that most bikes don’t have long enough shock absorbers (like enduro motorcycles) to dampen the sudden elevation, that’s why the rider has to extend it with their legs by lifting a little from the seat. Again the key to this task is slow speed with clutch and back brake control, lifting up from the bike a little bit. Yes, the situation is not safe, but you could be faced with it.
For the very last exercise the instructors demonstrated how to park a motorcycle on a steep gradient, and showed us the main purpose of the engine cut off switch! The point is to leave the bike in first gear, push it forward until it stops and use the engine cut off switch to turn off the motor but keep the lights on, which is useful especially in the evening. Everyone had two rounds to practise the hill parking, then we returned to the track to do all the riding exercises we’d covered on the two-day course.
Summary This was a very well-tailored course for all riding levels. I learnt a lot of useful techniques, which I can use in my everyday riding. Personally, I like off-road training, because I can practise my skills in a well-controlled environment and don’t have to worry about hazards from traffic. Of course on-road training is useful as well, which are about tactics, while off-road is about skills.
The course that I participated in was the Level 1 training. There is a Level 2 where riders will push their bikes to their maximum capabilities. This is for those who’ve mastered the Level 1 exercises. They also offer enduro training, with a specific track tailored for enduro riders. If you’d like to find out more about this training course, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you enjoyed my story, and thanks for listening!