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I put this in the K1200LT forum because that's what I rode in the course.


This past Sunday, in Hudson, Fl., I took the Ride Like A Pro course by Jerry Motorman Palladino. He taught it with a guy named Rick and Jerry’s wife. It lasted almost 5 hours

Executive summery:

It was worth the $150, but I really had difficulty because I am not used to using the rear brake. Most of the class was on slow speed maneuvering. They both tried to talk me out of taking it, but I figured I’d learn something so decided to anyway.

Long Version:

We started at about 9 AM and were finished by around 1 PM. 24 hours later, my hands are still a little sore. For hours after the class, my hands kept cramping up and I felt whipped! Five hours was a little too long for me.

This was my first class on riding since taking the two day beginner riders requirement in Florida about 10 years ago. There were 8 other riders in the class on Harley Davidson’s and one on a Honda Gold Wing. I had the BMW. All of the riders were over 50 and looked like they had been riding for years. The hair (those with hair) was grey. The only riders with full face helmets were the GW rider and me. The rest had the typical HD ¼ helmet. I thought of bringing one for the class, but chose to use mine in the flip up stage.

Before the class began, Jerry’s assistant, Rick, who has owned several BMW’s and at least 2 K1200 LT's came over to me and said, “Is that an 02?”

I was quite surprised that he knew the year. He asked if he could take it through the course to make sure that it did not have a low speed steering shimmy that he seemed to be aware of on similar models and I said sure. He seemed to be able to ride through most of the course, but felt that I would really have to work a lot harder than everyone else to keep up. He had previously ridden , while we watched, on one of the 5 HD that Jerry and his team brought with them, scraping the bottom quite consistently.

We talked about the bike and he seemed to do his best to try and discourage me from taking the class, saying that it was going to be quite difficult because of the wheel base and breaking of the K1200LT. Jerry too came over and said that others on the same bike had had difficulty with the class and that because of the ABS brakes and the way that they were linked with the “servo” I was going to have to work twice as had as the others and that it was going to be quite difficult.

I was sort of figuring that they were just trying to challenge me, but quite frankly, they were correct. I really did sweat bullets and was not able to do everything that the riders on HD could do in the same area, inside of the cones on many of the laid out courses.

There were several courses where it was necessary because of either my riding ability or the bike, (probably me) where I was not able to stay inside of all of the cones.

Rick even offered me his HD, but I felt that it would be better to ride on my bike and get close, then to use his bike and stay inside of the cones. I’d be riding my bike home and not his, so what ever I learned on my bike would be helpful.

I told him that even if I couldn’t do everything that the others did, that I still felt that the class would be beneficial.

Before we started really riding the course, we were entertained (shamed) by Jerry’s wife, Rick and a 16 year old girl who was about 4-11 and could not have weighed more than 90 pounds as they took HD though the course that was set-up in a high school parking lot. She really was skilled on the bike at low speed.

The class started out with Jerry explaining that in order to get through the course that was laid out in the parking lot, it would be necessary to ride slow, use light rear brake, clutch and throttle, at all times. Either he, Rick, his wife or the 16 year old would demonstrate each separate riding task, before we were asked to do it.

We started out with some simple swerving maneuvers along a 100 foot straight line that ended with us riding in a circle at the end. I think the cones were spaced out 15 feet apart. We did this for a while, one after the other and then went to cones spaced out every 12 feet with a smaller circle.

We continued to do different courses until everyone had gone through maybe 10-12 times. I happened to notice that my odometer had hit 50,000 miles on the way to the class and when it was over, I have traveled more than 25 miles in the parking lot.

Knowing that the class emphasized low speed maneuvering, I removed the top case and replaced it with a rack. Rick, who has owned several BMW’s and at least 2 K1200LT’s was impressed with the rack and said that it would make it easier to handle the bike on the course. He was right about that.

For me, the class was quite hard and seemed to be difficult on the K1200LT. I’ve ridden many other bikes at slow speed and they were quite a bit easier to handle. This bike is top heavy and most of the time I use just the front break.?

Well, for me, it was a difficult class and I really did work my ass off trying to keep up with the all of the other riders on HD and the GW. The HD were able to much more easily keep light pressure on the rear brake and even the GW with some type of linked brake was able to make it through most of the course

I never let the bike fall down, but there were several times when it was close. My brakes seemed to grab a lot at the very low speed and it was probably because I am not used to using my rear break. This class required that the rear break be engaged almost all of the time, along with the clutch, and a little throttle! I was also concerned about the clutch. Since it is dry, but it seemed to do ok.

The bike came through the class unscathed and I was worn out. I never smelled what might have been a burning clutch and really got a chance to scrape my boots on the pavement. I really did get a lot out of the class on low speed maneuvering and can definitely make better U turns and slow maneuvers.

I probably would have done a lot better on a bike that had independent brakes because that was the hardest part. It was difficult for me to just barely apply rear brakes. The K1200LT’s breaks tended to grab.

High Speed Maneuvering and Braking – This is where the K1200LT really came through for me. The last 30 minutes of the class involved 20-25 MPH riding/swerving through cones and this was a “walk in the park.” No hesitation at all and quite frankly a waste of my time. I went through the course maybe 6 times and never hit a cone. The others were bouncing off of some on most trips.

Rapid breaking was also easy as I was able to stop in about ½ the given distance, and a lot quicker than the other HDs. Not sure on the Honda GW.

Bottom line…..The class was beneficial and I am much better at low speed maneuvers. I still need a lot more practice and know what I need to do to get better. For me, there seem to be limitations on the K1200LT, but I did watch Rick, who is quite experienced take my bike through some of the course. He said I would work a lot harder than the others and I felt like I did.

I would guess that at least 95% of my riding is above 10 MPH and that is what I do best. Low speed maneuvering is necessary, used all the time and I do need more practice.

I’ve probably left out a few things and am open to questions.
 

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That is awesome Dan. I have been thinking about taking this course also. Earlier in the year I was at Quaker Steak and Lube in Clearwater and participated in their skills challenge. I was the only BMW and it was very challenging. Several GW's and some Harley's. The course that they ran thru was called the glock, due to it being shaped like the handgun. The low speed manuvering takes some practice to get. Thanks for the post. I will look at taking the next course in our area.
 

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Dan -- I really appreciate you posting your experience in detail. I haven't taken Jerry's course, but I have his DVD. I did take a similar course, though, first on an HD and then on my LT. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't make it through the course on my LT without going down. You did better than I. I had no problem at all on the HD.

I still learned a lot on the LT, but I wasn't able to complete all of the course within the parameters. The most important lesson was that I need to be a lot more attentive in trying slow speed maneuvers on the LT. The lesson has served me well. :eek:

Thanks again for sharing.
 

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RobertC said:
Dan -- I really appreciate you posting your experience in detail. I haven't taken Jerry's course, but I have his DVD. I did take a similar course, though, first on an HD and then on my LT. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't make it through the course on my LT without going down. You did better than I. I had no problem at all on the HD.

I still learned a lot on the LT, but I wasn't able to complete all of the course within the parameters. The most important lesson was that I need to be a lot more attentive in trying slow speed maneuvers on the LT. The lesson has served me well. :eek:

Thanks again for sharing.

No need to be embarrassed. The only reason that I didn't lay it down was because I managed to catch it and dance around on one leg. Sort of hard to describe, but I'm sure funny to watch.

The course is tough because it is so dependent on using the rear brake and clutch at all times in addition to the accelerator. I need a lot more practice! I was not able to stay within the cones except for a few lucky moments. Jerry saw my struggles and very explicitly told me to stay outside of the target green ones. It got me into a comfort zone and then I gradually reduced the turning radius.

One of the keys is to look where you want to be before you get there..Always looking ahead.
 

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Dan, Thanks for the glimpse of how the pros ride...I think another lesson to be learned is that some bikes have limitations, and it is how a person recognizes those limitations and adapts their riding to avoid problems because of those limitations. For example, if they had a part of the course that involved parking front in on a downhill spot and then backing out, guess which bikes would be the best at getting out....GW and LT (reverse is the BOMB!) I guess what I'm saying is, if I want to ride under 10 mph, I'll peddle my bicycle "like a pro". :histerica :rotf:
 

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Dan,
I took the course with about 700 miles experience on my 05 K1200LT. A big mistake, as I had ridden nothing but big HD's before making the switch. Needless to say, it was a tough day. I was not used to the power assisted brakes and the linked rear to front and the bike in general. After the 3rd drops and small pieces falling off, I called it a day. One thing did make be feel better, Jerry could not do all the exercises on my bike either. He tried it and completed most of them, but not all. Tough technique for a newby, I think I would do better now. Works great on my R1200R.

Ultra LT
 

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Good Job Dan,
Imagine 80 hours of something like that. Motor Officer School. No way I'd want to go through on an LT. The Kawi I was on in school, and the later move to the Honda ST was tough enough. But it is good training and good to know the bike will will do things you never dreamed of.
 

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Hey Dan, Thanks for that report. I've been teaching the MSF Basic and ERC classes now for about 12 years and certainly agree with your comments about low speed handling with the LT. I still sometimes struggle with the tight turns in the 20 foot box on the LT but have no problem when I use the 1150 GS. Guess which bike I choose to do demos on? Anyway, I'll anxiously await your report on similar slow speed handling when you take delivery of you new 1600!
 

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Thanks for the report. I would love to find that course locally in the DC area for my wife to attend on her K1300.

Your problem was greatly exacerbated by the linked brakes on your bike. First thing we learned in Motor School was that if you touch the front brake in a turn, you're going down. If I understand the linked brakes correctly, at least on the LT, if you use the rear brake the front brake is also applied. That pretty much equals guaranteed failure. I'd say that if you completed any of the courses you did great.

One of the ways Motor Officers are being taught now is not to use any rear brake at all, at least to start with. You really have to modulate the throttle and clutch that way and focus on balance. The more complex cone patterns really need the rear brake, but you tend to go lighter on it if you start out not using any brake.

Bottom line is that there are limitations on the big bikes, but you can still do amazing things. Check out some of the Lee Parks Total Control stuff. That school really emphasizes shifting your body mass to reduce lean.
 

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Hey Dan:

Good to hear from you again. Our club BMWNEF (BMW Northeast Florida) just put on a Slow Speed School (SSS)

We used the same techniques and had about the same results. When I first walked out to that 60' by 24' box I thought "NO SWEAT", boy did I get a rude awakening. By the end of the day I could make the left-hander but was always outside the box on the transition to the right-hander.

I've marked a cul-de-sac in my addition so I can practice.

Thanks for the post, I'll continue the practice and then go take his course.

Bill
 

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DanDiver said:
No need to be embarrassed. The only reason that I didn't lay it down was because I managed to catch it and dance around on one leg. Sort of hard to describe, but I'm sure funny to watch.

The course is tough because it is so dependent on using the rear brake and clutch at all times in addition to the accelerator. I need a lot more practice! I was not able to stay within the cones except for a few lucky moments. Jerry saw my struggles and very explicitly told me to stay outside of the target green ones. It got me into a comfort zone and then I gradually reduced the turning radius.

One of the keys is to look where you want to be before you get there..Always looking ahead.
Hi Dan, I have cut rubber hose pieces and put them over the tip over bars front and rear. It gave me more confidence as I was not so concerned if I layed her down while practicing. See pics and post # 9 of the old link:
http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15123&highlight=red+rubber+hose
 

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Awesome write up Dan Thank you.

Low speed handling is a bear with our bikes no doubt about it. After reading this I may go take the Advanced as well.
 

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Nice report Dan and thanks for sharing. I do not seem to have many issues with low speed handeling, although I will say it is more of a challenge on my new 09 than it was on my 99. I would like to take the course to challenge myself and learn. Doesn't the Gold Wings have a braking system that would also present challenges and problems, did the instructors caution or try to dissuade them from participating?
 

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Thanks Dan for the great information you posted. I have been a motorcycle Officer for 20 years and a Harley Northwestern instructor for 14 years, I am pretty sure the class you took is based on the same principles most motorjocks learn in a 2 week 80 hr class give or take a few patterns. I have had my LT now for 6 months since jumping to the other side no regrets and can say it is a different animal in many ways, I have always owned a Harley and have been on a police Road King since 2002 and before that I was on a KZ1000. Slow maneuvers are harder to achieve on the LT but can be done if you keep your RPMs up and use the rear brake, the only worry I have doing alot of this is burning up the dry clutch when slipping it to perform these maneuvers and yes it will slip, do it enough and you will smell it, wet clutches seem to hold up better to this technique and are cheaper to replace if you burn them up. I am no expert by any means but get to do my job riding a bike year round and work in a very busy metroplex area. The Lt handles very well in high speed evasive maneuvers and in the braking patterns was easy to whip around after hard braking exercises I rode it in. The speed and breaking exercises are in my opinion some of the most important to learn and the Lt was very impressive in these with handling being very stable for such a big bike, the brakes are one of a kind and some of the best I have used. ( Almost face planted the windshield testing them out. LOL) I think the bottom line is that any classes and schools we can attend regardless of our experience only makes us a safe and better rider, just remember you dont have to tear your bike up to do these go slow and learn the principles and fundamentals being taught and learn the limitations of your bike and then find an empty parking lot somewhere and practice them. Everyone staysafe and keep both wheels down!
 

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Returning to an older post, I now have a K1600GTL and it is sooooooooooo much easier to handle! A lower center of gravity and I'm closer to the ground. The brakes are different and touching the rear does not cause it to engage the front with as much pressure.

I was responding to a member of the K1600 forum and searched out this post so I would not have to re-write it. Damn, my spelling and grammar needs to be edited!!! sorry...
 

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I have not taken the referenced course but learned a lot about low speed riding on a number of mountain tours.

I've had RT's except for South Africa on a GS (not a lot of switchbacks there) but with switchbacks on my first trip the tour guide in the Pyrenees told me to use the rear brake with throttle.

I thought it was counter intuitive but it allowed the rpm's to be kept up without full clutch and that worked rounding the tight turns both ascending and descending. The switches in the Aps are very tight and I'm glad I had the prior experience.

Ride a 2000 LT at home and don't have linked brakes so I use the same technique when in WV or the Carolina or VA mountains.

 
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