Learn to ride with BMW: Riding Clinics by Auto Bavaria Glenmarie

Official distributor of BMW cars and Motorrad motorcycles, Auto Bavaria of Glenmarie is hosting an interesting few days of great deals, and safety riding clinics for bikers.

The event is being held from Friday, 16th of Jan till Sunday, 18th of Jan at Car Park B of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. It starts from 9am and goes on till 9pm.

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Visitors can expect to view and test drive the latest range of BMW cars, but while all that is well and good, it is of no interest to us.

What is interesting though is that there is a special marquee for BMW Motorrad bikes, the entire Malaysian range is on display. And you get to ride them too! Well, not all of them but who’s complaining?

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However you must register your interest earlier, but you could however head over to the location after 4pm, where you can be a walk in guest and, depending on whether or not there are slots available, be given a bike to ride.

We did it, and it was awesome!

We were part of the first batch of riders, and not only got to experience the dynamics and agility of BMW bikes – the S1000R and R1200RT to be specific – but also brushed up on our riding skills.

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The organiser, Auto Bavaria Glenmarie organised a safety riding clinic with KK Wong, an advanced driver and rider trained by the boys of BMW AG at the firms own advanced driving clinics.

The 2 hour session involves a group of 8 riders going out together to a specially laid out course. It all begins with a warming up session where you get to do some exercises to get familiarised with the bike. This involves standing up on the bike, riding with one leg or hand, and all kinds of things that show you that you can trust the bike you are riding.

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Next up is emergency braking, which was particularly insightful. This exercise involved listening to the instructors advise, watching him do it and then doing it by yourself. You basically had to ride up to speeds of either 30, 50 or 60km/h, and then jammed the brakes. You first work with the rear brakes, then the front and then both brakes to better understand how long it takes you to come to a complete stop. Bike stability was never an issue no matter which brakes you used.

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And then after that was a section called the Slow Straight. This is where a line of cones are lined up straight for about 50 metres, and you have to ride the bike through that as slow as you can. Crawling was more like it. This was basically to improve your balance on the bike, and to understand the weight distribution of the bike. Apparently some riders can take up till 35 seconds to finish the course, which is unbelievable because it really is tough to keep the bike upright while riding at about 8km/h. Yours truly probably did it in 5 seconds.

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After that was the slow slalom, which was even more treacherous because now not only did you have to ride really slow, but you had to ride through a bunch of cones that were placed so tight, even a cyclists would find it tough. But the bikes did it with ease. It looked really hard, and doing it for the first and second time was tough too. But then you learn to understand the basics which is to just look at where you want to go instead of where you are heading, in this case, the cone ahead of the cone that is coming towards you. Complicated I know, but it’s easier done that said. Trust me.

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Then came something called the ‘steering lock drills’, this is where you need to ride the bike in a really tight circle. Quite simple because you just need to balance the throttle and the brake, but takes some getting used to. I was personally riding the RT, which can feel quite heavy at low speeds, but it is also known to have a perfect centre of gravity. So riding in ever tightening circles was actually quite easy, considering the heft of the bike.

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The final session was possibly the easiest, and that is learning the four basic riding style – the Push Method, In Line, Hang Off and Spiegel Method. We got to practise each style by riding in a wide circle around a pre set set of cones.

The Push Method is where you have to push the bike into a corner, dirt bike or motard style. This riding style apparently is one of the best because it gives you full control of the bike, especially in emergencies.

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Then there is the In Line method where you just stay on the bike and lean with the bike. This is an easy method too, but is not as comfortable.

The Hang Off method is something we are all familiar with, this is where half your body or butt cheek is hanging off the bike. Great if you are riding on a circuit, not good at all if you are riding on the road. Why? Well who is going to control the bike if half of your body is already hanging off it?

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The Spiegel Method is interesting and is something I have never heard of before. But apparently it is named after a professor who is also a biker who just happened to find the best way to ride after studying over 500 bikers. Yup it is true, it is the most comfortable, and the most confidence inspiring, all of us were actually riding faster than all other styles and stayed in full control.

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For the Spiegel Method, you basically just push your knee that is facing the corner inwards so as not to fully lean off the bike, but just a bit while still keeping your body on the bike and your foot firmly on the peg. It works.

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That marked the end of the practise, and of course, food and drinks were served.

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