View Full Version : School advice please

January 10th, 2005, 09:24 AM
I am looking into taking a riding school and asking for input.

Freddie Spencer and Keith Code are the two schools I've heard the most about. Anybody have pros and cons on these or other alternatives?

Would track days with ride smart be just as good?

All suggestions are welcome.


Greg Sampson
January 10th, 2005, 03:55 PM
Honestly, I'd do a few track days with RideSmart or LoneStar first, then decide what your goals are with getting on the track. If you want to race, go to Freddie Spencer's school. If you want to improve track riding and street, go to Keith Code or Pridmore's STAR school.

I actually put a trip together to Barber two years ago for Pridmore's school so I'm a little biased, but a lot of people on the board have done multiple schools and have great input.

By doing some local track time first you'll get your track legs under you and the school will do you a lot more good. And no, neither RideSmart nor Lonestar will ever compare to a professional riding school IF you seek out the instructors and request input.

January 12th, 2005, 05:16 PM
Thanks for your input Greg.

I've also gotten info off of your web site. Good stuff.

Anybody else?

January 16th, 2005, 01:05 AM
I'd second Greg's opinion on getting some track days under your belt before enrolling in the big-name schools so that you'd have mo' bang-for-yer-buck. Ridesmart's instructors do a good job of covering the basics, and you can tap them for a couple of lead-and-follow sessions. I believe the same can be said for LoneStar as well, although I have not done a lot of LoneStar events (they tend to run on weekdays).

W.r.t. the big-name schools, Star and Code are the most popular around here given their price point, BYOB, and that they tend to make local appearances in TX. I guess Kevin Schwantz' school is another option if yer up for a drive to Georgia (I believe you gotta ride his bike or a Suzuki at his school.) From those who've done Fredie's school, they say it is head and shoulders above the rest, but it is priced head and shoulders above the rest as well. I've done multiple events at both Star and Code, so I'll limit my judgement to these two.

For someone starting out, I'd strongly recommend Code over Star since the former is much more structured and well planned, with more personal attention. Code's schools have progression levels 1 to 4, you gotta start at level 1. In each session you concentrate on one (and only one) drill and the instructor is there to watch and coach you. One instructor per four or five students if memory serves me right, and he sticks with you throughout the day. On track coaching (hand signals, lead-and-follows) followed by a debrief session after each session. That way he gets a good feel for your problems and progression. I really like the format of the sessions: 1st session is no brakes, no gear changes (you'd be surprised at how much corner speed and lean you can progressively work up to); 2nd is no brakes, one gear change, 3rd is light braking, etc. The downsides, then? Well, the sticky instructor-student paradigm is great if the instructor is great, but if the instructor is so-so, then you're stuck with that for the whole day... In genral the quality of the Code instructors were well above that of Star, but I did have a day when a substitute instructor had to step in when a regular instructor couldn't make the camp. Also, Code's got some very fixed ideas about riding that he preaches and pooh-poohs alternative techniques (no body steering, always weigh the outer peg, etc.). When your skills advance to a reasonable level, you may want to consider other schools as well to determine for yourself if these techniques work for you. Code's approach is very analytical, and he's got all kinda interesting teaching-aid bikes (lean machine, slide machine, etc.)

The Star school is much more laid back and rather unstructured. Split into racer and squid groups, with a bunch of instructors that circulate with the riders and signal/pull-over students for instruction. If you don't make a lot of mistakes (when an instructor happens to be watching you), you may not get much personal instruction. You can approach them for some one-on-ones, but since the student/instructor ratio is higher you don't get the same all-day type of instruction that you get from the Code schools. Also, some of the instructors seem to be a little "light" when it comes to instruction. With regards to curriculum, it is far more racer oriented when compared to Code (trail braking, clutchless upshifts, etc.) and you typically go out and practice a couple of things (not just ONE) each session. Pridmore has some very good techniques (breathing/relaxing thru the corner, learning the track from the inside-out, etc.) and is such an easy going, approachable guy. The Star school lacked any prescribed progression levels, so if you repeated the school you got the same thing all over again. Towards the end of the day, the class room instructors seem to have no clear agenda, and while it is interesting to hear Pridmore speak about something wild that happened to him in some race, that's not the reason I paid up for this.

I hope that gives you some insights, I'd recommend starting with Code and then doing Star as you progress. Also, dont forget that local champ Ty has a school at Ridesmart events, and for just $50, it is a bargain. Racer focused, has camcorder footage to review body positioning and lines, imparts Ty's flavor and style - trail brake deep into the corner and get on the gas waaaay early to utilize the full width of the track.... I'd guess LoneStar also has an equivalent school, although I've never done it.