Bikes > Lifestyle

You don’t need your own Ducati to learn about rider safety

Because keeping out of danger is a necessity for everybody

R33's drift track is converted into DRE's training facility for the day. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

It’s common to hear experienced motorcycle riders advise newbies, and one of the things that always pop up in such conversations is investing in one’s self. And by that, we mean that you should take a rider safety class of some sort. This is sage advice, of course.

Riding a motorcycle is dangerous, but a motorcyclist armed with the right techniques and habits can significantly mitigate the risk more than any expensive helmet or jacket can. Several institutions offer such training, one of which is bike maker Ducati. Since the program is called the “Ducati Rider Experience,” some might instantly assume that it is reserved only for those with a pretty penny to drop on a luxury Italian motorcycle, but that would be wrong.

Ducati Philippines marketing director Lorenzo Ongkiko said the only prerequisite to enrolling in the daylong training is that you can balance a moving two-wheeled vehicle. That’s it. He stated that you don’t need to own a motorcycle or even know how to ride one. They often get enrollees who have only ever ridden a bicycle, he added.

Due to COVID protocols, the classroom sessions are held outdoors. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

So, what can trainees expect to glean from the program? Well, the emphasis of the course is rider safety. It’s not about speed, doing wheelies, or dragging knee through corners. Although, of course, learning the correct fundamentals may lead to becoming a faster rider.

The program starts early in the day with registration opening at 7:30am. Ducati has multiple trainers on hand, and splits the class into smaller groups, giving trainees more time to participate in the drills and easier access to the trainers.

The first order of business is the classroom session at 8am. Here, the instructors discuss the theories behind basic concepts such as how to brake, countersteer, and position the body (among many others).

DRE instructor Miguel Bichara shouts: 'Just drop the bike if you have to.' PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

After the class, riders head out to the track to meet the DRE-prepped Scramblers and put their knowledge into practice.

Ducati has all three variants of the retro bike on hand. Beginners are assigned the Sixty2, intermediate riders get the 800, and the more experienced get the pleasure of riding the 1100. These bikes are pretty much standard Scramblers as they would roll off the factory floor, but with one slight modification. They are fitted with extremely long frame sliders to protect both the motorcycle and the rider in case of a drop.

The instructors brazenly command the trainees to just drop the bike in case things get out of hand. The sliders are long enough to keep the lower limbs of the rider from getting crushed under the weight of the bike, and prevent any of the bike’s bodywork from touching the ground.

After careful instruction and demonstration, the trainees are allowed on the track. PHOTO BY SIMONN ANG

Track time is split into two sessions. In the morning, students participate in the Safety Level 1 training, which is more about getting comfortable operating a motorcycle. Safety Level 2 takes it up a notch by focusing on awareness, steering and braking technique, and evasive maneuvers.

“Practice does not make perfect, but instead perfect practice makes perfect,” quipped DRE trainer Miguel Bichara. “It does not matter if you are a complete beginner or an extremely experienced rider. You might have practiced the wrong things and perfected those instead. The Ducati Rider Experience will set you on the right path to practicing the right habits so you can be perfectly safe out on the road.”

The Ducati Rider Experience is held once every month all year round. The rate is P15,000, which includes DRE apparel, one classroom session, Safety Level 1 and 2 training, breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks with unlimited refreshments throughout the day, as well as the use of training bikes. For schedule and enrollment inquiries, contact Kristine Rosales of Ducati Manila at (0917) 144-6524.

Simonn Ang

Simonn is just a regular guy who happens to love cars and motorcycles. He also loves writing about them, too.