Coach Mel Aquino’s school is one of the better-known in the country. Located at 381 Marikina-Infanta Hwy, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal, Motorcycle Riding School Philippines by Coach Mel Aquino, has been striving to teach basic all the way to advanced-level skills to students that are interested.
Unlike rider training programs, Coach Mel’s programs are based at the school, giving riders a good cause to regularly come back, practice, learn, and hone their skills regularly in a safe and controlled environment anytime during business hours. One of the school’s courses includes the Basic/Advanced Off-Road Training, and for the price of just P10,000, you can get out on the dirt, and learn from the pros how it’s done. If you don’t have a bike, don’t worry, there are bikes available to rent and they can be bundled into your training package.
Who is this course for?
Absolute beginners, or would-be or very new riders, will be better off with the school’s Learn To Ride Course, which is a beginner-level course that will teach you the basics of riding. If you already have an idea of how to ride a motorcycle, either if you have a bit or a lot of experience, this is for you if you want to learn the basics and some intermediate skills when riding off-road.
As such, this course is open to anyone and everyone who has experience on a bike, or on the road. If you only have a basic understanding of off-road riding and want to hone and practice your skills with professional riders on standby coaching you the right way, then this is right for you.
However, if you’re already an advanced rider on the dirt, the school offers other courses that are tailored to specific disciplines, from stunting to motocross, to trail, and a few others. If you are already familiar, the school still has programs to further your knowledge and your skills.
What will you ride?
There are two kinds of bikes that we were able to take out on the track with Coach Mel, the first is the Yamaha WR155, a “more serious” dual-sport motorcycle that may be a little daunting for beginners, but quite hardy in the hands of an experienced rider. If you prefer a lower seat height and an engine that’s gentler, then you may want to saddle up on the Yamaha XTZ 125. A dual-sport that’s smaller all around, and gentler.
These two bikes are available for rent, according to Coach Mel’s website, it goes for P2,500 for a half-day, and P4,500 for the whole day. Of course, you can get the rental bundled in with a coach for P4,000 for a half day and P6,000 for the whole day.
If you enroll in the course, however, that will include the Yamaha bike and the coach for just P10,000, at least for the Basic/Advanced Course.
What to bring:
Coach Mel’s school has a selection of gear for you to use, however, bringing your own gear is also alright as long as you have a certified helmet, gloves, boots that cover your ankles, a chest protector, elbow pads, and knee pads, you’re good to go. If you happen to be missing anything, you can borrow some from the school for the day.
While bringing your own dirt bike is fine, the school’s training units are available to you if you rent or go with a course, so there is no need to bring your own bike for this one.
Before gearing up and saddling up on the bike, you will be sat down with a classroom session first about rider safety and motorcycle gear. Rider safety has become increasingly important for a lot of people over the years, and getting a crash course on the gear that you need for full coverage is also a necessary part of rider education.
Following that, there are other safety pointers as well which include some road safety initiatives and a few other pieces of advice that you may take with you during your session, and out on the road.
Once you’re all informed by the coaches, you will be given a demonstration of the proper riding position while on a motorcycle, and you will be taught how your riding position will affect a motorcycle’s weight balance. The coaches wil also dive into the basic contact points that you will need to learn and master in order to remain stable on the bike while riding. Everything from your arms down to your toes will be given form in this chapter of the course.
Getting around the flat
As a basic/advanced student, you will be given the chance to tackle the flat track of the school on any one of their training bikes. You will be told to go up to second gear, use engine braking to slow down and go around the course in a controlled manner. The coaches will teach you the proper cornering posture and technique so you can stably go around the track with no issues. The point of this exercise is to get a feel for the bike. For this exercise, you need to take the riding position training to heart and make sure that you’re on top of the bike and properly counter-leaning while retaining consistent contact with the bike. The things you learn in this part of the exercise will be used throughout the day, so be sure to properly learn until it’s second nature to you.
Getting around the cones
Just like the road courses that we’ve covered, the training program on dirt is largely the same. An obstacle course will be laid out, and you have to go through the course slowly but surely. First, you will do a clockwise U-turn, then counterclockwise after that.
Just think of this as a slalom course for the dirt. You will be applying what you learned in the previous lesson, but now in a more dynamic environment where you have to change directions quickly.
Starting and stopping
Now, after getting a feel for the motorcycles and the basic behavior on the ground, you will learn how to stop using the front brake. Modulation is important here, and of course, you have to take things easy. These bikes don’t have ABS, so your fingers will have to learn how to stop the bike without locking the front wheel.
After that, it’s on to the rear brake and finding out how the bike reacts to hard rear braking and locking the rear brake. Following that, you’re expected to be more confident with your rear brake and your front, so putting both lessons together, stopping should become second nature to you on the dirt. Just make sure to modulate your inputs.
Going through the cones
You won’t run over the cones, you’ll go through gates, quickly changing directions and weaving through. This is an escalation of the first slalom session, but now with added complexity and a bit more lean angle into the mix, or whatever you’re comfortable with. The point is to balance your throttle, braking, and turning while doing slow-speed stuff, and to get comfortable with the bike while you’re going through the motions of a ride, cones or no cones.
Back on track
After all of the basic lessons stitching everything together was key to enjoying ourselves on dirt. A little faster, a little more daring, and a little more laughs, at this stage of the training, you’re expected to smile a whole lot more as you get comfortable and unintimidated by the looseness of the riding surface.
Now where do I sign?
Enrolling in the course is as simple as getting in touch with the school on Facebook or through its website. The price for the specific course we took was P10,000, which included the bike rental and all the gear rental that we needed for the day. However, if you’re keen on honing your skills further and looking for extra sessions, your second session will cost you only P8,000, and the succeeding ones after that will go down to just P6,000 per session.
However, it’s still recommended that you bring your own gear to the course, but don’t worry if you’re missing one or two items from this list:
- Elbow protectors
- Shoulder pads
- Chest protector
- Back protector
- Riding pants or knee pads
- Ankle-height boots or off-road full-height boots
The course can run the whole day, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on weekdays and weekends. Following the course, you will get a certificate of training to frame and display.