BMW Motorrad Philippines introduced its on-road rider training program last June 2022. The course is currently open to the public and takes in new students on a regular basis. Now looking to expand into less familiar territory, BMW Motorrad Rider Academy (BMRA) is pioneering a new training program, one for off-road.
After being able to conquer our low-speed basics on-road, the next frontier is off-road, if you own a BMW GS model. BMW Motorrad is looking to improve the skill of its riders here in the Philippines, and it’s looking at the wealth of experience from its world-class instructors to facilitate that vision.
We were given the opportunity, and a hands-on experience with the coaches and the training course that, if enrolled in, will be what you will experience.
Who is this course for?
While there are off-road motorcycle courses already available in the Philippines, BMW Motorrad is offering this training program specifically for riders who want to advance their skills with adventure bikes, and who want to learn the BMW Motorrad Adventure style of riding.
The program seeks to equip riders with the proper knowledge and know-how when it comes to big and heavy off-road motorcycles, a segment that BMW is obviously known for. When it comes to the GS, no other motorcycle is as versatile, but without the skills to unlock that versatility, it’s little more than a tourer. The BMW Motorrad Rider Academy: Off-Road (BMRA: Off-Road) program wants to unlock the potential of the riders on these capable platforms like the R 1250 GS and R 1250 GS-A, as well as the F 850 GS and F 750 GS models, which happen to be the training bikes.
What will you ride?
You don’t have to worry about getting your crash bars dirty, as BMW Motorrad Philippines has a fleet of training bikes for its BMRA: Off-Road course. The training bikes in question include multiple BMW F 750 GS units and its bigger brother the F 850 GS. All models are accounted for in the tuition fee that you will pay upon registration and you will also be required to gear up properly to ensure your safety throughout the training.
What do you need to bring?
As part of standard safety protocol, students are required to gear up fully which means a motorcycle helmet, riding shoes or boots, pants, knee pads, and gloves. BMW Motorrad recommends that you armor up just in case you drop a bike or fall.
While a normal road helmet will do the job, a well-ventilated motocross or adventure helmet might be of consideration given that you will be going slow for most of the session. Also, goggles are also recommended if you are so inclined. Riding jackets with protective elements are also recommended, though not explicitly required.
Other things to bring would be an extra change of clothes, perhaps a towel, and some water. You will be under the sun as well, so perhaps some sunblock will be preferable.
Before any riding happens, you will be sat down in a classroom session where the instructors will be demonstrating the basics. This pattern will continue throughout the day, always with a briefing before the riding happens.
Exercise 1: Pre-ride checkup
Bike setup is important. Pick a bike, remember its number, or a tell-tale sign of its individuality, and then set it up from there. You might end up using different bikes throughout the day, so this lesson will be important.
Among the things that you will check before mounting and riding out include the chain, any missing or broken parts, and also your ergonomics. Make sure that your controls are within reach before you ride as getting your reach to the controls just right can make a huge difference in the long run.
The coaches will teach you what to look out for, what to adjust, and what might be warning signs to not mount up on your bike. Pre-ride checkups are important for convenience and safety, and knowing your bike before the ride is a part of riding, even if you’re not yet doing any riding.
Exercise 2: Proper Riding Position
Following that, you get on the bike and sit. The coaches will then roam around and check your posture based on the briefing. Standing, sitting, and counterweighting is a part of this exercise, so make sure that you remember what was discussed in the classroom session.
Exercise 3: Balancing the bike
You need to use finesse to keep the bike off the side stand, do one lap around it, and set it back down. The exercise then requires you to do two laps around the bike while it’s on its balance point with two or one point of contact.
Getting comfortable with the bike before you actually ride it illustrates a fine point: The motorcycle isn’t heavy while balanced, and you must take that notion into account while you ride through the rest of the exercises.
Exercise 4: Picking up the bike
Riding off-road will eventually lead you to drop your bike. It’s a lifestyle, they say, but a reality that adventure rides must face. Knowing how to pick up a bike after a mishap is a part of the adventure, and the coaches will instruct you on the proper technique, and the peculiarities of picking up a motorcycle while on dirt.
Exercise 5: Walking the bike
Five exercises in and still no riding, but at least the bikes will be on for this exercise. You will be tasked to turn on the bike, put up the side stand, and work the bike while you’re off of it. The point of this exercise is to get familiar with the clutch and also to bring the balance point training into practice. You will find that moving a bike while off the saddle is possible, all while balancing the clutch’s friction zone, and using the front brake when needed.
You will be taking the bike around the course, and being dirt, it won’t be quite a walk in the park.
Exercise 6: Warm up
Regardles of your age, warming up before any for of exercise or training is important. If you cramp mid-ride, that’s pretty bad so the coaches make sure that everyone is limber and loose before getting down to business.
Exercise 7: Enduro Steering
Cones will be involved here, and you need to navigate around them (not through them!) in order to succeed in this exercise. Take what you’ve learned from your riding position exercise, and apply it here. You will be doing this exercise standing up in typical adventure bike fashion.
You need to turn left and right all while navigating the course, counterbalancing while standing, and applying enduro steering. Fair warning, once you get the hang of this exercise, it’s pretty addicting.
Exercise 8: Riding in the ruts
Riding off-road is rarely smooth. When your journey does take you off the beaten path and into ruts, this exercise will come in handy. Pro tip: look forward, not down. Riding in a rut will introduce a bit of uncertainty, and most riders without the proper technique could potentially veer off course and find themselves off the bike.
On top of that, you also have to weight the pegs in order to engage the tires with the ground and produce traction. Riding in and out of the rut can be easy, then be prepared for a few rocks in the ruts, placed by the instructors for an additional challenge.
Exercise 9: Short uphill and downhill
Through the ups and downs of an adventure ride, it’s not all about momentum all the time. With a powerful engine under-seat, getting yourself stuck and dug in is easy, but there is a proper technique to avoid this whether fast or slow.
Of course, you will be engaging in this activity slowly at first. Taking from the rut exercise, and the principle of weighting the pegs to get traction, proper timing and technique are needed, and that will also be the main points in this exercise. Once you get the hang of the technique needed, you will find that it is universal for off-road riding, and can work for just about any speed you wish to take a hill for optimal traction, and your best shot at making it without rolling backwards.
Exercise 10: Emergency stop on a slope
Should you find yourself stopped on a slope and rolling backwards, you may end up rolling back, spinning your rear wheel to no avail, dropping the bike, or making it with the proper technique. This exercise will teach you how to secure the bike and prevent it from rolling backwards, manage your bike’s power properly to make it up, and how to weight the bike’s tires with the surface.
Exercise 11: Off-camber turns
Berms are a part of the course, and it’s also a part of off-road riding. Turning a motorcycle on a flat surface is easy, but cornering off-camber isn’t typical, and it’s something that the BMW Rider Academy will gladly teach in this course.
Speed is key, or rather momentum is key, in this exercise. At this point, you might have been able to build up enough confidence in your riding abilities in order to clear this exercise with no problem. Make sure your bike’s traction is in check, make sure your power is consistent throughout the turn, and make sure that you look where you want to go.
Now where do I sign up?
Get in touch with BMW Motorrad Philippines on the next available training day. The off-road course will be held at MX Messiah Fairgrounds in Taytay Rizal, and you can expect updates on any of BMW’s social media platforms to tell you when the next session will be.
The course is open to students, and it’s all for the price of just P19,000. The tuition fee is inclusive of your track rental, your bike rental, and refreshments for the day.
You can get to the signup sheet through BMW Motorrad Philippines’ social media pages, where the signup sheet is linked for your convenience. Register first and then pay the tuition fee via a bank deposit no more than 48 hours or two days after submitting. Only a limited number of riders will be allowed per session, so slots can be limited!