For decades, Indian motorcyclists have been a self-taught bunch. As we upgraded to bigger and faster machines, we simply taught ourselves how to handle them as best we could. But as anyone who has attended one will attest, a good riding school can change your life. The thing is, almost every existing riding school functions within the confines of a race track and they’re all more or less focused around high speeds and sporty machines. This leaves many motorcyclists feeling excluded, because a majority of large capacity machines sold today are big and heavy ones that are built to cruise. If you’re one of these riders, then what you’re about to read next will be music to your ears.
The Harley-Davidson Riding Academy (HDRA) has now debuted in Indian in partnership with Autocar. This is a school designed specifically for big, heavy and powerful machines and the purpose is to teach their riders how to be masters of their machines. Far too often, riders who graduate to big machines find themselves not feeling fully in control, especially when trying to manage the bike at low, urban speeds. It’s this very sense of occasional anxiety that the school aims to eradicate for its students.
The participants who experienced the very first session in Mumbai in December 14 discovered that the academy addresses a number of fundamental skill requirements. The various lessons taught are centered around essentials like bike balance, steering, braking and more - vital skills when dealing with bikes that can weigh anything from 250 to 400kg! The HDRA has nothing to do with high speeds, but the students can apply what they learn here to any scenario in the real world. After all, any big cruiser rider will tell you that the real challenge comes in handling the bikes at low speeds.
In addition to the fun on the training course, the students will also experience a session detailing the importance of safety gear, as well as an explanation on the different types of gear and the benefits each brings. This was something that many students found particularly insightful.
We had an interesting mix of students at the Mumbai session. Some were seasoned HOG members with over 1 lakh km under their belts while others were very new to the world of big bikes. The feedback was resoundingly positive and it was a joy for the coaches to watch beaming smiles break out as the students realised how the correct techniques can make a world of a difference. Many remarked on how the collective effect of the lessons helped them feel much more confident on their bikes and that the biggest benefits would arrive when riding in dense city traffic. One student who found big improvements in particular was Bhagyashree Sawant, a Street 750 rider who is very new to the world of motorcycling and she started off the day on quite a nervous footing, but was a visibly more confident rider by the end of it. “Today’s training has really boosted my confidence. I have very little experience with riding solo, so the lessons on how to ride at slow speeds and manage the bike during turns are now going to help me when I go riding. I was very nervous at the start about whether I could do this, but the support and motivation of the coaches really helped.”
If you’re interested in experiencing this for yourself, you’ll be thrilled to hear that the HDRA is free of charge. All you have to do is head over to Harley-Davidson India’s website or visit your local Harley dealer for more information. While the academy intends for you to ride your own Harley, it is open to riders of other premium motorcycle brands as well, and there will be a limited number of motorcycles available for non-Harley owners to ride at the school. All you need to bring is the knowledge of how to ride a geared motorcycle and basic protective gear, including a quality helmet, a motorcycle jacket, gloves, riding pants (or armour) and sturdy boots.
Following the success of the first session in Mumbai, the HDRA will be held across multiple cities in 2020, based on where there is a Harley-Davidson dealership. Look out for further announcements on from Autocar as well as on as the Harley-Davidson India website.
The biggest premium motorcycle player in the Indian market, Harley-Davidson has partnered with Autocar India to establish the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy (HDRA).
Why open a school like this? Sajeev Rajasekharan, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson explained, “We have about 7,500 active HOG members and we’ve sold about 24,000 units in India. Our customers do a lot of riding, both on their own and to the numerous events we organise, so we thought why not equip them with the skills of how to ride better and how to ride safer. As a brand with over 45 percent share in the 750cc and above segment, we felt it was our responsibility to look at the safety of our riders and to equip them with skills that all of them may not be aware of to enjoy their rides better.”
The HRDA is up to the manufacturer’s global standards and the training modules taught here are the identical to those you will find in any international market. To ensure a high standard of training, the four coaches for India were put through a rigorous, multi-day training programme, before they were certified to train at the HDRA. This was conducted by Mike Loydall, International Training Coordinator for Harley-Davidson, who made a trip to India for the project.