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Stay Upright Advanced I - a review

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by zenali, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. I recently coughed up $400 to attend the Stay Upright Advanced I course. The course has two parts: a three hour theory seminar delivered at their Hoppers Crossing premises; and a full day track session held at Broadford. I did the theory seminar a little over a week ago, and I spent a beautiful, sunny day out at Broadford today.

    The theory seminar was interesting, but I have to say it was nothing new. I'd done the HART Intermediate course previously, and the material covered in the theory seminar was very similar to classroom sessions from the HART course, and also the Learner and License courses for that matter. I guess this isn't surprising, given that the goals are similar. It probably also helped that it seems like half of the Stay Upright team have worked at HART at some time or another. (I recognised Anthony from his HART days, for instance.) We covered things like hazard perception and road position, and I gleaned a few little nuggets of wisdom from the guys giving the course.

    The theory seminar was optional, and most people didn't bother to attend. There is one theory seminar for two track days, but maybe only a couple of people from the track today had been to the seminar. Not surprising, I suppose. For most folks the track was the reason they signed up.

    After a fairly chilly ride up to Broadford we gathered around to watch a lesson how to get onto a motorcycle. I thought this was a pretty basic thing to be demonstrating in an advanced course, but there you go. Then there was a bit of a chat about the rest of the day before we saddled up and did a few laps of the racetrack. It was my first time on the track, so I was basically learning the various corners without really thinking much about lines or technique.

    Next we stopped on the main straight (closest to the pit lane) and saw a bit of a demonstration of some slow speed riding. The exercise that went with it involved coming to a stop - preferably blipping the throttle on the way down through the gears - and then doing a fairly simple figure S around some cones. I used to blip the throttle on the CBR 125 when we had it, mainly because it had massive engine braking for such a little bike, and if I didn't blip my 'nads were not too happy. But I had real trouble blipping the throttle on the Striple. Definitely something to work on. The slow maneuver was actually pretty easy in comparison.

    After that we watched some swerving demos and a bit of a slalom through some cones, before going on to do this ourselves. Between slaloms on the two straights, we got to ride around the rest of the track. This was fun, and gave us a chance to become pretty familiar with the corners. Sadly, there was one bloke who was significantly slower than everybody else on the track, and I was stuck behind him for this exercise. (And the warm-up laps, now that I think about it.) As a result I didn't really get to push myself on the slalom or the swerves that we were suppose to do around a pair of cones set up at the end of each slalom.

    After morning tea we did some braking practice. Once again, the exercise started with a demo, showing the virtues of front brake versus back brake, and the increase in stopping distance between 60 kph and 120 kph. We also saw how to do a quick-stop in a corner by standing the bike upright and then doing a stop as normal. This exercise ran pretty much up until lunch, with a stop on each straight and one corner stop on the left-hand hairpin just before the pit straight. I was reasonably happy with this, working my speed up to 85 kph before the quick stop, but it was over before I had a chance to try it at 100 kph.

    Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the day. The best thing about having the course at Broadford is that you can try things at road speed (or faster!), but it comes at a cost. In other courses I've done, which took place in comparatively small spaces, we got to try each exercise heaps of times, until I felt that I could see a real improvement in my technique. But because the swerves and stops were interspersed around the whole track, we spent more time doing laps than actually practicing the stops and swerves. I know most people think that is exactly as it should be, but we knew that we'd be spending the whole afternoon doing laps. I would rather have had the chance to spend more of the morning actually working on my braking and swerving.

    After lunch we watched two of the instructors demonstrate different cornering lines, and then split into two groups. Half of us stood by the right hander down near the pits while the other half were divided up into groups of four. Each small group followed one instructor as he showed good lines and cornering form around the track. We each got to tail the instructor for two laps, and then fell back to the end of our little group so the next person could tail the instructor.

    And here is my second complaint. I managed not to get stuck behind the very slow person, which was good, but I there was a moderately slow person in our group. I found that I couldn't see the instructor very well for more than half of the laps because he was a turn or two ahead of us. That was annoying, but I heard from somebody else that even when it was their turn to tail the instructor they couldn't see what he was dong because the instructor was riding too fast for them and was too far ahead. This person told me that he felt pressured to keep up with the instructor, which ended up in him having a bit of a scare coming out of the chicane and deciding not to try to keep up any more.

    The next exercise was a variant of this. Six or so riders were teamed up with each of four instructors, and the instructor would ride second in the group. We'd all do two laps, and then pull in to the pit lane by the main straight while the instructor gave feedback to the rider he'd been following. That rider would drop to the back, and the instructor would fall back one place to tail the next rider in the group.

    I thought this was the most useful exercise. When it was my turn in front I could ride my own ride without trying to keep up with anybody, and then after two laps I got some comments about my technique. Very useful, and also heartening as the comments were pretty positive. After a break for afternoon tea, we repeated this exercise, but with different instructors. I thought it was a good idea to get feedback from more than one instructor.

    Finally, we reversed the direction of the laps we'd been doing. (From clockwise to anti-clockwise.) This was surprisingly difficult, as some of the corners were rather nasty when going in the other direction. I wish we'd had time to do more of this. Because Broadford has so many right hand corners I now have uneven chicken strips! I was hoping to have a chance to even them up a little, but a bunch of us got stuck behind the slow guy so I never got a chance to get a decent lean going in any of the left hand bends.

    Overall, I'd say that the course was well worth the money. Yes, it is expensive. But the experience was worth it in my opinion. The highlight for me was cranking the Striple up to 145 kph in second gear - the first time I've managed to get higher than 10,000 rpm. I think that the most useful part was actually practicing braking hard from high speed, which is just plain risky to do on the road with other people who can come along and collect you at any moment. The most fun part was probably going around those right hand sweepers and noticing that I was doing them 20 - 30 kph faster at the end of the day than in our first few laps.
  2. I did the HART Advaned I course late last year, and the biggest difference that I'd note is that when we do the free laps with the instructors, they actually let you lead the pack - they take the second spot. Then after a couple of laps they give you feedback on how you were riding. You still get the chance to follow them around before you're 'up' and see how they do it but I found it really good to get remarks on things like my cornering lines and body positioning.

    Also, a note on the venue - the HART course is done on the Police driver training circuit in Mickleham (which isn't far from their facility in Somerton). It's a much shorter circuit than Broady which means that you don't waste as much time during the exercises. I have done a track day at Broadford though and I do like the circuit.
  3. Thanks for posting that. I'm doing the same course next month and have been wondering what to expect.
  4. sah - yeah, we did that too. That was the bit I found most useful.

    ametha elf - I think you posted in another thread that you were thinking of doing it. You'll have a great time.

    I'm actually thinking of doing the HART Advanced I course sometime later to compare the two, and help me decide who I want to do Advanced II with.
  5. Zenali, I have to get a bike first, sigh........
  6. Nice post Zenali '' I would love to do a track day of some kind The one thing that puts me off is that I'' would be the slow one in the group pissing everyone off . thanks for taking the time to post
  7. From memory with HART, the Advanced I course was very similar to the Intermediate course, but at higher speeds obviously. I found it quite good, they will go over things that you may well know, but it doesn't hurt to get some feedback from others whose job it is.

    And just as Sah posted, The instructor leads you through the run and then he follows you to give you his take on what to improve on if needed. Also the fact you ride their 600 Hornets, without risking your bike is a bonus. Again, this is from memory but I'm sure it was less than $400.

    Because of my work schedule I've missed out on the HART Advanced II but I hope to rectify that soon. Been looking at maybe doing the Stay Upright one so your review was great to read.
  8. I certainly pushed the Hornet at the HART Intermediate a lot harder than I'd ever push my bike, to the point that the crash bars scraped the tarmac and levered the rear wheel off the deck! I was pretty happy that it was not my bike at that point. :)

    One thing I need to work on is blipping the throttle during hard down-shifts. Do you remember whether HART covered that?

    One difference that has been raised before on this forum is that Stay Upright teach you to tap down through the gears during an emergency stop, but HART tell you to ignore the gears. They both have good reasons. The argument for changing down to first is that you can take off again if somebody doesn't stop as quickly as you and looks as though they are going to pile into the back of you. The argument for ignoring the gears is that if it adds to your stopping distance you are less likely to actually stop in time, and so the question of having somebody rear end you becomes moot.
  9. I wouldn't worry too much about that. Maybe do the HART course instead of the Stay Upright one, or do the Stay Upright Intermediate. Both of these are conducted on smaller courses, so you don't get a chance to reach the kinds of speeds some of the guys were hitting at Broadford.
  10. I would recommend California Superbike school at Phillip Island. Perfect track to really open up the triple :) plus the one-on-one training is very excellent and made a huge difference for me. Not to much real life road stuff but still helps with confidence.
  11. I need to do the METAL advanced course. They do it at Hidden Valley with the 1.1KM straight.
  12. The HART intermediate, Advanced I and Advanced II all cover pretty much the same content - it is just progressively faster and a few areas are expanded on.

    When I did Hart Adv I it was at calder, don't know if they now use the new area at somerton. Calder was only used bedause it provided a larger flat area of tarmac.

    The Adv II was at broadford - interstingly they used pit lane and a short loop that cut back to pit lane, which meant you were working excersises pretty much full on. The back staight was used for cones to practice throttle slalom.

    Thanks for the review.

    HART have gotten a little to PC and need to chill a little - too much time watching what they say. However that said, they seem to offer as good, if not better than the others. Advantage is also that you can use their bikes (for a price in Adv II) which meant for me that i could use their sessions to push the envelope without worrying about my bike being off the road.
  13. riding a 600 hornet that i could crash without consequence... i wonder what thats like... XD

    thanks for the reviews guys!

    i crashed the other week and when getting xrays, one of the guys there talked to me bout riding and how he had just done the adv. I course (HART) and definately recomended the intermediate...

    now i just need me a bike... :D
  14. Unless they have changed the rules, both the HART Inter and Adv I are on their bikes only. You can't use yours anyway.

    It's only the Adv II that you use your bike unless you hire one of theirs. Was $150 for the bike and $2000 excess on insurance if you came to grief.
  15. Wow $2000 if you put the bike down ??? . that's a very expensive track day . I think it may be better to do the coures on your own bike .As this is the bike you ride every day and you need to know your limitations and strengths on your machine . But there are pros and cons for both .
  16. That's max payout. I did it because my bike was my commute so couldn't afford to be off the the road.