What level of a rider do I have to be to participate in your class?
Read below to figure out what level your skill is off-road.
The Safest Thing You Can Do Is To Understand Your Own Ability Level!
Riding motorcycles is one of the most difficult and challenging activities humans participate in. With that weight on our shoulders riders are often put or pressured into situations they are not prepared for. Having a clear understanding of your own skill level is the best defense against getting in over our heads.
How do you assess your skill level? Are you an expert or a beginner? How do you tell? Well, it does not matter how long you have been riding, nor the bike you are riding, not even the gear you have on. It is the ability to control the motorcycle, all the time, which puts a ranking on your skill level.
Going fast does not equal more skill, in fact, quite the contrary is true. Speed masks skill and increase the amplitude of the mistakes or crashes, especially when the skill runs out. Remember F=MA? Controlling the bike while using a minimal amount of energy, operating the controls instinctively, and being able to slow or stop before something goes wrong are the signs of a highly skilled rider. Ever heard the saying, “Slow down to go faster?” More often than not, the more Novice the rider the less of this important tip you’ll see demonstrated. As less skilled riders are often rushed to keep up or pressured to ride above their skill level and become tense, frustrated, and exhausted.
To establish a skill ranking for our schools, we’ve broken down some skillsets to help you evaluate where you stand when it comes to off-road riding. Participating in a class with similarly skilled riders has proven to be the best bonus in our group classes since riders tend to learn from watching the mistakes of others as much as they learn from seeing drills demonstrated properly. The biggest mistake a rider can make is to overestimate his or her skill level and then become “left behind” by the class operating the motorcycle at a higher level.
A note to street riders: It is important to realize that a novice street rider can easily ride on almost any road in the world. The same is not true off-road, where the terrain will have the say on what ability level you HAVE to be to pass through. Typically on-road riding your skill level is reflected by your speed. Off-road your speed is only a small factor since having the ability to ride safely and controlled (usually slowly) through difficult terrain is a necessity.
Beginner: (If you feel you are in this category, our school may progress too rapidly for you. Please make sure you let us know if you are a Beginner rider so you do not end up in a more advanced class.)
- Not comfortable with clutch and throttle operation, stalls often, jerky with the application.
- Cannot come to a complete stop and accelerate away without putting a foot down.
- Not comfortable putting only one foot down when stopping.
- Not comfortable standing while riding.
- Not able to ride above 30 MPH on safe dirt roads.
- Comfortable using front brake in slowing.
- Can slide the bike by skidding the rear wheel.
- Can come to a complete stop and continue without putting a foot down.
- Able to ride above 30 MPH off-road when safe.
- Stalling from bad clutch use is not an issue.
- Comfortable standing while riding.
- Can track stand the motorcycle for a few seconds at a time.
- Comfortable on single-track.
- Comfortable using both brakes in stopping and able to control skids.
- Can loft the front wheel from a stop and not have the bike move forward much.
- Can do full steering lock turns and figure-eights.
- Comfortable sliding both front and rear wheels and able to produce and control the slides.
- Comfortable riding the bike above 50 MPH off-road in safe conditions.
- Not intimidated by different soil conditions (sand, mud, rocks).
- Not intimidated by steep uphills and downhills
- Comfortable jumping the motorcycle and riding in rough conditions without bottoming the suspension unexpectedly.
Comfortable in all conditions described above.
- Able to loft the front wheel and pivot turn the motorcycle.
- Able to ride up and down ledges that require wheel lofting.
- Can predict braking distance and rarely pass braking points.
- High level of understanding safe speed versus the conditions.
Cispus Cycles Off-Road Training strives to teach safe motorcycle riding to all levels of riders. We have yet to have an advanced rider feel that our Offroad Essentials program is not challenging enough. Yet we often have beginner riders overwhelmed with all of the new skills we teach. We do not work magic and all of the drills require practice and time to improve, so be prepared to learn how to make your motorcycle do things you never knew you could make it do.
Where are the classes held?
Our Schools are based out of the Cispus Learning Center near Randle Washington. Cispus Cycles classes are permitted and take place in the beautiful Gifford Pichot National Forest. All National Forest rules apply at our schools.
How long is the class?
Most of the classes start at 8 am and go till near 5 pm (sometimes longer depending on daylight!) with a break for lunch. No matter what we get a full day in and when you register, instructions with specifics will follow.
What time does it start?
We typically meet at 8 am to sign in and are up and running by 9 am.
Should I fly into Portland (Oregon) or Seattle (Washington)?
Both Portland and Seattle airports are exactly 2 hours from Randle Washington. The choice is yours. The price of airfare and rental car may be the deciding factor.
Does my bike need to be street legal?
Yes all Students and Machines must be street legal to take a class and operate on National Forest roads. You must have a valid license plate and follow all Washington state laws regarding insurance, endorsements and motorcycle equipment.
Cispus Cycles requires that all bikes used in the class have knobby tires. That means an open block design that is not a “round” or so-called 80/20 tire. This is for your safety because no matter how good of a rider you are if you can’t get traction, you will crash. The LEAST aggressive tire we will allow is the type like a Heidenau K60, we suggest something more aggressive. Other schools may let you take their class with a round tire but we won’t because it is unsafe.
The following is the suggested tires for the different brands of big bikes, we have tried all of these tires and are confident in how they work off-road:
BMW GS Twin Cylinder: Kenda Big Block, Continental TKC80, Metzeler Karoo and Karoo II
KTM 950 & 640: Kenda Big Block, Continental TKC80, Dunlop 606 or 908, Pirelli MT21, Metzler Karoo and Karoo II
BMW F650: Kenda Big Block and Parker DT, Continental TKC80, Dunlop 606, Pirelli MT21, Metzler Karoo and Karoo II
Kawasaki KLR 650: Kenda Big Block and Parker DT, Continental TKC80, Dunlop 606, Pirelli MT21, Metzler Karoo and Karoo II
How much gas will I need?
On the first day, you will need very little, never more than three gallons. And for the second day, you will have the opportunity to fill up as needed.
How do you separate the beginners from the experts?
Most of the time we pre-screen the class to keep skill levels as compatible as possible, but our class is designed to cater to a wide variety of skill levels all at the same time. Our drills cover a wide range of abilities and can simply be made easier or more difficult with minimal explanation from one of our instructors who are trained to help you out if you look bored or confused.
Will the class be challenging enough?
These are the same drills Cispus Cycle staff still practices today to keep on top of their riding game, and we have not heard of one student tell us they did not learn from the class. In fact, we have had many skeptics say they didn’t expect to learn anything new and after the first day, they are blown away by how much they never even considered when riding. There is a reason our drills are copied so much and other schools send their instructors to us (in secret).
What is the proper gear?
Multiple examples are available for view on the KLIM website. Offroad riding gear should be loose enough to move around yet provides protection. For protecting the knees and shins proper knee pads should be worn. There are many styles of knee protection available, offroad styles are designed to fit under the riding pants and provide knee and shin protection. For a best fit, look for pads that are comfortable, have a smooth lining, and have shin protection. It is never a good thing when your knee pads have a sharp edge that bothers you all day.
While you are not riding at great speeds in our class, you will be moving around on the bike and will get hot and sweaty. Hence, it is to your advantage to have some gear that you are comfortable in and feel protected, plus it should not be too warm. Full leather riding suits are not recommended; that style of gear is not designed for offroad riding.
PROPER SAFETY GEAR:
- Helmet (No half dome helmets, Dirt or Street style helmets are acceptable)
- Gloves (street style gloves tend to be too thick to articulate the clutch and throttle, we suggest a lightweight pair of off-road enduro-style gloves)
- Goggles or eye protection (glasses)
- Knee Protection
- Jersey or long-sleeved shirt
- Boots- we really suggest off-road boots, not street-style boots
- Chest Protection (optional but recommended)
You must have the above proper safety gear to participate in the class.
What types of Boots should I wear?
Enduro style or adventure riding style offroad boots are recommended. Street style boots are not made to wear while riding in off-road situations. The boot should have a stiff sole, which helps create a strong platform for controlling the bike. Good shin and ankle protection are also important.
Where to stay?
One of the biggest issues for students is finding someplace to stay nearby, especially at the last minute. Book early!
The nearest hotels are located 30 minutes away in Packwood Washington. We recommend The Cowlitz River Lodge but feel free to research all Packwood Lodging.
Gifford Pichot National Forest offers dispersed camping at no charge. There are also designated campgrounds near our riding school.