Honda Safety Riding Park - Chiang Mai Facility.

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by ZCM, May 26, 2017.

  1. #1 ZCM, May 26, 2017
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
    Just some info and feedback about Honda Safety Riding Park in Chiang Mai.
    I have taken three courses with them and plan to do more.
    Currently I am focusing on my most weak area - Dirt Riding. However, I do plan on taking their Road Riding Courses also.
    So far I have completed Basic Dirt twice (the first time I did the course I was unwell, plus it was all so new to me that i decided it would be best to repeat).
    Then I went onto Experienced (which personally I found difficult, mainly because we were instructed to do everything in low gear and slow controlled maneuvers. )
    All the courses ran from 9am to 4pm in full Hot Season sun and with no shade. It was tiring.
    I think dirt courses in particular are going to be much more comfortable in the cool season.

    FIRST OF ALL, it was easy to spot the facility. Huge sign and LED video screen marked the location for Honda Safety Riding Park

    On the 118 Map: (Google Map Link)

    Several million baht has been poured into this development, and it shows.
    Courses offered:
    I was lucky enough to get on on their 50% off all of their courses deal. They do these promotions from time to time.
    Keep an eye on their Facebook page, or (even better ;) ) on mine (as i post up promotions whenever i see them).
    Honda Facebook page: Honda Safety Riding Park Chiang Mai
    My page: Zed CM
    Anyway, on Friday 7th April I took the first course: BASIC DIRT
    Stage 1

    The first part of the course focused on technique, control and riding position. This part was done on the asphalt course. We had to bob and weave through traffic cones and tight cornering. I have to say I was very taken aback by how different dirt-bike riding techniques are from road riding.
    As someone who has had no formal instruction (and minimum help) I have a lot to learn (and a lot of bad habits to break).
    At one point early on my instructor pulled me aside with the alarming words (in English) of “Oh..You Crazy Arms!”. Haha …what?! I had an image of looking like Mr Tickle (an old cartoon) riding a motorcycle (with super bendy arms flailing about). What he meant was that my technique was really very out. I was physically shown how to position my arms and what to do. My instructor had the patience of a saint! I also had a lot of help and support from a fellow student (who i initially thought was a tutor also).
    After we got the hang of this we had a fifteen minute break and
    when we regrouped we were to ride over bumpy sections and through a water trough and practice maneuvering the bike whilst standing.

    At around 12 we stopped for lunch and we were given an hour for it. The park itself has a coffee shop and snack shop, but no eatery. However across the main road are a few restaurants.

    Crossing this road is a skill in itself though, as it is a main highway with no nearby pedestrian crossing point!

    Stage 2


    After lunch we hit the dirt course, which is where the fun started.
    This section involved teaching us how to control the bike in the wet and dry (the dirt was hosed down at intervals to create muddy sections).
    We were taught slow maneuvering techniques, when to stand and when to sit and how to slide. Lastly we were taught how to jump.

    At around 3pm, before we were due an official break, i had to take a break and leave the course. I began to feel quite unwell and couldn’t get myself together. I felt faint.
    I wasn’t sure at that point if i could get myself together in time to rejoin for the final part.
    However, the rest did me good, I got my second wind (only just!) and i joined the group for the last round.

    This last round was really just going back over everything we had learned and having fun on the track. I completed the course and received my certificate, which felt great even if i wasn’t feeling great!

    Some important things to note about the Safety Riding Park courses and facilities.

    • Each course price covers EVERYTHING except your food and snacks.
      This means your bike, protective gear and insurance is covered in the course price.
    • They have English speaking staff and instructors
      Not all staff and instructors speak English, but they do have staff and instructors available who do.
    • The changing room facilities are excellent.
      They have lockers and you can obtain a locker key from reception (you must leave your drivers license or ID to get a key, and then exchange back at the end of the course). They have showers (but you need to bring your own towel).
    • Drinking water is provided in the gear room.
    • There is a snack shop and a coffee shop on site.
      (but for lunch head across the main road to one of the restaurants)
    • You can ONLY ride HONDA bikes (which they provide – or use your own).
      You cannot take any of the courses and ride another make of bike.
    • You will receive a certificate upon completion of the course
    • You MUST begin courses at a lower level first before progressing.
      So, even if experienced you must still do base level coures and graduate up. This is to ensure that you really do have the basics covered. I did inquire about this and was told that many experienced riders (even if riding for decades) have bad habits or do not know certain skills. So best to start from the bottom and work up.
    • Honda Safety Riding Park often runs 50% promotional discount deals
      Best way to keep on top of this is to “Like” their facebook page
      (and mine too! i will always update when I see any promos on! :D)
    • There is an official Alpine Star store within the main building.
    I personally think the courses offered at the park are excellent. Excellent tutors and great value for money. I am satisfied by what was offered and plan on returning. Now, in saying that I actually have nothing to compare this course to. It is my first experience of taking a motorbike course in any form. However, I wasn’t disappointed and I do highly recommend them.

    Here is a short video of the day (much more fun video is after this one..see below)

    Price of course:
    BASIC DIRT – 1000 baht (with 50% promo deal. Normally 2000.)

    Price list of main courses (including discounted promo prices):

    click to enlarge

    Other notable aspects:

    Riding Simulator

    Coffee Shop

    Alpine Star store *This image belongs to “Great Biker”*

    Was recently directed to an excellent video of the dirt track by Override magazine. Shows much more detailed information plus tips on riding

    *ROUND 2*

    On the 18th April I retook the basic dirt course when I was in much better health. This time around a really did love it. The combination of feeling in good health plus having already been taught the basics meant i could relax and start to enjoy myself more.

    This time the group was smaller. There were only four of us; Two Russian men, one Polish lady and myself. The Polish lady had only recently learned how to ride a manual bike, so was throwing herself in at the deep end. Loved that!

    This also meant the instructions were only in English this time. Now here is something important I need to mention. The first time I did the course I was very lucky in that I had a bilingual aide. Initially I assumed that he was an instructor, but he turned out to be a fellow student. He regularly participates in courses so is well-known. Although I have Thai language knowledge the details that were explained was outside of my vocabulary and so was great to have the details explained in English (and the level of English explanation was truly in explaining balance and centrifugal force – that level of explanation). The second time I did the course the teaching instructions were not as detailed and were more simplified. I think it is fair to say that my first time experience was outside of the norm and not to expect this level in future.

    Ok, so on with the day.
    The day followed the same outlines as before. Initial maneuvers on road surface followed by dirt riding on their man-made dirt course.

    Was a lot of fun, as you can see from this video:

    Onto the next course up: EXPERIENCED DIRT

    Sunday 14th May 2017 I headed back to Honda Riding Park ready for the next round, feeling both nervous and excited.

    I had no idea what I would be taught on the Experienced course and was looking forward to improving my dirt riding skills.

    I arrived at the park around 8:30am finding the park full of street bikes lined up along with riders. The majority of the bikes looked to be rider owned (you are allowed to use your own bike but only if Honda brand).


    It turned out that three courses were running simultaneously that day:
    2 x Road Riding courses
    1 x Dirt Riding course.

    The street riding course was packed.
    The dirt riding course had only four of us (including myself).
    Which was great. I prefer this smaller number.
    S_6083971698298. Anyway..on to the course itself.

    Stage 1

    Initially the course took us back through the basic training as a refresher before moving on to teach us slow controlled balancing techniques. We were asked to imagine that we were riding in a river area and that we have to keep our bikes slow and steady as we ride along the small ramp areas. Initially we could start out sitting down, then we were to stand up. Again focus was on slow and controlled, so first gear only. I was repeatedly scolded for tapping my front brake, a habit that I found hard to stop. Apparently using the front brake in this kind of situation could cause the front tire to sink into the (imaginary) river bed. We had to picture it as a real life scenario and insure we use the correct techniques.
    222b. In full hot season heat and no shade, this slow maneuvering soon got wearying. So much so that I actually had a weird topple and fell over. This fall seemed to set a precedent for the day…for it turned out that I had a LOT more falling to do later on…Zzz….

    After this practice stage we hit the dirt area. One particular section of the dirt area was wet, muddy and slippery. A section right after a bend.
    After riding around a few times I hit the area at bad angle, slipped and hit the deck. I was rather surprised at this happening, but was able to laugh it off.
    Later on though I fell in the same section again and right in the great big dirty puddle (see photo below).
    An instructor came running over to check on me, saw that I was ok and so asked me jokingly in Thai “Why do you want to go swimming?” haha. Oops!

    Speaking of which, this particular course was all in Thai. I struggled a bit, but understood enough to get me through. However, some of the terminology used was beyond my comprehension. I did miss having it explained in English. A few times instructor K.Bank came over to check and translate some things, but pretty much all of the course was in Thai. That is also because they know I have some Thai language ability. I am sure if I had zero Thai language there would have been more translation help.

    By around 12 we stopped for an approximate hour lunch break and I ate with gusto at one of the restaurants opposite the riding park. I felt exhausted, wet and dirty.

    Stage 2

    After lunch we hit the dirt again. This time we were taught how to climb more difficult slopes, but again all in slow controlled ways. This was really much harder than i expected. I am used to being able to use a bit more throttle. Instead this was about building momentum and hill climbing in first gear. I had a lot of stupid falls with that one.
    When i posted the video (shown below) on YouTube and Facebook I had a lot of people commenting that i just need to use more throttle.

    It became a little frustrating to keep explaining that the reason i kept falling is because I was told to use first gear. We were being taught about slow careful maneuvering, not how to throttle our way up a hill.
    We were taught how to choose a line and follow it. Taught about how to position our bodies to ensure we keep good balance and taught how to do a slow run up to a slope building momentum.

    By this point I was really feeling tired. I remember taking a break and seeing all the road riders looking fresh as daisies, whereas us dirt riders looked like drowned rats, our hair stuck to our faces and clothes clinging to our bodies due to sweating so much.

    Anyway..I did finally make it up that hill but I cheated and used 2nd gear.
    I have yet to do it in first :/
    hs1-1024x768. I took more frequent breaks than the other three students that day. I wasn’t the only one to fall, but I fell far more frequently than any of us. My energy levels were spent and nerves and over thinking was getting the better of me.

    By the time we were taught the final steps of how to ride over large rocks and how to ride down angled slopes, I had decided to give up. I am not ashamed to have stopped. Instead I watched my fellow students go through their paces and offer support. We had around an hour left and I was out of energy and feeling faint from the effort and the heat.
    S_6083944033330-1024x768. I will redo the course again. In fact I will likely redo the Basic again and then the Experienced.

    My fellow students were great and really supportive.
    I have been lucky each time to have met with really nice people.
    It can be intimidating to be the only woman on these kinds of courses, but I have never felt anything but positivity and support from my fellow students.

    A video from the day:

    Price of course:
    Experienced DIRT – 3000 baht (with promo deal = 1000 baht.)

    All in all I would say that I recommend Honda Safety Riding Park. However, i have nothing else to compare it to.
    I am a self-taught rider and this is my first formal training.
    I am finding it useful.
    I am not sure if more experienced dirt riders and those formally trained in road riding techniques would get much out of these courses.
    It would be good to hear back from more experienced riders about what their thoughts are.
    But its a thumbs up from me. :)

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 2
  2. Great review. Many thanks for writing it up so well - it looks like you did have fun plus learnt a lot.
    Well done.

    Now I wonder how many bad habits I have?
  3. I doubt you have any bad habits. At least not on a motorbike that is. haha.

    Anyway maybe any bad habits are good habits for our style. ^^

    I imagine I will take what I'm taught then adapt it to what works for me, but good to know the "correct" way.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. I find it sad that all rider training in Thailand is conducted in off road training facilities. Even training proposing to be "advanced" or "post test" is conducted on simulated road systems.
    By comparison, 90% of rider training in the UK is done in the real world, on real roads, interacting with real people.
    The Honda training is a fine example of this, imported from Japan. There the majority of road users are well trained, many hours of theory must be undertaken before passing the test. The assumption being that if everybody has rote learned basic control skills and understands the rules then the roads will be safe. This has limitations even in Japan and elsewhere. It also leads to a thing called hypercompliance.
    But where this really falls down is it simply does not prepare someone for riding in a world where people do not play by the same rules, or simply do not understand them.
  5. My info is based on the dirt course. I recall seeing the road riders leaving the complex.
    I also think a lot of the riders who go to Honda Safety have already been riding since kids, so although self-taught, they have had hands-on experience of real road situations from a young age.
    But yes, i do believe the road riding courses leave the complex and ride on the road outside of Honda Safety. However, I havent done the road riding course, so I cant comment on what they did.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. I would be pleasantly surprised to hear that the training is now venturing out onto public highways, this would be a new thing as I have not seen any mention of it elsewhere.
    Nothing beats experience, however doing the wrong thing well is no substitute for doing the right thing even badly.
    From fundamental basics like Emergency stops and slow riding control right through Police Advanced Roadcraft and on to the new No Surprise / No Accident hazard prediction techniques, there is so much to focus on with riding in the real world that currently is not addressed in Thailand.
    By comparison, the current focus on riding skills has been found to be counter productive towards rider safety - See EVALUATION OF RIDER TRAINING CURRICULUM IN VICTORIA
    We do most of the basic training in the UK on roads in the real world environment. But also the Post Test Police Advanced rider training is aimed at very experienced riders who already have full licences and have been riding for years, however there is no shortage of advanced level "real world" skills that can be shared at that level also.

    A big issue in Thailand is due to the lack of proper instruction in how to deal with junctions and U-turns, many road users create their own coping strategies. Made worse by things like the motorcycle keep left rule. For example - How many times have you witnessed a rider stopping on the left of the road to wait for a gap in order to cross to the middle of the road in order to do a U-turn? A far more dangerous manoeuvre than tracking out to the middle of the road with the flow of other vehicles, but nobody has taught them how to do that properly. Just they have been told to ride to the left.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. There are a couple of Honda Training facility's around the country.
    If you are close to one or get an opportunity, maybe go to see.
    Then you can evaluate first hand. :)
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