Posted On 27 Apr 2024
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This entry is part 18 of 29 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#28


It’s not about speed, it’s about accuracy, as Robert Finlay demonstrates!

The magic ingredient that makes Skill Master so special is Paul Riley. When you sign up for a course with him you are not just another pupil with an invisible dollar sign over your helmet; you become part of the Skill Master Tribe and that means not only improving your riding through unparalleled personal attention, but gaining a bunch of mates as well. Ask recent course member, Skye Chapman, and she’ll tell you how Paul went out of his way to help her with multiple bike issues.

Sign up for a Skill Master course, register for the Skill Master Newsletter, and you can come along for short or long group rides (L and P-platers welcome); weekend rides; 7-day adventures and, coming up, a tour to Uluru in August and to the Isle of Man in 2016!

Right from the get-go, sitting round the table upstairs at the Cameron Park Go-Kart track complex near Newcastle for the full day Up Skilling course,there’s a great atmosphere. There are no show-offs, just a bunch of people eager to learn to do the basics really well.

There are plenty of nerves, but Paul has such an easy, patient way about him that you soon relax.

This day, the most nervous rider is transformed and eventually wins the Encouragement Award.

There is absolutely no pressure, just encouragement, hints and demonstrations that help riders deal with real world riding. It’s not about speed, it’s about accuracy of technique. Crucial elements like posture, counter steering,scanning ahead, throttle control,cornering, manoeuvring, slow riding,roundabouts, braking in corners,the theory of cornering, looking where you are going and, despite it feeling like an expensive, unnatural act, constantly slipping that clutch while foot braking in u-turns and roundabouts. There’s so much useful information – what Paul calls the foundational skills that everyone should practice to make them more confident and competent riders. We even learned a trick to negate Parking Red Face – you know, where you have to ask a bunch of people to help pull your bike out because you parked down a slope!

Before setting tyre on the track, every rider’s bike controls are adjusted in some way or other for better reach and control. And then the fun begins with Paul demonstrating various techniques that we all practice, including braking from speed. At the end of the session we can free-ride the tight little kart track while Paul takes individual photos that will eventually accompany the Course Completion Certificate.

Meghan struts her stuff.

Paul offers a range of courses, including women only days. There is a new Get to Know Your Bike workshop as well as two levels of Up Skilling. You can even have one-on-one coaching and Paul has course gift certificates that make great presents for someone you know and love.

But make no mistake, whether you’ve been riding for over four decades, like me, or you are a beginner, you will accumulate knowledge and learn valuable skills to help keep you safer and be more in control in real world conditions. Visit or phone 0414 974 815.

Paul Riley explains the trail braking technique before we all do it.

Big bike riders will especially benefit from slalom exercises. At the end of the day Daniel Cobden made mincemeat of these, and the teeny–weeny roundabout.

Advice to veteran Terri – relax, and lean out rather than lean in.

Meghan Gamford, the group’s live-wire, gets ready for a personal bike set-up session with a helping hand from John Calfas.

About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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