A day in the BMW School with the TKC 80
The BMW Performance Center U.S Rider Academy in Greer, South Carolina, is a play ground for big kids like the Continental Motorcycle Tire marketing and sales team along with a group of loyal customers, believers and media officials. Guests came from all over the country to experience something that would exceed their expectations in every way; and that it did.
The day started early in the morning at 8 am. Before the fun began, first thing was first, riders met in a meeting room next to the track to discuss an overview of the day ahead by two of the most humble and friendly instructors, Gary Hardin and Aaron Rankin. There was no bureaucracy between instructors and students. This helped everyone find common ground, feel comfortable and put a smile on their face. After this initial meeting and some instructions about the BMW Motorrad technical aspects, the fun began as one of the most satisfying sentences a rider could ever hear was yelled:
“Riders, choose your weapon!” said full time riding instructor, Gary Harding. In front of the riders stood a big fleet of new BMW R 1200 GS and some F 800 GS, all equipped with the legendary Continental TKC 80 tire.
The first exercise involved some on-road emergency maneuvers which emulated an obstacle suddenly stopping in the middle of the road. This practice required an abrupt turn and then a stop at speeds up to 25-30 mph. The group was told that at the end of the day, they would be able to do the same maneuver at speeds up to 50-55 mph. After trying the first time, it left everyone scratching their heads and wondering how in the world they were going to do that, but Gary Hardin assured them that his instructions can go a long way.
After this first practice, riders were let lose around a small part of the track. Here, they followed Gary at almost full speeds and got to know their BMW motorcycle while approaching the limits of adhesion. Overtakes, acute leaning, hard squealing braking and progressively faster laps were all seen using the versatile TKC 80. After about 10 minutes of full throttle and adrenaline action, the group took a brake to hydrate and appreciate how amazing the knobbie tires from Continental can handle high demand on-road situations.
“I cant believe that we are able to do this on knobbie tires, we shouldn’t be able to”, said one of the guests. “It is amazing how you can lean on it and trust it”, added another guest. Continental by no means is suggesting that the TKC 80 is the tire of choice when riding hard on fully paved roads, but it is just impressive to mention how good the TKC 80 can be on the limit when on-road if needed. Its versatility is nothing short of impressive.
The riding day consisted of spending half the time on-road and half off-road, so now it was time to get muddy. The first practice off-road was about maintaining balance and navigating through tight spaces on a light gravel plain. Riders would have to do this as slowly and in control as possible. This exercise was meant to give the rider confidence at low speeds to emulate riding through rough trails and tight spaces without falling. After this, riders got to experience how to handle ruts, large potholes and how to maintain the best riding positions when going through a chain of drastic bumps, when going uphill and downhill.
After these challenging exercises, riders headed to a small enduro track in which they followed Gary and Aaron around. This track was tight, humid, full of trees and even had some creek bridges. After riding and learning so many new techniques all morning, it was time to rest and feast on the special lunch made exclusively for the Continental members and guests inside the cafeteria.
“It has blown my mind so far, very happy to be here” said Brian Tharas from a local shop in North Carolina. The Continental team also had the chance to talk about the motorcycle and the tire industry more closely with their customers and get a better idea of how their individual business is going.
After lunch, riders headed towards the big part of the track. There, riders were let lose once again, but this time reaching much higher speeds through longer straights and faster corners. After this speed rush, they headed back to the off-road track and learned how important being in the right riding position was when going up and down hill with ease. The final part of the day consisted on showing the difference in braking with and without ABS, handling the obstacle avoidance maneuver once more as fast as one dared, and racing as fast as you could in the same part of the track as in the morning. Needless to say, everyone was exhausted, but so satisfied with the things they got to learn and practice in this exciting day.
Safety is something Continental always tries to embed on its tires and technology systems, but the rider itself can often be the most effective. Thanks to the BMW Performance Center U.S Rider Academy, riders can learn and practice how to handle on and off road emergency situations that can be life saving and super fun to practice around controlled environments and with great instructors.