Skip Barber Superbike School goes all RC8

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Skip_Barber_Superbike_KTM.jpgPhoto: Michael Marino/Helix
In-Car Camera

The Skip Barber Superbike School is ditching its KTM Super Dukes and
Dukes in favor of an all KTM RC8 and RC8 R line up. Previously, students
rotated time on the superbikes with sessions on the two nakeds. The
switch to exclusively running the 155 and 180bhp RC8s is clearly a
marketing effort – Skip Barber has yet to fully sell-out a season of the
year-old superbike classes, a frustrating departure from its enormously
popular car programs — and also a response to Keith Code’s recent
adoption of the BMW S1000RR, but the move could alienate less
experienced riders intimidated by the fire breathing v-twins. >

While I enjoyed riding the two less powerful bikes for certain drills when I attended the Laguna Seca-based school in December, neither the RC8 nor RC8 R ever felt like too much bike for the conditions. That’s not just masculine swagger talking, but rather a comment on the civility of the two bikes. Weighing less than 440lbs fully-fueled, the RC8 is both lightweight and, thanks to adjustable seat heights, pegs and bars, is spacious and comfortable to ride, especially in the athletic environment of a race track. The 1148 and 1195cc engines are also relatively friendly for being such powerful twins; the throttle response is predictable and the power is located fairly far up the rev range. In fact, neither bike is substantially more intimidating to ride than a CBR600. Just drag your back brake a little around the pit exit’s first gear hairpin and you won’t have a problem with the poor low down fueling.

To our minds, the $2,599 school is an ideal place for riders of any level to improve their skill level for both track and road riding. Skip Barber invented the idea that racing, like any other sport, could be coached when it launched its car racing school, the first ever, way back in the ’70s. Unlike many other programs, Skip doesn’t dumb down its instruction or hold any skills back because they’re too difficult to master for average riders. Instead, it relies on expert instruction both on the track and in a classroom  to make advanced skills like trail braking accessible. Combined with immediate video feedback and lots of time on the track, that makes it the best school we’ve ever attended.

Make sure you check out our full Skip Barber Superbike School review and, if you’re interested in attending, there’s six dates left this year.

  • Sean Smith

    “dumb down its instruction or hold any skills back because they’re too difficult to master for average riders.”

    I’m looking at you Mr. Code.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Exactly, his instruction looks ridiculously remedial. If I’m attending a school it’s to get faster, not to learn about counter steering.

      • Mitch

        You know what your problem is Wes?

        Thetans.

        • Sean Smith

          Scientology riding school. It’s all about not trail braking, mystical counter-steering, and a crotchety old man with with hair on a bimmer telling you what to do.

  • nick

    Jealousy dripping from every pore! Here in Minnesota, we’ve got a track schools in Brainerd and at a local community college course (designed for buses). That’s about it, as far as I know. The SB price is out of my range, but something I’d love to do someday.

  • Brett Vegas

    Sooner or later I am going to have to drop the cash on a class. Getting a pro to tell you what you are doing wrong is the only way to get better. My old BMW K100rs is a far cry from a real sportbike, but my dirtbike skills don’t translate well wrestling that beast around turns. $2600 Is damn near what I paid for my bike, so I would have to do some weird justifications in my head to pull the trigger.

    Hey Wes, can you look into that correction on the dummies electric guide? I don’t want bad info floating too much. Thanks!

    Brett

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I’ll fix it now, sorry, had a rough week.

  • V

    Sweet helmet.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    I would love to go to this school – world class bikes on a world famous track – but the cost is prohibitive. I’m not suggesting it’s not worth it, just that $2600 is a lot of money. Add in travel cost and lodging and you’re north of $3000. Ouch.

    • http://www.urbandirtbike.com gregorbean

      I agree about the $$$$…although someday I’ll probably shell out the dough to do it because of the location and all the great things I’ve read and heard about the school. I did Schwantz School a few years back at Road Atlanta for $1600, I believe. Now they’ve switched to Barber and the prices have gone up a bit, but that was an awesome school with world class instructors willing to match you at your level and help you reach for the next level. Plus you get to ride with Kevin Schwantz, and get an opportunity to check out the amazing museum as well. I highly recommend it.

  • C Mad

    So what happens if you bin one of these rc 8s?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      There’s like a $200 damage waiver you can buy, but honestly, you’re not going to bin one.

  • Trojanhorse

    Yeah, Code does focus on the extreme basics. And his wacky religion has no place in the school (thankfully, he doesn’t mention it much, at least he didn’t with my class). But he does coach some seriously fast dudes, and he does have some good info to impart to the 99.99% of us that aren’t pro or aspiring pro racers.

    If anyone thinks they’ve got the basics like throttle control, visual reference points, and entry/exit points (a few of the things they go over just in the 1st level) mastered, and their name isn’t on a Supersport/Superbike/MotoGP roster, they need an ego check.

    I’m not saying the guy or his school is perfect, but I do know that I’d been riding what I thought was “fast” for a long time before taking level 1, and I still learned enough to make it worth every penny.

    Anyways, the $2k one would save by going with a cheaper school than Barber makes a nice down payment on an RC8…magic handling, comfy ergos, great motor, what a bike!

    • Sean Smith

      It’s just fun to bash CSS. It’s kind of an inside joke type thing for me.

      Misti Hurst (a CSS instructor) decided to start hanging out at gixxer.com. She gave some really bad advice and I called her on it. Basically what it came down to was this: She said trail braking is dangerous, and not the fastest way around the track, and I asked her to post a video or a picture of any MotoGP or WSBK rider at corner entry off the brakes.

      I’m sure that most people would go faster after CSS, but I personally don’t agree with code’s ideas on cornering. At least not the stuff you can read in twist I & II.

  • joneez

    Much to the chagrin of the Yamaha sponsorship of the Laguna Seca Raceway I’m sure.

  • Trojanhorse

    Yeah, I hear what you’re saying about trail braking Sean…their dogma of “no body steering” is similarly wrong, I think. Personally, learning to correctly weight the pegs at the Pridmore school benefitted me greatly, both on-track and off.

    But, in their defense, they do it for a reason. For anyone short of level 4 (where they do go over these topics), trail braking IS dangerous, as is “backing it in” and a bunch of other things you can see the pros doing. I’ve lost the front myself by braking clumsily or too deep into a turn, several times.

    I’m only trying to give CSS a fair shake. Yes, it is somewhat limited and standardized. For what you pay, though, it’s a good value and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone.

  • matthew

    You know what would be super helpfull/usefull? If you guys did a point-by-point comparison of the schools (Barber/Code). I’ve heard slagging off of both by people who have not gone to either. I want to know which is better for what type of rider and things like that.