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Book Review: 'Ride like a Pro, the Book', by Jerry "Motorman" Palladino

Reviewed by ET, July 22 2009.

Jerry Palladino became a Sheriff Department motorcycle officer in 1998, after 25 years of recreational riding, and hasn’t looked back since.  Fascinated by the police training, he started offering his own, slightly simplified, civilian version of the police course in 1999, and has since franchised his operation in seven states. 

book shotThe book is a companion volume for the video of the same name (review coming soon) and, with a bit of organization, you could use it to with a buddy or two to set up your own practice range.

The format is 146 6” X 9” pages, spiral bound.   There are 184 black and white photos throughout the book, and ten very clear diagrams of range exercise setups. The cost is $19.95 plus shipping and handling from the Ride like a Pro site. I like the way it lies flat at an open page.

I’m going to run down the chapters in order. Chapter 1 has autobiographical details about how Jerry trained with the Florida Highway Patrol and adapted the police exercises by expanding the box sizes from 18 to 24 feet for his civilian version.

Chapter 2 deals with bike adjustments to fit the rider, with instructions for each of the major controls.  Chapter 3 instructs on picking up a dropped motorcycle.  Chapter 4 is an introduction to where to look while riding, clutch friction zone and rear brake use for slow-speed maneuvers.  Important basic stuff;.

Chapter 5 is about ‘the Slow Race’, an exercise in going as slow as possible to practice friction zone and rear brake use.  Chapter 6 sets up the slow cone weave, with a diagram of the setup, which is described.  Instructions are provided for doing the weave, with some troubleshooting tips and action photos.
Chapter 7 describes the circle exercise, in the same format.  Setup and performance instructions, with emphasis on head and eye position.  Photos of setup and action shots are provided.   Chapter 8 is the offset cone weave, with a similar format but extended photographic examples of various problems.  Chapter 9 is the u-turn, in a similar format.  Chapter 10 is about the Intersection/Four Leaf Clover/Iron Cross exercise.  Again, setup, performance, numerous photos and analysis of common errors are provided. palladino

Chapter 11 is the Figure 8 and Snowman (a version with three circles).  He explains the benefit of the Figure 8, being a control exercise, with a nice crossover and direction changes.  Setup, performance, pics and common errors are described.  Chapter 12 is a cone weave exercise for countersteering, with wider spaced cones and faster speeds.   He explains countersteering, diagrams the setup and examines common mistakes.  There’s an alternative setup with large circles. 

Chapter 13 is different, a very important braking exercise.  Braking technique is explained, ABS is analysed, linked brakes and covering the brakes are explained, and common mistakes listed.   Straight line braking,  a  combination brake-and-swerve exercise and braking in a curve are described, with common errors and photos.

Chapter 14 invites you to repeat all the exercises with a passenger, if you habitually carry one.  The final chapter is a summing up entitled ‘my bike won’t do that’, in which he rejects the assertion.  
The book concludes with a series of articles about linked and ABS brakes, sight focus, crash bars,  bike fit,  getting into a tight parking spot, bike lean angles, timid rider issues, turning from a hill start, retreads with poor skills and riding the twisties. 

This is a workmanlike, down to earth book. As a practice aid, for bikers who have already taken a basic course and maybe an experienced rider course, I think the book is definitely worth the money.   The instructions are clear and concise, the diagrams of the exercise layouts are straightforward, and a couple of average bikers could easily set up these exercise scenarios, with a measuring tape, a couple of tubes of tennis balls cut in half and some chalk.  By using existing parking slot markings, many of the exercises could be set up in seconds.  

We have to add the usual admonitions – find a secluded flat, dry area with a good surface clear of debris and obstructions, make sure your bikes are maintained correctly, and be aware, as with everything you do on a bike, that you could be hurt or killed. It might be a good idea to warm up your tires by doing some weaves for a few minutes before starting.   

The benefits of learning better bike control, and practicing emergency swerves and braking, are so great that your safety should overall be improved.  The DIY approach is definitely a good option, especially if you live too far from an advanced training location or are on a budget.  If you have any major difficulty with these exercises, and you are correctly using the clutch friction zone, rear brake and pointing your head and eyes in the right direction, you probably need to sign up for some regular training.

We'll be taking it out on a parking lot soon and will report back on how it went.

Ride like a Pro site.

Ride like a Pro Practice Guide

Ride like a Pro provided us with a free copy of the book for review purposes.