One of the motorcycle segments in India that’s growing rapidly in terms of popularity is the Adventure-Touring segment. This segment consists of motorcycles with engine cubic capacity ranging from 300cc to 1200cc, so without a doubt, there are several kinds of options to choose from. But have you ever wondered that where can you learn to hone the skills required to master a motorcycle like this, especially when it comes to tackling the kind of conditions they are meant to be in – like off-road? Well, Ducati India has brought to India their famed DRE Off-Road days and we decided to take part in it with a Ducati Multistrada 950 to learn and experience how it is to go back to school.
The Ducati Riding Experience or DRE, in short, was a program launched by Ducati to help Ducati owners become better riders and explore opportunities to push themselves and their motorcycles to the max, all the way back in 2003. Over the years, the DRE program has witnessed great success and has branched out to several countries including India. And, at this program there are three kinds of courses to undertake, one is for those who want to polish the basics of motorcycling, then there is the DRE track day which takes place on a circuit with their Panigale range of motorcycles and then there is the DRE off-road day which we attended. Our day began with the completion of the required paperwork in order to undertake the academy and Ducati India offers three kinds of motorcycles for this academy – the Ducati Hypermotard, the Ducati Scrambler and the Ducati Multistrada. Having ridden the 1200 Enduro before, we got our hands on the Multistrada 950.
Leading our academy was DRE trainer Vijay Parmar who is one of the biggest achievers from India when it comes to going off-road. First, was the classroom session where the participating riders were given instructions on how to maintain the balance of the motorcycle in such scenarios, which are the things that one needs to pay attention to and what to do in case you have a fall with the motorcycle. With that done, it was time to hit the obstacles that were laid out for the riders and speaking of riders, they weren’t just Ducati owners.
But here’s the cool part. In case you already have a Ducati motorcycle, you can undertake this academy for free. And in case you don’t have a motorcycle but have experience of riding a motorcycle with a cubic capacity of over 500cc, well, Ducati will help you out with a motorcycle as well.
Our first challenge was the slalom course wherein our control over the motorcycle was tested. It looks fairly easy, yes, but when you are going through the cones with such a big motorcycle and have to complete the course while standing on the footpegs, which is the correct way to do it, well, things get a bit tricky. DRE trainer Vijay Parmar made sure that everyone got this right and in case one didn’t well, they were sent back to do it again, making sure that the riders have got the basics right.
When it came to the obstacle, well, riders simply had to ride around it. The challenge was to get the body position correct for when you are turning the motorcycle during long turns. What we had to make sure was that we got our foot position, the position of the knees, which side are we leaning on and how our position of the shoulders with respect to the handlebars of the motorcycle. And trust me when I say this, getting all of this right, makes handling motorcycles like these a lot easier.
There was also a balance beam laid out for us to handle the motorcycle in a straight line at slow speeds. And once all of this was done, it was time to hit the slush.
After teaching us how to control the motorcycle if it gets stalled during an uphill climb, wherein you are supposed to bring the bike back down by moderating the clutch and using engine braking instead of the regular brakes to slow it down, we tackled a couple of camel humps. Post which, all the riders were supposed to go through a slush pit and boy was that a challenge for everyone, barring a few experienced riders. Most of the participants had a fall while attempting this and once the bikes were down, the riders were taught the correct way to lift up a motorcycle of this size and weight in case you are caught in a situation like this all alone.
And to sum up all our learnings and apply them in coordination with each other, we were sent to the last obstacle, which was more of a course that would require us to apply everything that we’ve learned that day in order to pass through it. The course had pretty much everything to offer and most of the riders went through with ease. And to think that the course would have been so much more challenging had we not taken the academy that day, well, that is what DRE is all about. Learning, being comfortable and trying to find new limits.
The key takeaway from the experience has to be the fact that the DRE Off-road academy not only lets you enjoy your motorcycle but also help you learn and become a better rider at the end of the day. So, whether you have a motorcycle or not, and are looking for a proper off-road experience then you really shouldn’t miss out on this one.