If any of you have trolled YouTube for Adventure motorcycle riding tips, you would have almost certainly come across the fellow with the unpronounceable name, Bret Tkacs. I first made his acquaintance on a YouTube channel called Mototrek, which is dedicated to various aspects of Adventure bike riding. Bret was pretty much the ‘main man’ there for quite some time. He has travelled the globe on a variety of bikes, over many years and acquired a vast amount of experience and motorcycling skills. You only need to watch one of his training videos to understand that this guy is particularly gifted. He swears that he was an ordinary rider who upskilled himself in the school of hard knocks, but I am not so sure.
For the last few years, Bret has done his own thing, which has involved predominantly training Adventure, road and even Police and Military motorcyclists to up their skills. The objective is to be more competent and therefore safer, saving both man and machine from coming to grief. This obviously makes riding way more enjoyable. Visit his website at brettkacs.com. I learnt of his impending visit to SA to offer some training courses, as well as explore Southern Africa for a future tour that he plans to host here. Dave Griffin, from Fast KTM in Alberton hosted Bret on Saturday 1st of May, where he had an informal chat with some local Adventure riders, keen to hear what he had to share.
Bret is one of those uniquely gifted trainers who analyses techniques and equipment and then not only tells you what to do, but importantly why to do it that way. He encourages trainees to continually analyse and think, before tackling obstacles or riding challenges. “Why”, should be the question ever-present on your lips. Adventure riding is much more than “look up, stand up and open up”. I am often asked what Adventure bike is best in sand, or whatever. The fact is that off-road riding is a very particular and acquired skill. No big Adventure bike is “good” in sand, per se, however, by understanding the physics involved and practising the necessary technique, you can acquire the skill to allow you to master sand riding, or any other off-road obstacle within reason.
On the subject of “what bike is best”, I love Bret’s answer to that particular question. He describes himself as a “bike whore”, who has owned numerous bikes over the years, pointing out that every bike has strengths and weaknesses. He rides what works for him, with no allegiance to any particular make. The one that is right for you is the one that ticks the most boxes for what you need from your bike and the type of riding that you prefer. As a bit of a ‘bike slut’ myself, I totally get it. 350 odd bikes later, my wife Irene, calls it an obsession.
The long and the short is that if your ego renders you unteachable, (because you know it all) you are limiting your enjoyment of motorcycling. You are probably also exposing yourself to unnecessary danger too. Motorcycling is an acquired skill which gets better as your skill evolves. The fact that you have ridden for years may simply mean that you have become set in your ways and got away with it. Listening to Bret at Fast KTM, really reminded me that as motorcyclists, we should always be teachable and seek to raise our skill level. Huge shout out to Dave Griffin and his Fast KTM team for hosting this World Class trainer and motorcycle personality.