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Rhythm and Relaxation: An Impressive Display of Riding Skill

You don’t have to be traveling 150 mph to prove you’ve got great skills on a bike.  Here, a motorcycle police officer, Donnie Williams, displays amazing skill at the Grand Prairie Police Motorcycle Rodeo.  Note how relaxed he is on the bike (not muscling it) as he executes several maneuvers at full steering lock.

58 Comments

  1. Tubby says:

    38 years on motorcycles and would love to be as relaxed as that, yes I can ride a course like that and have many times but its always hard work when I do it. I’ve been lucky enough to go on a coulpe of police training days and those guys can ride, one swapped bikes with others just to prove it wasn’t just him on his bike.

  2. Jim says:

    That was awesome, I couldn’t do 1/10th of that on my VTX1800, but it would be fun trying!

  3. Pep says:

    For those of us who are open minded, and live in the SF Bay Area, you can sign up for Motorcycle Cop Training for Civilians here:
    http://alamedacountysheriff.org/_rtc2009/classes/evoc/evocDetail.php?2

    I just did the basic course last Sunday on an old rented retired cop bike and basically added more awareness and skills to my riding.

    The camaraderie of the class and humor of the instructors was awesome. No know it alls at this session. There was some classroom instruction but then lots and lots of hands on bike drills.

  4. Tom says:

    at a time of 1:57.85? I could do that in 1:05 I bet. Only I’d knock all the cones down and scratch up the bike.

  5. motoman says:

    not really a big deal he knows the course big time just relax and ride, i dont see what the big deal is.

  6. Joey Wilson says:

    This guy shows all the skills you need everywhere: He’s looking where he’s going to be next, counterbalancing with his body upright against the lean at slow speed (helipad-sized floorboards or not, this 1000# beast is dying to fall over inside), breathing his clutch and settling the rear end and staying off the front brake at low speed. I’d be more than willing to be his high speed skills are just as tight. On the other hand, just to shut all the wannabes up, I’d love to watch him cut this course on a Hayabusa, on which I’m sure he’d be just as awesome.

    These guys live on these things every day, I really wish they were MSF Instructors, I’d love to tap that knowledge from all those miles in the saddle. These guys have to pass a test like this perfectly, or you’re failed and go back to patrol cars. Not everyone can become a Motor Officer, and I’ve got MUCH respect for these guys. And oh, BTW, they also have to catch bad guys and work accidents. And you get free ammo !

    • Scott says:

      Hey Joey…Thanks for all the cool comments. My name is Scott and I am the one who shot the video. I laughed when you wished that motor jocks were MSF instructors…Donnie is. He owns a course in McKinney Texas, and has five additional instructors besides himself, one being a fellow motor jock.

  7. Tom Shields says:

    Very impressive! (I think he should have been DQ’d for using his crash bars as outriggers, hahaha.)

  8. daniel says:

    From the comments so far it’s obvious that most of you don’t really understand what you’re loking at. It’s not about the bike, other that the fact that it’s a big dresser and not a small, lightweight sport bike, floorboards have nothing to do with it, balance is important but so is clutch and brake control, and of course “knowing the course” is important — how could you complete it if you didn’t ?
    Anyone want to try running the course in the time that he did it in ? I’ve got a couple bucks says you can’t do it.

  9. takehikes says:

    Impressive. Notice his head, it is looking way ahead of where he is, good focus. Looks like rear braking only and having the low CG and boards makes it much easier than it looks. Still, impressive.

    • Jay says:

      +1

      Impressive indeed. Extreme riding skills on a much more capable bike. They both make it look so easy that it seems like anybody could do it. Those of us who have actually tried extreme riding know how hard it is, and those who haven’t, and don’t get it, aren’t impressed.

  10. MotoChris says:

    has he ridden the course before? If not, impressive. If he has, big whoop dee doo – he can’t tip the bike over with his training wheel-like floorboards that he scrapes HEAVILY

    • Jay says:

      Did you notice that those floorboards are HINGED? They don’t hold the bike up. SKILL holds the bike up.

  11. puleez says:

    I’ve owned and road both the newer Harley engine, older & recent BMW boxers. BMW has seen fit to raise the heads & crank in the later engines giving up it’s traditional lower centre of gravity. It’s for more height to keep the new larger heads out of the tarmac.. The harley crank sits lower with no unwanted torque reaction in the chassis. The newer boxer forsake it’s simplicity to reach for more top end,, and complexity. It’s now a buzzy thing. Of course the uber bike set would never admit to flaws in their Teutonic vision.

  12. PeteP says:

    Awesome performance, but aren’t those pipes a little LOUD, Officer?

  13. paso100 says:

    And here’s how Japanese officers do it. They’re riding 1980’s VFR 750s. Somebody made the comment they patrol on sport bikes because Japanese motorcycle gangs ride sport bikes, not Harleys. Interesting cultural differences in so many ways.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWaq0zOaAVU&feature=related

  14. joe b says:

    training like this helps teach how to whip a U turn. I would be more impressed showing how he could handle the machine, at speed, which is doubtful with no clearance. this training gives officers confidence to chase people though back streets, and alleys. keeping your balance is key doing stunts such as this, its not real world.

  15. David says:

    Similar thing but on a more modern bike
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Cms0bkNj7A

    still impressive!

  16. paso100 says:

    Very impressive as a niche of specific riding skills, but not real world. How many riders really worry about parking lot maneuvers? How about a demonstration showing skilled riders avoiding cars (maybe cardboard cutouts of vehicles) turning in front of them, or how to avoid panic braking of cars slamming on their brakes in front of you or cutting you off. Now that display would be impressive and educational. Maybe even required for new riders to watch? Just a thought.

    • kpaul says:

      I disagree. Slow speed maneuvers actually help know you bike also you become one with the bike i.e. you don’t have to think you just react. Need to make a sharp tun or down shift quickly etc you don’t have to think about. Practice makes perfect.

      • paso100 says:

        Slow speed maneuvers help you become one with the bike at SLOW speeds. Your bike is going to react much differently at higher speeds. You will never know how your bike reacts to hard braking at 60mph if you’re only familiar with its reactions at 20mph. And slow speed maneuvers require more subtle, light-pressure hand and arm control vs. shifting your body, including legs, around at higher speeds.

        My point is, how many serious accidents happen during parking lot speeds vs. road-going incidents, and wouldn’t riders want to know how they and their bikes react under more typical circumstances? Ideally, riders should be able to safely handle their bikes under any conditions.

        • Ruefus says:

          Most accidents occur below 35 miles per hour.

          The way a bike reacts at 15mph isn’t fundamentally different than at 60. Only the velocity it happens at.

          Practice at slow speeds give you the skills (and automatic response) when it happens at high-speed.

          I submit that the rider in the video can handle his rig at any speed better than 99% of riders.

          • Nome says:

            No it doesn’t. Basic truth in learning is that you can learn to things slowly by practicing doing them fast but not the other way aroung. By practising going slow your accustoming your body and brains to slow inputs and rections. And in any case, at parking lot speed there’s always the option of just putting your foot down…

          • Ruefus says:

            Yeah, uhm…..ok. That’s why I and everyone I’ve ever known learned to play guitar fast BEFORE learning slowly. I totally had Eddie Van Halen dialed at-speed before I could ever consider playing it slowly.

            Yeah – that makes total sense. Or not.

            That’s why race car drivers learn in Formula One before they try Karts. Or riding a bicycle at high-speed is the preferred method of learning.

            What. Utter. Garbage.

          • Nome says:

            Yeah, you completely missed the point… Would you expect to be able to play Van Halen at-speed in a concert if you only practised playing it half-speed? Of course you can push your skills only so far and at low speed there are a lot less risk. But is you want to practice skills applicable to street speeds its better to do road racing than parking lot manouvers.

          • Ruefus says:

            “Basic truth in learning is that you can learn to things slowly by practicing doing them fast but not the other way aroung.”

            Seems pretty clear from the quote above. Can’t learn to do things fast by doing them slowly first….but you can the other way around.

            Which, of couse, is horsecrap. Either that or you can’t articulate your point. Probably both.

          • Zuki says:

            Better than 99% of riders? What. Utter. Subjective. Garbage. Not saying that he isn’t a good rider and he’s probably one of the best motorcycle cop riders, but the floorboards actually do help cops while maneuvering like this. They are trained to scrape (and the boards are designed to scrape, among other parts) and they replace the parts regularly that get worn down, like on a monthly basis. The motorcycle cops around where I live do their thing in the July 4th parade every year and they ride just like this, in formation. Their floorboards are scraping all the time and you can see it up close! It’s actually pretty dangerous the way they ride like that so close to spectators… we’re talking just a few feet away and they are hauling butt straight toward each other, and then slow down and do their scraping U turns. Yes, they are teaching young kids how to ride responsibly on the street. I find it annoying and pretty lame. I’m sure that every motorcycle cop is 99% better than any other motorcycle rider…

          • Ruefus says:

            Subjective? I had absolutely no idea that I might have made a subjective statement.

            Thank you so much for not pointing out the blatantly obvious.

        • Jay says:

          Sammy Miller was, at different times, world champion in both road racing and observed trials (where maximum speeds in observed sections during his era were less than 20 mph). I was talking with him once at a trials class he was teaching and he said that it was the skills he developed in trials competitions that gave him the edge in road racing.

    • Foogunheimer says:

      Let’s give this guy credit! We all wish we could be as skilled. I would bet that his high speed skills are just as good, so let’s not presume he’s only great at low speed maneuvering.

    • Cpt. Danger says:

      Au contraire. I’ve seen city cops do full lock turns more than once when they are in a hurry to turn around.

    • Sittonb says:

      Ever try slow speed work like that? It takes more skill then any weekend rider has. You also have to remember that we are motor officers, where we may need to u-turn at any time to go after a cager. Those tight turns keep you out of trouble avoiding the blind drivers that surround us everyday. As for his outfit, is everyone forgetting that he has on a ballistic vest, and a gun belt? He is also on the bike 8-10 hours a day, mostly at city speeds. Anyone else want to ride 8-10 hours at city speeds? In the winter we obviously bundle up in Aerostitch or leather. You know winter, the times when most of you park you’re bikes and get in your cars. As for the bike, any bike, Narley, BMW, Honda, or even Kawasaki require great skill to ride like that. Take a course and your attitude will change.

  17. rapier says:

    It should be noted that the low low front crash bars keep the bike from falling inward. I am not saying I could ever be as good but the certainty of not falling down inward must provide a lot of security so practicing such things becomes practical. I suspect as well the Harley has a pretty tight front steering stop. I think he is turning to the stop. That would make this a lot easier as well. Being able to hit the exact same spot every time and knowing how that feels. So all in all I am discounting somewhat this performance.

    • Jay says:

      The low front crash bar doesn’t keep you from falling inward, it levers the wheel off the ground resulting in immediate road rash. And turning at full lock while charging as hard as you can is way harder than you think, requiring deft and precise throttle control to keep from falling inward while holding your line.

      Officer Williams’ skills are so great that he make it look easy enough that anyone could do what he does. Trust me, it isn’t that easy, and if you don’t believe me, try it (but make sure you are wearing well padded riding gear because you will need it}.

    • Ruefus says:

      If’n you’ve ever dragged a crash bar at speed…….ANY speed…..they don’t hold the bike up. They make this sickening sound and force your scrotum into the tank, where friends who witness the carnage nearly fall off their bikes at the stupidity.

      Not….that….it’s ever happened to me………no seriously……stop looking at me like that. I’m just kidding!!!

  18. Tim says:

    Having rented a Harley once on Maui (because nothing else was available, I have to tell you that this is incredibly impressive. They are so heavy and handle so poorly, that I didn’t think this sort of thing was possible.

    On Maui’s road to Hana, there were curves that i could not make without putting a foot down on that Harley. To see this makes me question my skills (and I’ve been riding 43 years.) Of course, I’m sure being used to riding a big slow bike like this is a learned art. Still, it’s quite impressive.

    • Ruefus says:

      I’ve ridden top-end sportbikes, Harleys and everything else.

      Harleys do not handle poorly, but if you try to manhandle one, they protest. But poor handling? Not within the confines of the cruiser design they don’t. Now, braking…….that’s another story.

  19. Rico Bustamente says:

    I’m disappointed… 1/2 helmet, short sleeved shirt & to top it off, riding a freakin 800 pound lead-sled-Harley…. what’s up with that! Now if he was in FULL TILT AGATT MODE with roadcraft 1 piece snowsuit, riding a Brammo-electric-1/2-hour-bike I’d be impressed. & he’s a cop no less… I think cops should ride Brammo-electric-1/2-hour-bike in FULL TILT AGATT MODE so as to send a safe, responsible message to the youngsters…. don’t you…. maybe petition the local, state & feds to make it the law…. maybe make everyone ride electric & full AGATT….
    democracy… sheesh…. it ain’t all that!

    hey… it’s open season… but let me warn you… any attacks or rebuttals using “facts” will be ignored…. I don’t argue with facts… I prefer kool-aid…

    • Dannytheman says:

      Just for the record? I noticed all that too, but people here are just plain nasty to us Harleytards.
      Shouldn’t this cop be thinking about the children!?!?!?!?!?! ROFLMAO!!

      • Ruefus says:

        These people are rude to anyone who doesn’t fit inside their little box of how a rider should look, a bike should be constructed or any of the myriad number of petty things they want to moan about.

        Frankly, I think they should shut comments down on this sight.

        What should be a discusion of rider skill, commitment (this guy runs towards the gunshots) and training becomes a Harley and gear bash.

        • Dale says:

          With you on 1 and 3, 2 not so much. In my eyes we’re all “Brothers in the wind”, seen it that way for years, even the scooter Guys, kinda.

          To me the video showed that this Guy has some serious two-wheel Skills, that’s no Trials bike. How well will those skills translate to other types of riding? I can’t tell from watching the video but my money would be on him compared to the “average” Rider.

          Go Harley! (and all the other Manufacturers too!)

          PS Great Race today at the “Ring”, can’t wait for Laguna.

        • Rico Bustamente says:

          Finally… someone sees the truth! I wrote this exaggerated load of sh*t just to see who would respond & how….I ride a Harley, always ride with a t-shirt & also wear a 1/2 helemt & I’m sick of all of the “know-it-alls” with 1-3 years riding experienc e telling the rest of us what we “should” be riding, wearing, etc…

          I agree that “comments” should be shut down here…unless from the site owners. They add “ZERO” value to the site & since there is a large contingent that refuse to consider other poster’s opinions, it’s become a real drag to read this sh*t….

          It’s become the usual “Harley vs everyone else” &/or “BMW vs Harley & everyone else”…..

          I’ve owned & ridden them all & I find that the vast majority of riders over 40 who have ridden most of their life feel the same as me…. they don’t care what you ride… it’s the “riding” that we have in common, not the brand….

          I’m frankly amazed at the few people who seem to object to my stupid post…. the cop can ride & most likely outride 95% of the people the post here…. yet most seem fine bashing the guy or the bike….

          Guess the new breed hasn’t learned the old saying “if you got nothing good to say, shut the fu*k up”…. I tweked it a bit…

    • kpaul says:

      OMG I totally missed that. :) I demand MD take this off the site immediately. LOL :) Most of the cops here in Seattle including sheriff deputies and state troopers who ride bikes now have BMWs with full face helmets. Seattle is pretty progressive with a highly educated and successful population :)

      • Dannytheman says:

        I get the progressiveness with it being green global warming mecca of sheep. Why do you live there then?? :)

        So progressive that they buy foreign made bikes??? So since they are riding European bikes, they might as well look the part. I get it.

        Actually, I love my BMW and wear the same chaps and leathers I wear on my Harley and Honda. But BMW guys, and gals, are definitely different!

  20. butch says:

    Makes my job look really lame. Motorcycle cops have it made, except for dealing with jerks all day. Thanks to the men and women law enforcement! Stay safe.

  21. Ruefus says:

    Stuff like this *should* end the debate that it’s the rider, not the bike.

    But it won’t.

    Clearly, he knows the course. Just like a racer knows the track. Simply knowing it and practicing doesn’t mean *anyone* can do it as cleanly and quickly.

    Mucho props.

  22. Dean says:

    I could do that if I wanted… Maybe a bunch of cones would be knocked over and/or bleeding. Maybe some of the spectators, too… OK, fine… He Da MAN (literally!). Amazing!

    Would it be cool to see a stunt rider going through the same course hilding the front brake while spinning the rear??

  23. jimbo says:

    I doubt many viewers would do as good on a 250. Obviously he practiced the course a lot, and is intimately familiar with it backward/forward. Still, highly impressive.

  24. EndoAgain says:

    Impressive focus. I didn’t see a single cone go down while I almost fell out of my chair leaning with his moves. Do have to wonder if that exhaust was legal though…

  25. Dannytheman says:

    Very cool. On a 750 pound Harley, too!! I would love to take a course and work that back brake the way he does. Some sweet foot board grinds in there! I love that sound!!

  26. kpaul says:

    Wow :) Just imagine how good he would be if he wasn’t riding that Harley! :) Seriously the man is a machine and it’s even more impressive given the bike he has to work with. I would have dumped it in the first 30 seconds. Wonder how that Buell Ulysses police model would be in this course. Not sure the BMWs would fare well given they seem top heavy and the Harley does seem to have a good low CG….Thanks for sharing this MD.

    • Nate says:

      Top heavy???? Have you ever actually ridden an RT? The boxer motor configuration leaves the weight as low as possible.

  27. mugwump says:

    I’m always impressed by this stuff. Why do I never find the time to improve this skill set?