He had it all. A successful motorcycle road racing career in Europe competing in the German Championships, Dutch and Spanish Opens, and the European Championships. The pinnacle was the title of German Track Trophy Vice-Champion 1991 and a collection of international victories. He authored a well-received book
Can Akkaya is a veteran of the German Championships, Dutch and Spanish Opens, and the European Championships. Despite living a good life in Germany, he uprooted his family to pursue the 'American Dream' and now teaches others how to be better riders through the school he founded called Superbike-Coach.
about his experiences called “Racers Story … 25 Seconds,”
became a respected instructor at the Racing School in Europe and continued a writing career for various motorcycle magazines.
And then, Can Akkaya left it all. Friends, family, the familiarity of his homeland and the fame he had enjoyed in order to chase a dream. The “American Dream,” nonetheless, something that has been tarnished as of late but still remains for people with the vision and drive to make it happen. So he packed up everything the family held dear, shipped it out on a boat to America, and moved with his wife Marian and his daughter Jill to California.
Is Can Akkaya crazy? Maybe so. His racing nickname when he was blistering European tracks was, after all, “Crazy Can.” But after talking to him, we can attest to his sanity. On the contrary, he’s a very passionate man, passionate about being a father, husband, rider and teacher. It takes a man of strong convictions to give up all that is safe and put it all on the line to follow a dream. Akkaya got his first taste of the California lifestyle in 1996 and “the country and its people matched our ideals and mentality more than elsewhere in the world. We fell in love with all this and the dream was born to make it there.” Twelve years later, he would call the state home.
“I had the big chance to get the US green card and make that dream true for me and Marion and we took this chance and left everything behind and went to the US.” As he explained, it wasn’t like they were 20-years-old where you can just pack up and leave with a ‘Yee-haw!’
“You have a career, you have a house, you have everything. It was actually a crazy time, it was like, you wake up in the morning and say ‘Wow, we can really do this,’ and then the next day you say ‘I’m crazy!’ And we left, just like that.”
Akkaya knows life has its ups and downs. Though he didn’t start riding motorcycles until he was 18 and learned on the streets going “way too fast, of course, doing stupid stuff” as most young riders do, he quickly
Can Akkaya's book 'Racers Story ... 25 Seconds' is a passionate account of his years as a professional motorcycle racer.
realized he was good at it. One day some scouts noticed him torching his favorite Belgian track and steered him toward a motorcycle racing career. As victories piled up, his career ascended and he got sponsored by Honda Germany until he was very close to being a world championship caliber rider.
“I had the wild card in my pocket but I never made it there because I got hurt in a European Championship race at Hockenheimring in Germany,” Akkaya said.
After his big crash, podiums became scarce, his dedication dwindled, and in 1995 he walked away from the sport. For several years he had nothing to do with motorcycle riding or racing. Then his daughter Jill was born and he was compelled to stay home and help raise his family. But the memories of racing still flooded his memory, the people he met, the technology of the bikes, the intensity and even the smells he experienced when racing. Not wanting to “loose his memories,’ he began writing about his experiences as a road racer. Akkaya began posting the story under the penname ‘xyx36’ and a huge online following ensued before he got the opportunity to publish a “Racers Story … 25 Seconds” with Mohland Publishing House.
Not long after, longings for the race track returned and offers started to pour in. The fun of it all had returned, and soon he landed a job as the chief instructor at the Racing School. His racetrack reports were published by Circuit-Magazine, he frequently sat in as a test rider and became a contributor for other magazines as well. Life was good. It was during this period he discovered that he really enjoyed sharing what he had learned as a professional motorcycle road racer with others. But something was still amiss. And without his family and friends knowing, the plot to move to the US was hatched, the allure of the “American Dream” and the flexibility in life it proposed exceeded the complications the rigid structure of European life bore for him. So he followed his dream.
Akkaya quickly learned that following a dream can be a bumpy road. There was a steep learning curve in adjusting to the American lifestyle. He and his family had a hard time doing simple things like securing an apartment to live in.
“Such a simple thing like an apartment…which you can’t rent when you don’t have a bank account…which you can’t get when you have no driver’s license…which you can’t get when you don’t have at least an apartment. So you can’t put a child in preschool if you don’t have a home. You can’t
Want to learn to wheelie like a pro? Can is the man to teach you.They call him 'Coach' for a reason because Akkaya has a way of reaching people in an easily relatable way.
buy a car because you can’t get insurance without a driver’s license. Yeah, you’re laughing, but that’s not easy at all if you aren’t a native speaker. Getting the driver’s license was basically our first English language challenge,” Akkaya wrote in his Facebook post called ‘3rd of November.’
Despite adversity, the Akkaya clan is a resilient bunch and pushed on despite the trials they encountered. With a desire to improve their situation and to channel the passion he still had inside him towards motorcycling, Akkaya opened up his own riding school here in the States, and Superbike-Coach
was born. Now he’s doing what he loves again, teaching people how to be better riders, be it on the street or track. And he’s doing it for all the right reasons.
“It’s the fun of it. The teaching part, I trained in Europe already and I already felt that this is what I really like to do. This is where I can still be connected to the sport and just pass it on. It’s so much fun for me that I wouldn’t think about stopping it. I really found my talent, to teach people. I have my own way to do that, I have my own language to do that. I’m the ‘Coach.’”
is based out of Sacramento, CA, and conducts classes at tracks like Infineon and Thunderhill Raceway. His portfolio of classes is diverse, offering everything from one-on-one track instruction from beginner to pro levels as well as a road skills class. Want to get your knee down? Can do. Always wanted to learn how to pop a wheelie? Can is the man. All done professionally in the proper environment, of course.
“I have a way to reach people. It’s not making them believe, that would be wrong. Because making believe is like “Whatever I say, you do it.” That’s not the way I’m doing it. It’s the combination of knowledge and teaching. You can be the fastest guy in the world but you can be a bad teacher. It’s more how you transport that and make people trust in what you say and finally do it. It’s really two different things,” Akkaya said.
What rider wouldn’t want to improve their skills by learning MotoGP techniques from a seasoned professional? Prices at the school are very competitive compared to similar schools. Some of the differences though are the one-on-one instruction taking a smaller class offers and Akkaya’s passion to help others better their riding techniques is unparalleled.
If you're looking to improve your riding skills, consider taking a class taught by 'Coach' Can Akkaya at Superbike-Coach.
His school differs in that he also offers guided tours, like a California-based tour in September that includes a run down Highway 1 and a stop at Laguna Seca before continuing on to LA. He said the tour will head to Las Vegas after that before heading up to Tahoe along backroads. He’s already got a few people from Europe coming over for the tour but still has openings left.
Besides teaching others how to ride better, Akkaya is busy translating “Racers Story” to English in hopes of getting it published here in the States.
“This book, what I’m trying to explain, is emotions. As I wrote this book, it’s a flashback to what I was feeling. It’s not about the trophies I won. While trophies are a fact, I wanted to express what’s behind that to get that stupid trophy, and that’s emotions,” he said.
Akkaya also spends much of his time working on a MotoGP project bike
. This is not just an OEM replica bike. It is a Yamaha YZF-R1 that’s been trimmed down and beefed up, with top-spec suspension components to give it MotoGP-like handling. The outside is wrapped in a YZR-M1 MotoGP Replica Fairing Kit from Lacomoto in Portugal while underneath the shell are high performance goodies from almost 40 different companies. The result is a motorcycle that could register some seriously low track times at just about any track and serves as Akkaya’s teaching tool.
Superbike-Coach is a riding school that teaches MotoGP-caliber techniques for both the road and track. This MotoGP project bike is Can 'Coach' Akkaya's teaching tool.
If you’d like to see the bike in person, Akkaya will have it on display this weekend at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering
in Carmel on Saturday. Then he’ll be making a dash up I-5 so he can conduct a class at Thunderhill on Sunday.
Not everybody has the guts to give up everything that was comfortable for the dreams of a new life. But Akkaya did. And though he’ll be the first to admit that the journey hasn’t been easy, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We came here for love and a passion. This is our fourth year in this great country, which isn’t perfect, but especially this is why it is what it is and that makes it so special. We came for a chance to begin a new life. The alternative was to live in regret not to have tried it.”
It’s hard not to admire someone who put it all on the line instead of live a life of regret. ‘ Coach’ Akkaya seems like the type of person whose lessons transcend more than the track.