Relatively new and even seasoned riders alike will at some time wonder about motorcycle advanced training. One of the most common questions is “What can I learn?”. Here, we look at what is taught on an advanced motorcycle training course – and why it is important.
Essentially, apart from the interest and enjoyment of riding, advanced courses offer clear safety benefits that are complemented by reduced insurance premiums. Many leading motorcycle insurers reward the reduced risks typically presented by advanced motorcyclists who have made the effort to receive coaching and improve their riding skills. Many riders report finding their motorcycling more enjoyable after the course; in over six out of ten cases, they attribute their subsequent avoidance of an incident or accident directly to the skills learned. Increased awareness of other road users including cyclists and pedestrians was mentioned, while vigilance and smoother, faster yet safer riding with greater control were other benefits.
Additionally, motorcyclists who have not been out on their bike much (or at all!) during the colder winter months may be well advised to consider a refresher training day to perfect their road skills, catch up on the latest thinking from the two-wheeled world and meet like-minded enthusiasts. A proper motorcycle advanced training course benefits riders by helping them to stay safe in all conditions, including some of the inhospitable weather conditions experienced through parts of the British Isles.
One of the official road safety charities is the Institute of Advanced Motorists. On offer is an advanced course entitled ‘Skills for life’ with a test at the end that is recognized by a number of insurers. Recently priced at approximately £139, tuition is mainly in the form of observed riding. A copy of the ‘Roadcraft’ manual is included in the course fee; this publication explains how police motorcyclists ride and control their machines. Course members also receive the IAM’s own manual entitled ‘How to be a better rider’ and a copy of the Highway Code.
Focussing on rider skills in this way is an essential part of an effective, all-rounded approach to enhancing safety for motorcyclists. As well as the course price, riders are encouraged to offer their observer a contribution towards petrol costs; in some cases, this can be compensated at refreshment stops. Riders of all ages are said to participate in these courses.
Over five thousand accidents involving serious rider injuries occurred in 2014, of which more than three hundred were fatal. As well as this, road safety experts were also concerned that the trend appears to be an increasing one – the highest since 2009. This serves to underline the importance of reviewing essential safety skills with a professional, especially after a winter layoff. Junctions are particular black spots for collisions – ride carefully and visibly (reflective clothing, daytime headlights, road positioning, etc.). On those days out, do not feel pressured to ride as fast as other motorcyclists – especially on bends and when you are in a group. If you do not feel comfortable, you can always join the rest a minute or two later.
The IAM five criteria that are considered in courses are information, position, speed, gear, and acceleration. Specifically, the ERS (Enhanced Rider Scheme) as published by the DSA (Driver Standards Agency) includes the following points:
- Rider clothing and protection.
- Bike checks.
- Correct use of instruments and controls.
- Machine handling and the use of side and central stands.
- Starting off and maneuvering at low speed.
- Braking techniques and stopping.
- Safe road positioning.
- Correct rear observation, use of mirrors and signals.
- Pedestrian crossings.
- Considering other road users and traffic (most collisions are at junctions and roundabouts).
- Dual carriageways and motorways.
- Separation distance and speed.
- Anticipation and planning.
- Bends and cornering.
- Weather conditions and their effect on road surfaces.
- Darkness and other environmental issues.
- Parking and security.
- Incident management and legal responsibilities.
- Passengers and loads.
- Riding and touring in groups.
- Overcoming limitations.
Courses are usually held over one day with seven programmed hours, including some theory as well as the practical riding content. Some instructor bikes also have onboard video systems to record and replay later, showing exactly which riding skills should be improved. This can be requested from certain training providers.
What after the course has finished? The optional advanced test itself is also in the form of an observed ride, but this time under the even more finely honed observation of a current or ex-police motorcyclist. IAM qualifications typically attract insurance premium discounts of 10 to 12 percent. Advanced rider groups often hold club meetings and group rides, with opportunities to meet other riders who combine their enthusiasm for motorcycling with a passion for safety.