Passing your motorcycle test is a tremendous achievement but continuing to improve your riding skills should be seen as an important safety feature as much as choosing a piece of protective clothing. There are the added benefits of gaining greater enjoyment, confidence and often cheaper insurance. The costs of further training is relatively cheap and in comparison to the potentially life saving skills it will teach you, the actual value is priceless. In addition to the courses listed below there are private companies and bodies that offer tailored training. As with all things, make sure you do your research to ensure that the training you book is best suited to your needs and requirements.
The Enhanced Rider Scheme
The Enhanced Rider Scheme is a Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency initiative and is suited for a host of different riders. From those who have just passed their test to experienced riders who want to have their skills professionally assessed. The assessment is delivered by post-test motorcycle trainers registered with the DVSA and will be conducted on a host of different road types and conditions. The assessment will usually last between one to two hours with specific tips given by the examiner to help improve your ride. The end of the session may result in the issue of a DVSA certificate of competence which is recognised by many insurance companies who in turn offer lower premiums. Before the certificate is issued it may be necessary to undertake further training which can last either a full day or split into manageable time slots. Costs for this vary depending on the training but each training body should ensure that it is focussed around your needs and provide you with a riding report.
BikeSafe is also recognised by many insurance companies who may well offer policy discounts. The workshops are a day long and open to riders of all abilities. While Bikesafe can be a good introduction to Advanced Riding it is also used by many others as refresher training and skills upgrade. The day is facilitated mainly by Police Riders and is structured to cover a range of different topics focussed on safety and raising awareness. This is undertaken both on the road and in the classroom. As its main interest is in reducing motorcycle casualties BikeSafe offers tremendous value for money (currently £45) with lunch and a goody bag included in the price of the day.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is a charitable body recognised by the DVSA. Its aims are to improve road safety and driving standards. Those that pass the advanced test and become IAM members have access to a range of benefits notably IAM insurance (which also includes car and home cover). The best way to train for the test is through the IAM Skills for Life Package which costs £139. This will include:
- Associate membership of a local IAM group who will help you get ready for the test
- The 'How to be a better rider' guide
- Your Advanced Riding Test undertaken with a qualified examiner
- An IAM Advanced Riding Certificate on passing the test
- 12-month membership of the IAM
Often local groups will offer free assessment rides to help someone decide whether purchasing the Skills for Life package is for them. Each local group structures the training in different ways but a test pass can be achieved within three to twelve months depending on the amount of practice undertaken between observed rides. Groups like the IAM have the reputation by some for being mainly made up of middle aged white men who ride BMW’s and smoke pipes. Though there are some who do fit this description, in truth, as with motorcycling in general, the member base is very diverse with a healthy range of gender, ethnicity and age amongst its core. It is important to be aware that advanced riding is not about making people ride slowly but about being safe, systematic and smooth. As a result of which you will also obtain the ability to make better progress and increase your enjoyment. The training is undertaken by Observers who apply the theory from the same Road craft manual that Emergency Riders use. The Observers who will help take you through your test are well trained volunteers who give up their time for free (though some groups ask for a small donation to petrol costs) often to pass on the skills given to them in the past. As a result you will find Observers to be very dedicated and supportive individuals. As well as training, most groups have a thriving social scene and additional training resources. Another group operating in a similar manner to the IAM are RoSPA (Royal Society Prevention of Accidents) through its Advanced Drivers and Riders Scheme. Membership of a local training group will cost £53 which includes
- Annual membership
- First Year's joining Fee
- 6 Ride School Theory Sessions
As with the IAM, RoSPA instructors are volunteers and use Roadcraft: Police Riders Handbook. There is usually an active social element to local RoSPA groups in a similar way to IAM local groups. The main difference with the RoSPA test is its grading. Whereas with the IAM test is a pass or fail, RoSPA achievement is marked by a Bronze, Silver or Gold award. The IAM test pass is usually around the Silver grade making the RoSPA Gold the highest civilian motorcycling qualification an individual can obtain. The other difference with IAM is that the RoSPA certificate expires every three years meaning a retest is needed to retain the achieved grade.
Track Training Days
A training track day offers you the opportunity to really get to know your bike and your own capabilities in a relatively safe environment. You will be able to practice your road riding skills with the absence of types of hazards that occur on the road. Training track days tend to be having a more focussed agenda than the standard track day outings as well as the absence of tyre warmers and tricked out sports bikes! Prices vary but days take place on a variety of different tracks across the country so there should be one near you. Trainers on the training track days tend to be Police Riders or Advanced Road Riders and therefore have improving safety and skill as a primary objective.