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What's the goal of post-test training?

Over the years, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the goal of training after passing the motorcycle test. Obviously we want to improve the skills and knowledge that a rider gained on basic training. But what does that really mean in terms of what we deliver? Are we looking for perfection? Or should we be looking for a pragmatic approach to riding?

When I moderated a riding skills forum, we regularly used to get requests for help with a riding issue. In one instance, the request came from a very newly qualified rider on his new motorcycle:

"I passed my test 2 weeks ago tomorrow and am really a complete novice as I'd never ridden before I started my training which was basically 3 lessons. Anyway I bought a 6 month old Thundercat as my first bike after a lot of worrying that the bike was too powerful for a 1st bike. I want to know what tips you can give to a new rider... I'm really struggling with a few things in particular:

1. setting off I'm not sure what revs to use, and find it hard to keep the throttle steady... I panic that the the front wheel is going to fly up and throw me off

2. turning into a side road I was taught to use 1st but it just doesn't feel right as I'm very jerky on the throttle

3. which brake should I use? For example on country lanes if I want to slow down from a speed above 30 ish, is it the front? I worry that wheels are going to lock and start sliding"

Now, it should be pretty obvious that we have here a rider who has clearly identified some major problems with his ability to control the machine. So I responded with a series of practical suggestions.

I referred the rider back to some of the exercises he would have performed on CBT including some very simple straight line stopping and starting exercises to help get used to the clutch on the new machine. I also advised him to use a slipping clutch when turning into side roads (what would have been taught for the U-turn exercise, so nothing new) and a reminder about basic braking technique (front first, rear second, then a progressive squeeze of the front to slow at the required rate). I also suggested that the rider look for some personalised training to fix the problems sooner rather than later.

Of course, I wasn't the only one with advice. I generally try not to criticise other people involved in rider training too often but in this case the response of one of our IAM observers made me blow my top. He started by offering some useful - but theoretical - advice, but then qualified it by saying:

"Unless you really do feel that you can't manage I would delay any extra training until you've been riding 5-6 weeks or so. You'll be amazed at how different it will be then and you'll get more out of any training you do."

Of course, there's a very big assumption there. And that's that our wobbly novice is still in one piece after that period.

And then he suggested that at the end of this learning period the new rider would then be in a position to benefit from advanced training with the IAM.

As I've said many times, there are two ways of approaching rider training:

a pragmatic 'improve what's weak' approach
building standard skills to test against a set riding standard

Either are valid in certain circumstances. But which is more appropriate here?

I think the answer is pretty obvious. A client-centred course, of the sort offered by the Survival Skills Confidence: BUILDER one-day training course, is more likely to address the novice rider's needs.

The mention of the Thundercat dates the event, and since then I've been told "ah, but the IAM has changed a lot". That is undoubtedly true, there has certainly been a drive to improve standards and consistency but what hasn't changed is that the organisation still promotes a brand of training style of riding which has passing the test as its goal.

At the risk of provoking a chorus of "he would say that, wouldn't he?", if you think you have a problem with your riding, ask yourself where you'll get the better support; from an independent trainer who's prepared to focus the training on YOUR needs, or from an organisation that commits you to pursuing their own goal?

Kevin Williams
Survival Skills Rider Training

...because it's a jungle out there


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What is Survival Skills all about?

How are Survival Skills Courses put together and taught?
The Making of a Good Instructor - musings on my Driver Education course

Would a National Standard for advanced training be appropriate?
Writing a riding tip - what detail is necessary?
What to do if you've had an accident
Accident Statistics - dispelling some myths

Improver or advanced, pragmatism or perfection?
Piling on the miles
Compartmentalisation & Practice -  the key to learning new skills
Countersteering - Question and Answer

Braking Rules and Tips
Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit
Practice makes Perfect
The Danger of Misunderstanding
Learning from your Mistakes
A Moment of Inattention
Staying Warm
Staying Awake
Don't just ride for yourself, ride for others
Filtering - what's legal and how to do it
Cornering Problems 1 - Lean or Brake?
Springing into Summer - polishing off the winter rust
Group Riding - Rules and Tips
Awareness of Risk and Risk Management
Cornering Problems 4 - Stability and the "Point and Squirt" technique
Cornering Problems 3 - Staying out of trouble! Pro-active Braking or Acceleration Sense?
Cornering Problems 2 - Staying out of trouble
What is Risk?
Avoiding Diesel
The Vanishing Point - is it enough?
Posture - the key to smoother riding
When the Two Second Rule is not enough
Riding in the Dark
Roundabouts - straight lines, stability and safety
Slow Speed Control
Aquaplaning - what it is and how to deal with it
Rear Observation - when to & when not to!
Staying upright on icy roads
KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking
Overtaking Safety - avoiding vehicles turning right
Proactive versus Reactive Riding
Living with  Lifesavers
Which Foot? The Hendon Shuffle - Question and Answer
Carrying a passenger - Question and Answer
Riding in the rain
Riding in strong winds
Sorry Mate, I didn't see you - an analysis of SMIDSY accidents
Ever gone into a corner too hot and had it tighten up on you?
The Point & Squirt approach to corners
A time to live...
Target Fixation - Question and Answer
The Lurker, the Drifter and the Trimmer
The five most important things I learned as a courier
Overtaking - Questions and Answers
Precision riding - or keeping it simple?
Wide lines, tight lines, right lines - the law of Diminishing Returns
Surface Attraction
Euphoria - when your riding is just too good to be true
Straight line -vs- trail braking
Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and hope for the best
Before you overtake, do you...?
Do you need to blip the throttle on a downshift?
Holiday Riding Tips 1 - Dealing with hairpins (a new occasional series)
Holiday Riding Tips 2 - The (drive on the) Right Stuff
Why SMIDSYs happen
Avoiding dehydration - riding in hot weather
Riding errors - and avoiding them
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - riding in fog
Where does Point and Squirt come from?
Overtaking - lifesavers and following distances
Offsiding - what is it, and why you should think before you do it!
Anger Management - dealing with "red mist" and "road rage"
That indefinable gloss
Overtaking on left-handers - experts only or best avoided?
Apex or Exit - what's important when cornering?

Developing 'Spidy Sense'

Armchair Riding - how to improve summer skills in winter

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 1

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 2

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IMPORTANT: The information on the Survival Skills website is for your general information and personal use and should be taken as a guide only. Survival Skills Rider Training provides no warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness, clarity, fitness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and you acknowledge use of any information and materials is entirely at your own risk, and that neither Kevin Williams nor Survival Skills can accept responsibility for your interpretation or use of this information or materials. The content of these pages is subject to change without notice. 

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