Learn­ing to ride

What new rid­ers re­ally need to know to be safe

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Au­thor of Pass The Bike Test (and be a great rider too!). Avail­able on Ama­zon. Learn­ing ex­pert Ru­pert Paul Edi­tor of MCN Sport

Andy Mor­ri­son, for­mer boss of Rapid Train­ing, had a say­ing about new mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers: “You start out with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of ex­pe­ri­ence. The trick is to fill the ex­pe­ri­ence bag be­fore you run out of luck.”

The good old Driv­ing Stan­dards Agency, bless ’em, aren’t re­ally on the same page. Com­pul­sory Ba­sic Train­ing (all you need to ride a 125 on the road) is a dis­mally low base. Even the full test leaves most of your brak­ing and turn­ing un­ex­am­ined. When my son passed in 2014 he didn’t go over 45mph.

So let’s for­get le­gal re­quire­ments, and con­cen­trate in­stead on what your off­spring re­ally needs to op­er­ate a mo­tor­bike at a rea­son­ably com­pe­tent level from day one.

1. Road­craft

For car driv­ers it’s just High­way Code stuff: cour­tesy, round­abouts, junc­tions, road signs, etc. On a bike you need a lit­tle more: the abil­ity to plan an over­take. To read a bend. To use the van­ish­ing point.

2. En­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness

Now it gets tricky. Wet leaves on the road. The whiff of diesel be­fore a round­about. On­com­ing head­lights in the dark. And on, and on. Ei­ther rid­ers choose to see these clues, or they don’t. But it takes a rather spe­cial in­struc­tor to get a learner’s mind work­ing on this level.

3. Ma­chine con­trol

The abil­ity to turn your bike at the pre­cise time and place you plan to. To brake hard in the wet with­out lock­ing the wheel. To know what the right gear is, and the right revs. To take one line through a bend, rather than a fifty pence piece. In short, to ride in a fluid, con­fi­dent way. You can let your child pick it up as he goes along if you like. But re­ally?

4. Con­cen­tra­tion

Lit­er­ally, the abil­ity to ap­ply all of the above for the du­ra­tion of your jour­ney. Long term rid­ers don’t think about it. New rid­ers are rapidly over­whelmed.

If you’re a par­ent with a teenager start­ing out, you might want to check whether these four ar­eas of com­pe­tence are be­ing in­stalled. And if not, how they could be. I sug­gest the an­swer in­volves lots of dirt­bike rid­ing, and ex­tra road train­ing. I didn’t say it would be cheap.

Or you could just do what the Gov­ern­ment rec­om­mends, and leave it up to luck.

‘Con­cen­trate on what your off­spring needs to know ’ Ru­pert Paul ‘Com­pul­sory Ba­sic Train­ing is a dis­mally low base’ Ru­pert Paul

CBT is only the very be­gin­ning of the learn­ing process

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