Motorcycle training is a funny old business.. We have dedicated years of our lives to helping people achieve their dreams and enjoy the freedoms of motorcycling. To us, its an important journey and one where you often find yourself up against yourself, challenged in ways you may not have expected, put under pressures you are not used to.
Overcoming these challenges and pushing through to achieve the result is what makes motorcycle training a particularly rewarding achievement. It may be lost on many, but actually this activity is so not about mundane driving to work and back… you will learn about yourself, your limitations and how you can achieve beyond what you thought was possible. And not just to pass a short test with a bloke in a yellow jacket telling you to ride around some cones..this is for life. YOUR life…Have it!
I passed my motorcycle test in 1981… in the days when the examiner waved you down the road, made you do a couple of turns (no mirrors on my DT 175 MX – or indicators!), famously jumped out from behind a van to make you do an E-stop (spawning the urban legend)… couple of highway code questions… and “here you go son, go buy yourself a Z1000” – at age 17.
So, with no CBT training and no DAS training at all I was free to get on any bike I chose to, at the ripe old age of 17 and ride off into the sunset – or an early grave, which is what a very large number of young people did in the 1980s..
So fast forward to Summer 2016 and here I am, fully 33 years later, teaching motorcycling for a living, running a bike school – 2 in fact – and putting myself through the RoSPA advanced rider training course…
There are a number of advanced training organizations around the UK, all offering a wide variety of options to qualified riders to develop and further their skills, which we totally endorse. I decided to go with RoSPA after meeting a particularly outstanding instructor at a test centre we use for our school and deciding, on a gut feeling, that this was the way to go.
I have not looked back since.
With a unique motorcycle safety riding system based on the Police Rider’s Handbook, I felt that there was really something concrete with the RoSPA syllabus to get my teeth into, backed up with a well established book containing a wealth of information.
RoSPA examiners are all ex police class 1 riders and drivers, as is the chap I have been training with, with enormous experience of a type of riding we all need to learn.
I feel it is also very important to have a high level test at the end of a training, to give focus and incentive to achieve the highest skill levels possible. RoSPA has 3 levels of qualification Gold being the highest, with Silver and Bronze next.
On top of this, what sealed it for me was the fact that you have to keep on earning this level, with a retest every 3 years to make sure your standards haven’t slipped.
As a professional rider, with many years of riding experience, I was actually very surprised to learn so much from this course. On day 1, I had a total epiphany and was quite blown away with what we were studying. It was a long hard day, with some 200 miles of fast hard riding, covering 7 counties in the UK… I came away from that day with 5 key learnings to practise and get my head around.
I found myself having to relearn how to control and use my motorcycle in a totally new way, that has resulted in a massive improvement of not only my control and confidence, but without breaking any speed limits, has helped me to make progress faster than I have ever before.
One of the most refreshing things about the stuff I have learned was to open my mind…as an instructor it is very easy to get into fixed ways of thinking and we all get into routines…This training takes all that and just bins it, unleashing a world of possibilities and fun, without the need to take silly risks. In fact quite the opposite. I have never ridden like this before, because quite frankly, I was never taught to! Cornering, overtaking, managing the bike’s performance, advanced forward planning and use of vision – getting the most from your motorcycle and riding. Outstanding stuff.
I came away from this experience with the conviction that If I learned this much from a few days of cracking good fun, then EVERYONE needs to do this.
As a professional rider, I am often asked “what bike do you ride for yourself” which always makes me a bit sad because I don’t get to do much riding for myself. With the RoSPA training, I felt that I was treating myself, investing in myself and having the most fun I have had on 2 wheels in a long time
Yesterday, I took a mock RoSPA test and passed with a Gold standard, the highest RoSPA level achievable. I have to say that I was very chuffed and have not felt such a rush of achievement since passing my Cardington exams with the DVSA.
I now am waiting on developments to apply for the real thing and have taken action to establish a RoSPA commercial training centre at the heart of Riders for Life as a big part of our drive to encourage all new and experienced riders to keep up with their education and be “Riders for Life”.
All our instructors will be qualified soon and a number of us are going to follow this up with RoSPA tutor training to be fully qualified to teach candidates the RoSPA system up to test standard. If you have just passed your test, take a few weeks to get fully used to your bike and then come and have some fun…We’ll show you how to ride your own bike and optimize your riding skill.
Motorcycle training is hard on motorcycles… in fact my students will recall my commenting that if you sin in this life, you will be reborn in the next as a CBT bike, or nearly as bad: an instructor bike!
I bought this Kawasaki Versys KLE650 in February 2013, on my way to get a Honda Crossrunner, which was on sale in the same showroom. The Honda looked great, but sat next to it was this little guy, with luggage and heated grips…and 1K cheaper… I bought it on the spot and didn’t even test ride it.
I had never owned a Kawasaki before, despite a brief affair with an old ZZR600, which I quickly sold to a student in fear of my license… this bike was therefore a bit of a punt, based on a vague recollection of hearing good things about it. I bought it in the middle of Winter, so having smothered it in ACF 50, I first took it out in some horrible conditions, for a ride to Aylesbury from Banbury – temperatures at 2 degrees. And I loved it.
This little bike has proven itself to be the swiss army knife of motorcycles and quite simply the best instructor bike I have ever owned. As long as they keep making them, I will always have one!
I have ridden this bike ever since, full time, all year round, professionally.. and it has done nothing wrong, not even missed a beat.
It has had 3 major services, 2 tire changes, a chain and sprocket and it just works it’s heart out all day long 5 days a week. It does CBTs at 30 mph, DAS, motorways, long haul, London riding, fast, slow, 2 up… it does it all and in comfort too.
Economical, punchy and a hoot to ride, this bike is worth a look at as your first machine. The ER6 powered range is a great place to start and the Versys is just outstanding. In fact this bike is still working full time as an instructor bike as part of our Kawasaki fleet and I have upgraded to the 1000cc Versys, which will be reviewed soon!