Steps to a higher, safer level of riding
You're reading this because - hopefully - you are interested in raising your skills as a motorcyclist to a higher level. By definition, an "advanced rider" is one who has made the grade in a formal test which requires a considerably higher standard than the basic driving test.
There are two organisations offering recognised "advanced" motorcycle tests: the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). Both carry out advanced motorcycle tests.
Such tests are entirely voluntary. In financial terms, passing one or other test would gain you an insurance discount of up to 15 per cent, depending on your insurer. Against that you have to set the cost of the test, which is currently around £40. Retests are required every three years by RoSPA. These are free of charge, but you do have to pay an annual membership fee of around £20.
So, why bother? Most of us as riders probably reckon we have reached good standards. After all, we have to have our wits about us to survive on roads where others simply don't understand us!
But the truly good rider acknowledges there is always room for improvement. It's a shame, then, that only a small minority of motorcyclists appear to have had the courage to test their skills against the high, internationally recognised standards set by the IAM and RoSPA.
Thorough preparation and a lot of practice are required before actually taking the test. It's during the practice sessions - typically carried out through a local advanced motorcycling group with a specially trained observer - that you can start the process of unpicking the habits and practices you may not even know you had. Some of these habits and practices may be just slightly out of kilter with advanced methods. Others might be risky or bordering on the dangerous. Whatever they are, it will be your task to get rid of them and to adopt the techniques required for advanced level.
Of course, it's not always a pleasure to find someone telling you your skills are poor, your observation is below standard or your braking technique is risky. But that's the beginning of the process, And to be honest, you wouldn't be embarking on it if you didn't think you had something to learn, would you. So ask yourself - and your observer - what's not up to standard? What's wrong with your cornering technique? What's necessary to change or adapt in order to ensure your progress on the road is as safe as it can be?
Here are the sort of questions you need to address as you embark on the learning process towards the advanced test:
Is the control you have of your motorbike always "safe, systematic and smooth"?
Can you always make progress "unobtrusively, with skill and responsibility"?
Does your riding always demonstrate "a courteous attitude and a high standard of competence based on concentration, effective all-round observation, anticipation and planning"?
Do you always handle your machine "so that your motorcycle is always be at the right place on the road at the right time, travelling at the right speed with the correct gear engaged and can always be stopped safely on its own side of the road in the distance that can be seen to be clear"?
If the answer to any of these is 'no', then you've just taken your first step towards becoming an advanced motorcyclist. Well done!
OK, so you may need to shell out a few quid in order to obtain the advanced riding qualification, and the subsequent insurance saving may not be all that significant But without a doubt, getting your riding to highest possible standard is a long-term investment worth making. After all, you will have greatly reduced your chances of being involved in a crash. It would be hard to put a value on that!
READY TO GO FOR IT?
If you're now fired with enthusiasm to obtain an advanced riding qualification, then follow our top tips which we think will increase your enjoyment - and boost your chances of success in the advanced test:
Make sure you have a very thorough knowledge of the rules of the road. What better than to spend an hour or two reading the Highway Code.
Get a copy of Motorcycle Roadcraft - The Police Rider's Handbook to Better Motorcycling' (ISBN 0-11-341143-X). This is "the bible" of advanced riding, and covers all the aspects of the 'system of motorcycle control; which forms the basis of advanced riding.
Join an advanced motorcycling organisation. Most meet on a monthly basis and organise regular observed rides which provide the best preparation for the advanced test.
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.