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The Advanced Motorcycle Test

Note: Autumn 2013 - new Motorcycle Roadcraft published.  Any Motorcycle Roadcraft page numbers quoted refer to the pre-2013 edition until I have time to update my motorcycling pages.

A few tips on passing the test...

Quite a bold title, if you will excuse the pun, but what follows is a brief insight into what I, as an Advanced Motorcycle Examiner,  look for from the candidate on an Advanced Motorcycle Test.

Presentation

Using my machine in all weather, and throughout the year, I know what a machine can look like after a few hundred miles on wet, muddy roads; so do not worry. However, neglect, such as missing "R" pins or split pins, slack or over tight drive chains, bits hanging off the machine etc. do make me wonder what sort of person the candidate is.  I usually consider machine care is a fair reflection on the candidate's motorcycle attitude.  Illegal visors, a helmet which look as if it has "gone down the road" several times, training shoes etc. do little to give me the impression of a well prepared candidate - and this is before we have even moved off.  I do not require a "Day-glow Derek" on a highly polished, brand new, machine, but evidence of machine care, suitable rider's gear and a good motorcycling attitude do go down well.

Starting Drill

Everything is based on safety 1st.  Quick visual check of the machine and let the examiner know that you have checked the machine (POWER) - Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber, or something along these lines.  The Machine should be taken of any centre stand before mounting it and the brake pressure checked.  Once on the move a moving brake test - not an emergency stop - gives plus points.  Full all round observations should be taken prior to moving off, along with a signal if required.

On the Move - Built Up Area...

Be vigilant and ensure you know what is happening around you.  Alter your course to suit the situation.  Frequent rear observations (mainly mirrors but backed up with "blind spot checks") and speedometer checks are required and if possible you should try to ride up to the speed limit if it is safe to do so.  Stray too far over the limit constantly and you will not be recommended for Full Membership... even if the rest of the run is excellent - be warned!  Plan ahead and rather slow down early for traffic lights etc. and be able to progress without stopping, instead of maintaining speed and then being forced to stop for a light still at red.  Try to note changes in road surface and alter course / speed to suit.  Comply with all traffic signs and road markings.

On the Move - In the Country...

This is where you have the chance to demonstrate you know your stuff, with a safe smooth and progressive style.

Plan your ride based on...

...so on the approach to every hazard you are

I could talk about observation links and positioning, but then again you should read "Motorcycle Roadcraft" or the IAM's own "How to be a Better Rider" publications. Without good information gathering (mainly observations) we cannot make our riding plan.  Use this information to form your riding plan: anticipate hazards; order hazards according to their importance; decide what to do.

Cornering

Although Roadcraft covers cornering technique I must go over a few point as, in my opinion, cornering separates out those who are advanced riders from those who are not yet there.  Use your half of the road to the best effect to position your machine to allow you to get the best view on the approach to the bend or series of bends.  Get into position smoothly and in plenty of time, but be prepared to sacrifice your desired position if there are other hazards to take account of e.g. oncoming traffic on left-handers and nearside debris on right-handers.  Maintain the "outer" line until you can see where the next bend / hazard is and this will avoid cutting the corner and tightening the bend prematurely.  When you have sussed out the next bend / hazard then aim to move into the best approach position for it.  Racing lines are fine on the race track where you can see what is round the bend and you are only interested in the fastest line.  On the public roads there must be a balance between the position for the best view and the position for the fastest line.  All the time the position for the view must be given greater importance.  (see HERE for illustrations)

Remember the advantages to be gained by positioning correctly for left and right-hand bends are as follows:

General

Take, Use and Give Information (TUG) throughout your application of the system.  Use your mirrors frequently and when you are altering course, if there is any doubt, back up these checks with an actual look to eliminate any blind spot left by your mirrors .  Remember the "life-saver" just before a turn.  Only signal if there is someone to benefit from the signal.  Remember the horn is much abused by some and underused by others. If the need arises, use it. Consider the horn's use or headlamp flash as part of the "giving of information" for each hazard, according to the "system."

The System

This is the basis on which Advanced Riding is built.  Read "Roadcraft," learn the system and put it into practice. The system is divided into five phases:

Each phase is dependent on the one before, and you should consider the phases in sequence. Normally you would start by considering your information needs, and then work through each phase in turn. But if road conditions change, you need to consider new information and re-enter the system at an appropriate phase, continuing through it in sequence. The system must be used flexibly in response to actual road conditions; do not follow the sequence rigidly if it is inappropriate to the circumstances.

The phases of the system cover all the points you need to consider on the approach to a hazard. At each phase there are a number of points to consider, but you should only apply those points that are relevant to the situation.  Note that the information phase encompasses the entire system, its not just the first of 5 phases so we are constantly taking in information, using it and giving it where appropriate throughout our application of the system to deal with the hazard.

To Sum Up...

Try to put "Roadcraft" into practice.  Ride safely, smoothly progressively and well.  Make sure your riding plan is based on what you can see, what you cannot see and the circumstances you may reasonably expect to develop, so on the approach to each hazard you are on the right place on the road, travelling at the right speed, with the right gear engaged.

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