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02 Aug 2021
Adrian Holliday Adrian Holliday

Advanced motorcycle training

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Motorbike riders doing training

Want to get more from your bike – and save money on your motorbike insurance? Advanced motorcycle riders tend to be safer.

Their skills not just keep them shielded from the worst but could also save them cash.

 

What is advanced motorcycle training?

Advanced motorcycle training helps you become a safer, more confident rider. Extra motorbike riding qualifications tells any insurer you’re 100% committed to keeping out of trouble on the road.

That’s a pretty powerful message. But don’t think training courses is all about ‘serious’ riders. Or exams or tests. The language can sound intimidating, but don’t worry.

Advanced motorcycle training courses are for anyone who wants to improve their on-the-road skills and technique.

A safer rider copes better with tougher traffic and environmental conditions. Riding with greater fluency when conditions deteriorate is a skill that should last you a lifetime.

From wet leaves to handling more powerful machines to anticipating the road ahead, the focus is the same. A safer rider controls their machine and their road environment better. 

There are several types of advance bike training. We’ll look at some of the options. But like we said, the format is simple and very much geared around your needs.

Although there is some theory, there’s also plenty of observed training rides, sometimes followed by an evaluation or test.

It could also be fun. Learning a range of new and improved techniques – from machine control to observation and general road skills – is hugely satisfying.

Plenty of insurers recognise the qualifications issued by the various schemes. We go into this detail below.

 

Do advanced motorcycle training courses save you money?

It depends on your motorbike insurance provider and how long you want to keep riding. Some insurers could discount your annual bike insurance policy by as much as 10-15% if you have an advanced qualification.

These discounts aren’t cast in stone, but use them as a guideline. Over time, these kind of savings could really rack up.

There are loads of courses available, all offering different benefits and catering to a variety of skill levels. Basically, take as much or as little as you want.

But before signing up to a course it’s a good idea to talk to your insurer about what training bodies they recognise. Or what they require in order to offer a discount:

  • Do they need paper certificates as proof?

  • Are there any time limits to how long they recognise a qualification? 

It’s best to shop around for a course that suits. There are several bike riding schemes available with a spread of training offers. Here’s a summary of some of the best-known ones. 

  • Enhanced Rider Scheme – Good range of skills enhancement but no formal pass or fail ERS test. This is run by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

  • RoSPA – several courses offered by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents including an enhanced rider scheme.

  • IAM – The Institute of Advanced Motorists offers advanced training with up to eight sessions including a Riding Test. 

  • BMF – The British Motorcyclists Federation offers its Blue Riband Rider Award held over a day and a half.

 

If you're thinking of doing this to save money on your insurance, there are some other things you can do. For more information, check out our guide on how to cut the cost of your motorbike insurance.

Compare motorbike insurance quotes

 

How much does advanced motorcycle training cost?

It depends on the training package, your own experience and what your priorities are.

Some prices will depend on where you live and how easy it is to access the training. Some offer a flat fee. For example, the Institute of Advanced Motorists Advanced Rider Course costs £149.

The government-backed Enhanced Rider Scheme is around £175 but, again, do check for price changes. There’s also the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), which costs around £250. 

Think about what your own development priorities before picking a course.

  • Are there specific riding weaknesses or habits you want to improve on or address?

  • Are you more interested in broad-brush improvement across a range of motorbike skills?

  • Do you want a course that forcuses on theory and Highway Code knowledge than others.

  • Are you looking for a refresher course after some time off the road?

Before you take any course, the Enhanced Rider Scheme could be a good foundation, especially if you’re new to bikes and road safety.

Don’t forget to have fun. Refining your understanding and developing your technique is not all about theory and two-wheel momentum and physics. It’s also about road contact and a great day out!

 

What advanced rider training courses are available?

We’re taking a close look at the main players. There’s no ‘best’ one. Each course has their own strengths and weaknesses.

What’s important is how each course addresses your safety and training priorities.

 

Enhanced Rider Scheme

First, the government-backed DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) is targeted at those who’ve recently passed their test. Or anyone considering upgrading to a more powerful machine.

The ERS says you’re entitled to insurance discounts once you’ve completed the one-day course. It’s organised through local training teams.

This is a good starting platform for other more advanced tests. This scheme is a 1-2 hour assessed ride with an expert motorcycle instructor.

If your riding is of a good standard and there’s no need for further training you can get your DVSA Certificate of Competence immediately.

If there are areas you need to improve on you get personal training and get a certificate when finished. These training sessions may be one or two short sessions or an all-day course.

A second good option could be the local police Bikesafe courses. They’re held right across the country by 36 regional polices forces.

There are 75 workshop venues too so there should be one not too far from you.

They’re also a fine stepping stone for further advanced training – if you want to develop your skills even further.

 

IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM RoadSmart), has a well-established Advanced Rider Course for many years and costs £149 including a welcome pack and manual.

You sign up with your nearest local group and go on a number of observed rides with trained volunteers over three to six months.

Your session includes plenty of time with skills such as:

  • Road control

  • Observation and timing

  • Best road positioning

  • Dealing with unpredictable roads

  • Dealing with the behaviour of other road users.

IAM RoadSmart claims advanced riders have fewer collisions per year when compared to other riders in their age group and a lower rate of collisions per mile.They said:

“IAM RoadSmart riders covered, on average, 15,000 miles incident-free compared to non-IAM RoadSmart riders who had a collision, on average, every 9,400 miles”.

 

RoSPA Advanced Motorcycle Training

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has a number of courses including Advanced Motorcycle Training and its Advanced Motorcycle Test.

RoSPA’s Advanced Motorcycle Training is a four-day course. The main emphasis is ‘deliberate, responsible and exemplary’ riding.

This is the primer for RoSPA’s Advanced Motorcycle Test, which RoSPA says is its most challenging motorcycle test.

There’s a strong risk reduction strand to RoSPA’s approach including human emotions like attitude and fatigue.

A good knowledge of The Highway Code and Motorcycle Roadcraft – the UK Police Rider’s Handbook – is expected. 

The Advanced Motorcycle test has several gradings – gold, silver and bronze – and is available right across the UK.

 

British Motorcyclists Federation Blue Riband

The British Motorcyclists Federation Blue Riband advanced rider training usually lasts up to 1.5 days. With theory, demonstration rides and practical training, The BMF advises that it could be quite intense.

The BMF day is divided into sections and your finish time is ‘dependent on the candidates progress, weather and enthusiasm’, the BMF says.

Providing you’ve reached their standard by the end of the first day they say, ‘you’ll then be able to take the Blue Riband rider award assessment.’ This takes place as soon as possible – usually the following day.

This final assessment usually takes between one and one-and-a-half hours. It’s where you’ll be judged on your machine’s control, information gathering junctions, psychology and road craft.

The BMF advises that you could cover up to 150-180 miles over the course. So, make sure you’re familiar with your machine, as some of the riding techniques may be completely new.

Your bike should also have a minimum 33bhp (25KW) power output. The BMF says:

 “It should also be able to maintain progress at the national speed limit on both A-roads and motorways, and be able to overtake quickly when required.”

 

What do I need before I start advanced rider training?

You’ll need a valid licence to ride a motorbike, obviously. For more information, check out our guide on how to get a motorcycle licence.

Your bike will need to be fully insured, and have valid tax and motorbike MOT.

The bottom line is your bike must be in roadworthy condition – and it may be thoroughly checked too.

Normally you’ll ride your own bike. If this isn’t possible you might be able to borrow a bike for a small fee.

Don’t feel under pressure to own a bike that’s flash or relatively new. Motorcycle training courses aren’t about your machine.

The overwhelming emphasis is improving your safety and your skill levels.

If your bike’s old but still perfectly roadworthy you’ll always be welcome.

 

What will I learn at an advanced rider course?

It depends on the course – and where you feel your own skills need a boost.

But typically you’ll be focusing on a combination of road survival skills and technical competence across a range of biking issues.

For example, the DVSA Enhanced Rider Course will see you ride out with an approved trainer for several hours. They’ll evaluate what you’re good at. They’ll also look closely at the areas where you might need to improve on.

Here are some of the skills you might develop:

 

Riding your motorcycle in hazardous weather conditions.

  • Stopping distances, puddle avoidance, traction control and staying visible to other road users.

  • The importance of good hydration and rest for yourself

  • The importance of good helmet ventilation and anti-fogging coatings.

 

Developing observational skills to help you anticipate road risks.

  • Adapting to wind and turbulence

  • Adjusting your body posture and grip

  • How temperature can impact road conditions

  • Looking out for rainbows in the road, and the risk of oil spills.

 

More effortless and intuitive riding that keeps you safe.

  • No aggressive acceleration or hard braking

  • Keeping your style smooth, stable and comfortable.

  • Lean angles, cornering and lane discipline.

  • Judging the best speed for cornering

  • Understanding your vulnerability.

While some motorcyclists rely on road instinct and common sense, advanced training provides that extra bit of control. This is especially important in situations that we can’t control, like in bad weather.

 

How does the advanced motorcycle training test work?

It depends on the test and the organisation. It’s unlikely you’ll be put forward for a test until your trainer or observer feels you’re ready.

The IAM test takes an hour and a half and can be up to 40 miles.

RoSPAs advanced motorcycle test has been approved by the Driving Standards Agency and is generally considered the ‘gold standard’. Its test is generally around an hour and a half.

For any test make sure your bike is clean and that you’re wearing the right gear for the weather.

Be prepared to do some pre-trip checks and to show an examiner why you’re making these actions. There shouldn’t be any trick questions.

Bear in mind that there’s not usually a fixed test route, so you could end up going places that are unfamiliar to you. Don’t rely on muscle  memory to do the heavy lifting.

Examiners are always looking for advance planning and good road positioning. And remember to relax your body and don’t fight the bike.

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