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Back to Biking Courses – another trainee let down by a basic school

I’ve just done another training day with a guy who did his initial “back to biking” course with another school, a CBT/DAS school who’ve also signed up for the Enhanced Rider Scheme, with a Register of Post-test Motorcycle Trainer (RPMT) registered instructor.

As that particular day didn’t go too well (not to put too fine a point on it, he crashed their training bike), he signed up to do a day on his own bike with me. There was an understandable degree of nerves post-crash, and because he was now very aware he’d bought a BIG machine – he had unfortunately dropped it whilst manoeuvering it in his garage!

Having said all that, I assumed (yes, I know all about Eeyore before some points it out) that once we got the bike up his gravel drive and out on the main road, he’d be rolling and that all I needed to do was plot a reasonably straightforward route off to my favourite car park to get down to a bit of serious slow control.

Oh dear. I assumed… donkey moment. Within 10 metres it was obvious we weren’t going to be safe heading back through town, so I very quickly planned a reasonably straightforward route with no really awkward junctions, and hoped that with a few miles under his belt, he’d settle down and get into the swing of riding the bike.

So was my session with him a success? A highly qualified ‘sort of’. The positives are that his own bike came back undamaged (something he was obviously concerned about), he rode it reasonably satisfactorily for nearly 40 miles on open roads, and he did manage to deal with a couple of moderately awkward junctions along the way. On the minus sides, we were too slow on many of the faster stretches of open road causing queues, and we didn’t manage to tackle much in the way of the main roads in urban areas, and certainly nothing technically difficult.

He did get somewhat happier as the miles went by, but every junction we came to was a slow and wobbly experience. Eventually we got back to his home town and progress came to a complete halt on a mini-roundabout.

When we finally got over it, we parked up and I offered to ride his bike home with him on the back, which we duly did.

We had a bit of a chat, and specifically I asked about the “back to biking” course. He was quite complimentary about the instructor, but it turned out that he’d been sent out with a trainee on his last day of training prior to the bike test. The instructor apparently told him to take as long he liked on their training pad, but he said he was aware that the other trainee had to get out on the road.

So they were out on the road, doing left and right turns, dual carriageways and other stuff, when the crash happened turning across a dual carriageway when he began to worry he was taking too long and holding things up.

I’m not that surprised he crashed. Clearly, no attempt had been made to explain clutch control or brake use at slow speed! He did admit that perhaps the other school had given too much weight to the fact that he did hold a full licence and had ridden large machines in the past.

But any instructor with any kind of basic training qualification should have realised he needed some serious time off road, perhaps even starting with a CBT!

Even though it wasn’t by any means the best solution, at least I spent half an hour talking before we got on the bike and another ten minutes just getting him to move off and stop again, before we set off on a long straight road, but quite honestly, had I realised his control was so poor from the off, I’d have found a way to start MY course with him off-road.

I’m not naming names, but this isn’t the first time this has happened, I wrote about a similar experience back in June a female trainee of mine had with TWO other CBT/DAS schools in the area when she booked a refresher course!

My trainee on this occasion went out on a 500 but to my mind, this isn’t a “back to biking” course at all – it’s a chance for the school to fill an empty slot on a basic training day, keeping the instructor working at a 2:1 ratio and maximising their profits. It’s clearly NOT the “structured to your own individual needs” that their website promises.

So if you’re looking for a back to biking course, make sure your course is 1:1 – and if they try to fob you off with 2:1 training with a test candidate say “NO”!

Better still, look for a PROPERLY qualified advanced instructor (ie, not just someone who’s on the RPMT) who’s also qualified at CBT/DAS level, and who really IS prepared to run the course around YOU!

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