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Top three learner rider complaints
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Riding skills: Top three learner rider complaints

By Rupert Paul -

Riding Skills

 11 July 2011 15:45

It’s tempting to go for the cheapest bike training course you can find. Here are three reasons why that might not be a good idea.

1. The bikes

Training school bikes have a hard life. But they should still be reliable, of good quality, and come with a reasonable spares backup in the event of a drop. Many riders who’ve come to us from other schools have told us they’ve lost valuable time during a course because of a breakdown, and no spare bikes were available. So ask if the school carries spare levers and indicators, how many spare bikes there are, and what happens if mechanical problems occur.

We’ve often heard of Direct Access trainees having to start on a 125cc machine, even if they are six foot two, and then doing one or two days on this before they are allowed to move up to a bigger bike. This is nonsense – if you’re paying for Direct Access you should be on a big bike straight away. A more likely explanation for confining you to a 125 is that the school doesn’t have a bigger bike available until much later. This can prove very frustrating when your test is looming.

Check the selection of bikes. If they’re all the same make of 500, that will not suit everyone. It’s best to go with a school that has a selection of different bikes, with various engine sizes, twins and four cylinder machines, with and without fairings. You should get a chance to ride different ones to see which you like the most. Not only does this improve your chances in thetest, it gives you a better idea of what bike you could buy once you’ve passed.

2. The instructor

Good instructors are like sports coaches, giving excellent advice in a style that focuses your awareness and responsibility, and builds up your confidence. Find such a person and you’ll be glad you did. To help you decide, get testimonials from previous clients.

You can recognise a bad instructor – and they do exist – in two ways. First, your instinct tells you something’s wrong. Second, they behave like a complete arse, constantly shouting and belittling each client.

You are looking to put your life in this person’s hands, and it’s a decision you must make for yourself, whether that takes a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Do you like them? Do you trust them? Would you genuinely work well together?

3. The radios

Training needs good quality in-helmet radios, and we hear more complaints about these than anything else. Inaudible instructions are a distraction you could do without. Get an assurance that your training school’s radios work well. Better still, try them out before you commit.

Taken from Pass the Bike Test (and be a great rider too), by Sean Hayes and Rupert Paul, foreword by Charley Boorman. Out August 18, £12.99.

Pre-order on http://tinyurl.com/6eblg85