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Huge bike test shake-up

Published: 21 December 2017

Updated: 21 December 2017

Proposed changes to the bike test could be a huge boost to youngsters entering the sport

Back in December 2016, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) published a consultation with the Department for Transport (DfT) about proposed changes to the way that motorcyclists are taught to ride. There were nine key points ranging from the content of CBT to accreditation scheme for training schools. Motorcyclists were asked to respond and give their opinions to what works and what doesn’t. It’s now resulted in the biggest potential overhaul of motorcycle training since the introduction of CBT in 1990.

Big changes to CBT

The biggest changes come to the entire CBT system. Compulsory Basic Training was first introduced in 1990, to reduce the amount of casualties among leaner motorcyclists. It’s been a huge success however the landscape of motorcycling has changed and recently there’s been a big increase in ‘lifetime leaners’ – those who just do a CBT every two years indefinitely.

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The new proposals for CBT will see be a bigger onus on wearing appropriate clothing and ‘steering’ will be a specific element of control that will be taught in the classroom and out on the road. Safe filtering will also be included in the new CBT. All of these changes are definitely coming, it’s just a case of when time allows for it to pass through parliament. There will also be some bigger structural changes.

One proposed change is the revocation of a CBT Certificate if a learner rider gets six points on their licence. Currently if a rider passes their test and gets six points (such as for dangerous riding) their licence is revoked, however a learner can accrue 12 points before their licence is revoked. This means it’s possible for a learner with a CBT certificate to still be riding around with a dangerous riding conviction, which obviously seems wrong.

Arguably the biggest structural change proposed is that riders will have to sit a full theory test and hazard perception before doing CBT, rather than before they sit their full test. Many instructors have told the DVSA some leaners need more theoretical knowledge, however they appreciate the extra costs involved may be off-putting to some. It’s also proposed that riders who do CBT on an automatic cannot then ride a manual without further training. These three proposals are still subject to evaluation based on projected costs and what effect these may have.

Testing, testing…

Under the current laws, young motorcyclists (those under 24) have to undergo a considerable amount of testing before they can ride a bike of any power. If you start at 17 (like many of us did) you have to do CBT, take a theory, then do your Mod1 and Mod2 practical tests, all to ride a 125 without L plates. After two years you can take your Mod1 and Mod2 again to ride bikes up to 46.6bhp then after a further two years you can take your test again for a full licence. All in you’d have taken seven tests in four years and probably be bankrupt. Is it any wonder when the new licence system was introduced, the number of 17-18 year olds taking their test plummeted from over 6000 to just 504. But it could all be about to change (again).

The DVSA have proposed changes that mean two years after you pass a test for a restricted licence, you then go to a training school for more training on a bigger bike. Once riders have completed a minimum of seven hours training (and the school are happy with their riding), their licence will be upgraded. Needless to say over 90% of people who responded to the survey thought this was a good idea. The DVSA haven’t fully committed to this yet, citing the need to examine the costs, but we think it’s highly likely the changes will come.

Better training

The least exciting but equally important changes come to the way training schools and instructors will operated. At the moment the way instructors are assessed means that not all training schools are equal and there’s no national scheme for assessing the quality of on road training. Although it’s not finalised, the DVSA have proposed new instructor assessments that should mean better quality training for new riders. There will also be more quality assurance for Direct Access and Progressive Access schemes. On top of that they have also proposed an ‘earned recognition scheme’ that will see top performing schools rewarded with extra accreditation that makes it easier for new riders to pick the best tutors.

Everything that the DVSA have proposed sounds great and it’s all a very positive step to encouraging more new riders. The DVSA have said they will consult again on some of the proposals in spring. However with parliament very busy at the moment, it’s unlikely they’ll have time to push through the legislative change needed for some time.

“I want to see more people becoming bikers” – Mark Winn, DVSA Head of Rider and Vocational Policy

“With these proposals, we’re trying to make motorcycling safer. We want to improve the standard of training people receive, as too many young riders are killed on the roads. As a biker myself, I don’t want too many barriers to rider, or hoops to jump through but we want to modernise the training riders receive.

“I want to see more people becoming bikers and we want to make sure they’re bikers for life. The changes the came in under the Third Directive did cause a big drop in young riders taking their test but that’s starting to climb back up. We’re hoping these proposals will move people close to taking a test – the CBT should be the beginning, not the end.”

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