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Andy Smith is a former Police Motorcyclist with years of experience in motorcycle training at all levels. He offers training through 1stClassRider.co.uk, and ride outs through his newsletter blog right here. To contact Andy click here.

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Just some stuff for the New Year.


Well Christmas is over….already. I know it feels like it never happened almost. Until the credit card bills start arriving that is.

So here is something to do with an old RT and some cones together with some other stuff for the New Year. (Anyone who has done any training with us will now see the benefit of ‘looking where you want to go’ and a bit of slipping the clutch. Sound Familiar? Take a look at the rider here).

Anyway if it is too cold to get out on your bike and you are craving a fix of biking news then Eurosport may have the answer for you. Whilst we were feasting on Turkey and Mince Pies some hardy souls flew off to South America to begin their final countdown for the 2009 Dakar Race.

Yes, this time it is in South America. Taking part is the honorary Brit, Simon Pavey who any of you who have taken part in the BMW off road school weekends, would have met. Simon runs the show there but has gone off again to complete this gruelling endurance event.

Also taking part this year is a mate of mine, Craig Bounds. Craig is the only Welshman in the race, and is one of only 5 British riders taking part.

From Merthyr, Craig works at Bob Wilding motorcycles but his skills away from tarmac and in the mud were recognised by the manager of a BMW dealership in the midlands who has supported Craig in preparing for the Dakar Race.

Craig has previously ridden the BMW G650x challenge and came an impressive third in the 2007 Baja GB. His entry in the Optie Tunisie was brought to a premature end, just as he was doing so well, by mechanical failure.

He is taking part in the Dakar on a rally prepared KTM 525, supported by Patsie Quick, who rode a similar machine in 2006 when she became the only British women ever to finish the event.

Craig has done so well to come from growing up riding the coal tips of South Wales to now attack the desert of South America and all at 1st Class Rider wish him well.

You can follow his progress daily on Eurosport or by logging on to the official rally website at www.dakar.com

Good luck Craig.

The New Bike Test (oh no…not again…)
Once again the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) have caste the bike training industry into more confusion. They deferred the test, due to be implemented last September as they were in no way prepared to introduce it. Lack of suitable testing sites being the main problem.

Put off until next March (and I can’t believe how close this now is), they are now in the middle of a consultation process to see if there is support for a split practical test.

The new test will include new ‘off road’ manoeuvres before venturing onto the road for the remainder of the test.

The initial plan was for both parts of the test to be carried out on at the same booking slot on the same day. (in effect one test). But the proposal is now to split the test into two separate sessions. Completing the off road bit on one day and returning (within 2 years !!!) to complete the test on road.

Now when you consider that the off road bits of the test will take about 8 – 10 minutes to complete this will mean test candidates booking a training bike and instructor not just for the 8 minutes for the test but for as long as it takes to travel to the test site and back, plus an instructor to accompany them etc etc.

At the moment we book the test late in the afternoon on the last day of any training course so that our students get the maximum time on a bike on test day. If the test is to be split, how will this affect us.

Well we can either leave a bike at the test centre and hire a mini bus to get all the test candidates over to Newport in one go! (We are only allowed to take 2 out on the road at a time) or shuttle them back and fore all day swapping riders on the test bikes.

This is bound to raise the cost of training for any student and add more stress and strain on them as they then have to return to complete the road ride at a later date. This means two testing days and not just one.

In fact if you add it all up, to gain your bike licence you must complete a CBT (1 ‘testing’ day) A theory test (another testing day) The off road bit (a third testing day) and finally the practical on road ride (a fourth testing day). Keep track of all that when you’ve got multiple students ringing up for test slots!

Also the Double Standards Agency (no.. that was not a spelling mistake) decreed when I was seeking to set up a Motorcycle Training School, that I must find a suitable site to carry out CBT training. They stipulated that ‘A Supermarket Car Park would not be deemed to be suitable’.

Now in the consultation paper for the new split test, as they are struggling to find suitable sites to carry out their tests, guess what they are considering…….yes THEY can use a Supermarket Car Park if they can’t find anywhere else. (Every Little Helps as they say).

As you can see NOW IS THE TIME to get your bike licence sorted out as the whole testing system and training industry will be thrown once again into confusion as the Double Standards Agency stick their noses in.

All this is intended to make motorcycling safer but it just seems that they are seeking to make it so user UN-friendly, the system will grind to a halt and people will seek alternative forms of transport.

(1st Class Rider Training are in the process of setting up training courses for Skateboards and Roller Blades in readiness for the collapse of Motorcycle Training in the UK).

So I’m going to trade in my Aldi Biker Boots (Yes, Aldi £9.99 – Brill) for a pair of cool Skaterboy Vans. (Daps in other words for those who are not down on the streets, cool and with it………man).

Next Ride out Details coming soon…..but it might be to the Skate Park at Llanishen Leisure Centre.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year and I’ll see you soon for the first Ride Out of 2009.

Cheers

There Are 6 Responses So Far. »

  1. blimey, methinks Santa brought you a sense of humour update! that was verging on the quite funny Mr Smith, keep up the good work…:)

  2. “Mr Smith”??
    Who is this…. my Bank Manager? (no He Calls me ‘Oiy!’) An old Teacher perhaps…..

    I know…it’s my Wife…. She always calls me….. no second thoughts, not my Wife!

  3. Yes well all very funny, but our “powers that be” are still thinking about bringing in this style of test in over here (guernsey). We do not have any room for supermarket carparks! let alone an off-road test site.
    Any all the best to everyone who has had the GOOD idea to do the Dakar. GSYMPG

  4. Nice one Andy!

    Hope you had a suitably full belly over Christmas 🙂

    See you in the New Year.

    Dave (Harley Dyna)

  5. Hi Andy I am from the Isle of man went back there last year and was speaking to an instrutor over there re the new test he said that on the Island they will stay with the old test as they dont have a big enough area for the testing. If you also change your licence to a Manx one and pass on a 125 there when you get your licence back it will have your motorcycle entitlemment an “R” (restricted) but then you can send your manx licenece to DVLA Swansea and as they dont know what the “R” is they send your UK Licence back with full entitlement!!!!

  6. Crikey…..The DSA involved is bad enough. We don’t want to give the DVLA any opportunity to loose all our driving -riding entitlements. The less we have to do with the DVLA the better. We’re all likely to end up with a licence for just a motor mower and nothing else!

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