Over 2 1/2 years ago I started riding a motorbike. It was on my todo list for a long time, and after moving to Belfast I bit the bullet and started lessons. After the basic lessons, a CBT exam, manoeuvres test and on-road test were passed I purchased my CBF600. Since then I have put over 14k miles on the bike involving a lot of short runs and a few longer ones. Doing all these miles presented four interesting observations.
- I never realised how bad car drivers could be, until I started riding a motorbike.
- If I rode a motorbike the way I rode a car when I was 21, I would be dead. I enjoy riding a bike. I have no interest in dying.
- After you pass the motorbike test you have basic skills. And I mean BASIC. It’s nowhere near enough to drive effectively or safely.
- Watching riders like my brother, Bill Buchan, Tim Clark, or even talking bikes with Steve McDonagh and Sean Cull, I realised I don’t know dick about bikes. (not forgetting the lotusphere hog riders too).
So at the start of the Summer I began research on more advanced biking techniques. Enter the Institute of Advanced Motorists. This course (and subsequent exam) is aimed at upping your game to becoming a safer and more progressive (read: faster) rider. You sign up to the Institute, pay your very small fee and you being your training. If you pass the test, there is a side benefit of having significantly discounted insurance in future.
My training was hosted by adelaide insurance in Belfast. They scheduled nights where you are followed and assessed by certified observers and they beat you into shape. These guys stick to you like glue on the road, watch every move you make and cajole you to ride better, safer and typically faster. They want you to get better. They work around your schedule and observers even met me when it suited me to help me get ready for the test.
From an abysmal start in May I slowly got better until they decided I could put in for the exam. Last night, I took it. Think back to your driving test all those years ago. Yeah.. it was as stressful as that but advanced. The relief when I heard the sentence “I am pleased to tell you you have met the required standard….” was incredible. The best line of the night when I was finished? The examiner reminding me that “You are not an expert now. Don’t ever consider yourself an expert. It will be a learning experience until you never ride again”. Noted.
I cannot recommend this course and exam enough. No really, I can’t.
The strangest thing about all this expert training and examination was the cost. There is a cost to join the IAM. It’s not much. After that, all these hours of education and practical skills transfer?
Free. They wouldn’t take money. Adelaide Insurance paid for all of it. Even if you were not a customer. They didn’t try to sell insurance to me once. All they want to do is promote safe riding and driving. No catch. No obligation.
What did I do? I moved my insurance to them. Of course I did.