How to Choose a Motorcycle Training School.
Not all schools are Equal.
We Try to be the best there is.
Please read out customer coments and recomendations on facebook. many of these customers had been to other schools first
Not all Schools are equal, and there some "creative" practices out there that won't be in your best interest, so have a read of our insider's guide of what to look out for.
Facilitys and Equipment
We have just had one student who was impressed by the pictures and description of another school. When they went for the CBT they thought they had gone to the wrong place. The facilitys and training area did not bear any resemlance to the pictures or description on the web site. (They did the CBT but came to us for test training)
Before you book anything it is best to visit the place and see what you are getting.
Check the true cost
Cost is (quite understandably) top of most people's minds when learning to ride, but the headline price can often hide the whole story:
NEW December 2014
The Government has just published a survey on CBT courses ( its here if you want to read it)
We all know that you only get what you pay for. But one of the findings was that only 69%of courses which cost Less than £90 actually deliver a Legal Length Course.
- It is common for CBT courses to have 4 or more students usually with one instructor for most of it. However when you go on the road for a minimum of two hours there can only be 2 students (by law). So either some students have to wait a few hours before they can go out, or another instructor will take you. Do you want to be mixed in a large group? Do you want to either wait for your road ride or go with a different instructor?
- When they say "small class sizes, never more than 2 on the road", they are not doing you a favour, that is the maximum they are allowed!
- Some schools advertise a price including bike hire BUT you then discover that the insurance has a high excess sometimes as high as £750. You are liable for this unless you pay more for Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), sometimes as high as £20.00 per day.
- Some schools Advertise FREE extra training if you do not complete the CBT course in one day, in the small print the training is free but bike hire is as high as £45.00
Put another way, which is better?:
- CBT Headline Price £99.00. You get there and find you need to pay another £15 or £20 for CDW and there are 5 other students. You should get the instructors full attention all day but its hard when he is helping 6 students Then you go out on the road with a different instructor.
- CBT £110. Everything included. You and 1 other student and the same instructor all day
It is possible to be a motorcycle instructor 3 years after they pass their test. They'd be trained by the school and allowed to conduct CBT courses and 125cc training (they cannot do Direct Access training). There is NO official test of their ability. They are known as a down trained instructor. Most down trained instructors would go on to take the rest of the training and testing to become Fully Qualified. A Fully Qualified CBT instructor will have passed a very intensive 2 day assessment of their abilities. A Fully Qualified DAS instructor will have also passed a further half day assessment. An Advanced instructor should have taken an instructional ability test, a riding ability test and a theory test.
We have noticed schools offering Advanced training where none of the instructors have passed an basic Advanced test. Let alone passed any kind of advanced instruction test.How can someone instruct Advanced Training if they haven't passed an Advanced Test themselves? Make sure your instructor has the right experience. An Advanced Riding instructor could have done one or more of a wide range of tests with the IAM, RoSPA or Diamond. They could be ex police.
Some Advanced riding tests are just that, riding tests. What about instructional ability? Some organisations i.e. the IAM use the term Observers rather than instructors (even examiners are really Observers). To be an observer you need to pass an advanced test, get plenty of experience, and demonstrate your instructional ability. To be a Senior observer you need to take another riding test and again demonstrate your instructional ability.
Apart from whatever testing and training an Advanced Instructor has done he will also be a very experienced motorcyclist. By that we mean, rides in all weathers, covers plenty of miles (20,000 miles a year is not uncommon, The average rider does about 4,000) and will have been doing so for a considerable time.
Smart Rider is operated by Tony Fuller Who apart from 46 years riding experience, has qualified as a IAM advanced Senior Observer and is a RoSPA gold standard rider ( this is retaken every 3 years, Gold every time) You are unlikely to find a more qualified instructor.
Just had a thought, 46 years 20-30,000 each year (Even the 1st year on a 50cc I did over 10,000) I must have ridden over a million miles.
Check student to instructor ratios on Post CBT training (usually aiming to take the motorcycle test)
Most schools train 2 students with 1 instructor on big bikes. On small bikes there are often more, 4 to 1 is not uncommon. Ask yourself how much training am I going to get if I am doing OK, but the others are not doing so well. Will I have to stand at the side of the road whilst the others are practicing u-turns or emergency stops, when really you want to be practicing something else.
Some schools on DAS courses leave you on 125cc bikes as long as possible so that they are not restricted by who they put you with. After you have completed your CBT they are not restricted to 2 to 1 on a 125cc. So they could take you out 4 at a time. If you are on a big bike it can only be maximum 2 to 1.
Check how long the sessions are
Some schools do all day courses, and many students like the idea. BUT, all day often means 6 hours, and you cannot ride non stop for 6 hours. You will need a short break about every 1.5 hours and you will need to stop for something to eat. If you are committed and the weather is kind you might do 5 hours. If you tire easily and the weather is extreme in any way (too hot is probably the worst) you are unlikely to do more than 3 hours riding.
We recommend 3 hour sessions but we have known plenty of people who cannot manage more than 2 hours and it is noticeable that students usually start making mistakes near the end of the sessions.
- Ask about the hidden costs
- Ask about student to instructor ratios
- Ask how many hours actual training- not sitting at the test centre.
- Ask about the instructor's qualifications and experience
- Ask about the length of the sessions
- Ask about cost of Re-tests if required
- Ask about refund of test fees if required
If you get a less than frank response to any of the above, it is probably best to move onto the next school on your list.