In the last blog we looked at theory tests and compulsory basic training (CBT) here:
Now it’s time to look at transitioning to a larger motorcycle.
Choosing a course
The various courses available depend on how old you are. You can take your moped course at 16 to ride up to 50cc mopeds. At 17 you can take your Category A1 to ride mopeds up to 125cc. At age 19-23 you are eligible to take a Category A2 licence which allows you to ride motorcycles up to a power output of 35kW. The A2 market is an expanding area right now with manufacturers producing a range of great motorcycles to fit in this bracket with ever improving performance and looks. If you are aged 19-23 and thinking about getting on a motorcycle it’s definitely well worth taking a look at what’s on offer now (we will take a look at some of the great A2 compatible bikes in a future blog!).
Once you reach age 24 you are eligible for your full Category A licence. This is the full unrestricted motorcycle licence which will allow you to ride any bike you wish and this is what I was taking with my DAS (Direct Access Scheme) course.
There is an in-depth list of the requirements for motorcycle licences here: https://www.gov.uk/rules-motorcyclists-83-to-88/motorcycle-licence-requirements
Everyone comes into the course with varying ability and experience and as such there are various options available when booking a course. Every course will conclude with the Module 1 and Module 2 tests but the amount of lessons you will need to prepare for the tests will be down to the individual. A friend of mine with a background in motocross and an already sound understanding of bike riding passed his test with only 2 lessons, I on the other hand as a complete beginner needed the full 6 session course.
The tests themselves split the elements of riding into two parts. The Mod 1 test takes place in an off-road area in a test centre and focuses purely on bike control and handling as well as emergency procedures. Once you have shown your ability to control the bike safely in the Mod 1 test you will be allowed to take the Mod 2 test. This is the final step in completing your licence and consists mainly of a 30-40 minute road ride where you will be tested in various conditions out on the road. We will look in more detail at the tests themselves in the next blog.
Taking the course
Compulsory Basic Training prepares you for exactly that - a basic level of riding. Now its time to reach a much higher level of competence on a motorcycle that allows you to ride higher powered machines safely on the road and that is the purpose of the DAS course – to bridge that gap.
My first lesson I once again rode a 125cc bike in order to practice my control of throttle, clutch and slow speed manoeuvring before transferring those skills to a more powerful bike. On that first lesson my confidence was not very high and I was actually worried about how I would handle a 600cc bike. My instructor was much more confident however and after a couple of hours on the 125 decided it was time to ride the 600.
The bike was a naked XJ6 from Yamaha, much larger and more powerful than anything I had ridden so far but when I rode it that first time I was actually shocked at how much easier it was to ride than the 125! The larger seat, frame and wheels gave it a much smoother steadier and more comfortable feel. The more responsive controls made all the previous aspects of riding I had struggled with far easier. The increased power meant cruising at the speed limit was effortless. This first ride on a large bike really gave me the confidence I needed going into this course and showed me just how much fun riding a motorcycle can be!
Over the next few weeks my lessons proceeded steadily. The time was split between road riding in ever more diverse conditions as well as practicing U-turns, emergency stops and slow speed control – all the things needed both to pass the tests and ride safely on the road. Every time I rode I improved and when I looked back at that first day when I took my CBT it was amazing how far I had come. Some people cruise through their training with a natural aptitude for riding, others like me with no experience at all take a bit longer to adapt. If you find yourself in a similar position all I can say is just try to enjoy the experience and keep improving at your own pace and you will get there soon enough. The most important thing is to be safe and have fun, not how fast you achieve your licence.
After around 10 hours of riding on the 600cc in all conditions it was time for me to take my tests and we will look in detail at the Module 1 and 2 tests and final steps to obtaining a licence in the next blog.
Other blogs in this Motorcycle Training Series are:
Please note: The views shared are that of the author and are not neccesarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.