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Is rider training good enough?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Jem, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. Hi all,

    This issue gets touched on in a lot of different threads so I thought it might be worth starting one specifically about it.

    1. I see this as a place to discuss the different levels of training between the states
    2. Is any of it really good enough
    3. What would be an ideal training system?
    4. What restrictions if any would you put on new riders?
    5. If it was to cost more should it be user paid of govt paid or subsidised ?
    6. What if any should refresher training look like?
    7. How do we make it happen so it is of real benefit to riders rather than something the agencies think it should be?
    8. Anything else you would like to add..........

    I have put it in general as I think it is relative to us all rather than just new riders. That said it would be good to get input from those who have just got their L's and P's and hear the views on if they thought they were ready for the road or not.

    Cheers Jeremy

  2. Thanks Jem, good idea, LOL.

    First up, should make it clear that this is about mandatory or minimum training rather than additional voluntary training.

    Secondly, need to distinguish what is taught from what is actually done and/or practiced by riders after the training.
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  3. Yeah I admit you spurred me on to starting it .

    Good additional points as well.
  4. I haven't thought about this enough to have sound suggestions. But as a new rider very recently with no more experience than the NSW pre-learners course, I was nowhere near ready to be let loose near traffic. From 2nd gear in a car park to traffic, junctions, roundabouts, hills, crappy road surfaces? It's hardly 'training' at all really.

    I have mixed feelings about whether this is a problem that needs fixing. On the one hand, well, I wasn't ready. On the other, I'm a responsible adult quite capable of seeing that and doing what needs to be done to ready myself. And the course gave me enough in terms of basic motorbike control skills for me to able to get out and ride on quiet roads in self-training mode.

    The main downside as I see it to making training requirements more onerous is the inevitable increased barrier to entry (realpolitik: there's no way this would end up being anything very different from user-pays). For all the emphasis on sport and speed amongst enthusiasts, motorcycling at the lower end is also an economical and environmentally responsible way of getting around. Not something you'd want to discourage, neither would it be fair to do so.
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  5. 1. I don't know much about other than NSW so my comments will relate to that.

    2. Yes, its good enough based on the training I got about 4 yrs ago. I would not personally rely only on that. I've done a lot of other things to continuously improve since including another course, lot of reading, self analysis, posting up vids for comment here etc. But as a minimum I thought it was good enough. One instructor may have made a couple of errors but you get that with most training I guess!

    3. Ideally I would have liked a bit more direct supervision and comment on my road riding. The group was probably a bit too big for the instructor to follow me a lot on the road component of the pre provisional course.

    4. The current restrictions are OK apart from the speed limits. I would like to see a little loosening of the cc restriction to include the likes of W800. Maybe not display plates?

    5. I would only agree with small increase in cost and not partic concerned about who pays it.

    6. Additional training is responsibility of the rider.
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  6. So to kick things of :-

    L training in Vic in my experience at HART teaches you what you need to pass the test and very little else. I did the two day course on a Saturday and Sunday. The test itself was a left turn a right turn with a quick stop from 25kph and a slow ride through a painted rectangle. There was some discussion about road craft but mainly started by people on the course in the form of questions rather than as part of the course.

    It was all done on a closed flat range with no on road component.

    On the Monday morning after the course I picked up my bike and road it to work in peak hour - wow that was an eye opener and to be frank I wondered what the hell I had done:)

    Thank god for Sat practice at Elwood is all I can say and the people there who give so freely of their time and experience.

    The licence test which I also did at HART was if anything even easier. Again it was done on a closed range with no on road component. Do two corners and then a series of left and right serves and quick stops again at no more than 25 kph. I was told to slow down coming in on the first couple of passes. I don't think I was doing more than 30.

    With more good luck than training I managed to make it through the first year. I suspect that had a lot more to do with my age and desire not to hurt myself than anything the two courses taught me and a lot of listening to more experienced riders and taking advantage of the mentoring services on here. Thanks again @raven@raven

    My thoughts are that there should at a very minimum be some on road component as part of the training . How much and what sort of environment well that in part is what this thread is about. Over to you .....

    Cheers Jeremy
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  7. OK so both courses are significantly different. I seem to recall a fair bit of theory about hazard reduction and road positioning in the Ls course which was taught based on a script. Then questions/discussion.

    I would not have wanted to ride in peak hour city traffic after the Ls. I just stuck to basic skills on quiet streets until the skills were up to scratch before commuting.
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  8. With the benefit of hind site I was of my rocker. That said I did a lot of very careful route planing in the early days, minimum turns at lights, went for intersections that had turning arrows and stayed of the freeways. Stuck to roads I knew well so I did not have to add I wonder were I go next to the mix.

    But all of that was stuff I worked out either for myself or with the help of people on here. So all after the course training that I choose to do.

    It will be interesting to see what they come up with for the new graduated scheme down here. On road is going to be part of it apparently.

    The aim being to produce better riders out of the box which on its own sounds like a good idea. As usual the devil will be in the detail.

    Cheers Jeremy
  9. My very slightly more considered thoughts. Relate to NSW, and only the L phase (not on Ps yet).

    2. Is any of it really good enough
    Not so far. Basic slow-speed motorcycle control does not qualify someone to ride on the road. I'm glad I already have many years of driving experience behind me.

    3. What would be an ideal training system?
    Ideal would be competency-based. They test/observe your skills and roadcraft, then mandate specific training to plug your competency-holes. Would be infeasibly expensive.

    4. What restrictions if any would you put on new riders?
    Depends entirely on training level. And should be entirely evidence-based.

    5. If it was to cost more should it be user paid of govt paid or subsidised ?
    Government subsidised, but no way that will happen. User paid incentivises illegality and shortcutting, but is the current vogue.

    8. Anything else you would like to add..........
    Better systems would be so expensive that we'd end up with an unholy mess. Those (non-motorcycling administrators) who want more restrictions on motorcyclists would use 'reform' to impose restrictions without truly making for improved riding skills.

    More practical might be something self-administered, informal, perhaps through motorcycling peak bodies (I don't know the biking scene well enough to know if worthwhile bodies even exist). By and for motorcyclists. Get some kudos for ascending training levels that other motorcyclists accept and respect. Inevitably user-paid and non-compulsory. But would almost certainly only happen if someone competent and passionate just decided they wanted this to happen, and drove the whole process.

    These are just thoughts off the top of my head. With a couple of hundred nations in our world, a comparative study of extant mandatory motorcycle training would probably be the best way to really decide what was most effective.
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  10. I'm currently on my L plates (Tasmania), and have clocked up a bit over 2000k so far. I did actually have a learner licence before, a bit over 40 years ago, but my brother sold his bike before I could get too far. That was just a case of rock up to the motor registry, pay your money, be given an L plate and a piece of paper and you were on your own.

    Things have improved.

    I found the pre L course here good, but it can't teach you everything in two half days. It did give me the basic skills I needed to go and do some practice in non-threatening situations, and work up from there, and also more than a few helpful pointers on how roads and traffic are different on two wheels to four. Something in my favour is 44 years of driving cars around. I know how traffic works, I just have to adapt to the new situation and apply new skills.

    So (time wise) I'm about half way from when I got my L plate to when I can do the P test. I feel reasonably confident on the road, both town and country, and I'm not the least bit worried about the on road part of the provisional test, but I'm going to have to start doing regular work on the slow speed MOST test stuff.

    What I would like now is a review (by somebody competent) of how I'm doing. As someone who used to teach musical instruments I know the sort of bad habits a learner can get into left to their own devices, and I would like an independent opinion on how I go around corners and other technique, and suggestions on what I might do better (and how to do it). Some kind of "mid L" or "pre P" course. It doesn't necessarily have to be a formal thing - I look enviously at the Netrider beginner activities in Sydney and Melbourne - but something would be nice.
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  11. @stefank@stefank know exactly what you mean, put a post up in the mentors thread did wonders for me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Cheers Jeremy
  12. You should consider yourself lucky you get any training.
    I live in an 'undeclared area', and all you have to do is pass the written test to get your Ls.
    The amount of L platers I see wobbling around without a clue is terrifying.

    Is the training good enough? No. It's non-existent.
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  13. I just got my Ps in NSW.

    1. I see this as a place to discuss the different levels of training between the states
    Interesting question because I've only experienced he NSW system but a scooter-riding colleague from Melbourne sent me a link to a HART YouTube video which he said was really good. It turned out to be an excerpt from the roadcraft section of the NSW pre-provisional day, so I think that says the NSW training might be better than Vic.

    2. Is any of it really good enough
    You know, it was better than I expected. I found I was more ready for the road than I expected. The first time I went on the road, I was test-riding a bike at a dealer, starting off on the Great Western Highway. I was nervous, but thought back to what I'd been taught and by the time I got onto a second bike I was feeling ok. Before the L's course I'd only been on a dirt bike once, 10 years beforehand.

    You can't actually come out as a fully capable motorcyclist, you can't go on the road for the first time with experience. But he L's course gives you enough of a basic understanding of a bike to get started. And things like teaching fast idle, friction point so that newbies don't stall in front of traffic seems like a good idea.

    However, I only think the current training is only sufficient if you already have car-driving experience. When you learn to drive a car, you have someone who knows how to read traffic, and who can give you a working explanation of road rules sitting right next to you (for 120 hours now isn't it?). I brought all that to my motorcycling and just had to adapt it for motorcycle invisibility, vulnerability, position, etc. However, there's no legal requirement for that - R can be your first license class (as it should be, everybody should not have to have a car)

    3. What would be an ideal training system?
    Ideally, I think I'd still start with the NSW L's training and Driver Knowledge Test. However, during the L's period, routine guided roadcraft training (on road for a couple of hours) would be required. I'm not sure how many sessions but they should be spread out so your skills can progressively improve and you can get feedback as you go. I guess this would be expensive, but should be comparable to paying a driving instructor. Maybe you could mandate 3 but have optional extras?

    4. What restrictions if any would you put on new riders?
    LAMS is good I think, and you'd keep all the obvious stuff like no pillion and the things that apply to drivers. I would remove the speed limit - I think it's dangerous doing 20km/h less than the other drivers on the same road. I'd also allow lane filtering - I think this is something that should be taught as part of the training and while your motorcycling is still being carried out in a learning frame of mind.

    5. If it was to cost more should it be user paid of govt paid or subsidised ?
    I'd be happy to pay for most of it, but the government should help a bit.

    That's enough. I'm too verbose today.
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  14. Interesting thread.

    I think learning to ride needs to be split in two parts:
    Firstly: bike skills
    Secondly: road craft.

    Now I can see how difficult both these parts are; if you are totally new to motorcycling; as Monkey Urine said above.... re: the number of 'L' platers wobbling along our roads.
    Taking all these new skills in within a couple of days then being let loose amongst the traffic...... very daunting which could have disastrous outcomes.

    However, if a rider has been riding for a number of years previously, before getting their learners permit, then they really only have to concentrate of their roadcraft.

    My son recently did his learner's course, he found it quite boring, as he has been riding / racing for about 10 years, so the basic of bike skills he is at ease with. However, he now has to learn road craft... which comes with practice and a few pointers from more experienced riders.

    Even when I got my learners a few years ago, I never once felt uncomfortable riding on the road, in with traffic.
    I already had been riding bikes most of my childhood, and there was no such thing as riding courses.
    I am sure I did things the hard way, and made a few mistakes, but I have learned all my roadcraft (road survival) from experiencing different situations.
    I only did my first course a few years ago, after 30 years of riding, the course had some very new riders on it. So I can see how difficult it can be for them.

    Sorry for the waffle; but I think overall it comes down to the riders attitude, no matter; whether they do a course or not. Start with the small things and build up. Don't jump straight in the deep end.
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  15. Thanks all for the contributions so far.
  16. Sorry if this ends up being long...

    It's not good enough at all.
    A few months ago I posted my introductory thread on this forum, having never sat on a motorcycle (aside from when I was 5, don't think that counts). After some soothing words of encouragement I had booked myself in at HART to get my learners. Aside from the general hiccup that my head/eye positioning was wrong (resulting in imbalance) I was able to go throughout the day and pass the test without any issues.

    First time being on a motorcycle and I was deemed worthy to get out on the road in all sorts of conditions, in all differing speeds, with all sorts of hazards. Aside from a few basic words of wisdom the entire class weren't taught much on how to survive.
    Thankfully I found netrider, and have been extensively listening/reading up on proper roadcraft. I'm yet to get out on the road though, and it scares me thinking of all the things I don't know.

    2. Is any of it really good enough?

    The learner course I did was a great introductory in how to ride/operate a motorcycle. There's not much involved on surviving though, unfortunately.

    3. What would be an ideal training system?

    One where riders are taught survival skills in a safe environment. Something similar to defensive driving courses but tailored for motorcyclists that's mandatory, even for learners.

    4. What restrictions if any would you put on new riders?

    Current restrictions are pretty good, I think. I don't think learners/new riders should be forced to wear high visibility vests though. The LAMS scheme is an awesome idea and works really well in the scheme of things!

    5. If it was to cost more should it be user paid of govt paid or subsidised ?

    User paid. There's plenty of better places that our tax dollars could go than into subsidised rider training. Research/infrastructure to improve road safety for all users, for instance. PSA's on driver awareness to motorcyclists on the road. Those sort of things.

    6. What if any should refresher training look like?

    It shouldn't be tailored to a whole but be tailored to an individual. Similar to sports coaching, different individuals may have different issues or habits. Judging the individual and giving them tools to fix these habits would work well, I think. It shouldn't be mandatory though, but be cheap enough so that people looking to get back on the bike after some years can afford it.

    7. How do we make it happen so it is of real benefit to riders rather than something the agencies think it should be?

    By being loud! We need to just stick as one (yes, scooter riders included) and make sure our protests aren't falling on deaf ears. Look at how quickly and easily bicyclist issues come to light. There's plenty of bicyclists out there and they're usually very loud when it comes to the issues that they are faced with. This is why there's money going into bicycle paths and infrastructure despite them not paying rego.

    8. Anything else you would like to add

    Yeah, sorry for making my post so long!
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  17. "is it good ENOUGH?"

    IMHO, yes it is.

    I'm talking only NSW, as I dunno the sordid details of other states' systems.

    The introduction of the pre-learners course, according to various statistics, significantly reduced the accident rate for new riders.

    It HAD to be better than nothing at all, and it's a pity that, if you live out the back of beyond, you don't get to do it.

    Could it be made better? Of course it could, but at what cost?

    The pre-learners biggest problem is time.

    Two half days mean that the syllabus has to be fairly rushed.

    Because the instructor throws a lot of information in a fairly short time, quite a lot of that info may not "stick".

    Doubling the time, to two full days, would help a lot, but, fairly obviously, it would pretty much double the cost. It would also make things a bit harder for older, less fit students, who can be seen tiring towards the end of a current half day.

    Having a decent bit of closed road in addition to the standard training range would also allow better, more useful training, like HART at St.Ives have, but building such, or renting a race track, again jacks up the price of the training.

    Now, I personally, think that spending more time and money to get better training makes sense, but.....and it's a big BUT..... I'd want to see similar (or more) improvements in the training for car drivers.

    About learner limits, the only thing I'd dump is the stupid speed limit.

    As for on-going training, perhaps what we need here in Oz is a set up like the Pommie Institute of Advanced Motorists, which has a motorbike section.
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  18. South Australia is nowhere near good enough. I think rider training should include at least CSS #1 and #2. And a roadcraft course that actually takes place on the road (there's an ingenious thought)
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  19. I'd almost agree with you about CSS#1, but I don't think #2 contributes in any significant way to road riding.

    The roadcraft bit, yeah, real roads and traffic...sounds logical, but, sit and think about it for a wee while.

    How, exactly, do you do it? How do you manage risks?

    AFAIK, the IAM in UK do a one on one for quite a long time, either half or whole day.
    They have radio links between the student and instructor, but they generally take on students who have some experience and competence already. (How they figure that out, I dunno.)

    ... and, just BTW, the instructor has to be bloody good, 'cause he/she has to ride their own ride safely, and watch/comment on the student.

    Out in the country, it's not too bad, but in city traffic, just trying to keep together with the student, safely, can be very hard indeed.
  20. This is something that I've been thinking about for some time , and I'll admit that I've been pretty critical of the license training on offer - at least in reference to the SA system.

    Which is very easy to do from the outside as someone who isn't an instructor and as someone who hasn't even been through the current learner training system ( I pre-date it ).

    In an ideal world I absolutely believe that the training should go further , that there should be more emphasis on roadcraft techniques - both urban and rural - but as others have said , without substantial government subsidies this would drive the cost through the roof .

    And let's be honest - that's not gonna happen. (Maybe they could channel money from speed cameras into rider AND DRIVER training - ha ha ha ha ha ha bloody ha ! )

    There used to be a defensive course that they used to offer here - which was on offer from the people doing the learner training - that was run out at Mallala that focused on higher speed braking , brake-swerve-recover maneuvers , cornering line's etc.
    Don't know if this is still available but should be.

    There is a company here called Radskills which does on-road training - I know a new rider who has done their on-road cornering and roadcraft session and found it very helpful .
    And pretty sure Mary-Lou from Garage Motorcycles still runs RoadCraft courses - advanced cornering etc which is done on track.

    As others have said , there's only so much information you can try to get into people's heads - even the most diligent , attentive 'students' will end up with sensory/information overload at which point nothing will be getting through.

    And then there are the people that just can't be taught/told.
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