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P's test - some observations

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by jack_1313, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. I took the P's test today and passed even apparently taking one of the turns too tightly (eight points). Overall it was a fun morning, though test situations are always a bit stressful. Here's a few observations.

    1. It's amazing how different it is riding an unfamiliar bike. I ride an 82 model cb250rs and thus expected the CBFs (also a single cylinder) to behave in much the same way. Not the case. The modern CBFs are much smoother and much more forgiving. Clutch control and throttle bleeping when changing gears is not nearly as important on the CBF. I rode a CBF for my L's, but that was too long ago for me to remember how they behave.

    2. Slow speed maneuvering - at Armstrongs they start you off by doing a U-turn in second gear through some cones even though it is not part of the test. I began doing this the same way I usually perform low-speed riding - by riding the clutch friction zone. The instructors thought this was really bad news and told me not to do it, though I tried to explain that if I dropped the revs low enough to perform that U turn in second gear on my bike it would nearly stall and become unstable. Thereafter I followed their advice and performed the maneuver with no clutch at the very bottom of second gear, scraping my inside foot on the ground every time. This seemed a bit excessive for a low speed u-turn, plus at that speed (throttle almost entirely disengaged) applying any more throttle caused the bike to lurch forward slightly, which is something that using a bit of clutch as a buffer would prevent. (Accelerating out of a turn is not something the instructors mentioned, but I'm guessing they think it is a bad idea.)

    3. Emergency braking - they teach you to use both brakes and not to touch the clutch, which is different from what we practice on Saturday morning learner sessions (front brake only because the back will lock easily and it correctly may detract from your ability to use the front). When I asked whether, but not using the clutch, your are fighting the power of the engine, they said that the engine power is braking, not pushing your forwards. This makes sense at 20-25 ks an hour, which is the speed to do the emergency braking in the test, but is this also the case if you're going 50, 70, or 100 ks an hour in 5th or 6th gear? I wouldn't have thought so, but I might be wrong about that.

    They also made no mention of squeezing the tank with your legs for extra stability and were not impressed when I pulled the clutch in at the very end of the stop. They actually prefer you to stall, even though that means that you can't make any swerving maneuver if you can't stop in time.

    4. The test is pretty forgiving. As I've already stated, I apparently hit the inside line on the left curve (perhaps with my foot as it was scraping), which you would think is a pretty big deal, yet still easily passed the test. Another rider stalled twice on takeoff and passed easily as well (they allow you to stall three times, for some reason?). On that basis it would be pretty hard to fail. The hardest part is the nerves.

    It was a good feeling swapping that L plate around at the end of the morning. The test has made me think about taking further rider training, though I wouldn't do it unless the institution allows me to use my own bike.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Interesting stuff. I'm about to go for my Ps here in SA.

    Pretty much they teach the opposite of what you have mentioned above.

    1) They have crappy scorpios which are interesting clutch wise
    2) Ride the clutch like crazy and use 1st gear.
    3) You lose points if you: don't put your left foot down and aren't in first gear. Automatic fail if you can't stop in the distance. Clutch in, no downshifting just brake (Back and Front) as hard as you can.
    4) Same here. 21 points total to lose. 10 points max you can lose on any one exercise 4 or 5 exercises...
  3. I suspect this will get a bit of a bashing from a lot of long termers here (and rightfully so).

    Couple of things, I'd love to see them measure the extra braking effect engine braking has in addition to the actual brakes. I suspect nothing at all. Secondly, stalling just killed any chance of getting away if someone is coming up your arse.

    This is the complete opposite of what I have been taught over a couple of courses. To me, it makes no sense at all. Not to mention, if you have your hands in the wrong position and twist the throttle inadvertently while braking, you have just added throttle. With the clutch in, this wouldn't matter.

    I'm intrigued, because it goes against everything I have personally ever been taught, read or had intuition on.
  4. Depends on the size of the engine, the engine configuration, and the brakes.
    An Litre I4 will have much less engine braking than a big single or v-twin. Diesels are completely different altogether, they can have huge amounts of engine braking (well over 400kW, engine dependant) or none at all.
  5. Tell me more, why are they interesting?? I have to use one for my manual test soon....
  6. Amazing really. When will they have a national test for schools ?????

    Ok a u turn to begin ??? What like this is the first thing they got you to do, once you were on a bike ??? Eeek. Didn't they want you to have much confidence for the rest of the day ??? Did he explain his reasoning for not wanting you to touch the clutch??? God I hope so. If not I will try and explain his reasoning. If I can.
    Some schools do let you use the clutch and some don't. I am one that is in the DON'T. And no I do not believe this is the only way. Both ways work. For mine it gets more technical using the clutch.
    My reasoning is the bike is over 100kg. With you on it, close to or more than 200kg. Do you really think you can balance 200kg from above. I know I cant. So all we have left is the gyroscopic effect of the crank because hopefully they had you do it under 20kmp/h. If you pull the clutch in, or feather it you lose that. Or part there of it depending on the friction point.
    So what we are meant to be doing is loading the crank up against the back brake. Enhansing the gyroscopic effect of the crank. This will make the bike want to sit up. that's what a gyro does and hense the name. That is what your throttle is doing Enhansing the righting motion of the bike.. Your rear brake is controlling your ground speed. The back brake will hold a motor back under torque at slow speeds. You should have been taught this doign fig 8's. Then again some schools let youuse the clutch doing fig 8's too. So if the bike lurched forward you are not using enough rear brake against the throttle. You are use to using the clutch and feathering around. What he wanted you to do was ride at the turn point. Keep the throttle on and dig into the rear brake till you are at your comfortable speed. Turn your head to your mark and turn. You will find you have to push on the bar to get the bike to lean and go around. It should feel like it wants to sit up a LITTLE. It will be stiffer to turn, but it should not feel like it wants to fall. So all you have to do is keep "your" balance and not the bikes. Kind of what I call using the bike not fighting it.
    Sorry but I will not go near the braking. Disgusted. From your Post mate you know how to do it. :) Keep up the good work and practise champ. You may stop. But Noddy behind you. Phhfft. Check your mirror every time and be ready to piss off. As you know a propper set up forbraking will save you ten meters. I totally agree with you bud.
    And yeah white lines are nto good to hit when you are leaning in.
    Great work mate. Now the fun begins.
    Never be afraid to question your instructor or assessor. If they give you grief I am sure there is a DTIWG in every state. I am a member here in QLD.
    DTIWG is driver training industry watch group. But as you can see we cant even get the schools up here to follow one way of riding.
    ps hope this makes sense. I usually let my riding do the talking for me.
  7. I found the scorpio brilliant for the test. Not much power, but its a low speed test. Really light and really easy is to turn. Not much else you could ask for.
  8. Its totally different test wise and technique wise here in NSW.

    Whereabouts are you jack?

    Well done for passing.
  9. Just remind me to never have to brake quickly in front of a bike with SA plates :p Alternatively, never get caught behind one emergency braking with a truck coming up the rear...
  10. Whilst I agree with the Saturday morning session approach, I've found that it's not the end of the world if I lock the back in a real life emergency stop as the momentum of the bike starts up the bike as soon as I get off the brake (assuming I'm still moving).

    I don't use the rear anymore for emergency stops. There is a multiple page thread about it though.

    I did my test with Armstrongs as well (albeit years ago) and couldn't believe that I was the only person who wore full gear to the P's test. You're right about them not teaching more "advanced" skills, but at least they didn't give me flak for pulling in the clutch on the e-brake.
  11. Why is that?

    Clutches on the learner scorpios we were riding were really, really dodgy. I reckon for an experienced rider it would only present a minor difficulty. To a learner that is learning the clutch... Makes things hard.
  12. It was more a gentle dig at SAs and the method the OP mentioned taught... I wasn't being overly serious.
  13. I didn't think you were, coz that was pretty weak :D

    Anyway, wasn't the op from victoria? That method ain't being taught over here.

    The SA Course "ridersafe" is really skills heavy, not much on buffering or the riding to be seen stuff.
  14. Ah you are right - I saw your post and thought he was in SA. Either way, not the way I was taught in Vic.

    Meh, SAs deserve all the bashing they get. Half my family is there as well... so unfortunately I have 1st hand experience.
  15. :woot: Congratulations Jack, well done!!!

    And ... wow.8-[

    I like the opportunity to ride different bikes, all good experience.
    Did my L’s on a Yamaha XT 250 (the school’s), then got a V-Star 650 classic, did P’s on CB250 (different school) and still have cruiser but now mainly buzzing round on an FZR250.

    Personally, I view the stops they do in L’s & P’s as “Quick Stops” rather than emergency braking.

    I remember pootling along to Sat prac straight after getting L’s and going through procedure for setting up brakes and saying “gee, don’t recall that being covered in L’s”.

    Also seem to recall it being mentioned somewhere during L's/P's they weren't so concerned if stalled after completing a test component as long as that component was done ... but before would've been a different story. Didn't happen so didn't really come up for discussion during test.

    I popped into another training centre while on my L’s and the instructor went through a quick 4-step procedure for bringing bike to a stop, ie. right (front brake); left (pull in clutch); right (rear brake); left (gear down). The benefit being it prioritised and co-ordinated steps involved (front brake first), later bringing in full braking power of bike, and leaves you in a position for a quick getaway.

    Sat morn prac places strong emphasis on the front brake in setting up and braking in emergency stop situation ... an additional reason being that quite a few new riders are making the transition from driving a car, and when driving a car first reaction is often to slam foot on brake. Involves re-training responses/reactions already ingrained.

    Did the instructors say why they thought riding the clutch-friction zone was really bad news? Am curious as to what consequences they foresaw from doing that.

    For slow speed manoeuvring through tight cones I use both, as well as rear brake ... hmmm, also when practicing figure 8’s.

    Brett – neither the L’s course or Licensing course (P’s/restricted) I did practised figure 8’s. Maybe some of the other Vic schools do.

    Jack, if you’re looking into further rider training, you can use own bike on Stay Upright’s Intermediate course. Not sure about the others.
  16. Time for a follow up!

    Firstly, I forgot to mention that I’m in Victoria. The first part of the Victorian P’s test requires you to do a 90 degree turn “as fast and as safely as possible” both left and right, which is performed through two blue lines. They don’t tell you what speed you need to do to get zero penalty points even if you ask them (I did). The second part requires you to approach a box with lights on it four times. When you near the box it will signal you to either swerve left or right or do an emergency stop. The order is random, but I presume each rider is required to do at least one of each maneuver.

    About the U-turn when practicing:
    Firstly, this maneuver isn’t performed from a stopped position, so it’s not quite the kind of U-turn you regularly perform on the road. You do laps around the course and go straight into the 180 degree turn without stopping.

    Yes, he explained that the bike needs driving power in the back wheel in order to lean over. Without it, there is nothing to stop the bike from falling. I think this makes sense if it were a binary case of “clutch in” or “clutch out” (which I wasn’t doing). But riding the clutch friction zone doesn’t cut driving power from the back wheel; it just adds another mechanism to control it. In any case, they do not want you to be touching the clutch lever at all. Both hands must be only on the grips.

    Hmmm, interesting. They didn’t mention anything about the back brake, which I was using initially as I was riding the clutch, but I got a strong impression that they definitely didn’t want you to touch it during the turn. This is because of the strong emphasis they place on consistent throttle and not touching any of the other controls. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have liked it if I said I wanted to drag the rear brake and after the clutch issue I decided to keep my mouth shut and do the turn as they had instructed.

    I (and the other riders) was able to perform the turn without riding the clutch or using the rear brake but, as I said, I wasn’t able to do so without dragging my boot on the ground (though this didn’t seem to be a problem for the others). However, the turning process was generally a lot smoother. When I asked how I could prevent my foot scraping the instructor told me I could place my feet further back on the pegs. I probably would keep the bike more upright at slow speeds on the road, however, and I would not perform the turn that way in the wet after having had my tires loose traction and dumping me doing similar leans on more than one occasion (I eventually got the message and replaced both tires, but I’m still super cautious).

    I did to some extent, without trying to be rude or arrogant about it. They guys there are pretty nice, but I don’t think they’d appreciate you challenging them at all. I did get that “you’re completely wrong” kind of impression on the few cases that I did ask (ie about feathering the clutch and the clutch in the emergency stop), so I wasn’t going to push the point. I had a bit of a play around on my bike today, dropping the revs to that throttle-barely-engaged point in second gear, and was able to confirm that mine really does start lurching at that point, which is why I’ve learnt to feather the clutch at slow speeds in second gear and keep the revs a bit higher. Maybe it’s a problem with my engine.

    One thing that they did mention was that if either brakes lock up it should be released immediately and then reapplied. The Saturday morning learner session has taught me to, in the case that the back locks up, to keep it locked because, once it starts to fishtail, releasing it with the back wheel off-centre could easily cause a high-side as the bike tries to correct itself. Or maybe I understood that wrong?

    Yes, they told me a few times not to touch the clutch when I instinctively pulled it in right at the end of the stop. Their rationality was that pulling the clutch lever in at that point might cause you to start messing around with your other hand unconsciously, which is controlling the front brake.
  17. With the Victorian test can't get 0 points - with the way it's measured it's unavoidable and also involves type of bike (did ask, but can't remember the specifics) ... minimum unavoidable points on a CB250 I think was somewhere around 6, so if you only got 8 all up you did very well.

    Seem to recall being told optimum speed for the second part of test (the light box) was just over 20 km/hr on CB250, for the 1st part was told much the same as you.

    Thanks for elaborating on that.
  18. Hahaha no, I got 30 points all up, which is a lot higher than I would have liked, but still a long way off failing. I just mentioned the 8 on the corner because it was the biggest mistake. I think that not being allowed to know the expected speed is a bit problematic because it encouraged me to approach the curve at peg-scraping speed, which is faster than I would normally ride. But the fact remains you could ride straight over the lines on both corner tests and still easily pass, which reinforces my original point that the test might be too easy. It also surprises me that stalling is an instant failure for the learners test, yet the P's test only fails you if you stall four times (stalling on the emergency stop is of course exempt). Stalling on take off would surely be a good sign that you haven't spent enough time on a bike during your L's, plus it's a damn dangerous thing to be doing if you've got cars behind you.
  19. I could be reading this wrong, but it read to me like your saying that you can rev the engine to keep the crank spinning, and use the back break to keep the speed down (without letting the clutch slip). In which case, I call bullsh1t.

    Care to elaborate.
  20. Never heard someone say to use the rear brake but not also slip the clutch for low speed stuff :\ Wouldn't that be quite bad for your engine (basically labouring it quite hard) ?