Taking The Bike Safe Ride – was originally published in 2011 on the Northern Ireland motorcycle safety initiative Ride It Right, although the initiative is no longer active we thought it would be good to re-publish the article as written by our own Trevor Baird. Bikesafe in Northern Ireland have been long time supporters of the Biker NI Safety CRASH Cards and have helped fund the cards in the past.
Taking The Bike Safe Ride
Charles Hurst BMW in Mallusk open their doors again this year to the PSNI’s Bikesafe Team – Bikesafe offers one to one rider assessments in a bid to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents and casualties on our roads.
Back in 2011 as Ride It Right and a motorcyclist who recommends taking a Bikesafe assessment, as every little bit of help and advice can brush up and boost your road riding skills, I thought it best to take the time and effort and see the nitty gritty of a Bikesafe assessment.
One To One
Although I have been riding for many years, passing my motorcycle test in 1977 which was not the strenuous off testing compared to nowadays, the only extra curriculum assessment on my riding skills was a two day Bikesafe assessment course in Wales about ten years ago.
Before that and since then, my skills have been developed from on road riding, reading magazines and books in order to survive without any major incidents, apart from a slide off, an expedition from the road into the verge of the Yorkshire Moors and “OOPS!” near misses, I suppose like most other riders in the “university of life” knocks and bumps of everyday biking.
So although I perhaps don’t fit into the type of rider Bikesafe targets, 51 years young – riding for years – my latest is a BMW GS1200ADV – Bikesafe aims at, “Particularly suitable for riders returning or making a return to biking after a period of absence, as well as sports bike riders, the one-hour assessment is also open to anyone who rides a smaller commuter bike or scooter.”
At Ride It Right we have been supporting and promoting Bikesafe since we started in 2009. I thought – well why not go on an assessed ride just to see what it is all about and as Bikesafe say, “One of the main lessons you will learn will be how to identify your mistakes and bad habits, their consequences and how you can correct them.” It wouldn’t hurt to give it a spin.
Skipping past the introductions at Hursts in Mallusk and the plate of sandwiches and crisps, I was out to the bike with the police motorcyclist. First was the briefing on the ride: “Ride the bike like you normally do, forget your being followed by a police motorcyclist. Then the route was explained and that we will stop for a chat around the course, I felt a blank expression come across my face at the unfamiliar names of places.
Settling in to the ride, I loosened my shoulders and relaxed but being aware, I found that I was concentrating a lot more on the ride, using any skills I had to actually acknowledge that I was looking forward at the road ahead, looking at junctions and getting my positioning right on the twisty road we were riding.
Then we pulled up at the side of the road, the police motorcyclist gave me a bit of an assessment of how I was doing, which wasn’t bad, apart from commenting that perhaps I could use more of the road when positioning for bends.
Smoother than a knob of butter……
We then set off with the police motorcyclists in front, so I could see how he rides. It was a joy to watch him riding, smoother than a knob of butter sliding off a slice of hot toast. What I noticed the most was the positioning for the bends and the lack of a brake light coming on before the bends.
At the next stop he explained the idea of following him was not to expect me to ride like him, but to show how he rides (and I was impressed). We had a chat about riding and I mentioned the smoothness, the lack of the brake light (yes the brake light was working on the police motorcycle) so rather than use the brakes, you let your bike and speed do the work.
However he did explain that this is the real world and we (riders) do not get it right all the time. We cannot be perfect all the time, but need to concentrate and look forward. Awareness of what is happening up ahead and road positioning is important, to look around the bend as much as you can and relaxing your ride all helps.
As we headed back to Hursts I was in the lead again enjoying the ride a bit more this time. I managed an overtake with just a thought was that alright? Using the right gear, mirrors, shoulder check, indicate, mirrors, shoulder check, pulling back in.
As we neared Hursts, a taxi driver started to pull out from a house on the right side of the road, I slowed down moved over to the left and covered the brakes. The Taxi driver saw us and stopped halfway across the road as I passed, looking back in the mirror, I saw the police motorcyclist slow down and I could feel the piercing “policeman’s glare” at the Taxi driver. All that was missing was a big waggy finger!
Back at Hursts, we had another chat about the ride and about what I got out of the Bikesafe assessment.
No Great Problems
I got an assessment that my riding was fine with no great problems. I got a bit of a confidence boost, but I know I’m old and wise enough not to think that out on the roads, every ride wherever it takes you, needs concentration – awareness – concentration and more awareness of what you are doing perched on two wheels.
My own assessment was the realisation that our riding skills are personal and assessments, or taking further training such as the IAM advanced motorcycle test, or the RoSPA Advanced Riders (not forgetting that some of the commercial training instructors offer Advanced training or post test training) are tools to help to make your ride in the real world the most enjoyable, in addition to your own responsibility and survivability.
Bikesafe in Northern Ireland – Click Here