Female Rider’s Bad CBT Experience

May 18, 2009

L PlatesBeing a female rider I do hear of occasions where girls seem to get a raw deal when trying to learn to ride, but this one I heard about today just about takes the biscuit as far as I’m concerned!

A 25 year old girl wants to learn to ride, has a bike already and is busting to get out on the road on it, so she rings an instructor and tells him she wants to take her CBT.  She says she wants to do it on his bike (hers isn’t taxed or anything yet) and also advises that she is 5 foot tall.  After reassurance that this wont be a problem she books the CBT.

So she turns up a few days ago, undoubtably a bit excited about learning to ride, and goes through the two and a half hours of indoor classes covering theory, safety and bike controls.

All well and good so far, yes?

So it’s time to go out and actually sit on a bike and start putting all the theory into practice.  She gets on the bike, and the instructor takes one look and says “Sorry – You can’t touch the floor flat with both feet.  Forget it kid. Go home!!!” (She’s 25 years old for goodness sake!!)

He then went on to tell her that she will never ride anything other than a cruiser, but can’t so her CBT on one because of the larger turning circle needed by cruisers.  Also she should sell her bike and give up.  In addition, he repeatedly told her that if she rode the bike she owned she would crash it, and probably die!!!

According to this particular instructor “the law” states she has to be able to touch both feet flat on the floor and if she couldn’t she wouldn’t be able to take a test plus would be laughed off the training ground!  He also told her husband the same thing when he rang up later to find out what had happened.

To top it all off, she paid for a FULL CBT lesson and test and now the instructor is refusing the refund any of the money!!!!!!!!!

I simply cannot believe he has behaved in such a way towards a paying customer and as for saying “the law” says you can’t ride a bike unless both feet are on the floor.. It’s a load of b******s!!!

Both myself and several other girls have advised her to report the instructor and to demand a refund.  I hope she does and many such incidents go unreported and unless the DSA is aware they are unable to do anything to prevent such occurances happening again!

ooooo… it’s enough to make my blood boil!!!!!!!

Please feel free to comment…

Great Start To The New Motorcycle Test

April 30, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new ‘Super Test Centre’ at Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has come under fire this morning after the first candidate crashed his bike and broke his arm!

The DSA’s new centre opened for motorcycle tests on Monday for the new part one of the motorcycle test which must be taken off road due to that fact that some of the manoeuvres have to be done at 31mph.

Concerns are being voiced up and down the country by riding instructors after finding out that the test moves HAVE to be carried out at the same speed and over the same distances, whether it’s a nice sunny day or chucking it down with rain!  Instructors have been told that the surface is fitted with a super sticky compound which makes it safe in all weathers.

John Atkin, spokesman for the DSA, has said of the test centres:

“The areas used for the motorcycle manoeuvres have been tested thoroughly in both wet and dry conditions and provide a safe environment for the candidate. Tests have continued successfully at Rotherham since this happened.

I personally would like to know who is actually testing these centres.  Is it experienced riders who may very well be able to cope with doing these kinds of exercises, or is it novice riders who have recently learned to ride a bike? It would be interesting to find out.

The instructor who trained the man who was injured said the following

“Adam did his swerve manoeuvres and put his brakes on so he could stop in the required distance.
“But the back end of the bike swerved round and threw him off, leaving him with a very nasty break to his arm which needs surgery.
“All the instructors around here agree this is a joke. It’s common sense that you wouldn’t ride the same in the wet. They’ve just thrown common sense out of the window.

On the same day at the same centre, another young man fell from his bike, and was uninjured, and a girl failed the test, in the pouring rain, for being 1kph too slow.

I don’t know about the rest of you,  but if it’s raining I slow down on my bike and yet the DSA is expecting new riders to carry out manoeuvres at the same speed as you would in the dry!  It just doesn’t seem right.  Plus, if you think about this, new riders will be suffering from ‘test nerves’, I know I was when I took my test and this may well be a contributing factor.

I really feel for anyone looking at taking their test now, it can be done but it not an experience I would want to go through.  I’m just glad I passed my test before this was bought into effect!

Full Story

Motorcycle Groups Warning Of Test Chaos

April 4, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new motorcycle test comes into effect at the end of this month, and motorcycle groups are warning that the system is not sufficiently geared up to avoid chaos.

The DSA’s decision to make the test available at just 66 centres nationwide, instead of the previous 260+, will make it more difficult to get a test booked, and that’s before any of these new riders actually faces the ride to get to one of the new ‘test super centres’.

As things stand at the moment most tests are booked as part of a package offered by training schools, courses such as the DAS (Direct Access) course and availability has always been pretty good.  But after the introduction of the new test a greater number of training establishments will be sharing the new test centres, which will result in many fewer bookings for each riding school.

Many riding schools must now be doubting how secure their futures are when taking the the current status of the new test centres into account.  Some are reporting that the numbers of learners they may be able to book in for tests may be reduced by half.  How long are riding schools going to be able to continue with that kind of a drop in the revenue?

Plus, if take into consideration the increases in fees imposed by the DSA in recent months you will begin to wonder how many people will actually look at taking their bike test now.  Additionally fees for taking riding courses will no doubt go up as schools have to cover the costs of getting learner riders to the test centres.  Some new riders, already nervous at the prospect of thaking their test ,may face a journey of 45 minutes or more just to get to their test centre.

The implementation of the new test was delayed by 6 months last September as only 38 of the 66 new test centres was ready for business.  Since last September just 6 new ones have been added and the remaining 22 areas have only temporary or weekend only test centres.  All of my local riding schools now face sharing a test centre which is only open on Tuesdays!!! It’s a joke!

Considering the new test was implemented to increase rider safety, there are fears that a growing number of riders will be put off going the new test route and will just take to the road without a licence.

Well done DSA.. A gold medal is coming your way.. for making a right ba**s up of this!

Full story

Choosing Your First ‘Big’ Motorbike

January 27, 2009

There are so many things to consider, beyond price, when choosing your first ‘big’ motorbike after passing your test, and I thought the easiest way to do this was to write this from my personal point of view as a female rider.  If there are other ladies out there facing the same dilemma then maybe, just maybe, reading about the things I had to consider may help you in your choice of motorcycle.

I will try and briefly list the points I had to consider when choosing my bike.  Things like the physical size of the bike, its engine size, and the fact I had a restricted license so had to consider how a restrictor kit would affect my choice of bike.  What the seat height was, how wide it was and how much of my feet would be on the ground when at a standstill.  Where the centre of gravity of the bike was and how balanced I would feel on it.  And lastly what type of bike to buy and how old a machine I would get.

The Seat Height
The first thing I considered was the seat height of the bike.  I’m 5 foot 3 inches tall with an inside leg measurement, wearing my bike boots, of 32 inches (odd proportions as over half my height is legs!) and I’m about the 8 stone mark so I’m not exactly well built!  The physical size of the bike was as far as I was concerned rather an important issue. 

I had learned on a cruiser style 125cc and after riding that and being so low to the ground I was convinced, when choosing my next bike, that I would be happier being able to get all of both feet on the ground.  So I was looking out for a bike which wasn’t too tall. 

Being able to get all of both feet on the ground isn’t necessary.  Some people aren’t bothered by it, while others are.  I just found it made me feel that little bit more confident, especially when moving the bike around with the engine switched off, for example getting it in or out of the garage.

Don’t forget you can lower a bike if your heart is set on it.  Check out my posts on Ride Height Adjuster Kits to see what your options are in that respect.

The Width of the bike
The width of the seat and bike can be an issue as well.  If the bike is wide then obviously your legs will be further apart when sitting on it.  Sorry ladies but it is true!  You may find that sitting on a wide bike will have you on tiptoes where as a narrow bike of similar height will enable you to flat foot.

The Weight Of The Bike
This was rather important to me as well, being small and slim.  I didn’t want to have a bike I would need help moving around, it would be very annoying (and possibly a tad embarrassing!) if I needed help moving it round all the time!  Once you are used to riding a larger bike the weight will become less of an issue, as it has with me.  

The Centre Of Gravity
How low or high the bikes centre of gravity is may be an issue.  With a lower centre of gravity the bike may feel more stable for you.  Where as one with a high centre of gravity can feel top heavy.  When I first sat on the GSX-R750 I realised how high its centre of gravity was and was afraid if I leant it over the weight might catch me by surprise and I would drop it, and that wouldn’t be a good thing to do! 

Yes, more considerations! This bike-buying lark is a minefield! 😉

The Engine Size
As I have previously mentioned on this blog I passed the UK restricted motorbike test on a 125cc bike.  This basically means that I am restricted for two years from the date of my test as to what output any motorcycle I ride can have.  Any bike I buy must have a power output of less than 33bhp, or be restricted to that by other means. 

So when looking for a bike I checked the list of ones with power less than 33bhp and decided I didn’t want any of them!  So the next step was to check which bikes could have a restrictor kit fitted so they were under the 33bhp.  I soon found that there are loads of bikes which can be restricted! 

So there were plenty I could choose from, but when you consider my previous points the field was narrowed down again.  I had to choose a bike that would take the restriction happily, after all what’s the point of buying a small, light, narrow 1000cc bike and then restricting it? None as far as I could see! So a bike with a 400cc-600cc engine seemed the way to go, the choice of which model depended on all the rest of the issues I have already mentioned. 

New Or Older Bike
As much as I would have loved to ride out of a dealer on a brand new bike I decided that this was really something I didn’t want to do.  My first big bike was going to be the one I carried on learning on, the learning curve just doesn’t stop once you have passed your test!

Chances are you will at some point drop your bike, and which would you swear about more.  The brand new bike you have just bought or the 15-year-old one which already has a few dings?  I would really swear at both but, in all honesty, if it was a new bike the swearing would be more profane and a whole lot louder!

Me? I went for the older bike..

Lastly.. 😀

What Type Of Bike
Cruiser, Tourer, Dual-Sport, Commuter, Sports?

This seriously comes down to personal choice.  I personally love the sports bikes (and the old Z650’s) but my new baby had to be a sports bike.  The best advice I can give is to go to as many bike dealers as possible, see what sorts of bikes ‘float your boat’ and make sure you sit on as many as possible until you find the one which feels just right. 

Following advice from my nearest and dearest I settled on the Honda CBR400RR.  Easy to restrict to 33bhp, small enough that I can reach the ground very easily, light enough that I can move her around and a low center of gravity which means she corners like she is on rails.

Am I happy with her, and my choice, after almost a year?

🙂 You bet I am! 🙂  

You may also want to take a look at these posts which contain more advice and tips.

Bikes Girls Can Ride

Girls And Modern Sports Bikes

Daytona Ladystar (M-Star) Boots – Help For The Vertically Challenged Motorcyclist!

Motorcycle Tests To Be Cancelled On Cold Days

January 16, 2009

l-plates1Now, this news is going to make it interesting next winter if you are going to be taking your motorcycle test.  Apparently the DSA has decided that tests will not take place on days when there is cold enough to put down a preventative layer of road salt at the new test centres.

At the moment it is at the examiners discretion as to whether tests take place or not, depending on the weather.  But examiners will lose the right to choose whether tests will go ahead or not.  Apparently there is to be no gritting what so ever at the new test centres and candidates will be turned away and told to rebook their tests for another day.  And it has started already, one instructor in Leicester had the training sessions he had booked at one of the new test sites cancelled due to pockets of ice on the site.  He was told by the examiner that it was unsafe to use and that they were not allowed to put any grit on the surface to make it safe to ride on. 

Now considering the British weather this could cause enormous problems for anyone wanting to take their motorcycle test in the winter.  According to grit manufacturers roads can need gritting between 40 and 120 times a year, depending on where in the country you are, and frost can occur between 35 and 80 times during a normal winter.

Considering that riding lessons are supposed to prepare us for a safe riding career and the motorcycle test is supposed to show the examiner that as future motorcyclists we can ride in a safe manner, no matter what may occur during the test, I cannot see that closing the test centres when conditions require road salt will make us better riders.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do not have a problem with tests being cancelled if the weather conditions are bad, but if a layer of salt means the roads are safe enough to ride on then what is the problem?  After all car tests still take place if the road has been gritted and the examiner considers it safe to drive.

My motorcycle test took place in the pouring rain, it absolutely hammered it down but by passing in conditions like that I was able to show the examiner that I could cope perfectly well when the conditions were definitely less than ideal. Typically it stopped raining about ten minutes after my test had finished!

I’m sitting here wondering if will it mean that riding schools will cut back on classes during the winter as they run the risk of having test after test postponed.  If they are talking of cancelling tests through out the winter will it mean that people will be less likely to take their motorcycle test?  If that is the case and they have no experience of riding a smaller bike in dodgy weather, how on earth will they cope the following winter on a bigger, faster bike once they have passed their tests? 

Unfortunately, the simple answer is that they won’t!

Either that or you will only see the new riders out on their motorbikes in the summer!

As I have said in previous posts on here, I only learned to ride in 2007 and I rode all through the winter to 2008 on my 125cc motorbike until I passed my test in February 2008.  The winters riding did me no end of good.  I learned how to control a controllable sized bike in sub-zero temperatures on the country roads I used to get to work.  It has given me something which will definitely benefit me in years to come.. Experience! How to ride safely in very cold conditions.

Its possible that while this will be a complete pain for the learner riders, the riding schools may benefit from this though.  Imagine you have your riding lessons, you are trained to the required standard and on the morning of your test it is cancelled.  Now chances are that it will be a few weeks by the time that a slot is available for a re-test and by then you will ‘have gone off the boil’ as it were, and you may need a refresher to make sure you are still at test standard! And that will cost more money! Who is going to be the loser then, certainly not the DSA and I really don’t think the riding schools will lose out either.  After all we pay for their time, and refresher sessions take time. 

The loser will be the learner rider, in more ways than one.

Choosing The Correct Size Motorcycle Helmet

January 14, 2009
Buying the correct size crash helmet is probably the most important thing you will need to do if you are either just learning to ride, or replacing a crash helmet which has been damaged in some way. A correctly fitting crash helmet really can save your life and really is something you should spend some time doing to ensure a perfect fit.

Here is a quick guide to help ensure you buy the correct size.

Firstly use a tape measure to find out the circumference of your head. Measure round your head with the tape just above your ears and about one inch, or 2.54cm, above your eyebrows. Don’t pull the tape too tight, but take your time and measure your head a few times and work out the average measurement. When you have your head measurement look at the size guide below to find out your helmet size. If you find your head measurement is between two sizes, you should always try the larger size first.

Motorcycle Helmet Size Guide

Motorcycle Helmet Size Guide

Please note these sizes are intended as a guideline only. The same as when clothes shopping, different crash helmet manufacturers do unfortunately interpret the sizes differently, and so a medium from one manufacturer may not fit as well as the same size from someone else.

If you are buying your motorcycle helmet from a retail outlet make sure you try on plenty of helmets from different manufacturers to make sure you get one that fits correctly. If you are buying online, as many people are these days, it is worth remembering that under UK Internet retail law you have the right to return anything you buy for a full refund if you are not happy with it or f it does not ft correctly. You are normally able to return items within 7 days, but make sure you check the small print of the online retailer you are dealing with.

How To Test For A Good Helmet Fit

Once you have the crash helmet on your head you should always check the following.

The top pad inside of the helmet interior should be in firm contact with the top of your head

Your cheeks should be in light to medium contact with the helmets cheek pads

Next you should try to push your finger up between your forehead and the helmet interior. There should not be any space there for your fingers to fit into.

Now you should try to rotate the helmet back and forwards and from left to right on your head. When moving the helmet the skin on your head and face should move. If the helmet moves without doing this it is too big and you will need to try on a smaller size. It’s worth bearing in mind that because of the different sizing by the different manufacturers you may find you are between sizes. If this is the case you may find that you need a different style of motorcycle helmet to ensure the correct fit.

Next thing is to fasten the chin strap so that it is tight enough under your jaw, without suffocating you. Once this is done you should try to push the helmet off your head form the back, and then try the same thing from the front. Obviously they should not come off.

The last thing to check is that you are totally happy with how much you can see out of the visor. Smaller visor sizes mean you will not see so much as a larger one.

If you follow the guidelines you should end up with a crash helmet which is the correct fit for your head. As I mentioned this is one aspect of motorcycling which really can save your life and you should take time to make sure you buy a correctly fitting one.

Your life may depend on it.

New Motorcycle Test Centres – Updated List

January 8, 2009

I have found the updated list of the DSA’s new motorcycle test centres and if you click on the sites near you, you will be able to see what the state of play is at your nearest test centre. 

DSA Test Centre List

As you can see from browsing through the list there are going to be huge area’s of the country where learner riders will have to travel quite some distance to their nearest test centre. 

Stuff  doing that!  People are going to be nervous enough about taking their test without having to ride for an hour and a half to get to their nearest test centre, like I would have to if I was taking my test after March!

In some places the location still shows as ‘site identified!!’  So much for the facilities being in place before March!!

If you can get the cash together to do it before March 30th, then I would suggest you go for it and book as soon as possible before the training schools are booked solid again.