How are you? I would love some info and advice from you, please:
I am a policeman in the Republic of Ireland and I was doing their standard motorcycle course for the past month in their training centre.(The standard motorcycle course is 4 weeks long.) From what I gather, their standards are very high for passing it...advanced motorcycle level.
The course went well at the start...On Week 1 I was able to move the bike in 1st and 2nd, perform the slow manoeuvres test, turn left & right,etc...all inside the training centre. Once I got outside the training centre on Week 2 and onto the roads my instructor kept shouting at me from the very start over the helmet radio if I made ANY mistake. I found it hard to concentrate with all his shouting at me while on the motorcycle, a '07 Honda Deauville 700cc.I received no assistance from him at all. I never received ANY good comments from him either.
So basically I learned how to ride a motorbike from watching your videos on Youtube. (I have no previous bike experience at all.) It amazes me to see how patient you are with your students...unlike my police instructor. You also praise them when they do something good....I like that. :-) You are an excellent instructor, Nigel!
Yesterday I had my test (or "Final Drive" as they call it) for the police motorcycle course and I failed it. The test was mainly on minor roads doing speeds of 120-140km/hr. From start to finish my nerves got the better of me. At the start I crossed a continous white line after a bend and this put me off for the whole test...everything was like a snowball after that. Forgot to use the front brake and only used the back brake. Slowed down too soon approaching a town at one stage. Poor positioning on the roads....not on the "5" (as u call it) for the left hand bends -> I was mostly on "4"s. Not on the "1" for the right hand bends I was mostly on the "2". The police tester couldn't understand why I bobbed my head left or right when I was checking the mirrors...(this was something I learned off Youtube from the UK Police motorcyclists, which I thought was a good idea to show I was checking the mirrors). For most of the test I was either in 2nd or 3rd even though the speed limits varied between 80 - 100km/hr. I was devastated when he failed me, but basically I taught myself using your Youtube videos, Nigel....
I have been offered another go at the test on the next training course, Nigel. It is something that I really want to do...to be able to rode a motorcycle to a good standard. With you being an ex-police motorcycle instructor your help would be very much appreciated, pleaaaase.
Thanks for listening to me and for your valuable assistance, Nigel. :-) Hope you have a good weekend too. :-)
Couple of tasks for you int the meantime.
Bend Assessment - Braking
You should at all costs avoid using the front brake excessively as it will pick the motorcycle up. As you found out.
You CAN apply the back break very effectively - Give it a go,just a light amount of pressure when you are going around a bend you are familiar with...... You don't have to be going fast, just see what happens.
Another task is, Have you heard of Counter Steering ?
Get back to me
Sorry for the delay in replying to you! I have been very busy at work because of the month I was off in September doing the motorbike course. When I came back to my station the amount of paperwork waiting for me was unbelievable....as you know yourself, being an ex-policeman.
Since I was last talking to you, I have been given a second chance at passing the Garda motorcycle course. I have been in the Garda Training College since last Thursday practicing every day for my last attempt at passing it on Thursday the 3rd of November 2011. The police instructor has told me that he has noticed a big improvement on my riding since i was last down there. The improvement comes from me watching your videos on Youtube constantly and putting them into practice on the road, using my own bike. :-)
Yeah, I've stopped using the front brake on the bends, Nigel. I've used the back-brake as you said...Yeah, I found it very effective, thanks!! But on the police motorcycle course, the instructor forbids me to use the back brake on the bends...telling me that i shouldn't have to use it if I am approaching the bend at the right position, speed and gear in the first place. So I can't use the back-brake on the course at all, Nigel. :-(
Yeah, I've heard of counter-steering, Nigel...but does it really exist? When I am riding the bike into and around the bends I lean the bike appropriately to negotiate of the bends. I might be using counter-steer without me knowing it...???...I don't know if I am, because I'm just concentrating so hard in negotiating the bend. If I was to put counter-steering into practice and focus on doing it....I would be afraid in case the bike would go onto the opposite side of the road on the bend, while I am counter-steering. Is it safe and does it exist??
Hopefully, when this motorbike course is finished and I've passed it, Nigel, I would love to meet you in person and extend my appreciation for helping me pass the course...if that is ok with you? I would also love to do one of your weekend courses this Summer. Over in Britain you have better roads and better weather conditions than we do in Ireland ....it would be great to ride on decent roads for a change with a great instructor like yourself.
Talk to you soon. Take care of yourself.
Hope all is well with you. I understand what you mean now regarding the back brake and the counter-steering.
Thanks for your advice and most valuable information. I will keep you informed on how I get on Thursday after my bike test. Fingers crossed and hoping all goes well.
Talk to you then, Nigel
BENDS - I think I need to clear something up here re the back brake. The use of the back brake in cornering is for when you may have entered a little too quickly. Your instructor is right in what he is saying as ....Get everything right before the bend all you need to do is make minor adjustments through the throttle. Remember do not RUSH --Plan hen bend as you approached with the objective of planning for the exit,
COUNTERSTEERING -- If you do not counter-steer, you would never get round the bend. You first experienced counter-steering when riding your pedal cycle. Do not worry about it as your test is too close to experiment with your riding style.
Have a good test on Thursday,
I did our police bike test on Thursday. I put into practice all you showed and told me, along with what I could learn from the instructor. I passed it, Nigel!!!...YAYYY!!! I was so delighted and over the moon to pass it. :-))))
The instructor I had for the test is known to be a perfectionist. So when I heard he was testing me I said to myself, "Oh no!". Anyway, I went out on the bike to do the test, with the instructor behind me observing me. It was lashing rain! So the roads were wet. I kept the bike into the nearside for the right-hand bends & I kept it out left-of-centre line for the left-hand bends. Speed was good going into all bends. I got in 6 good overtakes during the 40 minute test. And then we went back to base.
When I got back, the instructor gave me the thumbs up, but didn't speak to me...coz he had to test another student straight after me. So I didn't know if I passed or not.
The instructor came back after testing the other student and he briefed me on my test. He said to me, "You couldn't have done a better drive than that. It was excellent!!...with great positioning, great speed and excellent gear changing. You got 6 excellent overtakes in also." So I was taken back by all this, because I was expecting a bad report, but I was getting praise. Then he said to me, " You are actually a better biker than you think." I couldn't believe all this when he said it to me. My head was getting bigger and bigger with all the remarks...ha! ha! :-) So he told me that I passed it. I was so over the moon and delighted to have passed it. Now I am a fully qualified police motorbike rider...YAYYY!!! :-)
Thanks a million for all your help and videos, Nigel. Without them and your advice I would not have passed the test / course. If you want to use my comments to show to your other students, by all means do. You are an excellent instructor! I hope to meet you in person next Summer and do one of your courses over in Britain.
Thanks Nigel!!! :-)