The top 5 trainee mistakes

Having trained several thousand people to ride motorbikes over the years, we’ve come to see some amazing things, and met some really great people.  Along the way we’ve also seen some patterns between those people that are successful motorcyclists, and those that find everything a struggle.  So here’s our top 5 mistakes that learner riders make when training.


Arriving with some dumb kit choices.

Yep, to start our list we’re not even gong to talk about riding a motorcycle, we’ll just start with what people choose to wear.  We’ve seen some funny things (customer in high heels), and we’ve seen some dumb ideas (customer in sandals).

The DVSA publish details about the clothing that people must wear during CBT, and most people are keen to wear the correct kit (more on that later), but some people don’t bother reading this and wonder why trainers and tracksuit bottoms make them feel cold at 50 mph in January.  You don’t have to wear full motorcycle clothing for CBT, but some smart choices include:

  • Sturdy footwear (not training shoes)
  • Tough trousers (Denim is good)
  • Warm clothing (layers of material work better than one thick layer)
  • Suitable gloves (leather in the summer sun, textile in the winter cold)
  • A new helmet (not one borrowed from their grandfather)

Why wear this stuff?  For protection?  Yes, partly.  If the worst should happen then you’re going to be reasonable protected in an accident and probably wont need too much time off work / school.  However, our recommendations usually come down to comfort.  if you are not comfortable, its really difficult to concentrate.  If its difficult to concentrate then you will not learn as quickly and you’ll need to pay for more training.

If you think this is all crazy, then try to learn to ski in Norway in only your underwear!


Treating a motorcycle like a car

Yep, weird sounding we know.  A amazing amount of people who learn to ride have difficulty in adapting to a motorcycle because poor driving habits have been ingrained into them from years of driving cars.

Apart from the physical differences, motorcycling is an entirely different activity that requires an entirely different mindset from car driving.  Not only do you need to be more flexible, plan further ahead, have a finer grasp of the controls and be more alert; you also need to think differently about sharing the road with others, because motorcycles;

accelerate faster
change direction quicker
are less visible
can fit into smaller gaps
respond quicker to inputs
have wet clutches that can be slipped all day with no problems

So, when you jump aboard a motorcycle for the first time, take on board what your Kickstart Training Instructor is saying to you and trust them.  They know the mistakes you’re going to make, before you even realise you’ll make them.


Buying a motorcycle before their training starts

Okay, so if that Honda NR750 comes up in the small ads for £4000, by all means snap it up.  So many riders see a poster or showroom bike, fall in love, buy it and then walk past it every day in the driveway before completing their training.  It causes two things to happen;

  1. The rider is super keen to complete training or test, rushes, is nervous and fails everything; costing more money. Or;
  2. During training they realise they’ve bought the wrong bike and wasted loads of cash

You’ll get the chance to ride a variety of bikes during your training, so hold off those extra few days until you’ve completed CBT or passed your test before committing to a purchase.  There will also be oppourtunity to talk with your Kickstart Training Instructor about which bikes are good to buy and run. You’ll be less stressed, save money and be happier with your final choice.


Booking all the training in one go

Hey, we’ll confess. there would be nothing better for us as a business than every customer walking through the door throwing £900 at us straight away.  Cash in the bank for us, with no overheads of training yet. Easy money, right?

Wrong!  Imagine the scenario;

Saturday is CBT day, your instructor and you know that Monday the ‘big bike’ training starts, so your keen to get going and complete (Compulsory Basic Training) CBT but the realisation comes that this is more difficult than you thought. You’re now stressed and everything becomes more difficult when you’re stressed and nervous.  After a really long day, you’re exhausted but completed and get a CBT certificate.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are Module 1 and Module 2 training and test days, and now on Monday morning you realise that you could have done with a little more time on the 125 post-CBT….guess what?  You’re now stressed and pressured.  Somehow you managed to get through the training and complete all the skills to an ‘OK’ standard, but not perfect.

Tuesday.  OK, Module 1 test day.  You’re not up to standard, you’re tired, stressed and you’re instructors guidance doesn’t seem to be working, but you think you’ll be OK if you can just hold it together.  You practice a bit more in the morning and the Examiner is ready for you to be tested.  No pressure though?  You’ve only booked a £75 Module 2 test for tomorrow and taken the day off work, if you get this wrong its a day of holiday gone and the best part of £500 to have another go.

You fluff it on something silly (a foot down on the U turn?)  because of the fatigue and stress you’re under.  You’re upset and angry, you don’t want to do anymore and forfeit your Wednesday training (you can’t take the Module 2 test until module 1 is passed).  You go home and spend Wednesday kicking yourself, as you could have been riding around on a motorbike.

Hopefully this makes sense?  Even the best students suffer from stress and pressure on test.  In fact, most instructors tend to get a bit wobbly if they go to the test centre for a practice.  Save yourself the heartache and take your time, we’ll tell you this when you book (even though we’d love to take all your money in one go!).


Not booking enough training

Approximately 3 years ago we introduce a new motorcycle training day called a ‘Conversion Day’.  The reason being?  We met lots of people who were great at riding a 125cc machine, but just needed a little bit of tidying up prior to getting onto a 500cc/600cc bike.  If we put them straight onto a big bike on the first day of training, then what we describe in point 2 would occur.  Too much stress, too many deadlines and failure.

The conversion day was designed to tidy up 125cc skills and then get someone onto a ‘big ‘bike’ bike with no pressure to achieve anything (there is no test at the end of it).  The customer simply spends time riding a ‘big bike’, enjoying it and getting comfortable.

Once we had implemented this day of training we noticed 2 things happened;

  1. Our pass rate for both Module 1 and Module 2 test went up (by about 10%)
  2. Customers were happier and more comfortable during their test training and were better riders when they got their licence.

When you complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) with us, or phone us to book motorcycle training, we’ll work out how many days you’ll need and tell you.  You are welcome to ignore us and book less days, but you may end up disappointed at the result.

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