How Advanced Motorcycle Training Can Make You A Better Tourer

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If you’ve stumbled across this post, you’re likely looking for information on doing some advanced motorcycle training.

And if you’re currently going through the whole “shall I, shan’t I” phase, let me stop you right there.

Do it!

Advanced motorcycle training is nowhere near as intimidating as it sounds. You’ll meet a lot of good people who genuinely want to help you, and your riding will approve exponentially.

More than that, you’ll have a great time doing it!

For those of you who are wondering, I have completed an advanced motorcycle course. And I also taught it for many years.

advanced motorcycle training
You can do advanced motorcycle training through dedicated schools such as MTS Rider Training (Image: MTS)

You Don’t Have To Be Advanced To Do Advanced Motorcycle Training

One thing many people get confused with is the terminology. Advanced motorcycle training courses are NOT courses reserved only for advanced riders.

Advanced motorcycle training courses are for normal riders who aspire to become better riders.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new rider starting with a clean slate, or if you’re an experienced rider who wants to update their knowledge. As a rider of motorcycles, there’s always something to be learned.

Incidentally, if you are a new rider, don’t be intimidated. I highly recommend you do some advanced motorcycle training right from the start to put good practices in place.

advanced motorcycle riders
There are also women-only advanced riding courses through schools such as WOMT (Image: WOMT)

Advanced Motorcycle Training & Touring

If you enjoying touring as I do, then doing an advanced riding course is a great way of making you safer when you tour.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re riding in a different country.

Aside from the culture shock and the language barrier, oftentimes we need to ride on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. And the whole thing can be overwhelming.

Completing some advanced motorcycle training will cement (through repetition and practice) those underpinning riding skills.

And that means muscle memory takes over in times when you need to concentrate on everything else around you.

advanced motorcycle training debrief
Advanced motorcycle training with observers from the likes of Bristol Advanced Motorists can help you be a safer tourer (Image: BAM)

What’s The Route I Need To Take?

There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to advanced motorcycle training.

And choosing the correct path seems to be a contentious issue for many riders.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you choose RoSPA, the IAM, or ERS. They all do the same training, in the same way, and end up at the same destination.

But before you even have that debate with yourself, I’d seriously consider doing a BikeSafe course.

bikesafe
BikeSafe is the best place to start – I recommend it to anyone and everyone (Image: BikeSafe)

BikeSafe

I can’t recommend BikeSafe highly enough. And if I could only recommend ONE advanced riding course, BikeSafe would be my choice.

BikeSafe is more like a gentle introduction into the world of advanced riding.

You don’t go into anything in too much detail. It’s more like a taster of what’s available should you choose to take it further.

As a government initiative to reduce motorcycle-related accidents on UK roads, BikeSafe courses are often subsidised. And that means many people across the country can enrol for free.

If you don’t know what BikeSafe is, I encourage you to click the link above and go and have a look.

bikesafe - advanced motorcycle training
Your advanced motorcycle training starts with BikeSafe (Image: BikeSafe)

A Quick Overview:

In a nutshell, BikeSafe is an introduction into advanced riding and is led by serving Class 1 police motorcyclists.

They’ll provide some literature to read through. And they will invite you to attend a few classroom sessions to discuss the theory behind the course.

At the end, you’ll go on a 1-on-1 ride where your allocated police rider will follow you and offer feedback on your riding.

He/she may even then take you back out on the road to give you a demonstration where they lead, and you follow.

I know that having a copper follow you sounds intimidating. But it’s actually a great way to spend an afternoon.

Whilst they are serving police officers, they are still normal people who want to help you become a better, safer rider.

It’s all very down-to-earth, and I highly recommend you sign up.

bikesafe police riders
It’s all very relaxed and down-to-earth (Image: BikeSafe)

The Next Step

Okay, so you’ve done your BikeSafe course and want to take it further.

From here, you have 3 main routes that you can take:

  • RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of accidents)
  • IAM (the Institute of Advanced Motorists)
  • ERS (Enhanced Rider Scheme)

As mentioned above, despite what any of them say, none of them are any better or worse than the other two!

They all teach the same thing in the same way from the same teaching resources.

You may come across a few die-hards who will tell you that RoSPA is better than the IAM or vice versa.

I’m sorry to say it, but they’re talking shit.

Just look at the websites and pick whichever course you like the sound of best. Because ultimately, you will learn the same things.

rospa - advanced motorcycle training
Whether you choose the IAM, the ERS or a RoSPA group such as this one in South Wales – just pick whichever one you like the sound of (Image: RoSPA)

What Is The Structure Of An Advanced Motorcycle Training Course?

All the material you learn on any of the three courses above comes from a book called “Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider’s Handbook.”

This is the same book that police riders use as part of their training. And you can buy it even you don’t want to do an advanced motorcycle course. It’s well worth the read.

The Ride Out’s:

You’ll complete anywhere up to around 10 rides (depending on your progress) and each ride will look at ONE of the following:

  • Town riding
  • Bends
  • Roundabouts
  • Motorway riding
  • Overtakes
  • Slow control

You and your observer arrange each session (usually one per week) for a convenient day and time to suit you both.

It’s also worth noting that there are no stipulated time durations for a ride out. Some sessions may be an hour, whilst other’s maybe a half-day ride out. It just depends on the time that you and your observer can commit to.

Normally, you will lead and your observer will be following. Connected via Bluetooth, your observer will give you directions through your earpiece to guide you along a route.

At some point, your observer may take the lead to demonstrate (such as an overtake or a sequence of bends). This is often accompanied by commentary so you can see and hear what is going on.

At the end of each session, you’ll receive an assessment of your ride and advice on any mistakes. From here, it’s up to you to go away and practice for the next session.

advanced riding instruction
Advanced motorcycle training turns you into a thinking rider (Image: RoSPA SW)

IPSGA:

Each of the ride out topics above all focus on the same riding system known as IPSGA.

  • I – information
  • P- position
  • S – speed
  • G – gears
  • A – acceleration (sometimes action)

No matter what you do (or in what scenario you do it), IPSGA is always the system that you learn to follow.

At first, it seems like a lot to take in. But after a few practice sessions of riding in this way, the IPSGA system becomes very intuitive and natural.

The Test:

Once you work your way through the syllabus and become a master of IPSGA, you’ll be put forward for your advanced riding test.

And this will be conducted by a serving or recently retired police biker.

As with the BikeSafe course above, it’s all generally relaxed and it isn’t worth getting yourself worked up over!

In my experience, the bike cops have always been very pleasant, helpful, and informative.

bikesafe - advanced motorcycle training
IPSGA is the underpinning knowledge of all advanced motorcycle training (Image: BikeSafe)

Enhanced Riding Scheme

The ERS is a little different as it’s run by independent riding schools in conjunction with the DVSA.

Indeed, the course content is the same as above. But the structure is a little different.

Most sessions with the IAM and RoSPA take place over an hour or two. ERS sessions generally have to be purchased by the day or half-day.

And that can be expensive.

The other negative with the ERS is the lack of ride outs.

With the IAM and RoSPA, trainees who are nearing the end of their advanced riding course are usually allowed to tag along on advanced ride outs.

The standard on these ride outs is generally incredibly high and they can prove to be an excellent learning tool.

You’re unlikely to get anything like this through the ERS.

ers training
One-on-one advanced motorcycle training with the ERS (Image: Motorcycle Riders Club)

Continued Development

RoSPA and the IAM will both encourage you to join your local advanced group. You will be given the opportunity to go on regular ride outs to hone your skills, as well as attend various training courses and skills days.

If you’re particularly good, you may also get an invite to train as a trainer. In other words, you train to teach the course to new participants.

It’s worth noting here that once you pass the course with the IAM, you will never be asked to re-sit the final riding exam to prove you’re still at an advanced level.

With RoSPA, however, you will be required to pass the test every three years to show you are maintaining (or improving) your standard of riding.

continued development through advanced motorcycle training
Advanced motorcycle training usually allows continued development

Advanced Motorcycle Training: How Much Does It Cost?

Whether you do your advanced motorcycle training through the IAM or RoSPA, the cost works out pretty much the same.

The IAM has a higher course cost (around £149.)

But that includes the Rider’s Handbook (above), the cost of your final assessed ride, and usually some other bits and pieces such as a year’s membership with your local club, or a year’s breakdown.

It’s also expected that you ‘contribute’ towards your observers time. The IAM advise £10 per session. But oftentimes, observers will just ask for a coffee at the end of each session, or not charge you at all.

RoSPA’s price is lower – but you have to pay for the book (around £25) and the assessed ride at the end (which is usually around £70.)

Similarly, the contribution towards each session is usually higher, too, with £20 per session set as the recommended contribution.

But again, this can fluctuate.

rider training
Advanced motorcycle training costs can vary slightly, but it’s well worth it (Image: RoSPA SW)

Conclusion: So Should You Do An Advanced Motorcycle Course?

Yes!

I don’t know anything about you, but I still know the answer will be yes.

Whether you’re new to riding, coming back to riding, or are already an experienced rider that wants to polish up your skills, you will always learn something.

I can speak from experience, too, when I say that you will come across some riders within these groups that will blow your mind with their level of skill.

All in all, the path through the course is a happy one for most. And the continued development that comes from them is worth its weight in gold.

As a result, it can also help your wallet – with many insurance companies offering discounts for safer riders who have completed an advanced motorcycle course.


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