Advanced motorcycle training: The one-to-one route
Advanced motorcycle training now comes in many forms, from formal, highly structured courses to a more bespoke approach. We take a look at one-to-one training with an advanced riding instructor.
You never stop learning when you ride a motorcycle, no matter how experienced you are. There are so many variables, from riding technique to road positioning and even to the way a particular bike handles that if someone tells you they know everything, they almost certainly don’t.
That said, advanced riding instructors make it their job to try and understand as many of these variables as possible and they can provide fast-track knowledge to better riding habits and more informed ways of riding.
One of them is Rich Woolgar, from MCIAC-accredited ART Rider Training in Essex, who offers Advanced motorcycle training on both the road and on track days. We asked him what kind of tuition are people looking for?
Identifying weaknesses in riding
“The majority of people that speak to us have one or two specific areas that they want to work on – they’ve pre-identified their weaknesses which means we can get straight to rectifying issues and steering them in the right direction. We’re also able to provide them with guidance for any further training once we’ve seen them on a bike.”
Another area is born again bikers. “Many of the riders we see are actually getting back on two wheels after a break from riding. They want to make sure they are ready for the road after not being on a bikes for some time. Many are surprised by the increase in power over the bikes they used to ride before starting families or getting wrapped up in careers.”
How does his style of one-to-one tuition differ from a group learning course like BikeSafe or the very structured training like that available from ROSPA and IAM?
Rich says, “We’re big fans of the work that ROSPA and IAM do but also believe that there are customers out there who either don’t need to, don’t want to or don’t have the time to go down the structured, set syllabus route to further their skills.”
Different types of ride
Is advanced riding all about going faster? “In a word, no. The beauty of our bespoke training means that we can provide all customers with the skills that are relevant to their own riding. If a customer is commuting to London every day and doing no other riding, do they need to spend a half day with us working on making the most of country roads? We can take them on their commute and put some focused work into any weaknesses and danger points that they will encounter on a daily basis. The opposite end of the spectrum is the sunny weekend rider who may need some more concentrated work on their basic skills on rural roads to ensure that they can get their brain and body up to speed as quickly as possible on their infrequent ride outs.”
From the basics to ‘smooth progress’
What can a rider expect from a course and can they expect a sergeant-major style balling out when they cock something up?
“Ha, ha! No, we believe training should be fun not stressful. You can’t concentrate on what we are teaching you if you’re tensed up over the bike. The core of our training is aimed at providing the rider with the relevant skills to ensure that they have got as much in their armoury as possible in order to deal with situations. Through concentrating on some of the basic skills such as counter-steering, body position, braking, throttle use and reading of the road we look to build their confidence along with safe and smooth progress.” Smooth progress is the term often used by advanced riders, including police motorcyclists, to describe a riding style that is progressive in speed yet has the riders and other road user’s safety in mind at all times.
Track days build confidence
Rich and his team are firm believers in a track day’s ability to elevate a rider’s training. “We start all of our training with an initial half-day road-based session which allows us to get to work on the key requirements of the customer. Following on from that, we will discuss further options as to what we think would suit them best,” says Rich. “Track days, in particular, can lead to a huge boost in the confidence of the customer and their confidence in what their bike is capable of. We’ve teamed up with Silverstone Bike Trackdays to offer a way in to track days that is more relaxed than some circuits, yet we can really get to grips with technique and confidence-building ”
For people with more time and who also want to combine their training with a short break, ART has pioneered instructor-led tours of the UK and Continent. “On the tours we see riders flourish as the more relaxed atmosphere provides a calm, informal, pressure-free approach to advanced coaching.“
What are the typical costs?
“Our initial half-day sessions are £130, or less when multiple sessions are booked. One-on-one track day training sessions are around £180, plus the cost of the track day, and tours start at around £300 including accommodation. All of these prices are when you are using your own bike, but we do have training bikes available too.”
Is training worth the investment even if you’re not a speed merchant or you’ve been riding for donkey’s years? “I’m shocked by how many people we see who haven’t been taught how to counter-steer during their licensed-focussed training,” says Rich. “It’s one of the most beneficial techniques you can learn, whether you are commuting, touring on a huge luggage-laden GS or making the most of country lanes on a superbike. When you look at how much people are prepared to pay for a helmet, we believe whatever you spend on advanced training is excellent value to invest in what actually goes on inside the helmet!” Good point.
Get yourself sorted:
Most insurers offer a discount of anywhere up to 10% if you have undergone advanced rider training with a recognised provider.
Search for the Motorcycle Industry Association’s MCIAC-accredited trainers on their website: http://www.mciac.co.uk/find-an-mciac-accredited-training-school/
If you want to learn with Rich and his team, their website is: http://www.artridertraining.co.uk/