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Passing The Motorcycle Test

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Test Day Adventures on a new Suzuki SV

RMT are upgrading their fleet of 650s. Some of the older Gladius bikes are going, replaced by gorgeous Suzuki SV models, and I was given one of them to do my MOD 2 test.

I confess this threw me for a moment. Yes, she was a beautiful bike: showroom shiny, barely 100 miles on the clock. But on Test Day? Seriously?

It’s funny how we can become attached to the bikes we learn on. I trained on a lowered blue and white Gladius I secretly named Blue. She became ‘my’ bike. Together we sailed through my MOD 1, and I was fully expecting to do MOD 2 on her.

So I was gutted to learn, as the students gathered on the day of my MOD 2 training, that another student, Melanie, was riding her that day. My lucky Blue – gone! I would be road training on a regular Gladius.

The unfamiliar bike took a little getting used to. After Blue, she seemed top-heavy and harder to balance. But by the end of the day, I was confident I had the measure of her and assumed I would ride her for my test.

So I was truly surprised when, the following morning, Laura dangled a key before me. ‘You are having the SV today,’ she beamed.

On Test Day? I decided to be positive about it. ‘She’s glorious,’ I said and climbed on.

Five minutes down the road, I knew why the team had given me the SV despite my never having ridden her. She was a dream. As I cruised at 40 along the ring road, I felt my confidence surge. Everything about her was better than the previous day’s bike. Effortless gear changes, silky smooth throttle… She felt lighter and less top- heavy. Slimmer, so gripping with my legs was easier.

As I waited for the examiner to arrive for my test, a thought came into my head. Is everything in the same place as on the Gladius? I checked. No! Not only was there

no ‘Gladius’ on the rear end, there was no sight glass for the hydraulic fluid. But there was a square plastic box close by, clearly marked with upper and lower levels. That had to be it.

And guess what question the examiner asked? Yep. Hydraulic fluid. And the full operation of all the lights, so I was relieved I had checked those too!

The SV was not perfect. With five minutes left to go on the test, the offside rear mirror came loose and started swinging like a saloon door. I batted it away, my irritation mounting as it refused to stay put. My brain went into overdrive. Should I pull over? No, not legal on this road. Should I turn off down a side road? No, he’ll wonder where the hell I’m going. But I can’t see behind me! Will I fail for riding an unsafe bike? Dammit, am I going to fail my test because of this?

With all this mental turmoil, there was no room in my brain to pay heed to the bike. My speed plummeted. I felt it go and had made no gear change. I dropped down just in time, cursed again and carried on. As I made the final right turn towards the test centre, I was convinced I had failed.

Back in the test compound, I flapped the mirror at Laura. ‘This happened,’ I said, deliberately loud enough for the examiner to hear me. Maybe he didn’t know why I’d had that crazy moment.

Sure enough, he came over. And bless him, he was such a lovely man, he asked Laura if was okay, could it be fixed before the next test? Laura nodded and duly fixed it. She didn’t seem overly concerned.

And neither, as it turned out, was the examiner.

‘It’s a Pass,’ he said, ‘though I did wonder why you suddenly slowed down like that. It was very strange behaviour!’

Since I had passed, I confessed I hadn’t known what to do. ‘What would you have done if you were alone?’ he said. ‘Pulled over and fixed it.’

He nodded. ‘That’s what you could have done. Riding one-handed is never a good idea.’ He smiled and returned to his bike to write my certificate.

With that Pass certificate in my hand, I was back in love with the SV again, especially as I had to ride back to base on one of the older Gladiuses. Already the SV had been passed on, to a fellow student whose test was within the hour. As I followed him up and down some brutally steep Redditch roads, I envied him, enjoying her ease and smooth power.

But I also began to wonder why I hadn’t been given my beloved lucky Blue for the test.

‘She’s at Garrett’s Green,’ Laura told me, when I asked. ‘Melanie is doing her MOD 1 this morning.’

Melanie passed, as did everyone who took their tests that morning. Four MOD 2s and one MOD 1… That’s solid training, not luck!

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