Professional Advanced Rider Training
Professional Advanced Rider Training is not delivered by many organisations. Some are dedicated to giving advanced rider training only, while others are part of the DVSA network of training schools. The Approved Training Body (ATB) delivers learner training as their main courses but some instructors have an ERS (Enhanced Rider Scheme) qualification to teach advanced riding skills.
When ERS was first introduced in 2008, it was designed to bridge a gap. That gap was the void between someone who had just passed a motorcycle test and undergoing advanced rider training.
The gap between passing the test and committing to advanced training, in most circumstances, has been viewed as far too difficult to achieve. This is because the void between a general rider and an advanced trained rider is considered too extreme for normal riders to attain.
But this notion is completely wrong. Anyone who is taking any further training is advancing their skills and knowledge, regardless of the level.
Enhanced Rider Scheme
The Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) was established by the DVSA (then DSA), to give motorcycle riders a stepping stone to further guidance. This training gap would be delivered by professional trainers and instructors and would become the first step on the ladder to advanced riding for riders who had just passed a motorcycle test.
Born again Bikers
It could also be delivered to riders who had passed a motorcycle test many years ago and had not ridden for a long time. These riders were referred to as ‘born again bikers’. The course was more of a familiarisation course to inform riders of the vast performance difference between older and newer modern machines.
Changes to ERS
In 2018 there was a change to the initial ERS syllabus. Prior to this, the programme was over complicated and as a result was not very well used. The number of riders who took ERS courses was minimal and the number of qualified trainers reduced significantly over the years.
The new syllabus that re-ignited ERS was trimmed down and looks at basic advanced skills to help riders develop their skills. Learning with professional advanced rider trainers gives riders the best start into learning the new skills.
Afterall, the ATB is better placed than anyone to deliver professional training. You just have to do your research to find a good one that can cater for your needs.
The ERS course was also designed to help riders who were having difficulty in certain aspects of riding. Perhaps their slow control skills were weak or they lacked confidence when riding, especially in group situations or when riding into a car park full of other bike riders. Nervous riders shudder at the thought of being watched by other riders, in case they make a mistake.
Cornering skills were also high on the agenda with an emphasis on safety with proper professional coaching. Also included in high risk areas were overtaking and filtering skills, which many riders lack because these particular skill sets are not taught for the basic motorcycle test in any depth.
You don’t have to muddle through
New riders who pass their basic test are generally ‘on their own’ to learn important and vital skills in order to be safe on the road. Older riders, returning to biking after a long time off, normally due to family commitments are also in a very vulnerable situation.
They generally buy their new bike and muddle through, mostly learning from making mistakes. In too many instances, this category of motorcyclist is far more at risk than someone who has recently learned to ride.
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Bikes have moved on
Performance and power delivery is significantly greater now compared to even 20 years ago. Better tyres, braking systems, acceleration systems and mod cons all contribute to performance enhancement, that in almost every case outperforms the rider.
Perceived ability is often well in excess of actual ability and a professional coach can help to balance the difference and improve riders ability and highlight areas of risk that need to be developed.
Advanced Training Volunteers
A well used and common route was charity organisation advanced rider training. The majority of advanced rider training was delivered by IAM and RoSPA Groups. Other organisations exist but their standard was always considered inferior.
Riders could join these organisations for a minimal cost and undertake advanced motorcycle guidance from a volunteer. Who in many cases was not a qualified instructor but known within their own group as an Observer.
The observing was done by watching and giving advice but the Observer in many cases never gave their title as ‘a trainer’ because of insurance purposes. In almost every instance an Observer is not a fully trained and qualified professional advanced rider trainer. But they are volunteers who do it in their spare time. As a payment, you are expected to fill their tank up and buy them a cuppa and a cake.
Many riders do not join this process as they don’t want to be part of an organisation, or to be tied to doing something on a weekly basis. For some it is a great social aspect to riding and people must judge for themselves if this is the route for them. It is a cheap way of improving your riding skills.
Bridging the gap
The DVSA’s idea of The Enhanced Rider Scheme was to try and bridge the gap between test pass and high level advanced training. Unfortunately many training schools did not market this new scheme well enough as an industry and left the marketing and advertising to the DVSA.
In fairness the training schools who were the early adopters had a brighter picture painted by the DVSA. That was the longevity of the scheme with advertising and marketing plans that was to be done by the DVSA.
It was a grand idea but the marketing literature and push didn’t happen because of a lack of funding. The general public did not know about the scheme, so many trainers let their training certificates expire.
A few reasons for initial failure
One of the failings was the lack of take up from insurance companies who said they’d give significant discounts to riders who had passed an ERS Course, this failed to materialise. Another failing was the skill set of the trainer, as many were not advanced qualified themselves but just normal riders and instructors with a Direct Access Scheme (DAS) qualification.
By having inadequate trainers join the scheme in the early days, it diluted the product’s value. In some cases it was merely a way to get a day out riding as a jolly for some trainers.
It was not always taken seriously, poor training led to poor riding standards of achievement. For most trainees it became an attendance course and a certificate was issued in less than 3 hours. There is no way any rider who is learning will be a competent rider in three hours if they are just starting on the journey to become an advanced rider.
The ERS training course should be ‘Client Centre’ based, which basically means the course should be designed around a customer’s needs and requirements.
It’s impossible to train a novice rider to any significant standard in just a few hours. New techniques take time to develop and it takes many hours to practice properly and perfect new skills.
The Enhanced Rider Scheme, if developed correctly and made good use of by professional trainers could be a worthwhile course for trainers and trainees alike. It fell by the wayside, losing many qualified instructors.
The DVSA was relied on for marketing and advertising and many instructors waited for customers to queue up at the door. Of course, when this didn’t happen, it became a lower priority and as a result started to lose its position and appeal.
The good news is, there are many advanced riding instructors who deliver extremely good and professional coaching and guidance. The only way you will develop your skills is to enrol onto a course that works on your personal riding ability.
Good luck and Keep it on the Black Stuff.