Riding a motorcycle without assistance
The main objective of a new or novice motorcyclist is to ride without assistance. New riders should be extremely proud of their achievement when they can ride without assistance and make their own safe decisions.
Riding without verbal assistance from an instructor can be a significant milestone for a learner rider. When you consider the growth path of a complete novice rider to one who rides totally independently, there are a lot of steps that have been taken to reach this stage.
When a new rider can ride without assistance it means that they have developed the skills and confidence needed to handle the motorcycle on their own.
However, it’s important to remember that just because an instructor is not providing verbal assistance doesn’t mean you are not being watched carefully for mistakes. The evaluation is to see if you can demonstrate that you have learned, understood and applied basic machine handling skills in the exercise being assessed.
The rider’s performance is a continual assessment whilst undergoing training and guidance. It is a long road to be totally independent and confident but with time and practise everyone has the potential to be a great rider.
Riding without verbal assistance
During your training you will need to demonstrate to the instructor that you can ride without verbal assistance. The instructor looks for certain criteria in your riding when evaluating your performance.
Be aware that training is two way and although you may be under tuition, you must be fully engaged and involved in the education process. You must have good clear communication with your instructor. Let them know when you feel confident and if you feel ready to ride without verbal assistance.
Once you feel confident and understand all the principles required you will be in a position to ride without instruction. However, the instructor should be vigilant and be ready to give verbal advice if required.
Or, as the lessons develop the amount of instruction will reduce and there will be a time when the instructor naturally stops giving instruction and allows you to practise on your own without constant guidance.
A natural progression
This is a very natural progression and one that all learner riders go through. There are times when some exercises seem difficult to start with, but others might be completed more easily.
The objective of any skills lesson training is to allow the student to practise until proficient and set the skill properly. This can take time, so you should be patient while learning new skills.
Even though a lesson seems to be going really well, there may be relapses in progress. This is totally normal and you should not feel like you are going backwards in your development as a result.
A learning plateau
Sometimes new riders reach a learning plateau, which means they kind of get stuck on a subject for a period of time before they master it and are ready to move on again. This is very common and all instructors will have seen this before and should know how to handle it with encouragement and patience.
The instructor will have observed your riding for a period of time to assess your readiness to ride without verbal assistance. You will not be expected to do this from the start and always be assured that they are there, ready to step in and give verbal guidance during the learning process.
The observation period
During the observation period, the instructor will be looking for certain behaviours and actions that demonstrate that you can ride without verbal assistance.
These will include your ability to perform basic manoeuvres like pulling away and stopping correctly and in full control. Negotiating junctions is an important aspect regarding your road position when turning left and right and accelerating smoothly and safely, using the correct gear.
Good planning and awareness
They will also be looking for good planning and awareness along with risk management. This includes the rider’s ability to identify and respond to potential hazards on the road, so that you have reduced risk when riding. You will need to show awareness of other vehicles, pedestrians, road and weather conditions.
You’ll need to show good decision making, such as adjusting speed, road position and keeping the correct following distance for the prevailing weather conditions, which needs to be the two or four second rule at all times.
Ride with confidence
Your confidence level will be assessed with regards to hesitation and nervousness. To ride without assistance requires you to be confident in your own decision making and awareness. Mistakes are common amongst novice riders but they must be kept to a minimum as you increase knowledge and ability.
Do not take unnecessary risks, as this will create more problems than it solves. Peer pressure can be a bad combination for new riders. This is because inexperienced riders try to keep up and don’t know they are riding above their own ability levels until it is too late and they have a problem that they cannot cope with.
GET Regular RIDING TIPS
Sign up to get Riding Tips and advice directly to your inbox
Signs of confidence
The instructor will be looking for signs of confidence, such as a relaxed posture. You should be calm in your manner with smooth and controlled movements on the controls and handlebars.
A willingness to take appropriate actions to hand without instruction will show that you are gaining confidence and can make decisions on your own when necessary.
Once the instructor is satisfied that you are ready to ride without verbal assistance, they will reduce the amount of instruction being given. Typically providing guidance gets more limited and more feedback and guidance is given when stopping for debriefs. Advice and coaching on how to continue improving your riding skills becomes a two way conversation as you improve your skills with much more Q&A (Question and Answering).
After passing the test or on your own
Learning to ride a motorcycle can be daunting, but with the right approach and mindset anyone can become a proficient rider. Once you pass the motorcycle test you will be on your own and have to ride without assistance.
Practice in a safe and controlled environment
On a regular basis you should practise in a safe and controlled environment. This could be in an empty car park, where there are no other vehicles or obstacles. Practise the basic skills of pulling away and stopping, slow control turning and manoeuvring.
The more you practise slow control and riding without guidance, you will perfect these skills and feel more confident the more you practise.
Plan your route
You should be ready and excited to ride on your own on the public road but it’s important to plan your route in advance. Choose a route that is familiar to you and has a low volume of traffic. Try to avoid areas with heavy congestion or complicated junctions and roundabouts until you gain more experience.
Use your brakes properly
Your brakes work differently, so it’s important to know how to use them properly. The front brake is more powerful and should be used when the bike is in an upright position and travelling in a straight line.
The brakes should be used together to slow down and then transfer to the rear brake at slower speeds, or when the steering is being turned or leaning over. Always apply them gradually and smoothly to avoid locking up the wheels, unless carrying out an emergency stop.
Check your motorcycle
Before riding, ensure that your motorcycle is in good working condition. Check the tyres, brakes, lights, and controls to make sure they are all working correctly. Make sure you are wearing appropriate protective gear too as you never know when you might be involved in an incident.
Be aware of your surroundings
Being on your own can feel daunting but as you ride, be aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential dangers and hazards..
Look for obstructions, pedestrians, other vehicles and the changing environment. Things can change very quickly, so it’s important not to ride out of your own ability as you gain confidence and experience.
Always keep a safe distance from other vehicles and adjust your speed in plenty of time.
Follow the rules of the Highway Code
As a learner rider and new rider you have a lot to contend with when riding. There are times when you could be overwhelmed on the bike and not really concentrating on what is going on around you.
It’s important to follow traffic laws and regulations, you’ll be able to do this when you are confident and have higher ability. Be extra careful with your speed and make sure you are seen when you want to change direction by using signals early.
Always ride defensively and anticipate the actions of other road users. Be prepared for unexpected situations and to stop and give way, even if you have priority. Size does matter on the road and larger vehicles may use their size to take advantage of different situations.
Practice, practice, practice: The more you ride, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Always have something to practise when you go out and have a plan in place.
Do not use your motorcycle like a toy and always have a goal or plan for each ride. Riding aimlessly just for the sake of it puts new riders in danger.
In summary, demonstrating your ability to ride without verbal assistance is important to your development. You will need to demonstrate this prior to taking your Module 1 and 2 motorcycle tests.
You must show the instructor good basic riding skills, have good vision and awareness and reduce risk by good road management. Displaying confidence and a willingness to learn and improve will enhance your riding skills.
By doing a lot of home study and putting in the work when you are not riding will mean that supplementary learning will pay dividends to your own personal progress. So much so, that your development is somewhat in your own hands and the practical training is to cement the skills you have learned.