Advanced Road Riding Guidelines
What is Advanced Riding?
Advanced motorcycling is the ability to control the position and speed of the machine safely, systematically and smoothly, using road and traffic conditions to progress unobtrusively with skill and responsibility. This skill requires a positive but courteous attitude and a high standard of riding competence based on concentration, effective all round observation, anticipation, and planning.
This must be co-ordinated with good handling skills. The machine should be in the right place on the road, at the right time, travelling at the right speed with the correct gear engaged and will be able to stop safely on its own side of the road in the distance that can be seen to be clear.
What are some of the benefits of acquiring advanced road riding skills?
Q: I have been riding for years, what can you teach me?
For many people, it is not about teaching you anything new; it is about improving the skills that you already have. Many people do not realise the potential consequences of their acquired habits until they are pointed out.
Smoother safer progress
By helping you to improve your observation, planning and machine control you can progress in a safer, smoother and easier manner. This will reduce stress and fatigue for yourself and your passenger and reduce wear and tear on your bike. Who knows it may one day save a life, possibly yours or someone dear to you.
You’ll enjoy riding more and feel much less stressed and tired. Good observation and planning enable you to deal with situations in a smooth and controlled manner, avoiding excessive braking and acceleration. You will make the ride safer, more relaxed and more fun whilst still making good safe progress.
Improve Your Confidence
You’ll feel much more confident, both in your own riding and in your ability to deal with the behaviour of other road users.
Reduce Your Crash Risk
It will help you to avoid making mistakes and mis-judgements that lead to crashes, and help you cope with the mistakes of other road users.
Wear and Tear
Because your riding will be smoother and more systematic you’ll spend less money on fuel and cause less harm to the environment. Your tyres and brake will last longer and your bike may have a higher resale value.
Potentially Lower Your Insurance Premiums
You may be eligible to receive insurance discounts – make sure you tell your insurer what extra training you’ve taken.
Be regarded in a positive way
Each one of us – for better or worse – is an ambassador for biking. You have the opportunity to set a good example to riders who may regard you as an influence.
Advanced Riding Tests & Evaluations
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, it is possible to take a voluntary test to measure your road riding competence. For the most part the examiners conducting such tests hold a UK Police Advanced Riding qualification.
In addition the UK has an Enhanced Rider Scheme in which fully-qualified professional trainers – certified by the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency – will measure your riding ability and issue a Certificate of Riding Competence as appropriate.
These tests and riding evaluations are almost universally based on the Police Foundation publication ‘Roadcraft – The Police Riders Handbook’ and the Highway Code. A thorough understanding of both Roadcraft and the Highway Code are required to pass these tests or achieve a certificate at a high standard.
Peak Rider’s UK trainers are certified under the Enhanced Rider Scheme and can also help you properly prepare for an advanced riding test. We’ve discovered that those who train with Peak Rider have been achieving higher scores on advanced riding tests.
Here are some of the things the examiners and trainers look for:
Steering and balance
Changes in direction should be smooth and controlled. The rider must be able to balance the machine by taking account of the various forces acting upon it and variations in road surface and in weather conditions.
Clutch and gears
Clutch operation should be smooth and progressive showing good balance with the throttle to achieve smooth gear changes. Unnecessary slipping of the clutch should be avoided. The manner in which you use the gears can tell a lot about your ability as a rider. The timing and smoothness of your gear changes will be noted.
The examiner/trainer will expect brake application to be smooth and progressive with the pressure being reduced gradually as unwanted speed is lost. The balance between front and rear brakes should be varied according to the condition of the road surface and the speed of the motorcycle. If you are riding a machine with linked brakes it is important to understand how the brake pressure is distributed between the front and rear brakes and use the hand and foot brake as appropriate.
Smooth use of the throttle together with good acceleration sense, one of the hallmarks of an advanced rider, can do much to make the ride smooth and fuel-efficient. They will be looking for the smooth application of the appropriate amount of power at the right time for the circumstances.
Mirrors / rear observations
You cannot make appropriate plans for hazards ahead unless you are fully aware of what is happening all around you. The examiner/trainer will be looking for correct use of your mirrors. Remember there are times when a shoulder check is required no matter how much you have used your mirrors.
The consideration of the use of the horn is as important in advanced riding as actually using it. Are you correctly considering the use of the horn, do you cover the horn button, and if you do use the horn is its use appropriate for the circumstances? Is it timed correctly, is the length of use appropriate? Remember, the horn is used to inform other road users of your presence, it is not a form of rebuke.
Ensure that your visor or goggles and any fairing screens are clear at the start of the test. You may want to consider using an anti mist spray or device to help prevent your visor or goggles misting up during the test. Also ensure that all light lenses are clean.
Moving off and stopping
Whenever you move off or stop you must ensure that it is safe to do so and your actions should be smooth and precise. Remember that when you initially move off this will be the first impression of your riding. Make it a good one. Before moving off do mirror and shoulder checks and signal as appropriate. Similarly when you intend to stop, ensure that you check mirrors etc and signal your intention if appropriate and remember to brake smoothly. If this is the conclusion of your test it is the last impression you give the Examiner, so make it a good one.
Use of the System
Advanced tests and the Enhanced Rider Scheme are based on Roadcraft and The System of Motorcycle Control described therein. You will be evaluated on how well you understand and apply the phases of The System. Are they well timed and appropriate, do you go back to an appropriate earlier phase if circumstances change on the approach to a hazard? Do you consistently take, use and give information throughout your application of The System? To achieve a high grade you will have to apply The System to a consistently high standard throughout the test.
If you are to take in all the information that is available at any time then you need to position your motorcycle appropriately. This applies equally to roads subject to lower speed restrictions (30, 40 and 50) as it does to roads subject to the national speed limit. Consider on the approach to a hazard whether your position provides you with the best view whilst retaining appropriate safety margins? Remember that you can assist other road users by making sure they can see you. However never sacrifice safety for view. If moving to a position to obtain what you consider to be the best view would place you in actual or potential danger, then do not do it! On a motorcycle you have much more freedom to move on the road than a car due to the obvious fact of the smaller size. Ensure that you do not confuse other road users by your position or movements, whilst using this freedom to your advantage
You must always be able to stop on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear. The examiner/trainer will look at the line you take on the approach and through the corner. Do you have the right balance of safety, stability and view? Does it give you the best view with appropriate safety margins, is your speed of approach correct and are you in the right gear? Do you control the bike smoothly and accurately maintaining stability through correct use of the throttle and gears?
The practice of crossing the centre of the road to straighten a series of open bends is one that causes significant discussion. If the circumstances are appropriate it can contribute to safety, stability and progress. This is however an action that requires a high level of skill, observation and planning to execute correctly. Whilst there are positives the potential for coming into conflict with, or causing confusion to other road users can be significant and must always be taken into consideration. If a rider’s actions causes their own or another road users safety to be compromised, they will fail the test or be referred to further training. You must also ensure that crossing any road markings at any time does not compromise safety or stability.
Signals are the primary way you give information to other road users about your intentions. They must be given correctly and at the right time so as to avoid confusion. Give them only when they will benefit another road user and remember they indicate your intention, not what you are already doing. Remember that on a bike your indicators may be smaller and less conspicuous than on a car, an arm signal may be advantageous in some circumstances. Remember, just because you have signaled your intention does not infer a right to carry it out.
Reaction to signs, markings and hazards
As an advanced rider you need to be able to recognise and react to road signs, markings and hazards in good time. In this way you give yourself time to react and form a riding plan. The examiner/trainer will be looking for evidence of this in the timing and manner of response to the various signs and hazards that you come across.
Low speed riding
The Examiner will be looking for good balance and smooth use of the controls enabling you to progress smoothly at low speed.
Progress / Restraint / Consideration
Advanced riders demonstrate an ability to ride at a speed within the legal limit that is safe for the situation. The Examiner will be looking for you to ride in a manner that is safe, smooth and systematic whilst making good progress where it is appropriate and also showing consideration for others. However, it is possible to be too considerate and thereby adversely affect your own opportunities to make progress during the test. In order to achieve the correct balance it is vital that you concentrate fully at all times.
Advanced grades can be obtained without an overtake being made on a test or riding evaluation. However, if the opportunity is there it will be noted how you deal with it. All overtaking manoeuvres must be well planned, carried out safely and within the speed limit. It’s important to remember that there is no exemption in law for exceeding the speed limit to complete an overtake.
Advanced riding is not all about speed; it is essential that you continually assess the hazards around you and adjust your speed accordingly. Having said that you will be expected to demonstrate your ability to control your motorcycle at speeds up to the legal limit where it is appropriate to do so. Be aware that a riding plan that requires you to exceed the legal limit to complete a manoeuvre safely is not acceptable. If you consistently exceed the speed limit an examiner may stop a test and you will fail.
Respect your motorcycle and do not ask too much of it. Always ride within the capabilities of the motorcycle you are riding whilst not being afraid to allow it to give you its optimum performance. There is a big difference between riding a bike positively and progressively and ‘thrashing’ it.
Concentration is a prerequisite of advanced riding. Distractions are an ever-present element with which you must deal whilst displaying a calm controlled approach to your riding.
One of the key skills of an advanced rider is the ability to see hazards and situations developing earlier than lesser skilled riders. This is achieved by constantly scanning all around taking in the near, middle and distant views as well as to the rear. Use your higher seating position on the bike to obtain the best all round view that you can. Smell and sound can also play a significant part in this. In this way the advanced rider has more time to plan and deal with situations and can also anticipate the actions of other road users, almost appearing to do so automatically. Like positioning mentioned earlier this skill is just as relevant in lower speed limits as it is on the open road.
The examiner/trainer will be looking to see how and when you react to changes in conditions and hazards.
Deportment / Temperament
Ensure that your riding position is comfortable and allows you easy access to all of your bike’s controls. If you are comfortable you will be more able to demonstrate a calm controlled and confident manner throughout the test. Lying flat on the fuel tank or hanging off the seat in corners should not be necessary for the road rider. Quiet efficiency is the hallmark of an advanced rider.
Examiners and trainers will anticipate you being nervous and will make some allowances for this so try not to let nerves affect your performance.
They will look to see what you consider a safe following distance. How you use acceleration sense to maintain a safe following position and also your appreciation of the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.
Motorways, Freeways and divided roads
When intending to join these roads from a slip road/on-ramp with more than one lane you should generally, dependent on traffic conditions, use the one that gives you the best view of the main road. Use this view and acceleration sense to give you the correct speed to merge with traffic smoothly and safely. Given that speeds are usually higher than other roads you should follow other vehicles at an appropriate distance. When planning to leave the motorway/freeway allow sufficient time to achieve your exit without having to cut across other vehicles. When joining or leaving such roads consider a signal as required to inform other road users of your intentions.
Before or after the on-road element an examiner will ask you some questions to check your knowledge of Roadcraft and The Highway Code. You may also be asked some questions relating to your motorcycle. Advanced riders – irrespective of whether or not they are on test – should know the rules and their craft.