Part 2

Common faults with those taking the IAM test, not necessarily failure points please note.  We know what makes a bad rider, we know a ‘fail’ when we see it!  But what separates an average rider from the IAM standard, a good rider from a very good one?  I note that some of those presenting themselves for test show the traits of having been taught to pass a test, just that, just enough!  They do not think for themselves, show any individuality, they don’t make quick, snappy, accurate decisions and then get on with it.  Rather they wait until a fax comes in!  For the most they lack flair!  Yes, that word again. (Flair... natural ability or talent ... style). They do ‘this’ or ‘that’ because they’ve been told to.  Not really knowing why, not knowing there are occasions when it’s not required.  They nearly all have one or more of the following faults in their riding.

Not in any particular order of importance...

Head turning ... Shoulder checks but seeing nothing.  If I’m behind someone who does a shoulder check, and I’m out to that side, I want to see their eyes.  But ...

Too many shoulder checks ...  The more expert we get, the smoother we get, then the less shoulder checks we need! Fact.  OK we need a shoulder check when turning left or right... but do we?  Moving towards a junction and we’re going to turn right off the main road, we’re positioned close to the white line, bread van coming towards us and we turn right behind it, it comes past us two feet on our right and we turn right behind it, what the heck do we need a shoulder check for!  Anything coming past us is on the front of said bread van now going t’other way!  We need to be looking where we’re going, in to that junction.

Leaving built up areas we don’t need left and right shoulder checks.  I know the police teach/taught it, but then they taught the Hendon Shuffle!  We’re leaving a built up area, we can see the national speed limit signs well ahead.  We’re scanning our mirrors, we know what is happening behind.  Where’s that red XR3i gone?  He might have turned off, he might be overtaking, then fair enough we need a shoulder check and slap ourselves on the wrist for not picking it up.  Remember the better more proficient we get, the smoother we become, the less we have to move our bike’s with abrupt and late positioning, then the less shoulder checks are needed!

Not looking far enough ahead ... 
and time again I see riders, yes, on test, move out for a parked bus, lorry, roadworks.  They ride up to it and give a shoulder check (again) to move out and round it.  The obstruction was clearly visible two hundred and fifty yards ahead as we negotiated a gentle bend and the view opens up... we should flow gently and smoothly in to position as the view opens up, thus negating requirement for said shoulder check.  This of course requires good forward observations!

Tackle one hazard at a time ... Ties in with the above.  No planning, no thought, no gumption! (Gumption ... shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness, same Oxford dictionary as for flair) Again ... not looking far enough ahead.

Contrary to the above, it might sound, not enough head movement for cross views.  There is a difference between this and the above, and if people can’t spot the need and the difference the two then we aren’t going to do much with them.  Time and time again you can follow people and their head and neck might just as well be all glued together. On a recent test, approaching a ‘T’ junction with a main road, we’re going to turn left, the candidate didn’t look to the right until ten feet before the junction.  “Wow, that’s good isn’t it... a cross view like what we’re taught”  then had to stop because of a van coming along the main road from our right, going the same way as we’re going to go. A cross view early, van seen, speed, speed adjusted, nothing behind it, we plan, plot scheme and we get to the junction behind the van and turn left to follow it... no need to stop!  We’ve now actually got more time to check the road surface, potholes, metal covers, gravel etc.  It’s hardly rocket science is it?


It’s Not Rocket Science