Monday, May 04, 2009

Tips, Tests and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Friend Josh, gives Ads the hot tips on what examiners look for

My son, the speed freak and danger man, whilst adept at Motocross and leaping off large ramps with his feet off the pedals, has in his wisdom decided to get his road motorcycle license.
I hate motorbikes. Not the vehicle themselves but the vulnerability they offer their rider. The way cars don’t see them or refuse to acknowledge them. The thought of my little prince being barged off his bike in heavy traffic is too much to bear.

So, this Sunday, the boy borrowed a bike and a few hours of his fellow bike rider friend’s hot tips on how to pass the road test.

For learner drivers, there are rules, so many hours behind the wheel, at night, in the rain and signed off by a parent or guardian or responsible teaching adult. Sure it can be faked but generally, people do a good wad of hours on the real road before attempting their driving test.
For motorbikes, no such deal.

Looks confident enough

I was amazed, absolutely flabbergasted actually to learn that all you have to do, is pop along to an appropriate approved testing track with ‘a’ motorbike (doesn’t have to be yours), manoeuvre your bike through some witches hats, show that you can do a safe U-turn and prove that you use your mirrors and that’s it, you’re given a provisional licence that allows you to bolt along the freeway whether you’ve ever ridden a bike before or not!

Now Biker Girl, who is actually an instructor and approved ‘tester’ will tell you that it’s not that easy manoeuvring the course at slow speed so we’ll see. The bottom line for me though, is that someone can actually pass their test without having proven they’ve ever been on the road!
My problem? My son has never ridden legally on the road (I know he’s been around the burbs on the Motocross Bike without me catching him!) but he has no experience on the main roads of Sydney. He is borrowing a bike from a friend to get his license and will probably not be in a position to buy his own for months, if not years! Yet he can hop on anyone’s bike, go anywhere and pretty much do anything within the law (except take a pillion passenger), without having any road experience at all!

Mastering the U-Turn supposed to be done without touching the ground

Too easy . . just too, too easy. There should be a three-hour written exam and a five year hands-on course before they're allowed to even start the engine!


River said...

Ha Ha, I think a five year hands on course might be a tad too long.
I held a motorbike licence for a few years myself. Never rode anything bigger than a Suzuki 50cc scooter.Looked just like the Hondas postmen get around on. I took my test in Murray Bridge way back in 1968. The policeman who was testing me said we'd drive here, here,and her, ending up back at the police station again, he'd follow me in his car. Well, he got caught in traffic and stuck behind a red light, so when he arrived back at the police station to find me waiting there for him, he said I'd passed, since I'd obviously made it back without accident of any kind. I rode my little bike until I was too pregnant to sit on it comfortably, then I let the licence lapse and I've never had a licence of any kind since. today's traffic is much too fast and heavy for me to feel at all comfortable learning to drive in. I understand your concerns with your son. My brother "wrote off" three bikes before finally buying a car instead.

nick said...

Since I've only ridden on a motorbike once, and never had an accident with one, not much I can say here. But I'll be interested in what others think.

Sarah Lulu said...

My youngest is out right now ...having a driving lesson with his father ...they are trying to get his driving in the dark hours up ...I'm worried about kangaroos many up here at night. I'd be worse if he was on a bike!

Miles McClagan said...

According to an old Guinness Book of Records, all you had to do to pass a driving test in Egypt was drive in a straight line forward and backwards...

Sounds like nonsense dunnit?

Grannymar said...

Back in the days when my brothers showed interest in motorbikes, my father insisted the first step must be a visit to the hospital where all motor accident head injured patients were taken.

I once traveled as a pillion passenger and although I had confidence in the rider, I decided that once was enough for me.... Ah well! Not sure I wanted to live in Scotland anyway. :)

Mrsupole said...

When I was 17 my dad came home with a motorcycle and he said here is how you work the clutch to drive it. I got on and took off down the street, but he had forgotten to tell me how to stop the darn thing. So I just rode it into the curb and flew off into the grass. Then I walked the thing back home and never rode by myself again. A few times I rode on the back of one, but was too scared to do it again.

So now I just try to watch for them on the freeways and roads. They sneak up inbetween the cars and if you are changing lanes they can be there before you even know they have arrived. I do not like it when they do this, but they are allowed by the law.

I am on your side with this issue that it is scarey for someone you love to drive one of them, but usually as long as they do not speed they are fairly safe. And wear a helmet, leather jacket, leather gloves, leather boots. They say that it is safer if they have an accident with leather on.

So I have to say that I hope your son stays safe and always wears the helmet at least. When they grow up, we have to pray that we taught them well and let them spread their wings, just not the wings of a motorcycle, but alas we must.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Baino,

Please come visit my website for some information about how we can all send some pencils to some needy children. And I hope that you will post this on your blog, to pass this information on to others.

God bless.

PS...everyone is welcome to visit and copy this information to pass along.

Candie Bracci said...

Hello Baino,

I hear what you say,it's true.Kind of scary.My man wants one as well,but because he's completely nuts when it comes to driving,I'm double scared if he does get one.

Have a nice day

laughingwolf said...

i agree, there is no steel cage to protect a biker, but that's part of the thrill

NOT something i'd want to do [at my advanced age], though youngsters do learn quickly... after a few falls... it's not a toy

Susan said...

You forgot something else they should need: the written permission of everyone who loves them, and they should have TWO from their mother, signed on different days!

No really, I'm from a biking family and we haven't lost one yet--did lose one in a car however. I watch my daughter drive off and could wet my pants I'm so scared, but I'm learning to let go. So I'll keep your son's safety (and your poor nerves) in my prayers!

TCL said...

In the US there is a written exam before one can get a provisional learner's permit to get on the bike to learn to ride. I learned to ride on my own in the back streets and in the desert. I learned to go fast before I learned to go slow. The course for the exam wasn't hard but wasn't easy either. I further took another 2 day safety course to learn more about safe operation and to lower my insurance rate.

There are a lot of things one can do. But most of all just to use common sense, don't ride beyond one's ability or what the situation allows. Of course there are the a-hole drivers on the road.

Then of course, bikes are for fun and cars for practical purposes. I prefer to be on foot or in public transit in the city and take the bike out to the country for fun. But then there are places like New York or Taipei where a little scooter is much more convenient for parking and for transport than a car.

Brian Miller said...

scary, yet i can believe it. thinking about hte ones that zip up behind and around you on the roads. have seen too many heads bounce off the pavement...

Candie Bracci said...

Hello again,i tagged you to say 6 unimportant things about you.i think you've done it already,you might have 6 more or it doesn't matter,lol.See ya!

Colette Amelia said...

I think your recomendations are right on the money! And added to this inexperience are the young male minds that love speed, adrenaline, speed, risk, speed, risk all packed into a I am invisinsible mindset.

Mommas! don't your boys grow up to be motorcyclists!

Jay said...

It used to be like that here, but now there is a written test, and a fairly long, on-road practical test with an instructor following you in radio contact before you get your licence. Even to drive on the road at all with a provisional licence, you need to undertake an CBT test, which stands for Compulsory Basic Training.

Personally, I think that ALL drivers, whether they plan to ride bikes or not, should be made to do the CBT. It would make the road so much safer for bikers. I'd had my car licence for at least twenty years when I took my bike test, and I can tell you, I was much more bike-aware afterwards.

Son. No. 1 rides a bike. I'm much more nervous about him riding on the road, that I was about me. LOL!

Terence McDanger said...

Totally with you on the fear of motorbikes thing. Dangerous fuckers and no mistake.

I like speed, but on four wheels and in a steel cage thank'ee very much.

Leah said...

I must take this opportunity to remind you of what you just reminded me of: chains are useful in just this sort of situation.

Kath Lockett said...

I just hope that by the time Sapphire wants to do it, they come with invisible air bags.

e said...

Wishing the best for him...Having lost a cousin in a motorbike accident, I always cringe when I see one on the road, but perhaps he will show good judgment and get practice.

Baino said...

River you old biker you! My brother wasn't adverse to falling off his Kawasaki either . . many a 'don't tell mum' rescue bid was launched.

They scare the hell out of me Nick but he's had a trail bike for a while. He can handle the machine, can he handle the traffic?

Sarah that's a worry living in the country isn't it. Someting people in the burbs don't have to contend with. They do a bit more damage than an urban rabbit!

Miles . .well we all know they drive like loons, not surprising given the driving test!

GM not a bad idea although I think he's very aware of the damage that can be done by cars! Fortunately, owning a bike is a long way off and I can't see the Fringelet messing up her hair with a helmut in the near future!

Poor MrSupole! No brakes. I tried riding one once but was pretty scared by the power of the thing. I thought I'd been through all the nervousness when they learned to drive!

Candie let's hope its a phase. I think Adam really just wants to do weekend road trips but he has no fear! Respect, but no fear.

Fortunately Wuffa, he's pretty respectful of the machine. He's a very good driver. It's not him I'm worried about, more the other twits on the road.

Thanks Suze, yep we've had a car fatality too so . . makes you wonder really. I just wonder why he wants to put himself in harm's way but he loves his bikes.

TCL that sounds more like it. If he passes, I'll definitely get him into some sort of defensive riding class. Although I did that with Clare when she got her driver's license. And yes, he wants his bike for fun bless him.

Brian, many of them get a bad wrap for flauting the road rules. I hope he's sensible enough not to take risks.

Collette if only it was that easy. I had nothing to do with the trail bike purchase and even less to do with a potential road bike! He's a big boy now and makes his own decisions. I should never have bought him that little red plastic pony on wheels!

Jay when he goes for his 'full' license, he'll have to do it that way but in the interim, he's free to pootle. Mind you he's free to pootle on an L plate as well!
My brother has always had a motor bike so we're pretty in tune with that blind spot!

Terrence . . .you a speed freak? Who'da thunk?

Fair enough Ms Leah. I stand repremanded. Hard to catch him, he can run faster than me!

Hah! Can't wait to see your face when the first boyfriend comes to pick her up with a spare helmut in hand!

e, I think we all know someone who's come to a sticky end on a motorbike. Very disturbing but there is no stopping him. He's stubborn like his mother!

Megan said...

So many of the accidents here involve motorcycles. But I do envy them sometimes, when I'm stuck in traffic and they go zipping and weaving through!