Learn to ride: The best bike course for you

Don't fancy the pressure of taking your test in three days? Here's Visordown's guide to the best bike course for you

Intensive or ongoing...you're bound to make some good mates

ONCE YOU'VE passed CBT and started swotting for your Theory and Hazard Perception tests (more of that soon) the next step towards gaining you full licence is to decide which type of training course would suit you best.

Most schools offer a selection of courses to suit individual needs. Some are run intensively over a pre-booked block of days, while other courses are aimed at riders wanting to train over a longer period of time. Intensive courses are hard work but good fun. You'll be expected to listen, learn and pick up all that's taught in a short space of time. At the end of the course you'll be expected to take your test - even if you don't feel quite ready. Ongoing courses are less formal. The lack of immediate time pressure gives students extra scope for learning to ride a bike, rather than gaining a full licence as quickly as possible. They're also better for those that can't get time off work. So which one's the best for you?

A holiday jaunt on a scooter doesn't make you an experienced rider

Intensive 3-day

Intensive 3-day courses are for experienced riders only. Day one is usually CBT, day two covers the accompanied-rider test syllabus and on the final day you take your test, which will have already been pre-booked. There's little time to practise bike control, so if you can't comfortably ride through a busy town centre, changing clutch and gears then this isn't the course for you. Just because you once hired a scooter in Greece for an afternoon ten years ago doesn't mean you're a suitable candidate for a 3-day course. Be honest with yourself about you abilities - if you're not sure then do a 5-day course instead.

Test in five mins...bet you wish you'd opted for a longer course now

Intensive 5-day

Five-day courses are designed for less experienced riders needing a little more time to practise bike control. The first one or two days are usually spent on a 125cc bike gaining CBT, followed by another two days on road learning the part-two syllabus. Direct Access applicants (those wanting to ride a big bike as soon as they've passed) will need to make the transition to a 500cc machine at some point over day three or four. Again, your test will have been pre-booked, so even though you've an extra couple of days to practise, you're still running to a reasonably tight schedule. If you don't want the pressure of an intensive course then think about on-going training instead.

Ongoing training

Aimed at riders that don't want the pressure of an intensive course and would like to learn at a more relaxed pace, ongoing courses are a less frantic way gaining your bike licence. The courses are usually run on days to suit the student, often at weekends and evenings. The relaxed time-frame means a student needn't panic if they're struggling with U-turns or otherwise, as the instructor will only book your test when he/she thinks you're ready. It's much the same process as learning to drive a car.

The downsides of ongoing training are it can take several weeks (sometimes months!) to complete the job and you'll often get a variety of instructors rather than just one, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the instructor!

OK, give it a big handful and dump the clutch...

Golden rules

Go to a reputable training school

Pick a course that suits your needs

Don't overestimate your abilities

Useful Contacts

Kevin Williams www.survivalskills.co.uk

Bikesafe 01492 510969 www.bikesafe.co.uk

BSM 0870 902 1700 www.bsm.co.uk

BMF Rider Training 0800 328 9609 www.bmf.co.uk

Institute of Advanced Motorists 0208 996 9600

Driving Standards Agency 0115 901 2500 www.dsa.gov.uk

Department of Transportwww.dft.gov.uk

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