Learning to ride a motorcycle: Choosing a training school

Everything you need to know when picking the most suitable motorcycle riding school for you

WHAT'S THE most important factor you should consider when looking for a suitable bike training school?

Many new riders are swayed by the strength of the company’s pass rate, the newness of their machines, or a special discounted course fee – and while these factors are all worthy criteria the most important thing to look for when choosing a training school is the quality of the instruction. So how do you go about it?

Referrals

All Approved Training Bodies (ATBs) are regulated by the Driving Standards Agency (www.dsa.gov.uk), which means the school and their instructors will have undergone some rigorous training and assessments before being let loose on Joe Public. But even so, some schools are better than others, so why not ask around your mates to see where they learned to ride? Alternatively, log onto Visordown’s General forum and ask the readers the best school in your area. There’s a wealth of experience in there – so you can bet your life someone will be able to help out. Either way, you’re bound to get a straightforward no nonsense answer.

National school or one-man band?

Some training organisations are large, nationwide set-ups, while others are smaller operations run by private individuals. Larger schools, like BSM, are usually run in a corporate business-minded fashion, smaller privately-owned ones are, on the whole, more laid back. Both should offer excellent training and run their courses in-line with the Driving Standards Agency’s (DSA) guidelines. If you’re looking to haggle or take your training in unsociable hours then a private school is likely to be more receptive.

Course prices

Course prices can vary, as some schools charge considerably more or less than others. But a cheap course isn’t always necessarily a good course, and vice-versa.

If one school’s offering a 5-day course at an impossibly low rate then there’s probably a reason why, so ask lots of questions. Some schools offer fully comprehensive insurance – others don’t and some will slap you with a big bill if you crash one of their bikes. Even though the government regulate every Approved Training School, there are still a few unscrupulous businesses operating in a shoddy manner.

Sadly, not everyone passes first time, so ask what the school charges for further training and bike hire.

The Instructor

The Instructor is the person who coaches you to ride a motorcycle and go on to gain your full licence. They should be: friendly, knowledgeable and a great communicator - so try to meet your instructor face-to-face before booking. What are your initial impressions? Do you warm to them or are they not your sort of person (it happens). If you’re not impressed then walk away, as there are plenty of schools in most towns.

Pay the school a visit

Before you commit to booking over the phone, it’s a good idea to check out the your prospective school’s set up.

  1. Ask yourself these questions:
  2. Does it look professional?
  3. Are their bikes in good working order?
  4. How long have they been in business?
  5. Are their bikes insured fully comprehensive?
  6. Is the instructor friendly and knowledgeable?
  7. Will you keep the same instructor for the duration of the course?
  8. What are the training fees if you don’t pass first time?

Finally…

Learning to ride a motorcycle should be fun. So it’s well worth spending a bit of time researching the schools in your area. If you like their set up and you get along with the instructor then you’re already halfway there.

Part 4: The right course | Part 6: Theory test

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