Saturday, May 10, 2008

New motorcycle test

For some years now, since the demise of the old ride-around-the-block test, bikers have had a test roughly on par with the car driving test, with a number of set manoeuvres to carry out before you get the coveted pass slip. In October of this year, however, in an effort to curb alarming increases in the number of motorcycle accidents [1] the scope of the test is widening to encompass many more manoeuvres which are an element of everyday motorcycling. These are listed below:

1. Emergency stop.
As currently the student must bring the bike to a controlled stop from 30 mph. Because, in the last 5 years, only 3 motorcyclists have been failed for running over examiners (2 intentional) in future the examiner will simply pull his Audi out of a junction in front of the candidate. Failure at this stage may lead to the rest of the test being cancelled.

2. Emergency stop (poor conditions).
As above, the candidate is required to bring their bike to a controlled stop from 30mph, but this time on a road surface compromised by rain / gravel / diesel / bits of candidates who failed test 1, etc. Locking either wheel will not automatically fail the candidate, nor will them needing to take a dab or having a bit of a scream. In fact as long as the end result is tidy enough not to be described as "a heap" the test will proceed.

3. Emergency slow (high speed).
A variation of the emergency stop, the candidate will be required to slow as quickly as possible, with the bike under full control, from 70mph to 30mph, as if a small child had just run out in front of them or, more likely, they'd just spotted a camera van in a 30 limit.

4. Emergency swerve (high speed).
The candidate must swerve their bike at 70mph to avoid an obstacle ahead - as if the driver of the Volvo in front of them had just spotted a camera van in a national speed limit zone.

5. Feet up U-turn.
As with the current test the candidate will be required to perform a U-turn in the road without putting their feet down.

6. Dead lift.
The candidate will be expected to show the correct technique to lift a fallen bike by themselves, as if they had, for example, just spectacularly cocked up a feet up U-turn.

7. Filtering.
The candidate will be expected to filter between two lanes of stationary / slow moving traffic showing appropriate observation, respect for other road users, and the courtesy to get the fuck out of the way if somebody filtering faster comes up behind them. The examiner may award bonus marks for imaginative and appropriate use of hatched areas, cycle lanes, pavements and flower beds in order to "make progress".

8. Filtering (part II).
While maintaining full control of the bike the candidate must make use of appropriate thank you / fuck you gestures to traffic on both sides (not simultaneously). Once again, bonus marks are available for candidates showing exceptional imagination.

9. Observation.
At a distance of 400 metres the candidate must decide whether the vehicle ahead is (a) a breakdown truck, (b) a marked police car or (c) a Highways Agency fake-fuzz and, based on their decision, make a controlled deceleration from 150mph ... or not.

10. Communication.
While maintaining a steady speed of 60mph the candidate must make the appropriate hand signals to show (a) they are turning left, (b) they are turning right, (c) they are slowing down, (d) they need petrol, (e) they need a pint, (f) that a member of the group is no longer present after the last series of fast twisties and may have gone for a countryside lie-down, (g) that something has gone wrong with their bike, but they're not sure what, (h) that their mate is fucking mental and (i) to warn on-coming bikers that there is a cop with a hairdryer in wait 1 mile ahead, followed by 3 miles of clear roads and then another 2 cops, on bikes, hiding in the entrance to a field.

11. Parking.
The candidate must demonstrate the correct technique to park, nose out, in a 5 bike bay without needing to occupy the entire bay. Kicking over scooters to clear some space will be overlooked as long as the examiner is happy that it was intentional.

12. Stunts.
The candidate must attempt to wheelie, stoppie or get their knee down (examiner's choice). The candidate will not be penalised for being a ham fisted cunt with no clue as to what they're supposed to be doing as long as they don't actually end up on their arse in the road watching their bike do the cartwheel of death.

Following the practical section of the test there will be an extensive verbal test, one to one with the examiner, where the candidate must demonstrate:

1. That they can discuss the relative merits of the ZX-10R, R1, Fireblade and GSX-1000R despite the fact that they're taking their test on a 125cc, which is the only bike that they've ever ridden, or are ever likely to ride.

2. That they are aware of techniques to improve the performance or aesthetics of their bike, yet unaware that if they do all of the things that they're talking about their bike will end up an unrideable shed that looks like it's been attacked by a chimp dunked in Hammerite and given an anodising gun.

3. That they are capable of planning an elaborate bike related scheme, such as touring Europe, riding "the long way round", taking up amateur racing or building a special from scratch. The candidate should make full use of the back of a cigarette packet to describe their idea, but this may be discarded once the test is complete.

4. That they can make observations and timely judgments sufficiently well to know when it's time for them to go to the bar.

The government's stated objective is to make the test last so long that, by the time it is completed, all riders are already at the "old and slow" stage of life and so sick of bikes that they never want to see one again. In an effort to further this the UK is likely to have only one test site, with one examiner, who has been suffering with sciatica since 1987 and frequently has months off work at a time. In addition the test fee is likely to be raised to £15,000.

MAG was quick to denounce the proposal, saying that it would lead to a UK biking population entirely composed of late-middle aged bikers with an excessively cautious approach to bikes and bike riding.

In other news BMW has predicted a 75% increase in sales for the first quarter of 2009 and Honda have announced that they are ceasing production of all of their models except the VFR800.

[1] Last year 99.4% of all motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured[2]

[2] Based on government figures of everybody who has ridden a motorcycle since their invention, in Leicester in 1898, and calculating what percentage of them are now dead or have been seriously[3] injured. Ever. By anything.
[3] Seriously enough to use one of the "big four" swear words.


  1. It was emailed to me by a biking colleague, and despite the pop at us BMW riders, it made me laugh too!