Winter is coming…

Yes indeed! “Winter is coming” and it has had its first casualty. These famous ‘Stark’ words (Game of thrones) speak most to Motorcyclists in the modern world. And the casualty I refer to is my motorbike! That’s right my beautiful Suzuki is no more..

But fear not, the motorcycle has not been written off following a freak accident, it was instead sold. Given personal circumstances and the fact that its too cold now to ride a motorbike in the English winters, I sold my motorbike to a local dealer. Selling my motorbike wasn’t easy and I am going to share a few pointers for people looking to sell their motorbikes:

(1) Selling it online  I used autotrader to initially advertise for my motorbike back in September for about $25. I know its not ideal time to sell a bike but the experience was way worse than I expected. If you are using an online website to sell your bike, get ready for hoax emails and phone calls. I was contacted about 5 times in a week for my motorbike and all of the times it was a hoax email. The wording of the emails is a complete give away of the genuineness , and I found Google particularly useful to verify my doubt. Soon I removed my email address. But I also received texts and phone calls from people who didn’t seem genuine – “I want a motorbike but I don’t have a license”, “I am looking for a motorbike for my friend”, “Give me your address and I will get back to you”.. The whole process was a big fail! With zero genuine buyers and I would not recommend selling the bike online to anyone, especially when its off-peak (Autumn/ winter) season! If possible use a spare number and not your main contact number to avoid future harassment…

(2) Selling it to a dealer I sold my motorbike to BudgetBike in Swindon city centre. I contacted a number of bike dealers in Swindon but none of them (apart from BudgetBike) were buying a motorbike in the off-peak season. Anyways, I took my motorbike in and I was quoted a figure far low than what I expected. However given that I wanted to make a quick sale, I accepted the offer. But the bike was still not sold as the punters at the dealer didn’t have cash to buy my bike. After several phone calls and waiting many days, I managed to get hold of the boss at the dealership. And the bike was promptly sold, following exchange of bike documents (old MOTs and services, Registration), keys and cash! Key learning here  is that always finalize the deal with someone who has a say and handles cash at the dealership. Bike’s appearance goes a long way, so make sure you give that old beast a good clean before you take it in.

So there we have it, the motorbike is gone. I hope to write again soon, which will be after a new motor purchase, lets hope soon :)

Yay! Third time lucky…

So I took the test for the 3rd time and I passed my motorcycle test! Yipee…

Gotta admit, I have passed the test for a while now but not had a chance to update my status due to personal circumstances.

Anyways here’s how it went…

 

My test was booked for the afternoon and I had a practice run booked with the training center in the morning. The training went well and the roads in Kingswood, Bristol (where the test center is based) felt more familiar.

Time for the test, this time I had a different examiner. This one was slightly older and wasn’t dressed as a motorcyclist. He told me that he would follow me in a car! So we walked out and I had my eye test and safety knowledge test. Following that I was advised to switch on the bike and lets go for a ride. Usual manoeuvres followed on, I was asked to turn left, right, stop, etc, etc. I also did an independent riding section. It all went well this time, I was concerned that the examiner following me behind in a car will put me off but it was perfectly fine. Also all the mistakes I made in my previous test were resonating in my brain, and I made doubly sure that no errors were made this time.

At the end of the test the examiner gave me the good news and I rode happily away…

I have since been riding a Suzuki bandit 600cc, I will post some pics of it soon.

Second go at Module 2

And I failed again!!! :(

Why is this bike test so hard to pass? I took my test again about a week ago and I failed again. Very cautious following on from my last test I rode up to the test centre with my instructor and another bike learner.

Most of my riding following my instructor or the other learner was fine however I was struggling with the individual riding. I screwed so many times on the roundabouts that I thought to myself there’s no way I’m going to the pass the test today. I will not only fail my test but I’ll also probably run get run over on a roundabout while taking my test :(

Amazingly however as if by magic on the actual test I was much more calmer and actually handled the roundabouts really well. The reason I failed my test this time was because I failed to stop at a zebra crossing where an old man was waiting to cross, where as my instructor who was following me stopped to let the old man cross. As soon as I realized that I knew that was my fate decided! Fail

Pedestrian Crossing - Examiners take pedestrian crossings very seriously. Zebra crossings, being a give way, you are required to give way not only to those on the crossing but also those that show intention of crossing. A common fault here is failing to plan ahead and therefore not seeing the crossing until too late. Overall faults in this box tend to be serious.

Apart from not stopping at the zebra crossing my overall test went really well, and I was hoping that the examiner will ignore my school boy error at the zebra crossing. Finally at the end of the test the examiner asked me to follow him inside the test centre where he gave me the sad news. I had failed :(

To sum up the examiner failed me with 1 serious fault:

  1. Pedestrian Crossing

and 3 minor faults:

  1. Clearance/ obstructions
  2. Junctions – turning right x 2

Failing this test the second time has driven my imagination so far.. that I’ve ended up on controversial conspiracy forums accusing the Govt of deliberately failing people on the bike test to keep them off the road :p

But I don’t think there’s any controversy here, it is simple – you make a serious mistake and you are destined to fail. The instructors are just doing their job and following the rule book! Although I do feel that a lot of the test is about your luck with other road users on the day. It’ll be nice if other road users would just stay at home when I’m taking my test next time :p

Of course I’ve not giving up and I’m going to take my test the third time soon…

The Big day! Module 2 test…

So the big day was here! This morning I took my module 2 test but… I failed :(

I’ll basically talk through my experience here.

So this morning I got up nice and early and got to the training centre at about 7:30am. My test was booked for 8:30am, and we had a half hour journey ahead of us so we set off at roughly about 7:45am.

On the way one of the instructors was following me and he tipped me off for a few riding issues:

  1. being a bit hesitant on a turning to the right towards a side road, and nearly putting off an oncoming car. I edged too close to the other side of the road
  2. at a round-about I was asked to take the third exit, so I approached the round-about in the right hand lane and had my right indicator on. But when I got onto the round-about I changed lanes and entered the middle lane with my right indicator on
  3. Had some issues changing gears

Both 1 and 2 are serious/ major issues and if committed in the test will fail you

You can fail on 1 serious fault, 1 dangerous fault or a combination of driving faults of which you are allowed up to 10 (11 is a fail)

Anyways so we got to the test centre at about 8:15am where my instructor explained me my faults and gave me some test advise.

Soon it was 8:30am and it was time to take the test. My examiner who seemed to be a friendly guy asked me for all my paperwork. Once he was happy with my paperwork we walked outside the test center. As we got outside he asked me to read a number plate in distance to confirm my eyesight was in order. I read the number plate just fine.

Next we walked up to the bike I was going to use for my test, he checked the validity of the road tax disc. And went on to ask me a few safety show/tell me questions. I was asked:

  1. Tell me how you would check the condition of the chain on this machine?
  2. Show me what checks you would make on the steering movement before using the machine?
  3. Advice you would give a pillion passenger?

I answered all the questions above just fine. To check out all the possible combination of questions that can asked on the module 2 test day check out the bottom of my previous blog

Having completed all the formalities and easy bits of the test it was time to hit the road and impress the examiner. So I put my helmet on, then my gloves, took the bike off the stand, started the bike and made my way to the test centre exit.

I committed my first serious fault in the first minute of my test at the exit of the test centre. I know… the examiner knew all the 35 minutes we spent on the road together that he was gonna fail me!!!

Anyways here’s what happened. As I got out of the test centre, I was on a side road and asked to turn right by my examiner into a busy road. So I looked left, and I looked right.. traffic galore full of yummy mummy’s driving their kids to schools, with cars parked on both sides of the road.

I found an opportunist moment after about 3 minutes, and turned right onto the main road from the side road. Fail. As I turned into the main road I brushed too close (note: I didn’t touch it) to a parked car which had people in it including kids. Had anyone in the car opened a door on my side I’d have come off my bike and probably ended up in the other side of the road and got crushed to smithereens by a yummy mummy mobile!

Steering – This is caused by having poor machine control. Most steering faults are the result of turning into or out of junctions too wide. Depending on severity, this can be a serious fault or driving fault, but is also the sort of fault that will make an examiner look very hard at your ability to control a motorcycle. The more closely you are examined the more likely faults will be spotted

Completely oblivious to the fact that I’ve picked up a serious fault I kept riding on.. After about 3 minutes when I was riding up a fairly steep hill I noticed that my left wing mirror came loose! Why on a test day? Why? So I decided to pull up on the left. My examiner came up to me and asked me if everything was ok to which I pointed out that my left wing mirror had come loose. He very kindly fixed it for me, it was just a case of tightening a bolt. I apologised for the inconvenience and we took off again.

So while we were on the road I was asked to turn left, right, pull up at a safe point, and then pull out when its safe, go through round abouts, etc, etc. I felt it was all going very smoothly. A couple of occasions I wasn’t too sure about the speed limit and took an educated guess but it was all good.

During the test I rode through built up areas, single and dual carriageways. On the dual carriageway I even overtook a van and a lorry, I thought instead of following a slow lorry if I overtook it at a safe distance within the speed limit it’ll show I’m a confident rider.

Lastly we came to the independent riding part of the test, I was asked to follow the road ahead and turn left at the next round about, and then follow the signs to Ring road. I kept riding looking for the signs for Ring Road, but all the signs pointed in the opposite direction, so I decided to just keep going and hope I’ll come across a Ring road sign even if it took me a day ;)

The examiner of course didn’t have a day to spare, so he gave me a few directions and finally asked me to follow the signs to the Ring road, Motorway. I finally got onto the Ring road and at the end of the Ring road I was asked to take the last exit on the Ring road so I came back on the Ring Road going in the opposite direction. I noticed there was a green polo in front of me and saw its brake lights come on a few times. Fail. As I’m allowed to ride at up to 70mph on the Ring road, I found myself “too close” to the Green polo which was doing about 40-60mph with no traffic ahead! What was the person inside the green polo thinking? God knows…

Following Distance - “only a fool breaks the 2 second rule, and when it pours make it 4”. If you are thinking about over-taking the vehicle in front then this is often the time that you will get too close to them. Normally this is a serious fault.

So after some more time on the road I found myself closer and closer to the test centre and finally I got inside. I was nervous about the results yet optimistic at the same time, as I thought that the test went well.

All through the test, I kept doing adequate mirror and life saver checks, indicated in good time, and canceled the indicators. A few occasions I could have chosen a better gear and I even stalled once, but at all times I corrected the issues quickly.

The examiner asked me to follow him inside the test centre where he gave me the sad news. I had failed :(

To sum up the examiner failed me with 2 serious faults:

  1. Steering
  2. Following distance

and 8 minor faults:

  1. Move away – safely
  2. Move away – control
  3. Control – gears
  4. Clearance/ obstructions (2 minors)
  5. Response to signs/ signals – Traffic lights
  6. Use of speed
  7. Following distance

So there we are, that’s my summary of my failed module 2 test. I will give this test another go, and will follow it with a blog similar to this, but hopefully with a pass next time. Fingers crossed anyways!

Getting a full UK motorbike license

Hey guys,

This is my first blog on this website. Here I’m sharing some notes on my journey to get a full motorbike license. I’m hoping this will be useful to anyone out there who wishes to get a full UK motorbike license.

Right so first things first, as I’m well over 21 with some basic riding experience in India, I decided to go for the Direct Access Scheme (DAS). This will allow me to ride any roadworthy motorcycle in the UK. To find out more information about which route you can take to get a full UK riding license check out the DVLA website.

I live in Bristol and I spoke to 2 training schools: Bristol Motorcycle training centre and Ace Motorcycle Training.
Decided to go for Ace as its easier to get there by public transport and they are (very loosely) associated with the ‘adorable’ Fowlers show room.

Ace use the following motor bikes for the DAS:
CBT Bike: 125cc (Honda CG125)
Module Bike: 500cc (Honda CB500)

The journey to get a full UK motorbike license via DAS is split into 4 stages as follows:

  • Stage 1 (CBT)

This costs about £125. I took mine on 11th Feb, 2012 (Saturday, 8am to 4pm)
Got to the training centre at 8am, showed my car and paper license. Used the training centre’s gear: Jacket, High-vis, Gloves, Helmet. We started practice in Bristol City FC’s car park at about 9am. Went through Highway code Q/A at about noon. And we were road riding at about 3pm.
The problems found with my riding:

  1. Gear changing (foot left on the gears),
  2. indicators left on after turn,
  3. and I left a junction too early once which caused the traffic on the main road to slow down :-(

If you cause other road users to slow down, stop or put yourself and/ or others on the road in danger you fail the motorcycle test!

However since nothing major was wrong with my riding, I was successfully awarded a CBT certificate at the end of the day :)

  • Stage 2 (Theory test)

==Theory Exam Material==

The theory material cost me £11, I used the following material

Official DSA Biker Pack  – Theory Test CD-ROM and Better Biking DVD (2011 edition)
LDC Driving Test Complete – Using this for hazard perception

==Exam==

The theory exam costs £31 and can be booked via the DVLA website.
I took mine on 17 Feb, 2012 (Friday, 8am to 9am)
The whole test lasted about an hour from getting to the centre to leaving the centre.
Passed the test with 48/50 in multiple choice and 61/75 in hazard perception :)

  • Stage 3 (Module 1)

This costs about £155 which is mostly for the training and includes the test fees (£15.50)

==Training==
I had my module 1 training on 26 Feb, 2012 (Sunday, 9am to 4pm)
Overall I didn’t find the handling of a big bike too hard to manage.
My trouble points on the day were U-turns, blind spot checks, emergency stops and hazard avoidance.

  1. With U-turns we practised on a circuit which was shorter than usual, so I was hoping it won’t be an issue in the actual test.
  2. Must always remember to do thorough blind spot checks. Chin to shoulder. On U-turn, and every time you stop and start.
  3. I kept skidding my back tyre on emergency stops. I was advised to go easy on the back brake and pull the clutch at the very end.
  4. My speed was less than 50kph on hazard avoidance, however by adopting a good line approaching the hazard it was easy to maintain a high speed.

==Test==
I took my module 1 test on 29 Feb, 2012 (Wednesday, 9:00am to 9:15am)
Got up nice and early, and was at Ace at about 7:30am. We left the training centre for the test centre in Kingswood, Bristol at about 8:15am.
On the way to the test centre I turned off the engine switch by mistake which stalled the bike ;)

  1. At the test centre I presented all my documents (license, paper copy, CBT pass certificate) and followed the examiner into a caged fence area which was full of colored cones.
  2. Test Begins! The examiner was very nice and patient and was happy to clarify instructions.
  3. So when instructed I performed the following manoeuvres bay parking, slalom, figure of 8s, slow riding, U-turn, controlled stop and emergency stop (52mph).
  4. Final manoeuvre of the day was the hazard avoidance for which I clocked 46mph first, the examiner gave me a minor and another go. He advised that I picked some speed at the cornering as I got in.
  5. So there I went again to perform the hazard avoidance for the second time, I clocked 50mph this time! Which is bang on target, any less and I would have failed!!!

Examiner congratulated me for passing the test with just 1 minor, ecstatic! :)

Got to work at about 11:30am that day.

  • Stage 4 (Module 2)

This costs about £245 which is mostly for the training and includes the test fees (£75)

==Training==
I had my module 2 training yesterday i.e. 4th Mar, 2012 (Sunday, 8am to 3pm)

It was pouring down when I got to Ace at about 7:45am. Everything that could go wrong on the day went wrong. It was raining so heavy that my gloves and boots which are meant to be “waterproof” started soaking up water like a sponge! Then the instructor’s bike broke down, so he spent about half an hour fixing it! Eventually he gave up and took my bike, so I hopped onto the back as a pillion and we went to his home where he picked his other bike. And at one point the radio’s stopped working while we were on the road!

But even though everything was going wrong on the day, we still managed to spend a decent amount of time on the road. The instructor was reasonably happy with my riding and asked me to focus on forward planning i.e. taking good road position in good time and doing thorough blind spot checks.

There was one particular exciting moment on the day, when I approached a round about to take the third exit. When I was about to exit the round about, I somehow found myself in the second lane (overtaking lane). My instructor who was following me advised me on the radio to rev the throttle and not let the white van on my left undertake me.

Because if you get under-taken on the test day you fail the test!

Anyways I managed to beat the white van in the race. There is a valuable lesson to be learnt here about 3 exit round abouts:

  1. Approach round abouts at speeds <30mph
  2. If taking the first exit, indicate left (if necessary) and approach round about in the left hand lane. Do a lifesaver check on your left side as you’d when turning left at junctions.
  3. If taking the second exit, don’t indicate on approach and approach round about in the left or middle hand lane, indicate left after you’ve past the first exit and when you are about to approach the second exit and get in first lane. Do a lifesaver check on your right side
  4. If taking the third exit, indicate right and approach round about in the right hand lane. As you go past the first exit, turn the indicator off and get in the middle lane. As you go past the second exit, indicate left before approaching the third exit and get in first lane. Do a lifesaver check on your right

At the end of the day we went through some show me/ tell me questions. You can download (pdf format) a full list of safety questions from the DVLA website.

==Test==

I have my module 2 test booked for tomorrow i.e. 6th Mar, 2012 (Tuesday, 8:30am to 09:15am)

I’ll report on how I got on with my module 2 test tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed!