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Old 11-08-08, 04:17 PM   #1
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Default Bikesafe Review

Warning - long post (but hey, this is me we're talking about!) and some of the comments are a little tounge in cheek. Please switch on the sense of humour gland before reading...

I wanted to do BikeSafe to find out mainly, what my riding was like, but also, as many will know, I've seen the aftermath of a number of accidents. So I also wanted a refresher First Aid course, so First Bike On Scene (FBOS) seemed ideal.
I was mindful that I'd be in the presence of serving cops, so made sensible modifications to the bike (baffle back in, and plate changed for example) - even though I'd been told they would be overlooked, better safe than sorry. Funnily, everyone on the Bikesafe day had a quiet exhaust, but on the FBOS day, it was a different story.

Day 1 - Ride
I sat down in the briefing room, the whole show started, and in walked another guy. Had to be him didn't it. The copper that had done me a year before for white lining . I was mindful of the fact that officers are like elephants - they tend not to forget, so cheekily brought up the fact I'd been done for white lining by him during a discussion about overtaking. I figured it'd be just my luck to get him as my observer.

EDIT: When I mentionned in the introduction that I'd had my licence 2 years, bought a brand new bike, and since then covered 36k miles on it, pretty much everyone in the room gasped - so it's safe to say other than the observers, I had the most consistent miles under my belt.

To be honest, Paul skimmed over what is in the Roadcraft book and included a couple of videos (mainly CGI animations) of various situations. The whole thing took a little longer than I take to read the actual book it was based on, but it was handy having the videos - although the videos did depict idiotic riding (for example wrong side of the road up to a blind bend, and oh, supprise, the biker had an argument with a truck - and lost).

It's worth pointing out though that emphasis was placed severely on adhering to speed limits for the day, something which, if I'm honest, I tend not to do (as most of my riding is in NSL areas, and I deem it less of a risk to exceed the limit).

I don't want to detract from what Paul and those that help him have put in place, so I won't say much about the briefing (other than don't buy a copy of roadcraft before you attend - otherwise you might have difficulty keeping awake )

The Ride

I was lucky to get a 1:1 ratio for the ride, and my observer was Paul (luckily or unluckily - depends if you've met him before ). I had the words of the copper ringing in my ears from the white line incident ("Riding is very very good generally, but need to leave more margin for error").

So we set off (first, no pressue - the thought crossed my mind about stalling the bike etc ), head through Old Colwyn, Abergele & then head out to Llanfair TH. Then Paul stopped me & commented that coming from Old Colwyn to Abergele that I was a little slow (I could of sworn that was a 40 limit, but apparently it's a NSL). I was erring on the side of caution, and TBH, if Paul hadn't of been behind me, I'd of overtaken the car & been gone. He also asked me at the stop if that was my normal riding, or if it was for his benefit, so I answered honestly, and he demonstrated Limit Points - something I already understood & did, but I went along with the demo anyway. He also mentionned that my positioning was good, but could do with being a little earlier.

Next, off to the end of the road, then over Denbigh moors & up the A5 - occasionally Paul leading, but more often than not, me at the front. Again, I was being mindful of speed limits, and not being too agressive on the throttle, but opening it up smoothly.

We stopped off in BYC for a drink & a chat, and Paul commented that I was improving with my positioning. I was also letting the bike drift a little (due to weather conditions mainly, but sometimes the singing in my head overtook the fact I was doing BikeSafe )

Next was over the back road from BYC to Llanrwst, then up the A470 to get some fuel & back to the base. Towards the end Paul took over the lead & everything about speed limits seemed to go out of the window. Later he commented that he was pushing the bike a bit more & I kept up happily, so he couldn't understand why I didn't ride like that the whole way - but again, I was on an observed ride, so was taking it easier than I naturally ride. I suppose that bypasses part of the objective of the observed ride, but if I'd of ridden naturally, I'd of been open to the accusation of riding without enough margin for safety again.


We had a little chat about the ride overall, and Paul brought up the fact that I straight lined a kink in the road, which later revealed a parked car in the layby - to which I commented that I only did that as I saw through the trees that there was no-one in the car (handy that I know that back road well).

The conclusion, in Paul's words was "If you ride like you have today, on an IAM test, I'm confident that you'd pass." I'm taking that comment with a pinch of salt though, as to my knowledge, Paul isn't an IAM examiner. His only criticism of my riding was that it could of been "snappier" - anyone that has ridden with me will know that I generally don't hang around much, so I'm not that worried (esp when you consider that I slowed my riding down for the observation).

Day 2 - FBOS
Various things taught

The FBOS course is designed for bikers treating bikers, so obviously there's gaping holes when compared to generic First Aid. However, the course more than makes up for that by things like "safe helmet removal" (when it's needed and how to do it) and "log roll" (something I'd done in the past, but had little memory of). Again, I don't really want to spoil the course, so I won't go into detail as to what was taught.

I attended with past First Aid experience as a refresher, and found it very vaulable. There were a couple of people on the course that had no previous experience of it all, but only one of those seemed to struggle a bit (and that was more due to nerves than not being capable).

The exam was pretty simple, 3 tests - Log Roll (your test is when you're at the head), helmet removal, and basic CPR. I've had far more complex First Aid tests, but again, it was a refresher course really.

Opinion of the whole thing

Overall, I'm glad I attended. I should of really got a bit more of a shift on for the ride, I enjoy spinning the rear up in the wet (and it was a wet day), but I don't think Paul would of classed it as "safe riding." Would I do BikeSafe again? Probably not. But I am considering ROSPA through somewhere like Alpine TT (9 days in the Alps escorted around, with a ROSPA exam at the end ).

From Paul's comments, I don't really think that IAM would be useful for me personally (I've got two copies of the IAM motorcycle book - free from the BikeSafe course). Again, from the letter of the book (and no demonstration) it appears to be RoadCraft with some minor changes that I doubt I'd employ other than during the IAM test (for example, BikeSafe & IAM differ on opinions for indicators on an overtake, and I prefer the BikeSafe way).

The FBOS, was invaluable, and exactly what I needed. I wouldn't like to do another one soon though, but may well sign up again when the memory of it starts to fade. I'm glad I opted for one day BikeSafe & one FBOS, I don't think I'd of really benefited from two days BikeSafe.

Following from FBOS, something "new" was introduced to me, Community First Responder. Basically, various people volunteer, and should an ambulance be incapable of reaching an accident - but a CFR is deemed capable of getting there quicker, then a CFR is dispatched. CFR's get defirbrilator training, as well as oxygen training etc, and carry the kit when on-call. It means responding to incidents in a car rather than a bike due to the amount of kit you carry, but I've put my name down for more information on the scheme.

Still here & not fallen asleep? I am impressed.

Last edited by Baph; 11-08-08 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 11-08-08, 05:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bikesafe Review

Originally Posted by Baph View Post
Day 1 - Ride

It's worth pointing out though that emphasis was placed severely on adhering to speed limits for the day, something which, if I'm honest, I tend not to do (as most of my riding is in NSL areas, and I deem it less of a risk to exceed the limit).
Sounds like they take a slightly different approach to Hampshire Police - when I did a Bikesafe with them 5 years ago, I was told:-

'Today we will be doing up to 30 in a 30, 40 in a 40, 50ish in a 50, and NSLs - travel whatever speed you feel safe at, however if you are going too quick for me then I will not try and keep up with you' - suffice to say, I did not manage to lose him in the NSLs, despite have a good go
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