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Explanation of the changes that happened as consequence of the new 2009 motorcycle test

In 2009 the UK introduced the 2nd EU Driving Licence Directive (2DLD) and this meant the introduction of the Module 1 Motorcycle Test. The law changed again in 2013 with the introduction of the 3rd EU Driving Licence Directive (3DLD), but this did not change the test just the age of the student and size of motorcycle that can be used. It also ended the automatic upgrade for Restricted Licences. What follows below explains about the change that occurred in 2009.

What Changes Did the New Test Bring?

The principal change was to move some of the manoeuvres of the old test onto an off-road area and at the same time add a few extra exercises.

The on-road section of the test remained largely unchanged so that there is a hill start, an angled start and pulling away from the side of the road. As the examiner no longer has to explain and watch the U-turn and emergency stop the test covers slightly more than the 7 to 10 miles of the old test, but only by a mile or two.

The off road manoeuvres are as follows:

  1. Placing the motorcycle on its stand (side or centre stand) then wheeling the motorcycle backwards into a parking bay.
  2. Slalom through cones ending in a figure of eight.
  3. Slow ride to the U-turn area (examiner follows behind you - this is now not measured).
  4. U-turn between painted lines.
  5. Entry into the 19m radius bend (38m from entrance to exit) and exiting at any speed through a “gate” followed by a controlled stop into a “box”.
  6. Entry into the 19m radius bend (38m from entrance to exit) and exiting at 32mph through a “gate” followed immediately by the emergency stop.
  7. Entry into the 19m radius bend (38m from entrance to exit) and exiting at 32mph through a “gate” followed immediately by a swerve round two cones then stopping between two cones.

Is this difficult?

No, not really. We had the good fortune to practise the new test in 2006 at the DSA’s Training HQ in Cardington and neither instructor found the course a challenge. So we had plenty of time to prepare.

Looking at the test in detail we can see that clearly the expectations of the road section did not change; i.e. you will still need to ride safely to pass the test. The off-road section is not as radical as it first appears.

  1.  In the old test students had to put the bike on the stand, but often under more exacting conditions such as heavily cambered side of the road with high curbs. The new test takes place on a flat surface with no curbs. During the old test students often had to wheel the bike backwards to get it properly placed in the road prior to the U-turn, and again this is made more difficult by the camber and curbs. Wheeling it backwards on a flat surface between painted lines with no slope is relatively easy by comparison.
     
  2.  From the CBT onwards students practise slaloms and figures of eight on all sizes of bike. Most students find this easier than doing the old U-turn. We have not had many problems here, but it does still require the student to look where they are going.
     
  3.  The bend is not significantly different to taking a large roundabout. The main difference is the getting up to speed on the exit of the bend. The DSA are looking for about 18mph mid bend but there is no measuring equipment. This exercise is straightforward once the student has the gear changes in the right place. Remember even automatic 125’s can get up to speed on the exit of the bend so for most geared bikes it is really not a struggle. We are very fortunate in a having very large training areas where we can easily practise the “swerve”. This is an exercise that can be built up to by practising at slower speeds. However, it is nothing like as dramatic as it sounds! The controlled stop in a box is again an exercise that most of our current student practise during training and harks all the way back to the Part 1 test of the 1980’s (so much for progress!).
     
  4.  The U-turn is now heaven sent. Ask any ex-student (how took their test before 2009) the part of the test they liked least and most will say the U-turn. There used to be a wide variation between one test centre and another. So - on the one hand you had the wide expanse that is the U-turn in Farnborough compared to the idiotically tight sloped U-turn at Leighton Buzzard. The old U-turn had curbs, camber, parked cars and on-coming vehicles to deal with. Now it is on a flat surface and an exact distance apart between painted white lines. In short this is much easier.
     
  5.  The slow-ride is again a throw back to a bye-gone era of the 1970’ and ‘80’s. It was not difficult then and it is certainly not difficult now. Given that the new test has four slow manoeuvring exercises you can be sure that riding it slowly in a straight line is going to be the least difficult.
     
  6.  What about the emergency stop? This, even though it is at a higher speed, is easier principally as there is absolutely no element of surprise! Previously you had to watch carefully for the examiner to put a hand up, now they still put their hand up but in reality once you are through the timing beam it is time to start braking. An emergency stop at any speed is the same procedure and this is something you will have practised time and again from the CBT onwards. So no drama here, and the added benefit of a decent flat surface and with no other road users to cause extra stress. That said this is the exercise that has had the most accidents because students find it hard to get the correct speed and often try and stop too quickly. The important thing to remember is that you apply the brakes consistently and feel for the grip; if it is wet and you have gone fast then it will take a long time to stop - this does not mean you have failed.

What changes have we made to our courses?

We are doing all the slow manoeuvres from the CBT onwards and therefore we don't have problems here as we already very strong in this area. Time has been set aside in the afternoon of either the Roadrider 1 or DAS 1 to practise the bend and high speed manoeuvres. When we trialled these with students before the introduction of the new test we did not find this particularly difficult, and bearing in mind you get two goes at getting up to speed most people managed it on the second attempt (95%). In addition the DSA allow 48 & 49kph as a pass albeit with a minor fault. The Module 1 will then be taken during your last day of training so save having to take extra time off work. It only takes 15 minutes so it will not impact on the training that takes place on the final day. You can have 5 minor faults during the Module 1 and still pass - don't forget you need observations every time before you pull away.

What changes have been made to the cost of training? 

None at all, we will not be changing our current prices. They have remained as they are for over the past two years.

How difficult is the new test? 

As already described above we do not consider that Module 1 is particularly difficult ( we have 75 - 80% pass rate), and we are particularly lucky in that we have a large training areas that we can use to practise the high speed (and slow speed) manoeuvres. The Module 2 is the same as it was before but without the hassle of the U-turn and emergency stop. Very few people failed on just the emergency stop but absolutely loads of people failed on just the U-turn. Those people will now find the whole process much easier. 

Did the pass rate change? 

Yes - we expected it to improve overall by about 5% to 10%. Mostly because the U-turn is so much easier, and students are able to concentrate on riding. In addition more time has been spent riding in the countryside as the examiner does not have to be so close to an area where they can do the emergency stop and U-turn. Riding in the countryside is a good deal easier than riding in town (although clearly the consequences of having an accident are much more serious by virtue of the higher speeds). The new Independent Ride section of the Module 2 has made very little impact as well - again the pass rate runs at about 73%.

Where is the new test to be taken?

Ah the million dollar question! Again we have been reasonably lucky in that we have a Module 1 site in Oxford, as well as ones at Newbury, Farnborough, Silverstone and Swindon that are all reasonably close. Fortunately for us this is not problem and we will not have to pass on the costs to our customers. To make everyone's life easier we will be taking as many tests as possible in Oxford and Newbury (Greenham Common). Overall we think that we will have to travel shorter distances than before as Oxford & Reading will at last have an adequate number of tests - so no more trips to Winchester, Northampton, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Aylesbury, Basingstoke and all the other centres we have had to visit in the past. What a relief!!!

Latest Module 1 test layout

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