Hi everyone, My name is Callum and I work in the Aftersales department at SMC Bikes, this blog will about my journey to getting my full bike licence.
I started at SMC nearly a year ago after working in the car industry for some time. At the time I had little knowledge of bikes and even worse, I hadn't even passed my bike test! Fast forward a few months and it was time to rectify this.
Stage 1. Booking my CBT
This was the easy part... or so it seemed! There is a multitude of Motorbike Training Centres out there, finding the right one for you is crucial. If you don't feel comfortable or safe with those taking you for your CBT then you'll be in for a hard time, especially if you're already nervous about riding a bike on the road! SMC have a great relationship with KK Riders and can highly recommend them (See details at the end for their contact details). Most places will let you borrow some protective clothing to use during your CBT, I wore my own Jacket, Trousers, Boots and Gloves but had to borrow a Helmet. If you don't mind wearing some gear that other people have worn then you'll be fine, however I would recommend using your own stuff if you can, for me comfort and the less things to distract me the better.
Stage 2. Taking my CBT
Now the hard work starts. You arrive at the centre, there is some paperwork to fill out, safety aspects to go over and some videos to watch. Definitely a worthwhile part of the day, it helps settle you in to the environment and the idea of riding a bike. After this you head out to the bikes. This is when you get familiarised with the controls of the bike, you go over the daily/weekly/monthly checks to do on your bike and general maintenance to keep it running in top shape.
The morning of the CBT is held in an enclosed spot, where you are shown and asked to demonstrate basic bike controls such as accelerating and braking, turning and changing gears, this progresses onto slightly more advanced manoeuvres such as figure 8's, U-turns and practice junctions that you would find on the road. This really helps bring on slow speed control that is great wherever you are.
Lunch time, which is well needed as by then I was starving! You get a break between morning and afternoon, time to relax and let worrying parents know you've made it to lunch without injuring yourself! Quick bite to eat then we're back at it!
So the afternoon was the 'fun' bit...
By fun I mean equal part nerve-wracking and equal part amazing. This is when you head out onto the main roads with another rider and the Instructor. But before that, more videos...
So, bit more theory before heading out onto the road, videos, being aware of cars and road positioning, something that has a much smaller impact when you're in a car! But then you get paired up with another student and wired in to a radio where the instructor can speak to you and give you directions.
This. Was. Scary.
I mean, not like horror movie scary, but first time on a bike it was definitely an experience! However I loved it, there’s a lot to take in and think about, but I could feel the excitement of riding a bike, I could have stayed out all day just riding around! I spent a lot of time hearing friends/colleagues/customers about how amazing being out on a bike was, and I was finally experiencing it. I remember thinking at the time how freeing it felt, if a little windy... Quick stop to process the first half of the road ride, pick up on any bad parts and look to get better for the second half then back out on the road to start the journey back. Unfortunately the fun had to stop, after a U turns and slow speed control manoeuvres we made our way back to the centre.
Stage 3. CBT Certificate and Onwards.
So back at base camp, turns out my riding gear kept me a little too warm as I peeled myself out of the jacket! Now I just had to wait whilst my certificate was written out and reflect on the days experiences. It was everything and more that I had expected, being out on a bike, even just a 125cc was thrilling, it does give you a whole new perspective to consider when I was so used to driving a car, I realise I’ve brought some things from my CBT into driving my car to help make me more aware of other riders on the road.
My next step is to do my big bike test, being as I'm over 24 I am eligible to do a direct access course (DAS). This gives me the option of getting any size bike straight from the off, as fun as a 125cc is, I'd rather something a little bigger... maybe a Honda CBR600 (Just don't tell my boss!). I will eventually do said test, now the weather is getting a bit better I’m getting an itch to get out on a bike again!
Watch this space for part 2 of the journey...