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motorbike-sunset-silhoueteThere is something about motorbikes that scream out at our inner bloke, something about them is so raw and powerful, dangerous and exciting that it’s hard not to get excited about them.

Whether it is the guttural roar from the engine as the throttle is pulled back and huge amounts of torque are unleashed through a single tire. Or it is the sleek and sexy lines of shaped metal and plastic.

Whatever it is, there is one thing that we can agree on, blokes and bikes go hand in hand and this blog will serve to show off these manly creations and their riders every week.

You can look forward to interviews with the top racers in New Zealand, reviews on bikes and products, coverage on bike events, Bike of the Day features and much more.

If you have any stories that you think should be covered on the page, flick me an email on: matt-w@live.com.au

Be it a custom bike build, motorcycle event, epic story of a ride around our beautiful country or anything else of interest, I want to hear from you.

Keep an eye out for new content and whilst you are doing so, crack open a cold one, sit back and relax and have a look throughout the site.

Matt Wishart


With the domination of the 250cc learner market, Kawasaki have now responded to the cry for more power whilst still keeping a learner friendly bike. The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 boasts a slightly larger increase in both Torque and Horsepower sitting at 27.0 N.m {2.8 kgf.m} / 10,000 rpm and 29.0 kW {39 PS} / 11,000 rpm.

The new Ninja’s slipper clutch will make for a nice edition to the small bike market, having been based off race activities and race slipper clutches, Kawasaki have integrated the technology into their smaller bikes to add to the whole experience and to make for a much smoother ride.

There is also the addition of ABS, designed and produced by Nissin, a leading brake design and production company, specifically for the Ninja 300. This new ABS system is a whopping 60% smaller than older Nissin ABS systems which keeps the whole system nice and compact. 

Petal disc brakes are also included on the new Ninja 300 to offer greater stopping power and excellent heat dissipation.

Kawasaki have included a lot of technology from their leading bikes, the ZX-10R and the ZX-6R such as Dual Throttle Valves which give a much better throttle response overall as well as better performance. A sleeveless aluminium die-cast cylinder weighing 600g less than the previous cylinder as well as featuring plated bores which came from both the ZX-10R and ZX-6R. 

With the introduction to the LAMS law in New Zealand, coming into effect on the 1st of October. The release of this bike should receive a welcome reception amongst the newer and learner riders, looking to either step up from a smaller bike or as a first bike.

With more companies starting to produce more “Learner friendly” bikes, such as the new Ducati Monster and Suzuki’s SV650SU, we are starting to see the implementation of more safety conscious technology and more thought put into the design process and superior parts being used to ensure that you not only have a safe ride, but a stylish and fun ride.

 All in all, the new Ninja looks promising as an all around commuter style bike with the welcome addition of extra power to help to achieve that get up and go which is needed in our everyday riding environment.

Matt Wishart


Situational awareness, it is one the most important skills in a motorcyclists repertoire. It can make the difference between life and death or at the very least, save you a pair of undies after a large scare. But what is situational awareness? How do you get it and why exactly is it so important?

What is situational awareness? 

It can be defined by acknowledging and assessing the information that is all around you at any given time. The more information that you can gather from your surroundings, the more aware you are and the safer that you are.

The term Situational Awareness or SA was first coined back in WW1 by the Air Force pilots who were often  in Dog-fights. It was first known as the “Ace factor“.  Survival in a dogfight was typically a matter of observing the opponent’s current move and anticipating his next move a fraction of a second before he could observe and anticipate his own. These days, we are assessing a lot more than just one or two pilots actions, we are assessing a whole road space and the surrounding area and judging how it all relates to our safety.

An example of some things that you would be assessing :

  • Weather conditions – Wet, dry, cloudy, sunny, cold or hot?
  • Road condition – Slippery, mossy, pot-holed, debris etc…
  • Surrounding factors – Animals, gravel, over-hanging trees, drive-ways etc…
  • Other road users – Their driving style, distance between them and yourself, who is behind you?
  • Bike condition – Tyres, engine sounds, brake feel, mirror positioning.

Those are just a few of the things around us that provide information but each of those can also be broken down into a much more detailed list. The more you learn and the longer you ride, the more information you absorb and you therefore become more aware of your surroundings. Information from things such as vanishing points and driver behaviour only start to come to fruition after you have mastered the basics when you are much more comfortable riding and have more time to think about what is going on around you.

The amount of information you absorb is also largely dependent on speed, the faster that you go, the longer it takes for you to process an event and in some cases that can be critical. Which is why it is essential to only ride as fast as your brain can keep up.

“Travelling at 100Kph the objects that are immediately travelling past us, what you would see if you looked sideways, are moving at 27.8 (rounded up) Metres per second.  They will have travelled past you from front to back in less than a 1/15thof a second.  Would you have time to identify what the “image” was let alone decide a course of action based on that?   However a distant object, although still travelling toward us at the same 27.8ms is within our view for a much longer time, in fact you should be able to work out that if it is 300Mtrs in front of us it will be slightly longer than 10secs before we are on top of it,  Plenty of time to react.”

*Taken from Abbiss.co.nz , Written by Greg Abbiss.

How do I get situational awareness? 

When you first start riding a motorbike, your senses are overwhelmed by the amount of changing factors around you. It is nothing like sitting in a car and you feel much more vulnerable sitting out in the open, which unfortunately also throws off your ability to read the road.

I had many near misses when I started riding, purely because I hadn’t yet learnt how to read the road and most importantly, read the drivers.

Treat other cars like they are out to kill you and observe every movement that they make. Are their tyres moving to the side at all? Are they checking their mirrors or doing head checks? What side of their lane are they on? If they are moving to either the left or right side, are they pulling into the next lane?

But whilst also doing that, you must do it to all of the other cars around you, including behind you. If you had to put on your brakes, would they be able to stop in time before hitting you?

If it helps, try speaking to yourself as you notice each new piece of information that becomes available. You should be able to keep a non-stop running tab on the changing environment around you which shows you just how much info there is out there.

If you are riding through a rural area, try noticing small things that will potentially affect your safety. If there is cattle nearby, could they run out onto the road or be around that blind bend? There is also a good chance that there is animal waste on the road, and often conveniently on the apex of corners so you can watch out for that.

Remember that the further you look ahead, the more information your brain can receive and process. Scan from far to near and continually repeat that process.

Research has shown that when you keep your eyes moving, you see a lot more and can take more information in whereas, if you keep your eyes fixed on one spot, the surrounding items or information seem to disappear. So always keep you eyes moving.

Why is it so important?

Situational Awareness is important for the fact that it is the basis for avoiding every possible accident that you could have. The ability to not only read your surroundings but to also anticipate and act before something happens is essential if you want to be a safe rider. It doesn’t matter whether you are lane splitting down the motorway, riding around busy urban streets or carving up the twisty rural roads, SA can benefit every single situation that you come upon.

The Police have the acronym IPSGA, it translates into Information, position, speed, gear and acceleration. Notice how the first word is information? Using your situational awareness, you will be collating an ever growing bank of information that is relevant to the immediate space around you.

Using that information you then position yourself on the road so that you give yourself the best line through the corner. What is the best line? You can find out in Greg’s article about which line to take through a corner.

You then adjust your speed so that you can safely make it through the corner without having to change up or down gears. Meanwhile you are still taking in new information which will determine which speed to use through the corner, perhaps something has changed and as a precaution you drop down 10km/h to give yourself more time to react.

Then we are finally at the acceleration stage which is pretty self explanatory.

                                                          The 10 to 1 rule.

Using the IPSGA method, with every “potential” threat that you notice as you are collating information, you drop your speed by 10km/h. So every time something potentially harmful is noticed, you slow down 10km/h each time. Hence the 10 to 1 reference.  The 10 to 1 rule in full.

To conclude, in order to both improve our riding and stay alive long enough to improve it, SA is key. It is the best way to look out for yourself on the road and even out here on the track.

But the best way to improve is to practice, practice and practice.  By the time you have reached the stage where you can anticipate every threat on the road, you will then nearly be at the stage of having an absolutely clean accident record, which is a rather good thing.

Matt Wishart

 


It seems that when people want to sell something, they don’t usually put much effort into their ad. The prospective buyer is often presented with a “good car, runs well, as is, where is.” line of text on the page with only one photo which looks like it was taken with a toaster.

With the large amount of competition on-line and the mere fact that you have to pay a small amount to list it in the first place, you would think that sellers would try to make their item look as appealing as possible? You would think that… But unfortunately that is not the case.

I have gotten to the point now, where as soon as I see TXT speak, a poor description, badly taken photos, atrocious grammar and/or a complete lack of knowledge or disregard of the vehicle, I simply move on to the next one. How many potential buyers could you be losing out on, simply by putting together a shoddy ad? I bet that they would lose quite a lot!

So here is a list of “How” you should put together an Online ad for when you sell either your vehicle or anything else for that matter.

Grammar, spelling and layout:

First of all we will start with grammar. It can be very hard to read an online ad if you use incorrect grammar, some people choose to put a wall of text that seems like a maze of words and you keep on finding yourself at the beginning trying to make some sense of it and keep track of where you are at.

It also makes a big difference as to how you read the ad, it can change the context of the sentence and either confuse people or piss them off which leads to them giving up and going else where.

Spelling. This is crucial, if you don’t know the difference between “Break” and “Brake” how do I know that you even put the right part in your car when they needed to be replaced? When you can’t even spell the make and model of your car, then I begin to really start worrying.

Layout. Readers want clear and concise points so that they can see all of the information quickly and not have to search high and low for some small titbit that lies tucked away in amongst the jibber jabber contained in your ad.

Bullet points can help for the essential information which is easily referable and easy to read.

Description:

When you are looking at buying something, you want as much information as possible so that you can ascertain whether or not the vehicle is worth it. “Good car, runs well.”  simply doesn’t cut it. Put some effort into it, sit down for 10 – 20 minutes and write down what you would like to see in an ad.

A full description will include detailed paragraphs about the interior and exterior, mechanical condition and what you have done in regards to maintenance and repairs, how it drives (Does it pull to the left or right if it’s left to it’s own devices?), tyre wear, feel of the transmission (If it’s manual is it clunky or does it slip out of gear? If auto, does it lag when you change through the box?).

Just give me some kind of information about the car so that I can make an informed decision about it.

Pictures:

You should take photos of every side of the car, paying attention to any scrapes or dings. Take pictures of the interior (Please vacuum and tidy up first.) Do not take 10 pictures of the same thing from different zoom percentages, take pictures of the whole car and anything that you would like to see if you were looking at buying a car.

It also helps if you wash and polish your car first, if you show people that you take care of your car, then they will be more at ease with the thought if buying it. If I see a dirty and messy car, the first thing that I think is that it will be the same in the motor.

 

And most of all, be friendly, helpful and quick to answer questions.

That is but a very basic list on how to write an ad but if you want people to take your ad seriously, then this will at least help and will probably keep people looking through the ad instead of hitting the close button.


Anti-speeding propaganda is everywhere, we are lead to believe that as soon as we travel 4km/h over the limit, we are more likely to be involved in an accident with the possibility of death. But this is not really the case and neither is it the largest cause of death on our roads. But of course you believe otherwise right? The Government has told you so and they must be right.

:The boy in the bubble:

If you are someone from the ‘older’ generation, you will notice this effect taking place. The large differences from when you were growing up and today, the Government has slowly but surely placed a blanket over our heads and tucked us into our beds so that we are not hurt by the big, bad world outside. It is now on the plan to make it onto our roads, the reach of full control for “our safety” is clasping it’s hands onto the way we drive and the text below will show this to you.

It is evident in everything from the “Anti-smacking bill” to the Life jackets, alcohol purchases, cycle helmets etc… where we are being rather mothered but here is something taken from the NZTA website, which purely scares me.

What would a Safe System free of death and serious injury look like?

We would enjoy a transport system where everyone expects a zero road toll. Roads and roadsides would encourage safe behaviour and be forgiving of human error by providing safety cues to users and protecting them from hazards.

Vehicle technology would communicate with the road environment and automatically adjust to appropriate speeds that respond to real-time road conditions.

Road users would understand and play their part in the system, with licensing dependent on a high level of skill. Alertness and compliance would, if necessary, be reinforced by in-vehicle technology(including alcohol and safety belt interlocks, and fatigue and speed monitoring).

Automated enforcement, including point-to-point (average speed) cameras and remote vehicle power down, could be used for high-risk road users.

Crash risk would be further reduced by advanced vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems (such as vehicle/pedestrian proximity warnings) and automatic collision avoidance technologies (including lane containment and emergency override features in the event a driver fails or is unable to respond to warnings).

If a crash is unavoidable, advanced airbags, crumple zones and head restraints would manage crash forces to levels the human body can tolerate.”

Now the text that I have made into bold is what sticks out to me.

1) Providing safety cues to users and protecting them from hazards.

While this is a good thing, especially for the unsuspecting motorist coming around a bend to find that it is also a sheep crossing, who can now slow down to a reasonable speed as well as trying to keep as much risk out of driving as possible. But what I take from this is the fact that road users will become too dependent on these cues and safety measures and they will soon come to rely on them to alert them to a potentially dangerous situation, and when the time comes and there is no sign there, the driver will be in a slight state of shock  and won’t know what to do in such a situation.

2) Automatically adjust to appropriate speeds.

So, the Government wants us to keep lower speeds so that there is a decrease in the severity of crashes on our roads. What does that mean when you are going around a corner at XXX speed and then your car/bike decides to slow down, immediately increasing the risk of crashing significantly. Or when you need to speed up to pass a car or get out of a sticky situation? Will there be a limit that needs to be reached till it comes on or does it play by ear?

Personally I don’t like the thought of having a computer do my thinking for me or having any control over me whatsoever.

3) (including alcohol and safety belt interlocks, and fatigue and speed monitoring).

Ok, I do agree with an alcohol monitoring system to gain access to your vehicle as well a some sort of fatigue test so that we don’t have idiots falling asleep at the wheel, but in saying that we should have the choice not to wear a seat-belt or leave them unclipped if we want to go for a drive. But what really gets me is the speed monitoring system,which is what is already taking place in some other countries. It is going to remove any freedom at all that we previously had and when the Police stop you for no reason in particular and then ask to search the pre-installed GPS tracker that is in your car and find that within the space of a week, you have gone over the limit X amount of times and proceed to write out fines left right and center.

4)  Emergency override features in the event a driver fails or is unable to respond to warnings.

This can be a good thing, there are two sides to the coin and while there is a positive side to this which is potentially saving the drivers life and also people around them which could also be harmed. There is also the fact that a computer is now going to be allowed full access to your car, ranging from steering, braking, acceleration and every other aspect that could be controlled and if there is a malfunction, you could be at serious risk if the car decides to do something stupid.

Another possibility of malfunction could be that the computer picks up false signals and therefore decides to react where in fact there is no danger what so ever or the driver has decided that what ever incident that is happening around them can be better avoided with another maneuver but the computer decides otherwise and then leads itself into a dangerous position.

We are now taking what control we had an putting it into a pre-determined computer system that falls in to place with what the Government thinks is best for us. Your whole life is soon going to be determined by what the Government thinks is best for you and the only way to escape it is to go and live out in a secluded mountain range and live off plants, though you will probably still have to pay a mountain tax anyway.

Instead of learning to think for ourselves and getting taught appropriate ways of dealing with situations, we are being put into diapers and placed into a harm-free environment where we are likely to turn into brain dead zombies, which is their goal I guess but nevertheless.

Speed, is it the real problem?

If you read the article I linked in the title, you will see what my view of speed is and what I think needs changing, but I will go a little more in-depth to it here as well as add some more points and information.

Some interesting statistics (Go to page 30) from the Government show that the majority of crashes and deaths are actually in the 50km/h speed limit areas. Wait a second, isn’t it at high speeds where we are likely to die? Or are they all speeding in the 50km/h zone and got injured or killed as a result? It seems unlikely to me, which brings me to the conclusion that it isn’t the really high speeds that are going to kill you, in fact they hold the lowest crash rates, but at speeds that are slow which can lead your mind to wander and then lead you on to not see that car turning or small child running out from behind that car and then it’s all over red rover.

Now, talking with people and also my flatmates I have also come up with some other thoughts about speed and it’s effect on us.

My flat mate had the idea that it’s not actually bad drivers that are causing the crashes on the road but simply for the fact that they are good drivers and have the knowledge but simply don’t bother absorbing all of the information around them and don’t drive to the conditions.

Now that is not only bad driving, but a phenomenally stupid idea.

Another one is that if you speed, you are most likely to lose control and kill yourself.

It is not really speed in itself that will cause the problem, but more so the lack of driver skill than anything. If speed was really the cause, there wouldn’t be any kind of motor sport because, hey, they are all going to die anyway.

It comes down to how well the driver can manipulate his/her vehicle and if they can use all of the information that the road provides us to keep to a safe speed.

Now when I talk about safe speeds, I am not referring to the speed limit set in place by the Government, but more so about the speeds that are safe to maintain traction, stability, line and an adequate stopping distance.

It is quite easy to safely speed throughout many roads and not cause any harm to anyone or kill yourself, but it all comes down to driver ability.

Have you tested the brakes on your car from both 50 and 100km/h to see how fast you can stop, or will you just learn it at the time? Have you tested the handling of the car, what will it take under duress in corners or a quick turn to get away from a dangerous situation?

I believe the biggest problem with the death toll in New Zealand is the ability to follow simple road rules. A Scandanavian report states that if every single road user were to follow the road rules, there would be a 50% drop in deaths. That is a large amount, but it can still be improved on. What if apart from just following the road rules, road users were seeking higher training to better their skills and were then better equipped to take on New Zealands roads when things got dicey.

Scandinavian research quote.

Advanced driver training:

Advanced driver training is a series of tests, lessons and classroom theory activities that provide the road user with a fresh look on their abilities, a wide range of new skills and the ability to drive or ride safely on every road that they come upon. We have a few training options in New Zealand, one of which is an international driver/rider training programme which follows more or less the Police Motorcycle handbook which the police use for their rider training programmes. It is called I.A.M (Institute of Advanced Motorists) and you can read more about the I.A.M here.

Riderskills Owner and Operater Phillip McDaid is the Chief Examiner for the IAM NZ and also runs courses for advanced rider skills among many other courses through his company. I have taken one of his courses for Confident Riding which is detailied in that link.

My belief is that every single road user should take at least one advanced course throughout each stage of the licensing process so as to give them the knowledge and skills to be able to use the road safely and therefore lower the road toll at the same time.

Now the courses would have to be heavily subsidised by the Government because many New Zealanders simply don’t have enough money to take such a course regularly but I think that any money spent on advanced training is well spent.

It would also deal with the speed issue at the same time, it teaches drivers/riders to adjust their speed accordingly to the road conditions and to be driving safely at every stage of their journey, to take in all of the knowledge of the surrounding environment and to be able to process that information in real time which is what a lot of drivers are hardly doing as it is.

So in addition to most people following the road rules which could drop the road toll by around 50%, with the addition of continuous advanced training, we could lower the road toll to near non-existent. It sounds a little far fetched when you think about it doesn’t it? I could imagine that it would be near impossible to drop it down that far because there are so many other factors in crashes as well but it would be a good sight closer to zero than what it is now and that is what we are aiming for isn’t it?

So in conclusion, it is not speeding that is the issue it has been made out to be. The government have been pushing the wrong message this whole time, and whether or not it has been to increase the number of speeding tickets they can issue or if it is really what they believe, we will never know for sure. But what we can know for sure is that speeding is hardly a cause for a crash, merely a factor that can play a big part. What we should be focussing on instead are the following issues:

  1. Drink driving
  2. Driver awareness and training
  3. Harder testing for licenses
  4. Harsher penalties for drunk drivers and drivers who have been in a crash of their own fault
  5. Distractions in the car (Music, cell phones, children etc…)
  6. Vehicle maintenance
  7. Complete knowledge of the road rules/standards

What would my plan be to achieve these ideas?

I think that the way to move forward would be to first take a look at our 3 stage system and it’s tests. Subjecting them to discussion from advanced riders/drivers and the NZTA and re-writing them so that they will show an actual skill level that is applicable for on the road.

Once the new tests have been introduced, bring in subsidised training from the government that is a compulsory requirement to achieve the next level of their license.

As well as having that applicable for the learning stages, it would be forced upon drivers who were at the cause of a crash (Possibly instead of a fine or with a reduced fine as well?) So that they learn why they crashed, what they could have done to prevent it and will therefore be safer drivers on the road.

Teach road users to be aware on the roads, they should be absorbing information about their surroundings, not about who had the seared Tuna salad for lunch.

Also as part of the licensing process would be basic maintenance knowledge, road users should be aware of how their car works and how to make sure all of the essential bits are functioning correctly, we as motorcyclists do it daily, from checking the Oil and water levels to checking chain tension, tyre wear, brake pad wear and anything else that we can remember to check before each ride.

Having a safe car is as important step to being a safe driver on the roads, as well as knowing the limits of your vehicle, from braking to swift direction changes which are often needed in heavy traffic.

And last but not least, a full knowledge of the road rules and how they work, possibly a re-test every now and then just to re-inforce the thought of the road rules. It could also be a part of each graduated license stage where the questions get harder and harder so as to re-enforce the idea in their heads.

Matt Wishart

Other blogs about speeding:

http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/2011/01/speed-doesnt-kill-stupidity-kills.html

http://theage.drive.com.au/motor-news/speed-doesnt-kill-says-benz-20100304-pjin.html


Recently I had my license returned to me, the excitement was brewing deep inside of me till it had started to foam out from my mouth and people started to look at me as if I was some rabid, disabled person with spastic hand syndrome. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

For 3 months prior, I had been walking, refer to The Bus Post. It was a horrible, horrible time and my calf muscles are now bulging out from all the exercise that I have been participating in, such as cycling, walking, running and all those other stupid, healthy things.

Though, in this time I have been driving myself stir-crazy! Now before I carry on, I will also reference to the fact that the expression “Driven stir crazy” is because “Driving” is a dirty word and people that drive cars are often stuck in their boring lives and also go crazy. Anyhow, everyday I had been day-dreaming about once again sitting on a motorcycle and riding to where ever my heart takes me, across the plains and hills, twisty roads and the straight roads…or to where ever I could be bothered going. These dreams are all that kept this broken, unlicensed man alive for those 3 months, but now it has been four months with no end in sight.

The sale of my race bike has proved difficult, with only one guy interested (Trading for the bike I want as well) I had all of my eggs in one basket, after lots of screwing around with him being sick (Every damn weekend!) and then busy all other times, he had started to severely piss me off, if he wasn’t the only person interested I would have told him to shove his head up his ass and to piss off.

But I held my tongue, and then today after a few messages from me asking if he is still coming, he replies saying he is now a motorcycle courier and can’t sell his bike any more. Some one give me a gun.

So now my weekends are reduced to sitting in front of this laptop, constantly refreshing pages and looking outside at the sunshine and wishing I was out on the roads in my leathers, happily riding out into the great unknown.

I have found that in general though, I have gone a little bit depressed. I start focussing on all of the crappy parts of my life, which pretty much starts off with not being able to ride and going down from there. In fact, I was sitting on a bus full of school kids just the other day. They were being loud, running around and just being a general pain in the ass. Seemingly out of no where I start planning different ways I could kill each and every one of them and how I would get away with it. This includes holding a gun to the drivers head and forcing him to drive around whilst I played life and death games with the little bastards, or creating a real, live hunger games event on the bus. Anyway you think about it though, I have gone crazy.

Which leads me to say that riding a motorcycle is not just an amazing skill and activity to do, but it is also becomes your entire life. When you have had a bad day at work and need to de-stress…riding is the cure. When you have done something amazing and need to celebrate…riding is the cure. Your whole life is dictated by how long you sit on that narrow uncomfortable seat and out in the great roads that make up New Zealand.

So this is why I can’t wait to get back on a bike, not just for the ease of getting around (God I can not wait to stop using buses!)but to be able to go out, ride and lose myself in a world of corner after corner. The whole atmosphere that comes from it and the feeling after a good day out as you sit with a cold beer in your hand and a cigarette in your other.

That is what I miss, hopefully it isn’t too soon till I can ride again.

Matt


Today I went out to take part in a 3 hour, one on one course with Riderskills. Riderskills is a Auckland based company run by Philip McDaid who is a chief Institute of Advanced Motorcycle (IAM) instructor. He runs courses from basic handling skills to advanced courses for the more serious riders.

The course I chose was one subsidised by the Government for the month of June so I thought I had better get in quick. Since I don’t have a bike, well a road legal bike anyway, I managed to get a ride in with my flatmate. Unfortunately I was nearly 2 hours early so I had to potter around and eat some good old Wendys’ for lunch to pass the time. When they turned up at 3, Philip went and got his GT250 for me to ride on for the course which was really good of him to do.

We had a brief discussion of what I wanted to work on, which was more or less just a general overview of my riding to see if I had gotten a little rusty with my few months off. Set up the headphone and intercom and off I went with one of the other IAM instructors as Philip was taking out another rider.

Because I often practice my slow speed skills with progressing difficulty, we didn’t bother covering any of that and went straight onto the riding side of it. We started with some residential area stuff within the 50km/h zone and covering road positioning with traffic and other hazards on the road.

My residential stuff was fine minus one or two habits/rustiness I had picked up, from there we went out for a quick blat through some back roads out west through a varying road style and settings. Somehow my intercom turned into an extremely loud morse code device, so instead of hearing my instructor talking, I had to interpret a series of beeps and clicks and I gave up to focus on my riding as I saw one of those “Dickheads” behind me in a lowered Sylvia (I think) who wanted to practice some damn dodgy passing manoeuvres which left me wanting to kick his car but refrained from doing so.

We carried on through some more back roads and around the Riverhead area focussing on lines and procedures for setting up for a corner, which described in the Police Motorcycle Handbook, is named ‘IPSGA’ or Information, Position, Speed, Gear and Acceleration.

Information standing for what your senses take in as you are riding, in particular, as you are riding to a corner. What is the road surface like? Are there trees overhanging the road which could drop leaves on the outside of the corner? Are there any side streets around where drivers could pull out of? And so on and so forth.

Position describes as to where you are on the road, determined by the information that you have kept note of. So for example, tight left hand corner with gravel on the centre line, the road is not opening up so that tells us that the corner will most likely tighten up as we go around and as you come up closer you notice a dead possum on the inside of the corner before your turn in point. So you would position yourself just off the centreline so that your bike does not lose traction at all and you are able to keep to the outside of the corner to maintain visibility through the corner and also keep you in a good position for the decreasing radius corner that will be coming up.

Speed and gear are intertwined, what you are looking for there is a gear that will give you enough drive out of the corner with out giving you the need to change gears so that you can maintain a constant/positive throttle coming out of the corner. Obviously the speed will be matched with gear choice but determined by the information and position you can choose an appropriate gear and speed for the corner.

Last of all, acceleration. You want to be able to accelerate out of the corner to keep the suspension working and to aid in coming out of the turn and standing the bike back up to move onto the next corner.

After all of that we had a brief chat about my riding which the majority of was fine, and then made our way back to base camp where we dropped off my loan bike and I had some more Wendys’ and then waited for the bus which took it’s sweet time getting there.

So now here I am sitting on a bus, in my full motorcycle leathers and a helmet and getting curious looks from passengers and the bus driver himself.

Just chilling on the bus.

Off one bus and then on to the next, the driver once again giving me a smile like I had just lost my license, when in reality it was the opposite.  By the time I got off and had to catch my 3rd bus, I could not be bothered and cheated by getting a taxi.

So overall, I enjoyed the course held by Riderskills. They conduct themselves in a professional manner but also have a light side and have your best interests at heart. With a great range of courses from beginner to advanced and even scooter riders, they cater to everybody. A pleasure to train with and I look forward to the next course I get to take with them.

https://www.facebook.com/Riderskills.co.nz?sk=reviews

Matt

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