You have finished the Pre-Learner Course and you have your Learner’s Licence. Now what?
It is worth remembering that the Pre-Learner course is designed to teach you the basic skills and Roadcraft strategies to be safe on the road, it won’t turn you into an expert in seven hours. The course is a first step: the more you practice your skills and apply roadcraft (Observation, Slow Down and Buffer) the more expertise you will develop.
You wanted to ride a motorcycle, now you know how, you have a learner licence to say that you can – so just go and ride a motorcycle! Sometimes it’s not that simple to get past that last hurdle of just getting on and riding on the road.
If you are new to motorcycling and the Learner course was the first time you have ridden then you are going to need to allow yourself time to become comfortable with your new bike and practice the skills you learned on the course.
First step: be honest with yourself. What do you feel confident to do on the bike?
Do you feel you are ready to start the bike up and go for a ride around your local neighbourhood? If “yes”, then put your riding gear on and head out on the road, just make sure you do it with a plan. Is there a time of the day or day of the week when the roads are quieter? You are going out to practice, so be deliberate, decide what you are working on, maybe it is vision and positioning, or braking and gear changing.
Perhaps you are concerned about stalling and stopping? Then why not practice just moving off and stopping, again be deliberate about practicing what you learned on the course. You might not get your left foot up for a while, but you’ll feel great when you know you are in control and can move off smoothly and not stall. This is an essential skill you want to be able to rely on in traffic, why not perfect it through practice?
Maybe you have your new bike and you organised the bike shop to deliver it to your home. You look at the bike and it’s so shiny and new and big and so very heavy: the bikes at the course didn’t seem so big and heavy. You start to doubt yourself and wonder if you will cope… Of course you will, if you have a plan. Set a goal for yourself – we suggest the goal should be for you to become more comfortable with the bike. Don’t bother to start the engine yet but sit on the bike, put it in neutral, move the bike around and get a feel for the front brake.
Get your owner’s manual out and read it, find out as much as you can about your bike and how it works. Use the switches, do they feel like the ones on the training bikes or do they operate differently. Practice putting the bike into first gear and finding neutral with the engine turned off. Spend time with the bike, if it’s not shiny enough for you then give it a wash, the more time you spend with the bike the more familiar and therefore more comfortable you will become.