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Bike Safe And FBOS

Date - 25 May 2016

By Tony Wilkins

Bike Safe

Being a new rider, after passing my test I started my biking odyssey on a 125 CC Honda CBF125. After 18 months of pootling about and being very nervous on fast roads I was finally persuaded to move up to a bigger bike. Only 500cc but for me the perfect all-purpose bike. Now I could keep up with traffic but it added another dimension. How do you take those corners at speed again?

A jet black CBF 125 contrasts against a lush green countryside sceneThe old CBF 125.
Honda's CB500X in white against another magnificent backdrop of hills and lakes
The much quicker CB500X

So I looked around for some training. Yes there are plenty of schools that will do further training at a cost and no doubt they are very good. However after doing some looking and acting on advice of some people I know I booked a day with It’s a national project and the site will identify the local courses and dates for you. I booked a day at Broughton in North East Wales. After all what could I lose, it was only £10

I turned up for the day feeling a bit apprehensive. I considered myself a slow and cautious rider, I did not want to be pushed out of my comfort zone, to ride faster than I wanted and perhaps make a fool of myself or worse. As it turned out I was worrying for nothing. The day began with short introductions about what level of rider you were and an informal chat about rider issues and situations that was interactive and never became death by Power Point!

The instructors were two ex-police bike riders who had a wealth of knowledge without at any time being pompous or overbearing. They came across as bikers wanting to keep bikers safe. I learned a lot in that morning. I even smiled when one of the instructors said that he would never choose to filter unless it was absolutely necessary – too many variables to be safe… thoughts exactly and so encouraging to hear someone so experienced say so. A clear “don’t put yourself outside your comfort zone”, it does not make you a bad rider if your just careful. I’m starting to relax now.

 Lunch (bring your own butties, what do you expect for a tenner) then an intro to the observer that will ride with you for the afternoon. The observers are all volunteers and a mixture of police (current and retired) and advanced riders. The ratio is one observer to two attendees. Note the use of observer, it’s not training, they observe, comment on and advise.

So the afternoon ride. First thing the observer tells you is that you must obey the speed limit at all times, to ride safe within your capabilities and that during the ride they would pull you over at different intervals to give feedback. At no time should you feel pressured into doing anything you were not comfortable with. Oh and remember there might be someone at the back trying to keep up. 

We agree a destination and off we go. It is a bit disconcerting to see the guy behind you in his yellow hi viz, a bit like test day but that’s soon forgotten when after the first stop for a chat and it becomes obvious that’s he is not there to muller you and just show how good he is. Helpful friendly advice, like “you’re doing 34 MPH in a 30, slow down” Yep no pressure to make progress, ride safe.

Another chat in a café over tea and its back to the venue, a stop and chat on the way to discuss some bends we had been through, was my gearing right, did I take the correct line, nothing overbearing but all food for thought. At the end of the day you get a feedback form from the observer with comments on what he sees as your strengths and what you need to brush up on together with encouragement to take further training. No push to get you to go anywhere in particular, no financial incentive for them. Just go get some training, improve, stay safe.

My thoughts on the day? You are mad and completely bonkers if you don’t book a day with these people. The course actually costs £130 odd for them to put on. If this was a commercial company can you imagine the price they would charge? You get it for £10 here in North Wales. Prices vary dependant on which part of the country you are in. 


After the Bike Safe course you can register with Bike Safe and they will give you information and enrol you on FBOS – First Bike On Scene, first aid for bikers,  I’m not sure if it’s free if you contact FBOS direct so worth checking. On my course held in Rhyl there were a group of bikers from Huddersfield who had ridden down that morning.

I learned so much over and above what you normally get on first aid courses in work. How to take a helmet off, I’d always been told not to, their advice now is to do so. Apparently stats show that of the 1,700 plus road deaths in 2013, 700 could have been prevented if the casualty’s airwaves had been kept open. How can you tell if they are breathing if their head is in a full face helmet? This came as a shock to me and took some convincing after the years of being told not to. But you learn simple techniques to do it as safely as possible. Don’t get me wrong you’re not a paramedic after this course, but if your stood next to your mate who has crashed, is unconscious and potentially could die if he vomits, better to have some idea than none.

These two courses have improved me. I’m riding more confidently, I feel I have some chance of helping if I come across a smash rather than left standing holding my head and wailing, and I’m definitely looking for more training. I may never be the best rider; I just want to be as safe as I can be.

So to finish, if you have not already, get onto Bike Safe, do the one-day course, move onto the FBOS course. You are simply MAD if you don’t!

a flyer showing a motorcyclist's injuries with and without protective clothing
A shockingly impacting flyer on show at the fire station where the FBOS course was held.

Reader's Comments

Sharon said :-
Thanks for this Tony,

Very informative. I am not sure I will ever get over my fear of being observed after my examiner from hell on my test day but if I ever do this sounds just the ticket.
31/5/2016 8:34:28 PM UTC

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