ok, not in europe europe but in my homeland slovakia aka slovak republic (former czechoslovakia)
as you can see - every training motorcycle needs double handlebars. the 'extra' ones have both the clutch and the break for your teacher of course. so he can 'step in' when you panic. the mods have to be done individually by the riding school owners themselves. nobody reimburses them for that.
the mentioned revzilla's article basically points out that one could find correlation between new riders injuries (not ONLY them tho) and the easy path to a motorcycle here in the USA. I quote the author, Jason Humphries and I do agree with that paragraph:
“They spent two days riding round a parking lot, after which they received their completion certificate, which fast-tracks them straight to a full, unrestricted Class M1 motorcycle endorsement, despite the fact that they’ve never turned a wheel on a public road.”
or simply put – here I come Hayabusa, after 2 day parking lot riding, circling around cones on 3rd gear on 250cc motorcycle. that is the reality today. the comments below the article – how to lower the numbers of accidents - were for big a debate.
i say something very generic here. when you 'study' really short time for a difficult test - how good can you do at the exam? i went literally to my university studying past for this one :)) the question is - how difficult is motorcycle riding? the motorcycle handling itself is one thing. another is managing the motorcycle in the surroundings - 'real roads' out there with other bikes, people, cars, bicycles, road signs, managing turn signals, potholes, your ego.. plenty of things to pay attention to.
or compare it to a military training. it is like if they would teach you how to operate a firearm but won't prepare you one bit for the 'reality' on the battlefield. just: 'push here, pull there, press here and look around plenty! NOW GO, SOLDIER' :)
me living in NY - the riding here does feel like a battlefield :) comin' at ya from every side. no BS. you need your A game on the roads or they eat you alive here..
i get a newsletter from revzilla's blog COMMON TREAD to my inbox. one day the article was 'why it should be harder to get a motorcycle license in the US'.
(link to the original article here)
that article inspired me. while in slovakia i decided to pay a visit to my old driving/riding school where i did my auto and motorcycle license. now i can show you how we roll. i did
my license around hmm 1993-ish. i don't remember exactly but i was happy to see the same
double handlebars still in use. nothing has changed and i was glad. otherwise it would be less fun to write only about the training hours. i hope this will be an interesting read for you
that would be the literal translation. there are no motorcycle schools. it's always an auto school that would do the motorcycle licenses as well.
Riska brothers were in this business since '91. started by their father and after dad passed away - it's them taking care of it.
categories and requirements
how about we start with the first main thing that is different compared to the states. there are actually 4 categories of motorcycles. if you start with one from the smaller ones and want to buy a bigger bike later - you must upgrade at some point and redo the class on a bigger motorcycle.
you can go for the top category A - of course it includes all of the classes below.
but there is a catch. about that later.
below are the basic motorcycle categories:
driver's license classes:
AM/50 - small motorcycles limited either by 50cc
or max speed 45km/h (around 28mph)
A1 - motorcycles below 125cc, max power 11 kW (15bhp)
A2 - motorcycles with max power 35kW (47bhp)
A - motorcycles with min power 35kW (47bhp)
you will probably roll your eyes with the next information. because you live in murrica and
nothing like what am i about to say would fly here :D and that is the catch mentioned above.
there is a minimal age limit for each motorcycle category:
AM50 - 15 years old
A1 - 16 yo
A2 - 18 years old
A - 24 years old
if that didn't make your eyes roll - keep on reading. thankfully you can apply for any
category even if you are not of the required age. but there is yet another catch...
for A2 and A categories there is a 2 year experience with a lower category required. if you
didn't celebrate your 24th birthday yet but NEED THAT HAYABUSA NOW - you have to prove to the slovak DMV that you have 2 years experience riding on a bike from the A2 category. you know, some honda 500. if you are younger than 18yo but want the A2 license - you need to prove 2 years of riding on A1 category bike
let that sink. now i would LOVE to know how the free-american-spirited riders feel about this :)
leave a comment please!
if you are interested in the financials - let me just drop here the prices for each class as can be found on the Riska Bro's school's website (in Euro)
AM/50 - 330EUR
A1 - 400EUR
A2 and A - 440EUR
(plus 16EUR extra for each class for fees)
and now the main course. let's see what it takes to get the driver's license before you can even put this beautiful orange vest on :) and then how long you have to wear it while riding with the instructor behind you (both of you will wear it)
the theory part
you have to get total of 32 hours of the theory part. it can be scheduled max 3 hours per day.
one thing to explain: 1hour is actually 45min. That’s leftover from our educational system. Because drivers license teaching is an educational institution - it has the same status as schools and is regulated as such. which means they got the ‘educational 45min long hours’ as well. consider it as 1 hour concluded from 45min of learning and 15min of a coffee break
all the motorcycle classes AM50, A1, A2 and A have the same amount of theory hours
total 32 hours
road traffic regulations - 20 hours
vehicle theory and maintenance - 2 hrs
riding theory - 3 hrs
basics of safe riding - 4 hrs
variable - 3 hrs
(the instructor can assign the variable hours to students based on where they struggled the most)
and remember. only 3 hours are possible per day. means the theory part spreads over 8 days if done consecutively
the practice part
the practice part - the riding - requires only 9 total hours of practice for the AM50 motorcycle class (parking lot and in-traffic). but let's focus on the bigger bikes. the A1, A2 and A categories with total of 18 hours of practical training
parking lot riding practice - 3 hrs
(same as in the US: cones, swerving, turning, breaking, falling, picking up the bike in front of everybody :p etc)
flexible - 3hrs
can be assigned for parking lot practice or add more hours for riding in traffic
maintenance class - 1hr
minimum of hours spent riding in traffic - 11hrs
NOTE: there was a note in the book of rules - average ridden km per 1 practice hour cannot be less than 6km for the AM 50cc class and not less than 12km per practice hour for categories A1, A2 and A.
all together – categories A1, A2, A get 11 riding hours in traffic with minimum of 12km per 1 practice hour. so technically you will end up riding in the traffic with the teacher behind you for minimum of 130km (80 miles). no way around it.
compare that to the ZERO required hours of riding in traffic in USA. that’s the difference. the 2 'half' days on parking lot training and you are ready for the most insane roads in the country - mad gotham city. that is some pressure. but i'll say as well that - in some mysterious ways it works. i'm product of the same usa style training and here i am.
one other benefit of the slovak style – the students immediately learn how to ride with a passenger. it must way harder to learn this with another person on your bike when you never did this before. but there is a saying - "harder on a training field, easier on the battlefield".
so that’s it. what do you think about the modified bikes or the practicing in traffic with your teacher behind you… good? overkill?
i asked what is the most difficult part of the riding students there and i was told without hesitation:
right-hand turn. new riders are afraid to lean right. so there you have it.