How to become a motorcycle instructor

Becoming a motorcycle instructor has been unregulated for too many years. How do motorcycle trainers become a motorcycle instructor and fully qualified has been looked at in recent years and the general opinion is that it is not fit for purpose. It is not done properly and new trainers are left to do their own thing without having the right tools to do the job.

The reason it is not fit for purpose is because of the pathetic and easy route in for so many instructors who are not ready to teach. The poor route in and the under training that goes undetected, allows the weakest instructors to train the weakest learner riders. This is wrong, very very wrong. The most vulnerable road users with no experience are being trained by the weakest trainers with limited experience and knowledge, this cannot be right! 

But to top that, the worst trainers can train up to four novice riders who in some cases have never ridden before! There is a distinct lack of professional process and as training schools see a need to earn money, they put quantity over quality and new Instructors are left with the tough task of trying to do the best job they can without having the right skills to do the job correctly.

National accident statistics backup this issue, they show that young, new and inexperienced riders are most at risk. This is elevated by a lack of good tuition that they get from Down Trained instructors who have been allowed to train too early. Usually because the training school is trying to supply demand and generate revenue and throughput for DAS training. In these cases it is easy to become a motorcycle instructor, if the mission is quantity over quality.

So what is happening?

In most cases a person who wants to become a motorcycle instructor, is invited along to a training school to watch how it’s done. They are then required to attend as often as they can or every weekend to watch CBT Courses being conducted. At some stage in this process they are offered an opportunity to ‘have a go’ themselves. If they are confident they will say yes, and their journey has started. 

Once they have given enough lessons and look like they are okay, a Down Trained Instructor Certificate is applied for and ‘voila’, there is a new and inexperienced trainer delivering CBT Lessons to novice riders. There is no set process or procedure to help new trainers understand methods of Instruction or methods of delivery. They are straight in at the deep end, struggling their way through a course, with the weakest riders.

To top it all off, training schools offer incentives to get everyone through the CBT Course in a day, by paying more money in wages the more they get through. So the objective now goes from road safety to passing everyone, the instructor is willing to do longer hours to get them all through because they get paid a lot more money.

The problem with this is, a new trainer can have between 1 to 4 learner riders. The novice riders  may have never sat on a motorbike before, but now the risk begins. So for argument’s sake let’s say there are four trainees, the instructor muddles their way through the whole morning trying to get them all ready for the road, they are all at different abilities and it’s a challenge. How much dedicated time does each student actually get? The answer is less than 20 minutes each for the whole morning, which equates to about 2-3 minutes per lesson. If you want to become a motorcycle instructor, is this what you would really want to do?

They then have to make a decision who goes on the road to complete the day. This is where there is pressure for them to show that they are capable (to the ATB) and are doing a good job, so they decide to take all the students on the road. This is high risk if the student has no previous experience, the problem is that the CBT has become known as an attendance course by so many people, Instructors included.

The CBT is the foundation of a life skill, it should be thorough and articulate. There should be objectives and goals that students reach and not just ticking boxes to say that exercise has been done. The lesson may have been delivered but how thorough was it taught and do the students have a high standard and have they really set the skill to know what they are doing when the course is so rushed?

How does a new trainer become a motorcycle instructor?

In many cases, once a trainee instructor can stand there and speak without stopping, they get their ticket to train. It is a very poor process in most cases to become a motorcycle instructor and gain a training certificate. The problem is that there is not a regulated way to become a motorcycle instructor and it is down to the training school to get their own trainee instructors qualified.

The problem with this is, not many trainers are good enough to train other instructors. This is because their route into become a motorcycle instructor was weak, therefore how they  train other instructors is also weak. If you take the old saying ‘monkey see, monkey do’ then you understand the issue. As long as a trainee instructor can explain each lesson, they are given a qualification to start training. Basically they are now in the lion’s den fending for themselves and in most cases self teaching and learning on the job.

Self teaching and learning as you go, is not the best approach, this is where corners get cut and mistakes happen. People naturally do what is easier for themselves and miss things out, hoping all will be okay later on. Let me just state now, NO it won’t be okay later on, the road is not the place to practise what wasn’t covered in a car park. If the student is weak in the car park, they will be weak on the road, you are just adding risk if you take them out to’ have a go’!

A better start is in your hands

If you want to become a motorcycle instructor and take a look at the qualification process and it looks pretty easy, then there’s a problem. How many times will you attend before you are offered to have a go! The next thing to look at is the structure of how you will be trained. Is it methodical or is it ad-hoc?

There should be a route for you to take and that route is as long as it needs to be, it needs structure and time to develop your skills to be able to remember all the lessons, the intricate detail and how to teach, assess, fault find and communicate the solution to the learner rider. Just because you have a motorbike licence and enjoy riding does not mean you are going to be a good instructor.

To become a motorcycle instructor who knows their craft, takes time but it must also be quality training that you go through. An ad-hoc approach means that it’s messy and not structured, this will cause problems in the long term. Getting it right from the start and laying the foundations properly to begin with are the keys to success.

Make sure you have Lesson Plans for every single lesson that you are going to deliver. You should have a lesson plan produced and written before attempting to teach it. That’s why we have developed a set of lesson plans with a structured approach, you just need to add your own content to it to make it your own.

In the event of an incident on the car park or the road, a student may be injured as a result of that incident. Are you adequately covered and do you have a Lesson Plan for the lesson you were teaching? A Lesson Plan states what and how you teach, it has a process and a methoducial route through the lesson. It is your guide, your thoughts on paper and a way in which you deliver training. The first thing a lawyer will ask is, “And how do you normally teach that lesson” and “what proof do you have to demonstrate that”?

Make sure you know what you are doing, how you are going to do it and why you are doing it that way. Being an instructor is all about you giving education, development and reducing risk.

A picture paints a thousand words

There is a lot to learn when riding a motorbike, combine this with going on the road and you can see there is a general overload of information to deliver in a short period of time. 

How do you develop learner riders during the road ride? There has to be a process, a route that is used to keep a student safe, this can easily be done by showing Training Diagrams to enhance a novice rider’s learning experience. A picture paints a thousand words, by stopping regularly and showing diagrams, the process will become easier and less stressed.

Using a methodical technique such as OSM PSL may be second nature to an instructor who uses that term or phrase every day but to novice riders it is new, complex and a challenge. Make sure you pitch your training correctly and don’t expect too much from a student who is learning. They need time to relax, become familiar with the bike, the road and the challenge of riding while doing all the new things they have learned.

Make sure you have a process of developing a student and use training aids, training diagrams and other tools at your disposal. Using the technique of verbal explanation only,  will not get the message across, people learn in different ways and it is your role to find out what way works best for them.

Vital training resources for instructors:

A dedicated and bespoke online training platform for a person who wants to become a motorcycle instructor. Also perfect for existing instructors who want to become a motorcycle instructor with the DVSA qualification to deliver CBT & DAS Instructors.

Methods of Instruction – How to be an instructor

Lesson Plans – Planning your lesson journey

Training Diagrams – A picture paints a thousand words

Full Package – Everything you need

DVSA website – How to become a motorcycle instructor

How to become a motorcycle instructor was written by Simon Hayes