SA Motorcycle Test

This has been a bone of contention for a very long time, and a way overdue point of implementation into our local traffic laws.

Up to the early 80’s road tests were carried out as part of the motorcycle license test, but this method has been abandoned since the implementation of the K53 test method.

Although in the whole of the UK, and some in Europe, road testing is still very much part of a more complete testing method, and they are reaping the benefits of a very successful concept. Now I can say this with confidence, that we would probably never see road testing for motorcycles being conducted in South Africa again. We just don’t have the manpower or expertise to achieve this on a national level and at all the current Category A test centres; not to mention the logistics and operating expenses that it will entail.

First of all, the examiner would have to drive (in his car) behind the motorcyclists using a Bluetooth or Radio communication unit to tell the rider where to ride etc., because they will simply NOT purchase motorcycles for this purpose. It is also a shame to admit that there are motorcycle license examiners in our system that might have the qualification to test, but are unable to ride or operate a motorcycle. Not all who test, ride a motorcycle in his or her personal capacity.

First let me address the question at hand: Is the K53 Motorcycle Test inadequate?

A very simple “Yes”! How on earth can you test a candidate in an area of 15m x 38m, at no more than 25km/h in 2nd gear and then license him to now go and ride on our roads and current traffic conditions at speeds of up to 120km/h in 5th or 6th gear? This is not only inadequate; it is also discriminative and deadly. Here you have other road users being tested to the fullest extent; range and road, but motorcyclists are tested on range only. We should be tested on road as well!

The solution, to begin with, I strongly believe is to push government for “CBT before Learners”. This will be a whole lot less costly an exercise, and WILL most certainly save lives.

CBT means Compulsory Basic Training – before Learners. –https://www.gov.uk/cbt-compulsory-basic-training/what-cbt-involves

In South Africa you may obtain a Motorcycle Learner License without even knowing how to ride or operate a Motorcycle. This is absurd! CBT will force people to get trained before riding a motorcycle, and thus will make them a little more safer on our roads. Do we send our kids to go and work without proper schooling and qualifications? Hell no!

Further to this, candidates older than 18 are allowed to be tested on a motorcycle with an engine capacity bigger than 125cc (150cc for instance), and then obtain a license to operate any size motorcycle. In the UK this is not the case! You get tested on the bike you ride or on the motorcycle in which the License Category fall, and you will then be licensed accordingly. Ever so often you will have riders doing their test on a smaller bike while he or she actually own and ride a much bigger motorcycle. Where’s the wisdom in that? If you can’t operate your own motorcycle on the test, it is a clear message that you need more training. Word to the unwise: Don’t fool yourself in thinking that small is better. Better is doing it on the bike you are most comfortable on or have the most experience with. Our system is killing people and we do nothing or very little to change it.

One thing I must say; the current K53 Motorcycle Test does give you a set of skills. Instead of telling my students that it is a pathetic test, I train them and make them see that they are obtaining a new set of skill … Manoeuvring a Motorcycle at speeds of up to 25km/h and 2nd gear. They do learn but hardly or ever enough to help them out there.

It is therefore, and until local government implements this concept, important for riders to obtain the best rider training they can get to survive on our roads today. Relying or resting on our current system will get you killed.

Hein Jonker

Founder of the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa Editor in Chief of Bike Talk South Africa Chief Instructor of Bike Talk Motorcycle Rider Academy Motorcycle Safety & Skills Expert for Arrive Alive South Africa

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1 Response

  1. Lloyd Castle says:

    I fully endorse the message this article conveys. The South African K53 motorcycle test is in my opinion criminal in its inadequacy to assess competence to ride on our roads. The lack of a road riding skill and judgement assessment renders the certification of “competence” to operate the vehicle on a public road by an examiner for drivers licences a fraud as the learner is never assessed on a public road or even with other traffic in proximity. This leads new riders to mistakenly believe they are competent and they consequently simply never aspire to any further training at all. The wise get further training because they recognise that simply passing the K53 test is not nearly enough to prepare them for actual roadway conditions. Sadly that wisdom often has to overcome a huge battle with ego and often only wins that battle after someone we know dies or suffers some horrific injury while riding a bike on our roads. We train to create competent riders NOT simply to pass the SA K53 test.. We agree that riders should be tested on the machines they intend to ride and that “relying or resting on our current system will get you killed” National legislation with regard to motorcycle rider licensing needs urgent review and minimum training standards, hours and skills need to be set within a progressive licensing system which actually assesses rider ability before we allow any rider onto the road..

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