HOW TO GET A MOTORCYCLE LICENSE IN IRELAND – PART TWO
In our last article; “How to get a motorcycle license in Ireland – Part One” our expert, Gillian Dunlop of GDL Drivers, walked you through the first of many steps to getting your license. Now, in Part Two she shares tips on how to choose your first motorcycle, how to apply for your motorcycle test and what steps to take after you pass so you can put that new license to good use.
MEET OUR EXPERT
With a plethora of qualifications under her belt her mission is to get new riders (and car drivers) on the road as safely as possible.
For those of you outside of Ireland, this will be an interesting read in terms of seeing how much training we Irish riders must have before we can take to the roads.
These are Gillian’s tips for:
How to get your motorcycle license in Ireland – Part Two
This is a very exciting time in your life and I’m sure you’re dying to rush out and buy your dream bike.
However, read on for a few tips that will keep both you and your hard earned money protected from dangerous and expensive mistakes.
Table of contents
Search websites are a great place to eye up lots of styles of motorbikes (selling both privately and thru dealerships) – but the choice can be daunting.
Make a list of machines you like the look of, but do check that they match your Learner Permit category (cc, kw output weight). There is a list of “Representative vehicles for motorcycle test” on the RSA website which will show you if your preferred bike is corerct for your type of license.
They often are “in the know” within the local biking community and have heard if a customer is selling a bike. Ask about their warranty system and what exactly is covered.
Buying new is great of course, extras such as gear, luggage, heated grips, free servicing etc are often offered to tempt you.
If you decide to buy privately, bring a Full Licence holder or better still a mechanic to test ride and inspect the bike.
photo courtesy of GDL Drivers
It’s a big moment and worth planning properly. If possible, your first route should be on familiar roads – remember this bike is bound to feel different from the school bike and it might be a while since you’ve ridden.
Go through your usual technical and pre-ride checks. Take it easy at first and give yourself time especially moving off, slowing down and stopping – you will probably still have your instructor’s advice ringing through your ears!
It’s important to note for those of you buying pre-owned motorcycles that there is no NCT for motorcycles in Ireland at present.
If you are a little nervous, do ask an experienced biker pal or even your instructor to accompany you once or twice. As you get used to your bike and improve your skills, you will relax and enjoy it more and more.
The Full License gives you lower insurance premiums and permits you to ride a bike abroad (and that includes Northern Ireland and Isle of Man if you’re thinking of NW200 or TT races!).
If you have fully absorbed and put into practice your IBT skills every time you ride, the test shouldn’t be a problem.
Also practice around the areas close to your chosen Test Centre – don’t get too hung up on routes as these are subject to regular change and you should feel confident on all types of roads and junctions anyway.
Don’t let cold and wet weather put you off – your test may only be cancelled in Amber or Red weather warnings!
Waiting times vary depending how often motorcycle testing is done at your Test Centre. Unless you apply for a short notice cancellation, you usually get 4 weeks notice of test date and time.
If for any reason you don’t feel ready, you may postpone and reschedule giving at least 10 days notice (unless for illness or other emergency).
- Learner Permit,
- Motor Tax,
- Registration Document,
- Restriction Cert if applicable.
Check your motorcycle is roadworthy:
- tyre tread depth,
- brake lights,
- correct size number plate
These are visually inspected by the Tester and if there are any faults, your test will not be conducted.
The Tester will ask you for your documents and ask you a few questions similar to those of the Theory Test. S/he will fit you with a radio earpiece and check it works.
Function of brake light for both front and back brakes and both indicators are checked. If your Test Centre has a compound for truck tests, the next section may take place there, otherwise on-road.
You will be asked to demonstrate use of the stand (side is ok, even if mainstand is fitted) and to push the bike along a few metres without the engine (Walk alongside). For the Slow Ride and U-Turn exercises, you must move off using mirrors, signal and Lifesaver and have good balance and control of the motorcycle. Handsignals are often asked at this stage also.
Otherwise, ride as if you are alone. Do not wait for the Tester unless they ask you – you might wait for a longer gap in traffic with your biker mates, but in a test, it can be seen as “Lack of Progress”.
How is the Test marked? Basically, there are Grade 1, 2 and 3 faults. Grade 1 are minor and do not affect the result of your test. Yet, Grade 2 are moderate and overall you are allowed up to 8 .
However, under a Heading for example Position, you can only have up to 5. And under a subheading for example Position – Right Turn, you can only have up to 3. Grade 3 faults are serious and therefore, even 1 is a fail.
Remember, they want to see that you are a safe motorcyclist both for yourself and other road users. Good preparation and practise will help your confidence and improve your skills.
It’s important to remember that once your Test begins, you should simply enjoy riding your bike! This is your choice, your investment, it’s what you have been working towards for a long time!
If you know you have made a mistake, do not dwell on it – you cannot change it. Keep concentrating on what you are doing and about to do – it’s never over until it’s over!
When you pass your motorcycle test in Ireland
If you pass, happy days of safe biking ahead! Let the adventures begin.
Remember to go to your local NDLS office to apply for your Full License and then inform your insurance company for a better rate.
If this is the first Category of vehicle you have passed a test on, you will have to wear an N (Novice) Tabard for two years Or, if you are still completing your two years of Category B car as a Novice driver.
Should you fail the motorcycle test first time, try not to be disheartened. Listen carefully to the feedback, contact your instructor for further lessons, keep practising and try again as soon as possible.
And finally, the last nugget of info….
This is called Progression and may only be done once – it is best to speak to either your instructor or the RSA to clarify individual cases.
No matter how many months, years or decades you’ve been riding, there is always something to be gained by honing your skills.
We’ve included some advanced courses below where you can continue to improve:
- RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
RoSPA-IART training uses the Police system of motorcycle control, a proven system of motorcycle control developed over many years.
The RoSPA Advanced Riding Test is regarded as the most comprehensive and challenging available to the public. Testing standards are monitored and approved by the Driving Standards Agency in the UK.
- IAMS ( )
The aims and objectives of the Institute of Advanced Motorists are very simple:
- To improve the standards of driving and riding on the roads.
- Advance road safety.
- Administer a nationally recognised advanced test.
What amazing advanced riding course have you found?
Let us know about them in the comments below.
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Driving and Motorcycle Instructor at GDL Drivers
Her first experience on motorbikes was riding pillion on a Moto Guzzi in Naples, Italy and a few years later she found an instructor and got very thorough training.
She returned to Ireland but bikes took a back seat for many years while raising a family and moving from Dublin to Wexford for the country life. After her father died quite suddenly aged only 70, Gillian got back into bikes. Some people thought she had gone a bit mad but motorcycling helped her to grieve, to grow as a person and meet new friends.
She was encouraged by an instructor to try the RoSPA advanced test and was proud to get Silver on first attempt. One thing led to another and Gillian found herself going thru the ADI exam process, passing each stage and qualifying as an instructor in both cars and bikes in 2010. She gained her RoSPA Diploma in Advanced Motorcycle Instruction and Gold award in 2012. Gillian redoes the RoSPA every 3 years to update her skills.
So what started as a hobby has ended up being her job – she loves teaching people to drive cars and ride motorbikes. The challenges of being a self-employed sole trader are outweighed by the reward of helping pupils achieve their goals both in cars and on bikes.
And just in case you are wondering, no, Gillian Dunlop is not related to the famous motorcycling dynasty in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland although she does hail from Co Down!
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