People rarely take a moment to appreciate government departments like VicRoads when they do a great job. I am taking a brief moment to congratulate VicRoads on the quality of their motorcycle licencing regime in Victoria.
I recently obtained my motorcycle licence as a full car licence holder through Armstrong’s Driver Education. They also did a great job. I did this because 1) motorcycles are freedom and 2) Galactic Bioware has been developing motorcycle armoured gear that we are looking to launch mid 2022. I wanted to be able to wear it and test it out as a more informed and genuine user.
As a motorcycle doesn’t have a passenger seat (if you don’t count the sidecar which is awesome), the learning process is necessarily a little different than a car, truck or boat.
There are three phases to obtaining a motorcycle licence in Victoria and it takes about 5 months from start to finish if you do each phase as quickly as possible. It may not be wise to do it as quickly as possible, as the road and (its users) are more forgiving of you with the big L plate and high visibility vest that you must wear as a Learner. I tried to ride for at least 500km before each of my Check Ride and Licence Assessment (Phase 2 and Phase 3 as you’ll learn below). Most of the Phases are group courses with an instructor who rides around with you providing advice and feedback, and 4 other participants. At Armstrong’s in Truganina it was very relaxed and accommodating of all skill levels and backgrounds.
Phase 1: Learner’s Permit
In order to obtain a motorcycle learner permit you must complete a standardised and compulsory 2-day course. With a learner permit, you can commence riding a motorcycle straight away with certain restrictions and it involves:
- an eyesight test.
- a learner permit knowledge test (32 multiple choice questions with 78% pass mark required).
- an on-road and off-road assessment.
This 2-day intensive builds your confidence and you learn the majority of the skills and knowledge required to handle the bike and minimise your chances of injury / death by studying the common crash causes and situations. Motorcycles in developed countries are a riskier choice than cars, so tend to attract risk takers (who take more risks) which distorts accident data. With good riding practices and risk management (the Crash Avoidance Zone), accidents are very rare. The basic idea is to assume that no one ever sees you and actively tries to drive into you and to therefore space yourself accordingly, then it is hard for them to do so.
Phase 2: Check Ride
The Check Ride is a half-day coaching course that includes:
- an off-road review of your braking, steering and low speed manoeuvring skills.
- an on-road coaching ride on a pre-determined route.
This is a confidence booster and a skill check-in to correct bad habits you might have picked up out on your own on the Learner Permit. If you’ve done a decent amount of riding after your learner’s, this will be a very easy couple of hours. I found it a good opportunity to consolidate safety wisdom from the instructor and team.
Phase 3: Licence Assessment
The final licence assessment that means you don’t have to wear the L plate and the high-vis jacket includes:
- an off-road riding skill assessment, and
- an on-road safe riding assessment.
Note: the high-vis jacket is no longer required, but may still be a good idea to keep handy for late night rides or if you are struggling to be seen. It’s a small price to pay to stay alive.
My on-road assessment was about 25 minutes and went very quickly. Having done 1,000 km of riding at this stage in all sorts of conditions – freeways, country roads, peak hour traffic, late night, heavy rain, high heat, etc – I felt pretty comfortable and just enjoyed the ride.
All in all it was a great program put together by VicRoads and Armstrong’s, and all of my classmates came out feeling very well prepared for the madness and joy of public roads.
I have started to wear our prototype motorcycle armour and I’ll be able to release some photos soon.
Stay safe out there.