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RoSPA test standard

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Continuing on from the advanced riding thread, I was going through some old files this morning and came across an article I wrote a couple of years ago relating to the RoSPA test and what is expected during the test.

The IAM requirements are not that different except of course they are a straight pass or fail rather than a graded system and they have no requirement for a re-test, but maybe if you are or have been thinking about going down this route, it may give you a bit of a heads up.

The RoSPA advanced riding test is regarded as the most comprehensive and challenging available to the public. A RoSPA Gold is the highest civilian riding standard available and the holder will be a master of his or her art. If you pass the test you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you really are a good rider. The following notes give points which examiners will look for during a test, but they do not replace the need for full knowledge of Motorcycle Roadcraft and The Highway Code.

The general appearance of a motorcycle says a lot about the rider. The examiner will expect to see that your motorcycle is legal and in a roadworthy condition. It is easy to see a motorcycle‘s transmission and hydraulic fluids. You should ensure that levels and linkages are correctly or properly adjusted. The clothing, both in terms of its physical protection and high visibility/conspicuity, you wear as a rider is all important to your own safety. The examiner will expect you to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. He will wish to see that your helmet meets British Standards and is in good condition, securely fastened, with a clean, unscratched visor.

Any bags or containers must be securely fastened to the machine.

It is unlikely that anyone will gain a high grade without a good knowledge of Motorcycle Roadcraft, the police rider‘s handbook, which is available to the public at most bookshops. Local groups have experienced and trained tutors who will, free of charge, assess your performance. provide advice and support as you prepare for the test. You may not be fully practised in the application of the police system of riding as the advanced police rider. They have spent many weeks of full time training in order to achieve this standard. We appreciate that most members of the public will not have the riding time to reach this level of excellence. However, the examiner will be looking for a satisfactory display of safe, systematic and smooth riding. He will explain, in the test debrief, any points which are causing difficulty, giving advice and sometimes practical ways of overcoming them. All Association examiners will have had considerable experience of many types of vehicles at police advanced level and many are also police instructors.

You will be expected to use all controls smoothly and with finesse.


This should be smooth and controlled. He will watch to ensure that you can manoeuvre at low speeds and at higher speeds in line with safety and speed limits.


Your use of the clutch should show smoothness, delicacy and timing with the gear change lever.


The way you use the gearbox will tell the examiner a lot about your ability. He will consider the way you make the change, your ability to match engine revolutions to road speed and how you use the gearbox when slowing to a stop.


How you use the brakes will play a big part in the examiner‘s final assessment. He will look for smoothness, early braking at the right place in the system, a careful balance of front and rear brakes to avoid pitching and skidding, and progressive change of brake pressure to bring the motorcycle to a smooth stop.


The throttle mechanism is spring loaded to its closed position. You must accustom yourself to this if you are to achieve smoothness. The examiner will want to see you displaying acceleration sense and, most important on a motorcycle, varying the power transmitted according to changes in road surface conditions.

Rear observations:

Rear observations play a big part in the system. It is important that the rider is aware of conditions to the rear as well as to the front to enable the early formulation of a riding plan. The timing of rear observation by using the mirror and shoulder checks will be examined. They should be made only when the act of looking away from the front is not in itself a hazard.


The examiner will note audible warnings given. The horn should only be sounded when necessary, when all other safety features have been implemented.


Clean mirrors, windscreen and helmet visor are essential, particularly in wet conditions. Using demisting fluids and polishes to keep a clear view in the rain is important to a motorcyclist.


Moving off and stopping must be smooth and safe. Good shoulder checks are essential before moving off. The rider should be able to control the machine at low speeds. The examiner will expect a careful balance of throttle and brakes. He will note the rider‘s choice of which foot to put down when stopping. The thinking rider will be able to place either both feet on the ground or balance with one foot while the other one works a control. To prevent the machine from rolling when stationary, one of the brakes should be kept applied where appropriate.


The examiner will expect to see you demonstrate your understanding of the system, as outlined in Motorcycle Roadcraft, and the correct sequence of your riding actions. He will observe your hand and foot actions for balance and the timing of your signals. To do this the examiner may not be in the position behind you that you may expect. Do not be disconcerted. He may be checking that your rear observations are really to seek information, and not just a habitual or reflex action. Do not treat him as following traffic for the purpose of considering whether or not to give a signal.

The use of the system as outlined in Motorcycle Roadcraft is the cornerstone of advanced riding and inconsistencies in its application will affect the grade awarded. To achieve a gold or silver standard you should apply the system consistently throughout the test. A bronze grade may be typified by inconsistencies in its application.


The examiner will note how you position your machine for safety, stability and view on the approach to hazards both on the open road and in urban areas. He will note your use of lanes. You should be able to position the machine in order to obtain the best view that is available all the time. You should also understand that at times a position for view or speed will have to be sacrificed for the sake of safety. When you are riding round bends and corners, and not overtaking, you should not cross marked centre lines and should not cut corners when entering marked junctions. RoADA believes that to do so is potentially dangerous because such actions may be the result of entering the hazard too fast and may confuse oncoming and following drivers. The Highway Code supports this view. If anything untoward happened during such a manoeuvre the driver might be seen to be at fault and might then blame RoADA for teaching or condoning this action. If there are no centre markings then some movement over

the centre of the road may be acceptable

It is again emphasised that the mark of an advanced rider is always to be able to place the machine precisely where it belongs under all conditions and that it should be in the right place, travelling at the right speed and with the correct gear engaged.


The examiner will watch how you ride around corners and bends both in urban and rural areas. He will look at the line you take to ensure it gives the optimum view and safety margins. You will need to demonstrate that the principles and safety features of cornering are correctly applied.


You should always remember that signals are the language of the road. You will need to consider the use of signals to warn other road users of your presence and intentions. They should therefore be given clearly and in good time. Arm signals should be given when appropriate to reinforce any mechanical signal. All these points will be noted by the examiner, who will also be observing your reaction to traffic signs.


Advanced riders must be capable of controlling their machine at speeds up to the legal limit where it is safe to do so. While the use of speed must at all times be safe and legal, the examiner will want to see a brisk ride with good progress being made where possible. A driving plan that relies on exceeding the speed limit to complete a manoeuvre is unacceptable. If you consistently exceed the speed limit the examiner will stop the test and you will fail.


While overtaking manoeuvres are inherently dangerous, they are a necessary element of the concept of good progress. However, they must be conducted safely and within the speed limit.


Rider and machine must blend harmoniously at all times. The controls should be adjusted so as almost to become extensions of the rider‘s limbs. Posture should be natural and comfortable. Lying flat on the tank or hanging off the seat when cornering should be treated as unnecessary for the road rider. Quiet efficiency is the hallmark of the good rider. Your consideration for other road users and your self discipline will reveal itself as will your temperament which, when riding, should be calm and relaxed but decisive.

Vehicle sympathy:

We expect Association members to respect their vehicles and develop motorcycle sympathy to the benefit of the current and future rider.


One of the principal differences between the novice and the advanced rider is the huge amount which the latter sees and applies to the riding plan. You will be expected actively to seek information about changes in the short, medium and distant views. It is not enough merely to acknowledge a change because the examiner will wish to see evidence of observational links and how you cope with what you have seen.

Judging distance:

Your ability to judge distance and relate it to the speed of your own and other vehicles will be noted together with the way you link this ability with your braking and acceleration.

Motorways and Dual carriageways:

Joining the motorway can be from either lane of the slip road and will depend on traffic conditions. The use of the different elevation of the slip road and the motorway may give a better view of the motorway. Acceleration sense should be used to achieve an appropriate merge speed. Speed and following distances should be appropriate for the conditions. When leaving the motorway the candidate should be in lane 1 before the 300 yards marker and, if necessary, signalling that intention.


At the conclusion of the test you will be asked several questions on The Highway Code, Motorcycle Roadcraft and basic motorcycle mechanics. You must be familiar with these two publications. There are a few things about how motorcycles work that every rider must know. Your motorcycle handbook should provide sufficient data for this part of the test. Be assured, no-one will be trying to catch you out. Know your subject well and you will not go far wrong. It is worth mentioning that through membership of RoSPA local groups you are likely to have many questions answered by the members who have already taken a test. It is unusual for a rider without some form of advanced rider training to obtain a high grade. Local group tutors group can help and their advice and support is free.

The examiners handbook is quite comprehensive and will cover additional areas of the ride as well and once marked, the candidate will receive his/her written report a few weeks later.

I hope this gives you some idea what we as examiners are looking for.

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Thanks TC - that's a fantastic write-up.

I was planning on joining the IAM after doing a BikeSafe course earlier in the year in Birmingham. My main reason for IAM was the people at the Birmingham Advanced Motorcyclists seemed like a great bunch who would make doing the IAM enjoyable and interesting.

With the IAM you're in a group assigned to an observer who you ride with regularly until he/she thinks you're ready for test. What is the procedure with RoSPA?

I've just ordered a load of bits for my bike, my next "upgrade" was going to be membership to either RoSPA or IAM to upgrade my riding skills. :D

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I was planning on joining the IAM after doing a BikeSafe course earlier in the year in Birmingham. My main reason for IAM was the people at the Birmingham Advanced Motorcyclists seemed like a great bunch who would make doing the IAM enjoyable and interesting.



If you join BAM, then the chances are we will meet as I am doing a presentation to the Birmingham Advanced Motorcycle group next year, (March if memory serves).

Good bunch of guys there. :cheers:

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I agree about the BAM team, think thats the one Marcus is in. If it is Marcus runs the West Mids Bikesafe, and is a top bloke, BAM head out to IOM every year, outside of the races to go and enjoy the fast roads and he has some fantastic onbike footage (used to own an R1 not sure if he still does).

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I agree about the BAM team, think thats the one Marcus is in.

Yes - that's the one. Marcus ran the BikeSafe course I attended with the help of the officers at West Midlands Police.

My only reservation is being able to put aside the time to ride. I guess once I'm all paid up I'll make time.

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