Today I took the practical safety education course, which is since this year a mandatory step before you can take the written or practical exam for the motorcycle driving license. This was held at Gillingebanan.
We started with some introduction in a classroom, talking about our previous experiences and what we hoped to learn today. Shortly thereafter, we changed into driving clothes provided by them. Since this is a new education, everything was brand spanking new, from clothes to the bikes. A nice change from the clothes at Slussens trafikskola, where most of the gear have seen better day (and it’s not uncommon that when you take on the jacket it is still moist and sweaty from the previous driver – even if you have the first pass of the day.
The bikes we drove were Honda CB600FA Hornet, a 600cc bike with over 100 horsepower, about 10 hp more than the Suzuki GSX 750 that I’m used to from driving school – but with less weight. Fun bike! It also has ABS brakes which was a new experience for me. Just a few days ago I locked the front wheel brake when going in 70 km/h (about 45mph). This was at the end of the brake path, but it was still quite scary to feel it slide without being able to fully control it. Today I hit the brakes hard when going in 110 km/h (70mph), and with full control. ABS can add a bit to the length of the brake path, but it is so much nicer to use, not having to worry about locking the brakes!
We also learned about different turning techniques, most of which I knew from before. But it was surprising how much you could turn just by pressing your feet down on the foot pegs while letting go of the handlebar completely with your hands. My favorite is however still using counter-steering; pushing the handlebar forward on the right side if you want to turn to the right and vice versa. It’s also most effective if you want to turn quickly to avoid an obstacle.
Reaction time, line of sight and other things were also demonstrated and discussed, and the general feeling was very good. The teachers were very happy and enthusiastic, which is also contagious in a good way.
It was however very warm, and a lot of discussions were between driving sessions where we just turned off the bikes and opened the helmets (flip-up type). So in the heat from the sun in black, warm clothes you got soaking wet.
At the end of the day there were some more discussions in the classroom, and a few of us also got to drive a virtual motorcycle. It was a mock-up bike with a seat, a fully equipped handlebar and foot pegs with brake and gear pedals. This was in turn hooked up to a computer connected to a projector and speakers, and you got to drive around in a 3D environment with a lot of common dangers. I almost hit a door that was flung open right in front of me, but managed to brake in time. One of the other students crashed several times, and it was a good lessons of common hidden dangers.
All in all, it was a very good experience. I learned some new stuff, and I had fun.
Tomorrow I’m taking the written exam, and after that I have only the practical exam left.
Can’t hardly wait.