Feb 2014 It's Channel's 30th Birthday
We started in 1984, back in the Part 1 test days and this year celebrate 30yrs training.
Another milestone being that we've been on our top rated CBT site in Folkestone now for 15yrs.

We reckon it's pretty awesome for any small business to come through (how many?) recessions and do 30 yrs., so are celebrating with our birthday discounts. Some pretty big savings for anyone new to us / our sport.
So spread the word while the offer stands.

Road Traffic Act - New Drivers:-
In Nov 2013, The Graduated Licence Scheme (to replace the New Driver Act) was passed into law, amending the Road Traffic Act 1988

1) No test can be booked unless / until your Approved Driving Instructor says you've finished an approved training course and awarded you a certificate to "prove" it. Not taught by Dad anymore then.
2) It's now a 12 month (not 24) probationary period, still with the 6 points and you're out.
3) But, any points (say just 3) and your probationary period can be extended - by the Police !
4) Max 1 passenger, so no Mum 'n Dad in the car with you driving.
5) No alcohol at all. The technical limit will be only 5 micrograms (mouthwash level).

And to get the full licence, after the probationary period - you'll have to do "Pass Plus" and get another certificate from an Instructor.

I can see what they're about but is this well thought through legislation?
The good news is that there's no date for implementation, it's been slipped in under the radar and they can inflict this later, at will.

It's up to you to let your MP know what you think of this. Hopefully it'll never be brought forward as written.

The Bike Test Review:-
The DSA's review of the bike test (forced through by Minister, Mike Penning) has finally been released.
It was delayed for a LONG time as Mr. Penning (unlike most Ministers) stayed in post for a long time. Now he's gone and the DSA can get back to doing what THEY want.
The review was a predictable whitewash, with the final result being that the Mod 1 test is too dangerous to be carried out on road.
Now, pretty straightforwardly, what kind of supposed road safety body designs a dangerous test? and if it can't be done on road why's it in a DRIVING test at all?
They actually had the Orwellian cheek to "spin" that as a virtue!!!! Perhaps the D in DSA stands for doublespeak?

The next review is whether to allow added training, instead of testing for the new 2 yr. licence upgrades.
Doubtless the DSA will decide that making experienced riders retake the LEARNER test after 2 yrs is safer than getting some added skills.
We know the answer.

France changes helmet law:-
With just about every Euro tour you are likely to make starting in France:-
The French tried to introduce a law requiring Hi-Viz vests for motorcyclists but had to withdraw that as it was in breach of other EC regulations.
Now, the perfidious French have found another way around it "UNCE Reg. 22" for helmets. In France you now have to have 4 approved reflective stickers; front, rear and both sides.
The stickers must be a minimum of (say 5cm diameter). If any other shape, it must be able to contain a circle of at least 4cm diameter or a rectangle of at least 12.5 and min 2cm wide.
Yes, there's on the spot fines and their police are enforcing this.
France is in recession and is using it's police as a source of revenue. Speed cameras are popping up all over the place too. Frankly it's rude.

Bike Licences and Tests as of 19th Jan 2013:-

Age 16 Moped, New Group AM
Up to 50cc, now max speed only 28mph
Licence is for AM Moped. No real change except that only more recent - June 2003 on - Mopeds are type approved as 28 mph.
Earlier ones were old Group P - 32 mph.
So youngsters on new licences need to be careful of buying older bikes that they'll not be licenced for!
But if your licence is pre 19/1/13 you'll still have the old Group P too. Most of the plod will be confused.

Age 17 Light Motorcycle, New Group A1
Up to 125cc and 11 kW (15 bhp)
After test, the licence is then for A1 Motorcycles - that's all you get a licence for a 125- nothing else, there's no automatic upgrade anymore either.
A big change, just a 125cc, a real blow to new riders.

Age 19 + Medium Motorcycle, New Group A2
A new, intermediate "Direct Access" to middleweight bikes.
After test, you're licenced up to 35 kW (47 bhp) but if it's a restricted bike, the original bike mustn't have been over 70 kW (93 bhp) which is nearly all of the present 600cc sportbikes! So nothing too exciting until the manufacturers catch up. Again there's no longer any automatic upgrade.

So there'll be no 47 bhp restrictors for + 93 bhp bikes! Unless your licence was pre 19/1/2013, then it'll still be 33 bhp (and any bike!) and perfectly legal - what a mess!

2 years after passing the new A2 test, can take the new Group A test without waiting until you're 24 y.o.

Age 24 + Any Motorcycle, The New Group A
Direct Access as we know it but now 24 not 21 y.o.

From the end of 2013 it's going to change again!!!!

The A2 test will be allowed on a lighter bike (just a 20 kW - 27 bhp) a bonus for smaller people.

In a few years, it'll change yet again !
The A test will be upped to a minimum of 50 kW - 67 bhp and a minimum weight of 180 kg - 400 lb ! A real blow to smaller people and rather discriminatory.

Bike Test change:-
1st July 2011- As of now:
All Candidates arriving for test MUST now be properly dressed or the test can / might be canceled at the Examiner's discretion and without refund.

Although the law is only helmets, the DSA are now insisting on a decent level of protection overall.

The minimum dress standard is now:
Helmet, Motorcycle jacket and Motorcycle gloves.
At least heavy (work, not fashion) denim jeans and wholly intact. Those fashion garments with pre-shredded knees are a no-no!, No exposed skin is allowed.
Footwear must be "sturdy", giving support and ankle protection - not trainers then!

No problems for anyone going to a decent School where kit is provided but we expect some "lone rangers" will have an expensive wasted day.

Module 1 Bike Test changes:-
16th May 2011- Initial changes (to meet some of the criticisms) are being made to the Mod 1, ahead of the full review.
Firstly the order is being changed, all the slow stuff first, then - and this is a good bit:

That awful slow ride is being dropped, it becomes a much more reasonable slowish ride over to the U-turn area. Then another good bit:
A "sighting - practise lap", not speed measured at all, around the Avoidance and E-stop circuit, stopping being counted as the Controlled Stop.

Then it's the Emergency Stop as before and, provided the Examiner isn't scared, then the Hazard Avoidance. (If he's concerned after the E-Stop then he won't allow the Avoidance at all)

Another welcome change is that there's going to be a bit of discretion on the speed requirement.
If and only if, the higher speed exercises were otherwise OK, they'll allow 5% leeway.
So no more " well done but sorry, you were only 48 kph not 50". It will get a mark though, as a fault and will count as one of the 5 allowed.

Eyesight Test to change:-
Jan 2011- It's EC harmonisation yet again. The DSA have just released details of a "consultation" about changing UK law to align with the EC's minimum standards.

Now, the average of EC eyesight tests is a lot easier than ours. The UK can keep our, higher, standard or meet the half blind European one. In typical slave'ish fashion they propose to allow the test to be dropped from a numberplate at 20.5 metres to 17.5 metres.
If you want to have a say on this, go to the DSA's website (our Links page) go to Consultations and have a rant.

Bike Test changes:-
We're all used to the "new" test by now, it's been up and running since April 2009.
Surprisingly, the pass rate's stayed about the same as for the "old" test but then, trainers were better prepared than usual.

Sept 2010 - Now they've changed the Part 2 (on road) part of the test - to include about 10 minutes "Independent Riding".
It's pretty straightforward really. The Examiner stops you somewhere and simply asks you to "follow the signposted route to......", instead of him giving directions.
It's added pressure, making sure you're doing everything correctly and now having to stick to their route as well. In fact, if you go the wrong way it doesn't matter a hoot.
It's not been a problem because we train in the test town. Our students have loads of practise and know the chosen routes (we're not above a bit of cheating) so don't let it put you off.

Bike Test Reviews:-
July 2010 - This "new" test has been a bit of a disaster and we wrote some pretty scathing commentary for the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. They backed us, so did the new Transport Minister, Mike Penning and the whole thing is now under review.
If all goes according to plan, we'll get back to a 1part and on-road test that'll be widely available; instead of the few and far away test centres.

Needless to say, the DSA is being a bit intransigent and getting change is like pulling teeth but progress is being made. Trials are underway.
Watch this space !!!!!

And the Law will change again !
Nov 2010 - It's the EC 3rd. Directive and the new UK laws are planned to come in 2012 - repeat - 2012 that's next year!

What will happen (it's unavoidable) is that the EC says there must be 3 steps to a full, unrestricted licence. That's either testing or Training.
The last Govt. issued a supposed "consultation" and decided that the UK law will become:

At 17, pass your test on a 125cc, stay on a 125cc for 2 years. Then:
At 19, after 2 yrs on a 125, pass the same test again but on a 400cc, ride up to 46bhp (at least that's a big up from the current 33bhp restriction) for another 2 years. Then:
At 21, after 2 yrs on a 46bhp, pass the same test again but on a 600cc - hey you've got there at last.
After a minimum 4 years experience and 3 learner tests.
There will still be "Direct Access" routes, at 19 for the 400cc test and at 24 for the 600cc test.

Now that's another disaster, hot on the heels of the last one.

After huge lobbying and a legal challenge, the MCIA got the last Govt's. "Consultation" overturned by the new Govt., what a result.
Now it's a fast moving re-consult (the 2012 deadline is still there). We're hoping to get a softer line adopted. Basically a short training course to "uplift" at each licence stage, instead of getting experienced riders to keep re-taking the learner test.

We'll keep you informed.

DSA 2010 Statistics Released
When we say it's been a disaster, a quick peek at the numbers shows what we mean. The number of bike tests passed each year, for the last decade was always between 50,000 (2004 low) and 70,000 (2009 high) per year.
In the year the "new" test was introduced this fell to about 22,000
Currently (2012) it's struggled back to about 35000
They still don't think they got it wrong!

Anyway, enough of that, lets have some:

Good News-

Gurkha hero passes bike test July 2010

Kushal Limbu with Instructor, Nigel and a pristine Pass Certificate !

Pte Kushal Limbu lost both legs to a Taliban roadside bomb in 2008 but not his determination.
After a period of rehab., and fitted with artificial legs he was loaned a specially adapted 125cc bike by the NABD (National Association for Bikers with a Disability) which had thumb operated rear brake and gear change.
Channel designed a training course to suit his particular needs and Kushal had our huge respect on passing both his Module 1 and Module 2 bike tests at the very first attempt.

Now it's a "big bike" but restricted to 33bhp for 2 years, then who knows?

Folkestone U15 Rugby To Team up with Saracens

The team in their Channel Rider Strip 2010

We're one of the sponsors to the team who've had huge success in the league this year. So good in fact they've been chosen to develop a youth partnership with the Saracens no less!
From 2011 the Premiership side are to give the team access to elite coaching and top quality development programme.

They've impressed everyone so much this season, we think you're looking at some of the next generation of Rugby pro's here.

Kent Air Ambulance 20th Anniversary May 2010

Yes the cheque does say £2358.47

20 years of saving lives was celebrated with an Awards Dinner.
We were a bit chuffed to be nominated in the "Business Fundraiser" awards.
We weren't the winners, so didn't have to give a speech - result !

This has been our chosen Charity for years now. Every candidate is invited to contribute and every year another cheque goes from our Candidates (it is really you guys, not us) to continue support. We do hold the record for the most money wedged into one collection box though.
Many thanks go to all our Candidates for backing this and to the Air Ambulance Team who are:-

The Nicest Guys You Hope You Never Need To Meet