Motorcycle Council of NSW Ph: 1300 679 622 (1300 NSW MCC) |

Rider Training

Apart from controlling the motorcycle and the traffic situation, the rider must also control him or herself.

There are three levels of skills a rider requires

(1) Operational
This is about operating the controls of the motorcycle.

It is true that many never go beyond this point, yet believe they can ride. Unfortunately, pride compels some to show the world how clever they are.

Young riders are usually still working out the bigger picture about life, their goals, how they fit in, who they really are, what they are really good at and yet, have a relatively limited perspective. Many do not recognise this or struggle with it, others simply remain childish and their actions tell the world. It is a time of testing themselves and the world around them, to find out and work it out. Physical skills are the easy part and can be learned and tested through training. Mental skills may seem harder at this time, yet will make the biggest difference to their lives

Examples of Operational failure: Lockup of brakes in emergency stop. Backing off throttle mid corner. Inability to countersteer. Head over centreline mid-corner

(2) Tactical
The mental process of identifying and planning an action in order to achieve a particular outcome or objective. It includes what we would normally call ROADCRAFT. Tactical does not always take into consideration any “downside” or questioning whether the situation could go wrong, due to context. Using a tactical approach is the beginning of riding to arrive. Incorporating as many roadcraft skills as possible brings good results.

Example of Tactical failure: Hit car in intersection, your fault, Enter curve too fast to react and stop in vision distance available

(3) Strategic
The exercise of reasoned judgement based on a riders’ sound knowledge of situations, conditions and an accurate assessment of their own skill and ability. This gives context to any action or decision. It includes a range of “higher order mental processes” including such things as motivations, reasons for the particular journey and goals or outcomes desired from riding. It is about Where, When and Why

Strategic thinking is a sign of mental maturity and understanding, age is not a prerequisite. Maturity and age of rider are independent . However, statistics show that riders over 40 are four times less likely to be involved in a crash involving a motorcycle.

Example of Strategic failure: The road is my racetrack. Impatience. Tiredness

Operational skills are a physical capability, while Tactical and Strategic approaches require mental application.

There are levels of risk attached to all aspects of life, including riding. Managing risk is the primary task. Learning to identify and assses the situations and conditions in which risk must be managed plus an apprpriate response is the key to safe riding.


Framework based on
Laapotti, S. Keskinen, E. Hataaka, M Katila, A “Novice drivers’ accidents and violations – a failure on higher or lower heirachial levels of driving behaviour”. Accident Analysis and Prevention 33 (2001) 759-769