Arrive Alive

Learner Motorcyclist – Do we Test effectively?

With increased fuel prices and traffic congestion we find more and more motorcyclists on our roads and in city traffic. We unfortunately also receive many reports of road crashes involving our motorcyclists/ bikers.

As these riders are a very vulnerable group of road users we have also dedicated several sections on the Arrive Alive website to creating awareness of motorcycle safety.

Some of these more recently developed pages include:

Motorbike safety through the Eyes of the Instructor

Motorcycle Safety and Riding in Bad Weather

Sharing the Road with Bikers – How do we avoid the Rage

We have been assisted in this by the editor of BikeTalk, Hein Jonker. In the efforts to improve the safety of our bikers it is however important to focus at safety right from the start – the process of applying for the Learner Licence and performing the Riding Test.

A driver instructor has raised concern with regards to the Testing by emailing the following question to the Authors of Random House Struik -


Question received from a Driver Instructor:

“Am I the only person that is of the opinion the test for a motor cycle is of such a low standard that it is a wonder that there are not many more fatal collisions on our road involving motor cycles. Why for example is there is no road test for motor cyclists?

Everything is carried out in the yard, makes no sense to me. All the other codes are tested in the yard then on the road. The tests for the codes B and higher should be carried out on the road, as very few people have been KILLED in the parking area.

Please help to make these changers to make our roads a safer place for all. Would like to hear your opinion?”


Our friend and expert on the K53, Gavin Hoole, provided a brief response and raised this with the Arrive Alive website for further coment:

“Here are my own assumptions as to why a road test is not required for motorcycle candidates; perhaps there are other reasons?

  • It is probably considered impractical for the examiner to accompany the learner rider on a separate motorcycle to monitor his/her driving behaviour on a public road.
  • The skills test and manoeuvres in the yard are presumably considered enough to determine whether or not the rider is competent to ride on public roads, which s/he would have been doing anyway as a learner rider, seeing that they may not carry a passenger while holding a learner's licence.
  • To obtain a learner's licence the candidate would also already have had to learn the rules of the road, motorcycle controls and road signs.”

The Motorcycle Licence Test and the Motorcycle Instructor

We referred this question to Hein Jonker and would like to share his views on whether the Motorcycle License Test is adequately measuring the skills of the rider:

“This has been a bone of contention for a very long time, and a way overdue point of implementation into our local traffic laws.

Up to the early 80's road tests were carried out as part of the motorcycle licence test, but this method has been abandoned since the implementation of the K53 test method.

Although in the whole of the UK, and some in Europe, road testing is still very much part of a more complete testing method, and they are reaping the benefits of a very successful concept. Now I can say this with confidence, that we would probably never see road testing for motorcycles being conducted in South Africa again. We just don't have the manpower or expertise to achieve this on a national level and at all the current Category A test centres; not to mention the logistics and operating expenses that it will entail.

First of all, the examiner would have to drive (in his car) behind the motorcyclists using a Bluetooth or Radio communication unit to tell the rider where to ride etc., because they will simply NOT purchase motorcycles for this purpose. It is also a shame to admit that there are motorcycle licence examiners in our system that might have the qualification to test, but are unable to ride or operate a motorcycle. Not all who test ride a motorcycle in his or her personal capacity.

Is the K53 Motorcycle Test inadequate?

First let me address the question at hand: Is the K53 Motorcycle Test inadequate?

A very simple "Yes"! How on earth can you test a candidate in an area of 15m x 38m, at no more than 25km/h in 2nd gear and then license him to now go and ride on our roads and current traffic conditions at speeds of up to 120km/h in 5th or 6th gear? This is not only inadequate; it is also discriminative and deadly. We live in a new South Africa - allow me to use these words.

The solution I strongly believe, is to push government for "CBT before Learners". This will be a whole lot less costly an exercise, and WILL most certainly save lives.

CBT means Compulsory Basic Training – before Learners. -



In South Africa you may obtain a Motorcycle Learner Licence without even knowing how to ride or operate a Motorcycle. This is absurd! CBT will force people to get trained before riding a motorcycle, and thus will make them a little safer on our roads. Do we send our kids to go and work without proper schooling and qualifications? Hell no!

Further to this, candidates are allowed to be tested on a motorcycle with an engine capacity bigger than 125cc (150cc for instance), and then obtain a license to operate any size motorcycle. In the UK this is not the case! You get tested on the bike you ride or on the motorcycle in which the License Category fall, and you will then be licensed accordingly. Our system is killing people and we do nothing or very little to change it.

One thing I must say; the current K53 Motorcycle Test does give you a set of skills. Instead of telling my students that it is a pathetic test, I train them and make them see that they are obtaining a new set of skill … Manoeuvring a Motorcycle at speeds of up to 25km/h and 2nd gear. They do learn but hardly or ever enough to help them out there. That is why we have the course offering we have, and we are the only academy in SA to offer the final two levels after Advanced.

Guys, this is a serious matter and I'm glad the instructor brought this up, and it is now making its rounds through the hands of experts. I've been trying, for the last 4 years, to get people to see the effect of our failed system but keep on hitting a wall.

Please have a look at the attached document: Action Plan for Bikes – UK". This will cast some light on the matter, and hopefully some fuel on the fire of Motorcycle Safety and Skills Development in SA.

We have a lot of work to do, and I'm proud to be part of it!

HEIN JONKER | Editor & Chief Instructor

Cell: 083 7937975 | National Call Centre: 0861 245 382 | Fax: 0866 4898 55

Also view:

Also view:

Motorbike/ Motorcycle Safety and the Young Rider

Motorcycle Safety and Children as Pillion

Lane Splitting Advice and Guidelines from the Expert

Getting back in the saddle after a break from Riding


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