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I just took the Indiana BMV skills test this morning. I had a few foot touchdowns in critical areas which I thought would be easier than they actually were.

The weather was a little dicey when I woke up. They take folks "first come first served," so I wanted to get there on time. Ended up have to wait a half hour for the rain clouds to pass by before heading out. Luckily I got there in time to be the 10th of 10 riders for the next session of the test. It was misty at times, but not overly wet. Test cost $10 cash.

The instructor gave the pre-meeting instructions, which was basically explaining that we had seven skills to demonstrate. Any deficiencies (feet down, going too slow on a timed / speed test, stalling out) would result in points against you. I think you were allowed up to 5 points against you, but I wasn't planning on getting that far! If you dropped the bike you were done for the day. Here they are (I wanted to post the URL to the test diagrams, but I'm too new still. Google "Abate of Indiana Motorcycle License Testing" if you care to follow along):

1. Sharp Turn, smooth stop

Didn't seem like a complicated thing, but the 90 degree turn lines were pretty tight. Speed was not measured on this test, so just making a smooth turn without getting wide was pretty easy for my Shadow 700. Some of the guys with bigger wheel bases had a much tougher time. The sport bike guys had NO trouble on this. Smooth stop...well, if you've ridden at all, a smooth stop shouldn't be a trouble. Even with the nervous butterflies of having to do it in front of a crowd!

2. Weave & U-turn

This was looking reasonable when the sport bike guys did it (first two in our 10 person line up). Then some of the cruiser bike guys tried it and NO ONE in the rest of the group came close to making it. The diagram says cones 12' apart on a 2' stagger, and it looks nearly impossible to get around all of them. If you go any faster than a crawl, you're toast. I definitely should have practiced this before hand. The u-turn wasn't bad, I know I can do slow u-turns, but I came it a little fast and cut the corner too much and touched down again...two on the same test! Ugh!

So the question really is -- how to maneuver this cone drill...any tips? Later in the day I was tooling around with a countersteer type of push on the handlebars at slow speeds, and it seems that with the right kind of balance that it would work for the cones. But I really want to practice this again to master the art of this swerve, if for no other reason that to understand it. I think what most people were probably getting wrong, was trying to steer tightly around objects with a lean. I also think that getting into the habit of looking where you want to go would have helped on a lot of these drills. At the end of this I thought, oh well, two misses -- hopefully I still have a few points!

3. Quick Stop

Not a difficult drill necessarily, but I did have to use one of my free retries because I was apparently going a little slow. You have to go 12 - 20 mph, and on my bike, the difference between 10 and 20 isn't terribly noticeable on the speedometer! Most of these drills appear to use first gear with the need to feather the clutch to control momentum and speed. The instructor advised us to get up to speed quickly so we could turn our attention to looking ahead instead of at the speedometer.

The first time I was also called out to "use both brakes." I'm a habitual heavy front braker (as a bicycle rider it's the only way to stop!). I've only recently, after reading one of David Hough's motorcycling books, Proficient Motorcycling, started to incorporate the appropriate amount of rear brake into my riding. A lot of time I'm using the rear for the smooth slow stop or in a more controlled situation at slower speeds. I do like David's suggestion to incorporate more rear braking in wet conditions. In any case, I think I nailed it the second time...or I thought I did by means of the "wave" given by the instructor.

So at this point, I've motored to the back of the pack, parked and killed the engine. I get off the bike to walk up to the group meeting for the last skill test, and I notice that the instructor has walked over to his truck and is returning in my general direction with a white slip...the learner's permit that we had surrendered at the beginning of the test. I'm getting nervous now that maybe I didn't pass that last braking test! So going through my mind is what I'm going to do if I've failed and I'm being sent home. All this morning wasted! Another Saturday 14 days out to re-test. Ugh, man, don't be me...and as I'm slowly and curiously walking toward the guy, he really isn't coming straight at me, but like left turn signals in front of you, I just didn't trust the look until he passed by me to send #9 on his way. He had made one too many mistakes and didn't pass muster this time. Relieved, I moseyed back up the group meeting for the last test:

4. Emergency Swerve

Possibly the easiest of all of them (or maybe the confidence and relief was getting to me at this point!). The idea is to be able to swerve around an obstacle, but not too far around the obstacle. On paper it looks tougher than it is, unlike the cone drill, which is WAY harder than it looks on paper. It reminded me of the advice in Proficient Motorcycling for swerving around an obstacle. At higher speeds (the drill was done at 12 - 20 mph, not fast at all), swerving uses up traction. The natural reaction is to quickly close the throttle during an emergency swerve, but doing so can eat up too much traction to leave enough for the emergency maneuver.

The conclusion of this is that after this test, the rest of our "class" passed the test! I'm now certified to head back to the BMV and get the official motorcycle endorsement on my license. I'm still interested in practicing emergency and skills maneuvers, especially mastering the cone drill, but it's one more step toward becoming a proficient and conscientious rider.

Jason
 

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That "M" has been on my Driver's License for so long now, I take it for granted that it's always there.

Have been telling myself that I might enjoy an Advanced Riders Course (and might learn a thing or two as well), but every DAY is a riding lesson, all by itself!!

-Soupy
 

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I just took the Indiana BMV skills test this morning. I had a few foot touchdowns in critical areas which I thought would be easier than they actually were.

The weather was a little dicey when I woke up. They take folks "first come first served," so I wanted to get there on time. Ended up have to wait a half hour for the rain clouds to pass by before heading out. Luckily I got there in time to be the 10th of 10 riders for the next session of the test. It was misty at times, but not overly wet. Test cost $10 cash.

The instructor gave the pre-meeting instructions, which was basically explaining that we had seven skills to demonstrate. Any deficiencies (feet down, going too slow on a timed / speed test, stalling out) would result in points against you. I think you were allowed up to 5 points against you, but I wasn't planning on getting that far! If you dropped the bike you were done for the day. Here they are (I wanted to post the URL to the test diagrams, but I'm too new still. Google "Abate of Indiana Motorcycle License Testing" if you care to follow along):

1. Sharp Turn, smooth stop

Didn't seem like a complicated thing, but the 90 degree turn lines were pretty tight. Speed was not measured on this test, so just making a smooth turn without getting wide was pretty easy for my Shadow 700. Some of the guys with bigger wheel bases had a much tougher time. The sport bike guys had NO trouble on this. Smooth stop...well, if you've ridden at all, a smooth stop shouldn't be a trouble. Even with the nervous butterflies of having to do it in front of a crowd!

2. Weave & U-turn

This was looking reasonable when the sport bike guys did it (first two in our 10 person line up). Then some of the cruiser bike guys tried it and NO ONE in the rest of the group came close to making it. The diagram says cones 12' apart on a 2' stagger, and it looks nearly impossible to get around all of them. If you go any faster than a crawl, you're toast. I definitely should have practiced this before hand. The u-turn wasn't bad, I know I can do slow u-turns, but I came it a little fast and cut the corner too much and touched down again...two on the same test! Ugh!

So the question really is -- how to maneuver this cone drill...any tips? Later in the day I was tooling around with a countersteer type of push on the handlebars at slow speeds, and it seems that with the right kind of balance that it would work for the cones. But I really want to practice this again to master the art of this swerve, if for no other reason that to understand it. I think what most people were probably getting wrong, was trying to steer tightly around objects with a lean. I also think that getting into the habit of looking where you want to go would have helped on a lot of these drills. At the end of this I thought, oh well, two misses -- hopefully I still have a few points!

3. Quick Stop

Not a difficult drill necessarily, but I did have to use one of my free retries because I was apparently going a little slow. You have to go 12 - 20 mph, and on my bike, the difference between 10 and 20 isn't terribly noticeable on the speedometer! Most of these drills appear to use first gear with the need to feather the clutch to control momentum and speed. The instructor advised us to get up to speed quickly so we could turn our attention to looking ahead instead of at the speedometer.

The first time I was also called out to "use both brakes." I'm a habitual heavy front braker (as a bicycle rider it's the only way to stop!). I've only recently, after reading one of David Hough's motorcycling books, Proficient Motorcycling, started to incorporate the appropriate amount of rear brake into my riding. A lot of time I'm using the rear for the smooth slow stop or in a more controlled situation at slower speeds. I do like David's suggestion to incorporate more rear braking in wet conditions. In any case, I think I nailed it the second time...or I thought I did by means of the "wave" given by the instructor.

So at this point, I've motored to the back of the pack, parked and killed the engine. I get off the bike to walk up to the group meeting for the last skill test, and I notice that the instructor has walked over to his truck and is returning in my general direction with a white slip...the learner's permit that we had surrendered at the beginning of the test. I'm getting nervous now that maybe I didn't pass that last braking test! So going through my mind is what I'm going to do if I've failed and I'm being sent home. All this morning wasted! Another Saturday 14 days out to re-test. Ugh, man, don't be me...and as I'm slowly and curiously walking toward the guy, he really isn't coming straight at me, but like left turn signals in front of you, I just didn't trust the look until he passed by me to send #9 on his way. He had made one too many mistakes and didn't pass muster this time. Relieved, I moseyed back up the group meeting for the last test:

4. Emergency Swerve

Possibly the easiest of all of them (or maybe the confidence and relief was getting to me at this point!). The idea is to be able to swerve around an obstacle, but not too far around the obstacle. On paper it looks tougher than it is, unlike the cone drill, which is WAY harder than it looks on paper. It reminded me of the advice in Proficient Motorcycling for swerving around an obstacle. At higher speeds (the drill was done at 12 - 20 mph, not fast at all), swerving uses up traction. The natural reaction is to quickly close the throttle during an emergency swerve, but doing so can eat up too much traction to leave enough for the emergency maneuver.

The conclusion of this is that after this test, the rest of our "class" passed the test! I'm now certified to head back to the BMV and get the official motorcycle endorsement on my license. I'm still interested in practicing emergency and skills maneuvers, especially mastering the cone drill, but it's one more step toward becoming a proficient and conscientious rider.

Jason
To me it sounds like you had a tough time. Let me suggest a different approach next time you take any test. Yes, test taking in itself is a skill that I own. First and foremost forget it is a test. Yes that is right, forget it. You have things that you want to show you can do on that course, just do them. Grading is not your problem, that is someone else's problem. You have practiced and you know you can demonstrate the skills so just ignore the test graders and do it. If you believe in yourself it will all work out. I can say from long years of test taking that this approach, no matter how trivial it seems, really works.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice...your method might have helped. I definitely should have practiced more though!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
GREAT videos. Good blend of humor and reality. Preachers grip vs. Politicians grip...LOL. Well done! Thanks for sharing!
 
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