Feature Piece from South Lancashire Advanced Motorcyclists
SLAM’s Youngest Ever Advanced Rider
On December 20th 2022 Niall Galvin had an important appointment with IAM Examiner Mr. Neil Rowley. What was this appointment? It was to carry out an IAM Advanced Motorcycle Test.
You might say so what? These happen all the time. Why was this different?
Well, the difference is that Niall at 17 years and 8 months was the youngest rider from SLAM to take the Advanced test and indeed pass it. Possibly the youngest rider ever to pass? Does anyone know different? It would be good to find out!
Niall only took his DVSA Mod 1 and Mod 2 tests in May 2022, which he did on his Honda 125 R which he got for his 17th birthday.
This was the same bike on which he did the advanced test. You might be thinking is it even possible to do an advanced test on a 125? Well clearly it is, the bike is motorway legal so that part of the training and test can be done as normal. Yes, it is unusual, it is probably even harder to do the training and pass the test on a lower powered bike, it maybe even unique but it has been done.
How did Niall get to this stage of his motorcycling journey so early? It starts with his dad Liam who is a lifelong biker, who is also an IAM Advanced rider, passing his advanced test in 2013.
Niall age 3 with his dad Liam.
At the age of 10 he was riding a Honda CRF 125 small wheel bike and flying around Cowm quarry a dedicated marshalled well-run off-road facility near Rochdale.
Niall age 10 at Cowm Quarry, Rochdale.
Liam then decided to make the move onto trials-bikes with his boys, Niall and younger brother Dan to build their balance, control and slow skilled manoeuvres. The boys have continued this up to the present.
Liam had many bikes when he was young and learned how to take them apart and rebuild. He had a Yamaha FS1E (Fizzy) and thought that might be a good option for Niall when he turned 16. He found one in Leicester and bought it, bringing it back on his trailer. The bike looked OK but on closer inspection needed a significant amount of work, including a new wiring loom, tyres, carburettor rebuild etc.
This done, it was ready for Niall to do his CBT.
Having got all the right riding gear, Niall all suited and booted ready for the road totally different to off road, but the skills learnt obviously give him a good grounding.
Niall on ‘Fizzy’ at home practice before his CBT.
Niall passed his CBT on his 16th birthday and then a few nervous runs out with his dad to make sure he had some basic Road sense (none whatsoever and he’ll admit it).
Some of the runs out on the Fizzy were quite epic sometimes 150 miles in the day. The freedom and independence bug had bitten him and there was no stopping him rain or shine. The only time he was stopped was when he blew the top end which then needed a rebuild including crank bearings.
In the 12 months from his 16th birthday to his 17th he put over 5000 miles on the Fizzy.
17th birthday came along and the Fizzy got a rest. Closely followed by a 21 plate Honda 125 R cafe racer type bought from an older rider who had just passed his test.
This was, as mentioned earlier the bike he did his Mod 1 and 2 tests, all the IAM Advanced Training and test on. This included some big mile days like coast to coast. In total since he started riding the Honda at the end of April, he has put over 8000 miles on it up to the end of December 2022.
Niall’s younger brother Dan is following in the family tradition and has just got his licence, being 16 at the end of the 2022, he has already past his CBT on January 7th using the aforementioned Fizzy. No doubt, when 17 he will be keen to do the Mod 1 and 2 test just as Niall did and who knows maybe another young rider for Advanced training?
Niall’s Advanced Training
Niall started his Advanced training in June 2022 with an Observer from SLAM, he attended all the classes provided on Course 3 including the Cones Day where he excelled demonstrating excellent slow machine control. He used his 125 and towards the end after seeking permission from the organizer, borrowed his observer’s BMW GS 1250 and rode the course flawlessly. (Obviously he could ride the GS because the cones course was on private grounds).
Niall really enjoyed the whole advanced training process and worked diligently through each competency, practised in between each observation session and took on feedback in a very positive and responsive way. He studied the IAM Advanced Rider Course Handbook along with the Highway Code. This was evidenced by his ever-increasing knowledge and confidence in answering questions set within his ride reports. All this led to him achieving a 1 in the knowledge section of the test.
He particularly enjoyed the ‘Meet the Examiner’ session.
Niall progressed well through the training, there were a few delays outside his control but eventually he was declared test ready by SLAM National Observer Graham Addison in November. His bike then developed a leaking radiator for which parts had to be ordered and then his dad needed the time to do the repair. This led to a change of date for the test which was further delayed due to the freezing weather conditions in early to mid-December. IAM Tests are not allowed if temperatures are less than 5oC!
Eventually the test was successfully completed on Tuesday December 20th. A great Christmas present for Niall, Liam, his observer and check ride observer.
Congratulations Niall on an excellent achievement, we hope that your example and success will encourage more young riders to do the advanced training. Maybe you can start by encouraging Dan!
On being asked to describe his experience of the Advanced Rider Training. Niall offered the following:
‘ I was quite nervous about doing the Advanced training at first, having only past my Mod 1 and 2 tests a few weeks earlier, but all the people I came into contact in SLAM were very helpful and encouraging. Doing an unmarked check ride with my observer was a good start and made me feel at ease. We then went through each competence and repeated some to make sure the learnings were well in place.
I particularly enjoyed the various classroom sessions, my favourite being Meet the Examiner. Mr Ian Marginson really helped to demystify the Advanced test and this was a great step forward, giving me confidence and helping put everything into perspective.
My hope is that me passing the Advanced test will help encourage other young riders to do additional training to become more confident and most importantly safer riders.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped me in the process.
My dad has always encouraged me to have a lifelong learning attitude to motorbike riding and therefore doing the Advanced training fits into that. I want to continue training and who knows even become an Observer myself’.
We also asked Niall’s dad Liam for his views:
‘Every parent allowing their kids to go out on a bike should consider encouraging them to develop further skills and look at courses such as The Enhanced Rider Scheme, Bike Safe, IAM, RosPa, etc. It would be great if additional training could be done at the earliest age possible, even before they have passed the Mod 1 and 2 tests. It can only benefit their own and other road users safety. In my opinion the system used for IAM Advanced Rider Training can be used in parallel with any challenges the young face today in this ever changing new world we live. It helps make sense of and simplify complex situations and provides structured solutions to dealing with them’.
For SLAM this is just the start of our efforts to promote young rider training. Liam’s point made about getting riders at the earliest possible opportunity chimes with SLAM past Chairman Doug Nowell who wants to see the group getting involved with riders at the beginning of the biking experience, before they have passed any DVSA test. We are working on ways to achieve this.
Obviously, if other IAM Groups would like to do something similar we are here to help in whatever way we can.
For more information contact: Contact@slambikers.co.uk