“Never Too Good” Episode 1: Back to School

The video  is part one of the Department for Transport’s latest “Think!” campaign. World Superbike Rider, Chaz Davies, joined comedian Alan Davies and eight regular riders to undertake further training to improve their riding skills on the road and prove you’re never too good to learn something new. More details available from think.dft.gov.uk

From the Pillion (Slipstream September 2014)

Hi everyone,Pat_Coneley_graphic

Having agreed to write something as Deputy Chief Observer, the first challenge was the title. Charon does “From the Chair”, Andy does “From the Saddle”, so this is going to be “From the Pillion”. A few months ago I accepted the role of Deputy Chief Observer, and will shadow Andy until the AGM next year. I will then stand for election and, if elected, will become the next Chief Observer. Under the club rules Andy has to step down after five years and he deserves a break!

I have attended several TVAM Committee meetings, and am starting to get a feel for what is involved in running this great club of ours. When I joined TVAM back in 1998 as an Associate, I never imagined that I would still be involved today, and am both honoured and awed at the prospect of becoming Chief Observer.

Over that sixteen year period there have been four CO’s, all different and each a hard act to follow. I have been reflecting on TVAM’s success and how we might build on that for the future. If you asked our 900 plus members to define what we are, I suspect you would get at least 900 different answers, and they would all be correct, and would include:

  • A Bike Club
  • A Road Safety Charity
  • A Training Organisation affiliated to the IAM
  • A Limited Company

The aims of all of these are broadly in line, although there are many differing opinions about how those aims are best achieved, as demonstrated by our current debate over our relationship with the IAM. The questions raised by Andy Slater at the AGM, and debated at the Observer Weekend, have now been distributed to the Team Leaders, who will hopefully give some focus on this. If you have not had a chance to voice your opinion, please try to attend your local team meeting.

Road Safety is becoming the subject of increasing government and media attention, and we motorcyclists are often portrayed negatively. In a time of improving road safety statistics, motorcycle fatalities remain stubbornly high, and TVAM has an opportunity to contribute in changing this, but we will achieve little in isolation.

The IAM in turn are subject to changes introduced by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which is the body the IAM have chosen to help maintain and improve their own standards. The introduction of the National and Local Observer qualification is as a result of this. There will be changes and challenges for us all over the coming year, but is that a bad thing?

Finally, I have been asked about how I see the role of Chief Observer, and what it means to me. I have a simple answer – it’s about the Riding Standard. I believe that TVAM’s success has encouraged us to become a little complacent. We are good, but are we as good as we could be?

Safe Riding


Pat Coneley

Deputy Chief Observer


New THINK! campaign – Never too good (Trailer)

The video  is the trailer for the Department for Transport’s new “Think!” campaign. World Superbike Rider, Chaz Davies, joined comedian Alan Davies and eight regular riders to undertake further training to improve their riding skills on the road and prove you’re never too good to learn something new. More details available from think.dft.gov.uk

From the Chair (Slipstream August 2014)


Hi everyone

Leading a ride?

With the help of Charlie Nelson, we have updated the Run Leaders’ pack available in the website library under the ‘TVAM General’ file. A plea; Please share your runs and have them  published in the Slipstream diary. Social runs are an essential part of what we do, and we would prefer that you proactively volunteer your run  leadership skills so that others can benefit from the runs. To have them listed in Slipstream and in the web calendar email details to socialruns@tvam.org

The local teams have had a few opportunities to attend events for marketing purposes.  These are key to allow us to meet other bikers and offer the services and camaraderie of our club. The use of the H Café as a destination for the BikeSafe days has worked well, and the Oxford IAM group have started coming along too. The GNATs have also attended an open weekend at Brian Gray Powerbiking, High Wycombe with some very positive feedback. On Saturday 6th September we have the opportunity to help Blade Motorcycles, Reading, with their main theme of promoting safety and supporting local charities. This is their first open day of this nature and they have invited TVAM to ‘Promote Advanced Riding Skills’. If you want to get involved contact Jim or Rita on reading.social@tvam.org.

Please look out for further opportunities of attendance at promising events. Pick up a handful of the newly printed business cards at St Crispin’s and hand them out to motorcyclists you meet. Obviously you can still cut out or print off vouchers from Slipstream. An IAM price increase may persuade some people to purchase their membership early – Skills for Life cost will be increasing to £149 on 1st October 2014.

We recently had an interesting challenge from one group of young bikers who wanted coaching on how to ride in a group when they are out with their mates. What other coaching aspects could we consider for our club?

Do we have a meeting of minds between MAG and the IAM?

As many of you know, MAG publish the Network magazine that is diligently shared by Nick Vale. This month MAG has brought to our attention the launch of a new website on Motorcycle Guidelines, www.motorcycleguidelines.org.uk, compiled by the Institute of Highways Engineers (IHE). The objective is to raise awareness amongst transportation professionals of the specific safety requirements for motorcyclists. IHE’s Motorcycling Guidelines are a step in that direction. MAG are suggesting that you may use the documents to influence councils etc. over issues such as parking or the use of bus lanes. Of particular interest to note is that the update of these documents was supported by the IAM.

Charon Willis


From the Saddle (Slipstream July 2014)

Hi everyone.

This month I am pleased to announce that TVAM has a new Run Report Form (RRF). The old form had been around for quite a number of years and had received only minor updates over that period. Also, it did not accurately reflect the same marking categories or grades seen on the IAM Examiner’s Test Report. So, with that in mind, it has been overhauled while still maintaining the general look and feel that you are all familiar with. Let’s look at what has changed:

CO Jul-14 pic1The first thing you will notice is the old rating of A–E has been replaced by grades 1-5. We’ve also added a description to explain what each number means, with 1 meaning Excellent and 2 meaning Good etc.

CO Jul-14 pic2
The marking for each category has also changed to match the Examiner’s Test Report with the old Plus / Ave / Minus being replaced by scores of 1 to 5.

CO Jul-14 pic3Safety, as always, is the number one priority so this section stays at the top of the new form. You can see that grades 1 and 2 are shaded for each item, and indicate the scores you should be aiming for prior to taking your test.

CO Jul-14 pic4The old sections called Progress and Speed have been replaced with a new section called Riding Style. It contains most of the items from the two old sections but also includes many of the items from the Examiner’s Test Report that were not mentioned before, such as Slow Riding and Eco-Riding.

The sections for Bends, Overtakes and Junctions have all been retained although they have been placed in a different sequence.


Safe riding everyone.

Andy Wedge
Chief Observer


Castle Combe Track Day Now Booking

castle_coombe300As we had so much fun last time we have provisionally booked the circuit again.

Come and join us for a TVAM exclusive track and training day at the fabulous Castle Combe circuit on Tuesday 30th September 2014.

We have 56 spaces available at a very reasonable £120 per rider, so book early to avoid disappointment.

There will be 4 groups; Novice, Novice/Inter, Intermediate, Experienced.

Sessions will be 15 min duration.

This is a road bike only event for those riders wishing to explore the full capabilities of their bike in a safe and controlled environment.  Track Guidance available from our knowledgeable team of Observers as well as on site Instructors.

There are strict noise limits here, your bike will need to pass the limit of 105db static test at half a meter and at three quarters of your rev range.

One or two piece Leathers are advised, but Zip together Textiles with CE armour are allowed. There is no requirement for ACU approved helmets (Gold Sticker) at this event.

For further information contact Dave Hepworth at tracktraining@tvam.org

To book your place go to the TVAM Webshop.

From the Chair (Slipstream May 2014)


Hi everyone

Andy Wedge and I represented TVAM in the IAM Region 2 meeting last month. There was an in-depth presentation of 92 slides, which will be in our documents folder on the TVAM website for those of you who would like full details.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sales of Skills for Life in our region are up by 6% year on year. The IAM have set a target to increase to 8%. Seems like a big ask, but the general public, bikers and TVAM will all benefit if we too can support this.
  • Our region takes 175 days to get associates who have been through enrolment to test, and 250 days including enrolment through to registering test completion (all car and bike). This is longer than all other regions. The quickest region does this in 150 days.
  • Information like this will be put on the IAM website to allow people to choose the group that meets their needs.
  • They are ramping up their effort to say thank you to members, including adding details onto your IAM membership card such as a F1RST pass.
  • There is a concerted effort to understand reasons for not renewing IAM membership. The slides give you more information, including reasons such as personal income versus perceived benefits (as you will know, we also have a project within TVAM on a similar vein to review and consider every benefit and cost to all types of our own club members).
  • Progressing with the new modules; members will be able to buy; New quiz/assessment module, Urban riding. I understand existing full members will be allowed to check it out later for free.
  • They are actively progressing merging of groups – this will not apply to TVAM as we already have our regional sub-teams.
  • There is a plan to change IAM communication, under the banner ‘group engagement’; which actually means increasing numbers of emails to committee members. Yay!
  • Our regional manager, Mark Trimmer, has categorised groups in his region as Red (i.e. poor sales of Skills for Life, and low test passes), Amber, and Green (doing well and above average). He has focussed his activity in Red and Green groups, and helping merge groups.
  • There was further talk about the database (DTE) that the IAM like groups to use. This is very helpful for other groups that don’t have their own, as TVAM do.

Please do carry on enjoying the club and making the effort by joining in on the courses, enjoying banter and riding.

Shiny side up

Charon Willis