From the Saddle to the Chair (Slipstream April 2015)

David Jacobi? DJacobi

Some will say “Who?”

Some will say, “Oh no, not him again!”

Who am I?

I’m 54, happily married to Karen for 34 years, two grown-up children, Francesca (passed Advanced Car Test), Christopher (passed Advanced Bike Test) and a member of the Club even though he lives in Cardiff. I’ve been a member of TVAM since the mid-90’s.

When we moved to Reading from Essex, Karen said “Why don’t you join a bike club?” I had a look at local Honda Owners Club, then spoke to Dave Simmons the then Membership Secretary (1st tour of duty), who said “Come along”. So I did, and joined on the spot. It was an extremely friendly club of about 300 regulars.

I had started my motorcycling career at sixteen on a Yamaha FS1E moped. My Mum and Dad said I could have one as long as I got trained. I did an RAC-ACU course at Ilford Amateur Motor Club in north east London, passed the 12-week course and was asked back as a Trainee Instructor. On the following course was a nice young lady called Karen, who was also asked back – the rest, they say, is history!

I passed my IAM Motorcycle test at seventeen and three months on a Honda CB250-G5. I qualified as an Instructor on the RAC-ACU Scheme and then became a Team Leader. I spent some time as a STEP Motorcycle Instructor at the London Borough of Newham and then came back to Ilford, where I was a founder member of the Staggered Diamonds Advanced M/C Club – named after the Police Squad formation when riding as a ‘four-ball’. I was a founder Observer with North East London & Essex IAM Group.

I have been fortunate enough to have always had a motorcycle – Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and lately BMW. It’s been my stress-buster. As Karen and I met riding bikes, she knows how much pleasure I get from riding and does not object when I am off out.

I was asked by Ian Garrard (former Chief Observer) if I would like to be Observer Training Co-ordinator, a role which I did for 5 years and then was asked by Richard Tickner and Chris Caswell if I would consider being Chief Observer, which I accepted, and did from 2005 to 2010, with Nigel Taylor as Chair. At the end of my five year stint (ten including Training Co-ordinator) I said a large “PHEW”!

Since then I have remained involved with TVAM, assisting with Observing, Observer Health Checks, Enhanced Advanced, Observer Validations, with Track Guide assistance at TVAM Track Training Days, IAM Region 2 Training Team, IAM Bike-to-Bike Radio Framework, and coaching Associates for the Advanced test. I am an IAM National Observer with Level 3 Radio qualification.

What is TVAM, and what does it mean to me?

Well, since I joined in the mid-90’s, TVAM has steadily grown to around 1,000 members, with about 150 Observers, 250 Associates in training, 400-450 Full members of the Green Team, 100+ test passes per year, and an annual turnover of about £85,000-£90,000.

The answer to the first part of the question is just numbers; the second part is much more personal. Apart from family, TVAM has been one of the most pleasurable parts of my life. It has been motorcycling personified. I once described TVAM as a “motorcycle club that also does advanced training”.

Most IAM groups concentrate on getting Associates through the test, the rest being an afterthought. TVAM manages to generate a family feel, is very friendly and welcoming (although I think we could always perhaps do a little more!) and manages a high level of membership retention. Why? Well, I think it’s that personal connection between like-minded souls and the love of two wheels and an engine!

Since we moved to Reading, my friends are almost exclusively from TVAM – including TVAM and motorcycling events and other social activities.

TVAM: “Probably the best Advanced Motorcycle Club in the UK”?

Well in my opinion,


Can we do better?

Well yes we can, and TVAM has always tried to improve and lead from the front.

Why have I stood for Chair, having been Chief Observer?

In a nutshell, unfortunately, no-one else threw their hat into the ring. The four main roles in TVAM; Chief Observer, Treasurer, Company Secretary, and Chair have a five year maximum tenure, something I wholeheartedly support and we need fresh ideas and energy in these roles on a regular basis.

I am aware that since I joined TVAM modern lives are more hectic and people’s time is precious. I believe that priorities should be family, work, and then TVAM. Nevertheless, there are many volunteers who give their time freely to TVAM to support all that it does and I personally, and on behalf of all of TVAM, thank them for what they do. Never underestimate the time (and in some cases personal expense) that people put in for the Club. May I paraphrase a much-used expression? “Ask not what TVAM (and the IAM) can do for you, ask what you can do for TVAM (and the IAM)?”

TVAM is highly regarded within the IAM and exerts its influence as much as possible. I will do all I can to increase this effort. Not all they do is as targeted as many of us would like, but they are trying, and I will do all in my power to steer their energies to the best for TVAM and Advanced Motorcycling.

A wise old friend in the Club said soon after I had joined “It’s got to be FUN!” I think it is and we need your help to keep it being fun and to continue the great success it already is.

TVAM depends on energetic, enthusiastic, passionate individuals to keep the Club at the front of the queue for all we do! So come on… what are you waiting for? We need your support, enthusiasm, fresh ideas and energy! How about it?

I look forward to being your Chair; I am hoping for not too long, when my successor can continue to lead the Club onwards and upwards!


David Jacobi

…and it’s goodbye from him! (From The Saddle: Slipstream March 2015)

It was April 2010 when I first stood up, slightly nervous, in front of the assembled masses as Chief Observer. Shortly after that first month I received a text message from Chris Caswell that said, “1 down, 59 to go!” At the time, it seemed way off in the distance, but now I am not quite sure where the time went. As I write this with that 59th approaching fast, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a quick review of some of the changes that have taken place over the last five years.

The Club had been talking about a new website for a while and we finally delivered this on the 1st March 2012, complete with a new logo and branding. Soon after, we added the Forum and the web shop.

The relationship between the Full Members (Green Team) and the Observer side of TVAM has improved immensely with Full Members now taking more opportunities to keep their riding skills up with Enhanced Advanced sessions, volunteering for additional observed rides to assist with Trainee Observer (TOb) development as well as introducing our Pillion Rider Course. I’d like to thank Dawn Armstrong as leader of the Green Team and all the volunteers who run the desks at St. Crispin’s and form the Meet & Greet Team for their support in this.

Our Observer Training process was updated, and then updated again with the introduction of the IMI Local and National Observer Framework, much of which was based upon the TVAM process anyway. We now have growing numbers of National Observers and I expect to see our first Local Observers validated very soon. To support these processes and better align our coaching with the IAM test we also introduced new Associate and TOb Run Report forms.

The recession did take its toll a little, not only on membership numbers but also on the number of test passes we achieved each year. Membership numbers are recovering though and I expect the number of test passes each year to increase also. We started recognising the F1RST grade last year too. The IAM’s expectation is that around 5% of tests will result in a F1RST grade and we achieved that last year. This year though, we are already ahead of the curve, a tribute to the great coaching skills of our Observers. To complement the riding side, we also introduced our classroom based theory courses, BikeCraft and more recently, the Class of Better Biking.

As a charity, we always need to keep an eye on costs and one cost- saving measure we introduced was the electronic version of Slipstream. Over half of our members now get a monthly email and a link to download a PDF version of our magazine. This has certainly saved some money on postage and we could save even more if more people switched to the download version. We are looking at alternatives to PDF documents too so maybe a different format will persuade you if you have not switched yet.

TVAM’s relationship with IAM Head Office at Chiswick has been a source of contention for many over the years. I do believe that this has improved too though. It was partly because of this improvement that TVAM was asked to help develop a new framework for Observers wishing to use Bike-to-Bike radios. As the largest IAM group in the country and with the most radio Observers, we were in a prime position to do this. That framework was released and is now being rolled out, although not as quickly as I initially hoped. TVAM is now also providing support for other IAM groups as they look to increase their radio use.

In my time as Chief Observer, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside three different Chairs. Phil Pawley sadly had to step down for health reasons. Richard Tickner then stepped into the breach before Charon then took over two years ago. It’s been a pleasure working alongside each of them and I thank them for their support.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to be Chief Observer of such a great club. It has been challenging at times, very busy and also very enjoyable. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of you a lot better than I did before, especially Committee members past and present, as well as getting to meet plenty of people from the IAM and other IAM groups.

There are still changes and challenges ahead and I am sure that with new members on the Committee, they will be handled with the best interests of TVAM at heart. They will have my full support.

A number of people have asked me what I will do with all my free time now. Perhaps I’ll do more Observing!

Andy Wedge
Chief Observer (for just a few more hours!)

2015 Observer Weekend now booking!

Observer Weekend_iconThe 2015 Observer Weekend will be held on 5th – 7th June at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells.

This year we have a slight change in format planned which I hope you will enjoy.

Previously, we have spent Saturday mornings talking about Observer related activities and then gone out onto the roads in the afternoon. Following feedback, we have decided to reduce the chat and give everyone more time to practice their riding skills on those lovely Welsh roads (it’s all training isn’t it? ).

Our plan is to have a chat up to a coffee break, and then head out. This means that:

– There will be no buffet lunch on Saturday as in previous years
– There will be more time on the road
– The price for each Observer/Trainee Observer has been reduced to just £75 (from £99 last year).

I do hope you’ll be able to attend and this year. I’ll be the de-mob happy chap sitting at the back this time :)

For those who have not been to an Observer Weekend before, we tend to travel up in small(ish) groups on the Friday (June 5th) and meet in the hotel bar in the evening. Some people leave early and others at different times during the day. Just post a message on the Forum or email your local groups to find out who is travelling when.

We also have embroidered t-shirts and polo shirts priced at £18 and £25 respectively.

Rooms and merchandise can be booked via the webshop.


Flipbook Slipstream


We have just installed a new application that displays Slipstream as a flipbook.

Some of you may be familiar with the format – most digital magazines use it nowadays. When viewed on a decent-sized screen in full page mode, it displays an interactive “page turning” version of Slipstream.

Try it here: Flipbook Slipstream (Members only section)

By its nature, it doesn’t work very well on mobiles or tablets but there are a few options that we haven’t tried yet.

The downloadable pdf version of Slipstream is stall available in the normal way.

Tell us what you think:

From the Pillion (Slipstream February 2015)

Hi everyone,Pat_Coneley_graphic

It’s been a busy month at TVAM. The Training Team rolled out a new Trainee Observer (TOb) process at the Core Skills Day on Saturday 7th February. The new process mirrors the Observer/Associate relationship whereby each TOb is assigned an experienced Observer as a Mentor who will guide them through their entire training. This new format is more time efficient and less arduous than the old yellow card (see page 6).

The event was held at Marlow Fire Station, kindly loaned to us for the day by Keith Wheeler of Bucks Fire and Rescue. Since national cutbacks in Police funding, Fire and Rescue have taken a lead in Road Safety and this is a relationship that we hope to build on.

Our Committee, especially Secretary Peter Dowlen, has been compiling the Annual Report and preparing for the AGM on March 15th. The AGM, held after the monthly St. Crispin’s meeting, is your opportunity to have a say in how your club is run so please make an effort to attend.

There will be a packed agenda this year as in addition to the formal business of the elections we have the discussion of Andy Slater’s Task Force Report on our relationship with the IAM.

After shadowing Andy Wedge for several months as Deputy Chief Observer I will be standing for the post of Chief Observer when he steps down for a well-earned rest after 5 years.

Thanks to Andy’s support I now have a much better insight as to what is involved in the role and if elected I am sure the learning will continue.

We also have a vacancy for Chair as Charon Willis will be standing down due to the demands of work and family making it impossible for her to continue in this role.

Currently we have no nominations for this position and would welcome interest from TVAM Full Members. If this is of interest to you please come and have an informal chat with any of the Committee.

It seems to be a long cold winter but the green shoots of a new biking year are beginning to show with social rides in the TVAM Calendar, TVAM Track Days at Castle Combe and 7Ws filling up fast, so get along to your local team meetings and give them your support.

Safe Riding

Pat Coneley

Deputy Chief Observer


Look Lean Roll Courses for 2015

LLR_iconThe Look Lean Roll course schedule for 2105 has been published by the LLR Team.

Courses are available on the following dates:

  • Sunday April 12th 2015
  • Sunday May 10th 2015
  • Sunday June 14th 2015
  • Sunday July 12th 2015
  • Sunday August 9th 2015
  • Sunday September 13th 2015
  • Sunday October 11th 2015

There are 10 places available on each course at a cost of £25.00

Book your place on the TVAM Webshop or contact for more details.

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 19th May 2015.

We have 54 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

To book your place go to the TVAM Webshop.