As some of you know, I've been involved with RoSPA either as a member, Advanced Tutor or Examiner for 20 years, having taken my first RoSPA bike test back in 1998.
In 2017 I decided to explore the challenges of IAM Roadsmart and successfully passed their initial test with a F1RST and then their Masters test with a Distinction. As a result I was invited to become a Motorcycle Examiner.
I thought that was that, but last year I became aware of another organisation that offers an advanced motorcycle test, Diamond. I'd not heard of this company before so decided to look at what they do and what they offer.
Diamond train, test and develop drivers and riders across every vehicle category. They are the only professional training body to provide such a span of driver education in the UK. They train individual 'private' drivers and riders, (like you and I) to advanced level and work with taxi and private hire drivers as well as company fleet drivers.
So what is the Elite Motorcycle Test ?
The Diamond Elite Motorcycle Test lasts for 90 minutes covering a variety of roads and where possible motorways and rural areas. You are expected to carry out an emergency stop, figure of eight, a commentary ride for approximately 15-20 minutes and a slow riding exercise, if asked to do so. A pass will be awarded if you achieve no serious or dangerous faults and you do not exceed 2 rider faults in the same category.
The Diamond certification is valid for 3 years.
Last month I decided to apply to do the test and within a few days of applying I was contacted by the National Chief Examiner Mark Jaffe. We swapped a few e mails and a date and time was agreed, 10am, Tuesday 6th November.
I met Mark on the outskirts of Doncaster at one of their park and ride car parks. It was quite damp with a lot of mist and fog. Mark quickly put me at ease and the whole pre-test briefing was relaxed but covered everything I needed to know. There was no pre-arranged route and it would be a case of watching for Marks indicators, other than 'complicated' or busy junctions when Mark would give direction over the comms. We paired our blue tooth headsets and we were set to go.
We set off and within a few miles came upon a police car travelling at around 45mph in a National speed limit area. It's not everyday this happens and despite knowing it would be completely safe and legal to overtake it, there's always something at the back of your mind that seems 'wrong' about passing a marked police car ! But a decision had to be made, so with a deep breath it was mirror, signal, manoeuvre and out and passed I went......a check of the speedo showed I'd stayed within the 60 limit and a check of the mirrors showed there were no blue lights.....phew !
The route continued on through villages and winding country roads with varying speed limits and some questionable road surfaces and then the instruction came,
"Right then Ian, when we clear this next junction, please start your commentary".
Now I'm not averse to doing a commentary, I had to do it for my police bike and car courses and I often give a commentary to customers when doing a demonstration ride, but today my commentary was being scrutinised ! I continued the commentary for about 15 minutes until Mark said it was ok to stop and go back to 'just' riding.
After about 1 hour and 20 minutes we returned to the park and ride and I thought that was that, but no, it was now time for me to perform some walking pace figure of 8 manoeuvres. Fortunately all went well and Mark finally told me the test was complete and to park up for my result and debrief.
I felt the ride and commentary had gone well and as we took our helmets off I could see Mark looked relaxed and didn't look like an examiner about to tell someone they had failed.....fortunately he didn't, I had passed !
We discussed a couple of points, the police car overtake being one, and the usual issue of acceleration sense v braking when slowing from a National speed limit into a 30 limit, but Marks overall comments were very positive and complementary. So much so that he has suggested I consider becoming a Diamond Trainer and Examiner.
Overall, I would say the level of riding required to pass the test is similar to an IAM Masters or a RoSPA Gold, but the requirement to give a riding commentary obviously sets it very much apart.
So why did I decide to take the test,? Well firstly I like a riding challenge, but I also want to be as good as I can be at what I do and be up to date with anything new regards rider training, and whilst Diamond aren't a 'new', company, they are now pushing the motorcycling side of their business more and more.
So why not consider taking the challenge yourself ? If you want to know more check out Diamond Advanced Motorists at
Here's Mark giving me the congratulatory hand shake.