Driver Knowledge Tests

Common mistakes that cause riders to fail their motorbike practical test

There are some common errors you should be aware of before taking your motorbike test so that you give yourself the best chance of passing first time. Apart from silly errors like forgetting to bring the right documentation, turning up late or not having enough fuel to complete the test, the following riding errors can mean that you will be failed. The following are mistakes told to us by instructors.

Motorbike control sequence errors

You must always use mirror-signal-lifesaver-manoeuvre. This means that you check your mirror before you check it’s OK to indicate. Then you indicate. Just before you complete the manoeuvre you check in your blind spot and then if it’s clear you can make the manoeuvre. Forgetting the head check puts you at risk.

Failure to stop

You’ll probably be a little tense on your test and sometimes it’s the little things that can catch you out, like a stop sign. You must always stop at a stop sign.


You’ll be surrounded by other drivers who will probably be pushing up above the speed limit. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Stay below the speed limit to give yourself a little bit of a buffer. Remember that on downhill stretches your bike will naturally pick up speed so change down until you find a gear that holds the bike steady without you having to use too much brake.

Putting your right foot down when you stop

This is a simple error that many new riders make. Your right foot is the one that controls the rear brake and you must use both your brakes when stopping. Therefore if you take your right foot off the peg as you come up to stop, the examiner knows you have no pressure on the rear brake. By using your left foot you will ensure that you have changed down through the gears before coming to a stop and it helps you control the bike as you lose speed.

Having your foot controlling the rear brake is especially important on uphill starts where the incline is steep.

Looking in the wrong places

You need to be seated properly on the seat with your head up, looking forward. The examiner doesn’t want to see you looking down at your front wheel or at the road immediately in front of you because you can’t anticipate danger this way.

As mentioned above in the motorbike control sequence errors section, missing a head check for your blind spot is a no-no.

Cutting turns

Cutting a left-hand turn is bad because you end up on the edge of the road which can have a lot of debris and loose material, or catching your peg on the kerb. Cutting a right-hand turn is worse (on the open road or at an intersection) because you can easily hit another vehicle, and it doesn’t give you the best view through the curve or intersection.

Dangerous road positioning

As you ride along you are going to meet potential dangers constantly, including vehicles coming towards you, vehicles turning out of intersections, bends, undulations and so on. The examiner will be looking for you to move your bike into the safest position at that moment.

If you have had enough lessons with a qualified instructor this should be second nature – as you ride past a left turn you will automatically move to the right a bit; as you ride behind a large vehicle you’ll automatically position yourself so that the driver can see you in the mirrors, and so on.

The positioning is all about giving you the best possible escape routes, creating a buffer in case something goes wrong, and making you as visible as possible to other motorists.

Failure to notice danger

If you are not scanning the road ahead then you won’t be adjusting your speed and road position to accommodate for this. The examiner will notice this. You should know what’s up ahead for at least 10 seconds (when you can see that far ahead) as it will let you know what speed you should be going and where you should be on the road.


Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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Posted in Advice, Motorbike