If you want a jump-start into your motorcycling career, are 24 or over, and want unrestricted access to riding any motorcycle, the Direct Access Scheme (or DAS) is the best option for you.

The Direct Access Scheme is conducted over the course of three to six days, depending on your level of experience and once completed gives the you the ability and skills to ride an unrestricted “big” bike right from the offset, without L-plates. There are a number of advantages to this, not the least of which is the short time taken to complete, but also the opportunity to skip the A2 restricted category you start with when taking the Progressive Access route. While these are sizeable advantages, the DAS course has a large upfront cost compared to single lessons taken on the Progressive Access route, so it is important to know whether or not this route is for you.

The Requirements

Every motorcycling school conducts the DAS slightly differently, but there is a set syllabus they must all adhere to. Before you start your DAS course, you must meet the following requirements:
  • A Provisional Licence or full driving licence
  • A CBT completion certificate
  • A Motorcycle Theory Test certificate
  • You must be at least 24 years of age
Training and the tests must be conducted on a motorcycle of at least 595cc and a power output of  53.6bhp. As mentioned before, you need a CBT to be able to do DAS, but most riding schools offer a course that combine the two together, for an additional cost.

The Direct Access Scheme Broken Down

The Direct Access Scheme is in many ways like the CBT in structure, the differences being that the DAS takes at least two days, and there are two tests involved. The tests are called Module 1 and Module 2 and are pretty much exactly the same as the Progressive Access tests, which will be explained and broken down in the pass chapter of this guide. As mentioned previously, the exact structure of the DAS varies between motorcycling schools, but all of them will be loosely divided into six or seven sections, depending on your previous experience:

Introduction

This section will mainly be an assessment of your skill and previous experience, and will dictate how the rest of the course progresses.

  • The trainer will first explain the aims of the Direct Access Scheme and will familiarise you with how the course will operate.
  • They will then progress into assessing your knowledge, skill and experience. You will be expected to know everything that is covered in the CBT as a bare minimum. Once the trainer has this information, they will formulate a training programme based on your experience and needs.
  • Your eyesight will be tested (unless you underwent a CBT beforehand).
  • Finally, your mental and physical fitness will be verbally assessed, to make sure you are able to take the course.

 

Transition to a large bike

This section specifically caters to riders who have no experience with big bikes and will focus on giving you the skill and confidence needed to control a big bike proficiently.

  • The trainer will usually start by making sure that you understand the risks associated with riding a big bike and how you can reduce these risks before getting on the bike.
  • Once you understand these concepts, you will be introduced to a big bike and taught how it differs from smaller bikes in terms of weight, performance and control. You will also be instructed on how to safely take the motorcycle off its stands.
  • At this stage, you may also be guided through the various manoeuvres found in the CBT, but on a larger bike. Some trainers may prefer to have you perform these manoeuvres during the course of your on-road training instead.

Hazards and junctions

This section will not be a separate section as such, but will be touched upon all throughout your course and is all about recognising and dealing with hazards and negotiating junctions safely.

  • You will be encouraged to apply your practical knowledge to real life situations to better understand how to respond to various hazards.
  • You will be exposed to as wide a variety of junctions as possible and taught a routine to use to negotiate them safely.
  • You will be given the chance to practice dealing with a range of static hazards, and be made aware of how other road users may react to them, possibly becoming hazards themselves.
  • Finally you will be presented with a range of developing hazards. You will be taught the difference between static and developing hazards, how they may need to be dealt with in conjunction with each other and be informed on how a developing hazard may change and in turn affect the reactions of other road users.

 

Overtaking and filtering

Now that you are on a bigger bike, overtaking and filtering become more viable and as such it is important that you are taught when it is and isn’t safe and legal to do so.

  • You will discuss various scenarios with your instructor and decide whether or not it is necessary to overtake or filter, and if so, how to safely and legally perform the necessary manoeuvres. You will be instructed on the risks of doing so, including how to prepare for if other road users react negatively or unexpectedly, whether intentional or not.
  • You will be made aware of the consequences of riding without due care and attention, including legal implications.
  • You will then be given the opportunity to practice overtaking and filtering if possible, guided through the manoeuvres over the radio by your trainer.

 

Dual carriageways

  • You will be encouraged to identify the challenges and hazards motorcyclists face when on dual carriageways and how they can be mitigated.
  • You will be taught the difference between dual carriageways and motorways and how you can apply this understanding.
  • Finally you will practice joining, leaving and negotiating junctions and roundabouts on dual carriageways.

Learning from experience and keeping up to date with changes

This section, like “Hazards and junctions” will most often be delivered throughout the course and will consist of the trainer encouraging you to take an active role in your own learning, because when the course is finished, you will be on your own.

  • You will be taught that you are responsible for your own safety, and as such, reflection is an important element of being a safe and responsible rider.
  • You will be encouraged to keep up to date with changes to the highway code and changes to roads and machines.

Extras

This is the last section and will serve to fill in any gaps in your knowledge and prime you for after you gain your full licence. Topics covered in this section will depend on your current level of knowledge and can include the following:

  • What to do in the event of a breakdown
  • Carrying pillion passengers pillion passengers
  • Long distance riding
  • Travelling abroad
  • Route planning and route following techniques
  • Riding with a sidecar
  • Riding with a trailer

 

On the next page you will move onto the next chapter: Prepare, where you will learn all about getting ready for the road, including buying a helmet and motorcycling gear, what to look for when buying motorcycle, and how to make sure it is fit for the road.

 

Gearing up – The Helmet >