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Come and experience a road test


Five motorcycles in the Lincolnshire Wolds on the Road Test Experience
A nice sensible ride – but how do we get pics like this? Find out when you join us
Motorcycle journalist Simon Hargreaves
Si Hargreaves adjusts the volume of beans at breakfast

The sun always shines in magazine land. It has to, so pictures can be taken of bikes looking lovely. And while the reality of riding includes all kinds of conditions, more often than not it's sunny for road tests – at least for the photo shoot.


Even in March it's true – and we managed to get the dry day between the downpours when Simon Hargreaves and I met three volunteers and photographer Chippy Wood to test our new venture, the Road Test Experience.


Was it a whopper? I explain how I've taken up fishing

The idea is simple: come and spend two days riding the glorious roads of the Lincolnshire wolds on your bike, doing a road test with us – including a full photoshoot to get pics of you on your pride and joy. We'll explain what we do when trying to analyse a bike and share the techniques we use to dissect its performance – and of course there's the subtly different way to ride for pictures. But more than anything else, we'll have two days of brilliant riding.


Five motorcyclists including journalists Simon Hargreaves and Simon Weir at Willingham Woods in Lincolnshire
The experienced test team testing the Road Test Experience: (l-r) Steve, Si H, Si W, Mike and Roland

To be honest, I was a bit nervous when I arrived to meet our volunteers. I started testing bikes in 2003 and got qualified as an advanced-riding instructor in 2006, but this isn't anything like a standard advanced course. The focus isn't traditional stuff but what road testing can teach you about riding – and the master of the art is Si Hargreaves. He's been at it since 1992, when he started on Performance Bikes (finishing his time there as editor). I worked with him when we were both on Bike in the early 2000s and, when he went freelance, I commisioned him as much as possible when I edited RiDE. What he doesn't know about riding and testing bikes isn't worth knowing – I've certainly learnt loads from him over the years.


"So after you put the left leg in, which leg goes out?"

Our guinea pigs Mike, Steve and Roland are all hugely experienced riders – plenty of advanced certificates between them and hundreds of thousands of miles beneath their collective wheels. Could we really tell them anything they haven't heard before?


Well, yes and no. The point isn't that we do anything desperately radical – it is still riding a motorbike, after all – but perhaps it's what we do with the information the bike gives us and the way we adapt our riding to get more information from it, really trying to learn more about the throttle, brakes and chassis.


We break the ride up into chunks, using different stretches to look at individual aspects of machine performance, trying different techniques along the way. We're riding some of best roads in England – rising, falling, twisting tarmac that curves through quiet countryside, really letting us enjoy the bikes. And that's the focus of the Road Test Experience – having a brilliant ride to get best out of the each machine.


"I really enjoyed the whole experience," said Steve when I called him up afterwards. "It gave a good insight into my bike and has encouraged me to spend more time setting it up, adjusting it to get the most out of it. I really enjoyed the riding and the photography but it was a full day – I slept well after that."


"I loved every minute of it," said Mike. "All the little tips... yes, I'd heard a lot of them before but I wasn't doing them, or not doing enough. But things like moving about more on the bike, using the footpegs... it all helped. And I was fascinated by the work that goes into getting just one picture. I really enjoyed the whole day."


Si H briefs the team on the next leg of the ride

"I thought the way you looked at things was really refreshing," said Roland. "I'm so used to riding around where it's advanced this and advanced that, which sometimes can seem prescriptive... It's not – it's always dynamic – but your perspective really helps get that across.


"What will be good when you run it over two days is the Q&A in the evening – people get off the bike and reflect on the ride, so the evening session will let them ask any questions and maybe try things a bit differently on the second day. But I was absolutely knackered after our one day!"


Feedback from these riders has really helped refine the process and now, as the weather improves, we're ready to run regular Road Test Experiences through the summer. It'll be two days of great roads, great company, terrible jokes… and brilliant pictures. A biking experience like no other. Come along – you'll love it.


For more info or to book your place, click here.


Join us on the fabulous roads of the Wolds for the Road Test Experience

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