HONDA OPENS UK MOTORCYCLE TRAINING SCHOOLS
Honda are reportedly having “serious concerns about the dwindling UK motorcycle market”. I don't blame them, a combination of high cost training to obtain licences and the relatively high cost of (new) motorcycles against cars is not a great incentive to take to two wheels.
The route to a licence allowing a younger person to ride a large capacity motorcycle is complex and expensive. But this side of a revolution, motorcycling will have to contend with the almost Kafkaesque system which bureaucrats, with the encouragement of politicians, have left us with.
Honda have no doubt realised this, and have probably acknowledged that motorcycling does not carry the consumer or political muscle to change it. So last year they announced they would be launching the Honda School of Motorcycling based on 40 dealerships throughout the UK; and these schools would have Approved Training Board (ATB) status as required by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA).
Now that the first four dealerships have begun operating in the south of England, and have started seeking out potential customers this has prompted a debate within the training school world, which is understandably concerned, about a potential threat to their business as Honda flex their considerable publicity muscle.
Not only that; Honda are also offering riders a fifty per cent return of the training fee if they go on to purchase a new bike from them.
The open road...
Motorcycle training is a precarious business, especially when you consider that during the months from October to March, a young man or woman's thoughts may not turn to the open road and sun on their backs, as temperatures get ever lower and it rains on just about everyone's parade.
Most training schools are small operations, and are nervous as to what impact a big corporate such as Honda will have on their business. It's true that there is another big bike manufacturer involved in this area, BMW, but their fees match the price of their bikes and equipment, and do not appeal to the same 'high street' market that Honda will hope to tap into.
The body representing many independent schools, the Authorised Training Bodies Association, has expressed their disquiet, but all's fair in a competitive free market unless you're catching the wrong end of any considerable financial, advertising and PR influence: and Honda's website communicates a difficult set of licence rules well.
It will be some time before we are able to assess the impact of the Honda initiative. For the sake of biking's future if more people take to the road on two wheels through this scheme then it can only be positive. On the other hand one would not want to be a cheer leader for the closure of training schools in those areas where dealer based Honda schools are set up.
Any thoughts on this story? Do you see it as a positive move for motorcycling or not? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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