What is the IAM Masters?
It is a relatively new “course” offered by IAM Roadsmart for riders who have already passed their IAM advanced riding course and are paid-up members of IAM Roadsmart. I have been a member for over 25 years, first passing my advanced riding test in 1996. IAM Masters is billed offering experienced advanced riders the chance to “attain the highest standard of civilian driving or riding ability in the country”, a challenge I was keen to put himself to!
Now call me a cynic, but RoSPA always claimed a Gold standard on their advanced riding test was the “highest standard of civilian riding”, and I’ve held one of those for over 10 years. But I am aware, as I have to be retested by RoSPA every 3 years, that the standard of examiner can vary and so therefore the Gold standard can vary too. So I was also very interested to see what was different about the IAM Masters test.
In reality, there’s not a lot. The standard is still based on application of the “System of Motorcycle Control” as per Roadcraft, and it is still expected to be consistently applied throughout the test, with the bike always being in the “best position, travelling at the most appropriate speed and with the correct gear engaged”. The main differences are that the test twice as long as a standard advanced riding test – over 90 minutes of continuous riding – and is conducted in an area the rider is unfamiliar with – i.e. outside their local area. There are also only 8 IAM Masters Examiners in the country and they are all area managers for IAM Roadsmart – so consistency in result can be expected, and the high standard maintained.
To prepare, I went out with a couple of “IAM Masters Mentors” – people who had already passed the IAM Masters with Distinction and were qualified National Observers with the IAM. As always when riding, there was something to learn, and I picked up a couple of things that would make my riding even smoother.
Then, on 6th June 2021, came the test, conducted on roads I’d not ridden before despite starting from Lymm Services on the M6, which is where we start our Welsh Training Tour!
After well over an hour and a half we were back in the car park and my examiner asked me how I thought it had gone. I replied that what I thought wasn’t important, I’d just ridden as I normally do and wanted his view! He said he was glad I’d replied that I’d ridden as I normally do as it had been a good ride – his report which you can read here includes “Paul produced a performance of outstanding quality, that was without fault, and worthy of the Master’s pass at Distinction level.”
So, how does it compare to my RoSPA Gold? Well, the first RoSPA test I took in 2009 was strict and I only got a Silver, only achieving Gold when I did the Diploma in 2012. Since then, I fear the standard of test has dropped, so the IAM Masters is tougher – but what is being looked for remains the same.