Yes I’m opening this debate again, for reasons some will already know I now need to get one of these or similar to carry on working for serv.

I’m not a looney on my bike but equally I like to enjoy it and progress a bit.

From what I’ve heard about IAM they are a bit militant about the speed RoSPA could be I have no idea.

So debate?

I canonly answer this from a erspective of having been an Examiner for RoSPA for the past 35 + years having also done 10 years as an IAM examiner and as one of the three that wrote and delivered the RoSPA diploma for advanced instructors and having instructed more students than I can shake a stick at if that provides any type of credibility?

These days, all organisations have to be strict about speed limits, particularly on test for obvious reason.

That said, the training is not about speed, it is about building in sufficient margins of safety and getting you accurate in respect of postioning, forward planning and observation, risk assessment, observation links and the whole package.

You are not going to learn that at 100 MPH +

However, when you start, a good instructor will slow you down and what you will find is that as you become more comfortable with the techniques (bear in mind 99% of what you learn for the L test is crap and goes out of the window) your speed will increase naturally but with more time and a bigger bubble of safety built in.

I had a GSXR1100WP for a few years and compared to the R1, Blade and the like it was a dinosaur.

I would do an assesment ride and then for the last 7 or 8 miles I would give a demo just to give the person I was assessing an opportunity to see how the new techniques worked in practice especially through the twisties.

About 2 or 3 miles up the road I would have to slow down or stop for them to catch up and they would 9 times out of 10 complain that I was doing illegal or silly speeds as they were unable to keep up.

When I assured them that I had complied with or been under the speed limit the whole time, they were gobsmacked, but the penny dropped.

Advanced riding is not about balls out speed, but it is a natural by product of riding to a different standard, and whilst it may seem to you that you are riding slower, you will actualy be covering the ground quicker because of the way you use the road.

You cannot be trained at 100+ (which is one of the issues I have with some of the Bikesafe schemes), you need to be trained at a speed that allows you to develop and let the speed develop naturally.

You will not be as fatigued either, you will place less wear and tear on the bile and you will be a lot smoother…

I always use my old Sgt as a good example

When we got called to a shout, Barry (my Sgt) was one of the smoothest riders on the planet, and we young whippersnappers also considered him one of the slower riders.

We would shoot off at warp 9 and Barry would go at his pace, but he was never more than about 30 seconds behind us on arriving at the scene.

As you get older, that is when you learn that speed is not just about MPH.

Anyway, I am digressing, so sorry about that, but speed for the test is cast in stone for obvious reasons, but your training will allow you to ride quicker.

Both the IAM and RoSPA train according to Roadcraft the Police riding manual and these days the standards are very similar.

But it is not about badge collecting, it is about the quality of the training you receive, and there are some very good groups out there of which I have seen many over the years.

Hope that helps?

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I tried IAM and found it interesting but ultimately irrelevant. I ride 70 miles a day. During the summer 50% of those are in the dark, while at this time of year, more like 90%. Regardless of the time of year, I spend 40-60% of that ride filtering. None of that is covered or addressed by IAM instructors, even when asked.
We spent our whole time on A and b roads in the countryside.
I suggested filtering could be made into a module like the Advanced Braking, or Lean and whatever it’s called, and was met with a stony silence.
You’re also required to attend the monthly meet, which is impossible to agree to given my work schedule.
For lots of people who have time to spare, and who want to learn good practice on the open road, it’s brilliant.

@T.C thanks, I knew you would weigh in. I think last time you had reservations about the IAM but that seems to be a different story now. I wrote the post on my mobile, I’m not saying I want to fly around at 100+mph all day every day, in actual fact not even sure my bike would go that high officer!

Merely more I don’t want to spend all the session etc watching the speedo to make sure I’m not going to get pulled.

@yourebarred that is actually great feedback thanks, and I’m with you. 95% of my usual riding is commuting and the reason I need this qualification is again ironically largely around London. So the A&B part will not really have a huge affect. I’m sure there is a benefit regardless.

Thanks both for the advice.

I’ve been yanked into the ELAM (East London Advanced Motorcyclists) groups committee these days, so obviously rather biased to them. Nonetheless, I can certainly agree with @T.C and most of your points @yourebarred. However, for me, because I spend 90% of my daily riding filtering in town and the only place I really rode since passing my bike test, when I came to IAM first my rural riding and cornering was pants, so I found it really helped me there. ELAM did discuss filtering a little in theory and certainly did do some on observed rides and on the advanced test, but I can sympathise it wasn’t covered in depth.

@yourbarred I can’t say I’ve heard of an IAM group that mandated a monthly meetup - which group was this?
ELAM run theirs as a somewhat structured course, 5 Sat or Sun (your choice) mornings fortnightly, and 3 theory evening session. But are flexible to accommodate swapping of days or more ad hoc rides if needed. After the initial structured sessions, you’re just allocated an observer who you organise rides with as best suits you both until you’re test ready.

Interesting comment. I’ve done a Bikesafe day and I didn’t go over the speed limit, nor was I encouraged to do so, on the observed rides.

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My take on it is
Do you want just a ticket that you don’t have to think about again then IAM … Simply pay your yearly subs and your an Advanced Rider …
Yes you can volunteer to retest or skills check or take a fellowship membership whicb you then retest every 3 years but again you don’t have to …
Want to be tested every 3 years to maintain your ticket and skills then ROSPA .

As for training … They both are similar but have slight differences eg IAM will work from their own coursebook which is based on Roadcraft whilst ROSPA tend to work from ROADcraft directly .

IAM are more prevalent and depends on the group’s and individual . Some large groups around London ,TVAM ELAM , wey valley

Rospa not that vast an array … Rospa Smart to the south and Thames Valley to the west

I’m a LAM member and enjoyed my time riding with them … that said most of my riding is on track or off road these days so more a remote member but still think they are a very sensible group with enough progressive types for those of us keen to push on and enough pipe n slippers types to plod on

on my bikesafe that was a “geeza” who must have easily been in 3 figures when he rode passed me on the country ride and I was not hanging around albeit I was doing more sensible speeds.

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I can only speak for the IAM but would recommend it highly. I thought I was a pretty good rider, I could ride to work every day quickly without crashing and hadn’t killed myself so must be doing something right.

The IAM is heavily geared towards the Sunday rider - or feels that way initially. In fact, I would tone down my filtering on the IAM becausee my observers could never keep up and urban overtakes tend to be a more polarising topic within the club. Lots of them simply won’t do it and consider it dangerous.

Then country lanes. I couldn’t keep up with more observers and I honestly thought they were riding dangerously to start with. If they taught you that it was okay to exceed the national speed limit on country lanes at the start you’d quickly end up in a tree to be honest because if you’re starting out advanced training, still feeling confident about your riding ability and follow them into a corner, you’ll soon cock it even at the national limit. I took my advanced training very slowly. Even pushed against my obstructor when advised to take the test. Now they are volunteers and this was a bit selfish of me in the grand scheme, but we get on well and still go on rides to this day so he in particularly didn’t mind. The reason being is I didn’t really care about the badge at the end I just wanted to be the best rider I could possibly be.

Point in question, I nipped down to see my Aunt in Chichester on Christmas day and blasted 3 hours along back roads there, and stopped off at my mum’s in East Sussex on the way home. Mentally I didn’t fatigue, I was comfortable with the risks I was taking on the country lanes and I was well in excess of the national limit (most) times - an observation rather than a boast. I enjoy my bike more and read roads better as a result. I would never ride in that style when out under the umbrella of the IAM however, as group ride leaders have a legal responsibility for the speed limit of their convoy I believe, your riding is a reflection of the club and driver perception of your safety counts for a lot even if you believe your riding to be fine, and you aren’t always sure of the capabilities of riders you know less well in the group.

Some members of the IAM can be lecturous old farts, but most are a laugh.

None of the above which has made me a better rider is remotely useful through town. I am no better in terms of hazard perception through town or at slow speed manoevering than I was before I did it. But without sounding like a tit I was already very good at that, as I imagine you probably are if you’ve been doing this for a while. In fact my best training for spotting hazards through town was probably the 10 years I spent cycling to school before getting a bike license in the first place.

I still make mistakes, and I’m not uncrashable. If I do pay for it, it’ll be because I ride when I’m too tired before/after work. No training can stop this really

Thanks all, could be me but I think the feedback this time has been much better than the previous threads. Could just be that I have a vested interest in it this time.

But all has been really really useful

I think London riders have an unbalanced experience. One of my mates from Oxfordshire, who got me into biking, has grown up on bikes; he has owned and ridden all types. When I started riding he was then living in Hatfield, he took me out on countless country lane Sunday rides. Over the years he moved around the Home Counties, knows the back lanes like the back of his hand, and we’ve done loads of miles together. I could never keep up, his style is very smooth and unhurried yet without doing mad speeds he is always able to maintain a great pace.

Whenever we came back to my place in Central London I would lead the way and it surprised me to see he was unable to keep up with my filtering - and I definitely do not ride like a courier, I think my filtering is quite restrained. It was well out of his comfort zone.

I totally agree :+1:

@The_Sleeper sleep, the IAM has made significant changes over the past few years and they have by and large brought their examining requirements into line with RoSPA with the introduction of their 2 new catagories, and it could be argued that they may even have overtaken RoSPA, so I credit where credit is due.

@TimR whilst the IAM do have their own book, everything still evolves around Roadcraft, and so decent groups and schools encourage the reading of Roadcraft rather than anything else.

To go back to the question about speed, at the end of the day, it is about showing good discipline. A good rider will be able to make good progress without exceeding the speed limits (which is demonstrated should you go for the test) but ultimately we as examiners accept that we are all guilty of making good progress where conditions allow, and I was no different.

The offence is not doing it, but getting caught. :wink:

The other side of the coin is that being trained to an advanced level cannot guarantee that you will not be involved in a crash (nothing can guarantee that other than retiring from riding), but in its favour is the fact that very few advanced riders have crashes which are their fault (which makes my job easier) which means liability is easier to apportion which may be at least some consolation to family members.

The other benefit is that even when you maker a mistake (and we all do it no matter who you are or what training you have had) the bubble of safety built in without detracting from the fun factor means that you recognise the error even if others don’t and it is not a big issue.

I was talkingto a group a few weeks ago and I mentioned about observation links and all I got was a puzzled look. Turns out that they had vever hear of the term so when I explained it to them they then started asking the club leaders why things like this were not included.

There were a few embarrased looks from the comittee.

Good training is the key, there are so many benefits and the test whether IAM or RoSPA is just the confirmation from an independent that what you have been taught and what you are putting into practice is consistent.

Likewise, I have terminated tests 15 minutes in because the standard was so poor.

So do your homework, find the group/school/individual that best suits your needs and then enjoy.

You will not retain everything you are taught, but I always reckon that most retain 50% and then that margin increases with experience and training.

On that basis, that is a 50% less chance of being involved in a crash that is your fault.

Even if only 25% less risk applies, that is better than non at all.


I did RoSPA about 7 years ago and got busy with young family so I failed to renew. At the NEC in 2018 the IAM had a deal for £99 and it was the final nudge I needed to renew my training. I was glad to find that I hadn’t lost the majority of the learnt skills. I passed my IAM test in October.

As has been stated they’re both based on the same information. The key thing is to go with a good group. Don’t judge RoSPA or IAM by your experience with a single group or Observer.

It’s well worth doing so good luck which ever you choose.


Hit the nail on the head TC, I remember from my first blue light training run in an ambulance keeping to much slower speeds covering a pre determined route at not much over the speed limits and thinking how quick it felt despite it not, it was just the ability to plan and not have to slow much that made it feel smooth and quick.

Also makes me laugh when the local yoofs see the work bike and go what’s the fastest you can go on that bike and my usual response is 50mph, too built up in the city to get upto that speed a lot of the time, unless on the few dual carriageways that run through my patch then yes will open the bike up a bit


Can only speak for myself as a IAM Observer - with a 100% record of my associates getting a first** :slight_smile: (Yeah baby!)

**Before you get too excited - that is 1 associate - as I only started observing 4 months ago. So clearly not the TC level of insight!

My (very limited) take it on it is thus: IAM or Rospa - way more depends on your observer. Some are knobs, some are brill - who knows which will you will get? When I did an intro session I liked the guy - so insisted on getting him. Didn’t want a knob.

As for speed - my take on it as an observer is simple. You will ride as fast or slow as you want / choose. I am not going to worry - that’s your business / your life / you decide how fast you wish to ride. But as an observer - I would like to help you ride as safely as I can. So if you do ride fast, I’d like for you to do that with safe lines / anticipation / judgement etc. If you ride slow, I’d like for you to do that with safe lines / anticipation / judgement etc.

If / when we are out - if you are giving it plenty in the 30s, for sure, I’ll sit back and let you go. In the nationals, am going to be way less worried about it.

But if you are significantly over the limits, I’ll point out that you risk your license but in itself I wouldn’t go over board if I didn’t think it dangerous. We are all adults and make our own decisions. That said, if I think your riding (note I didn’t say speed) is genuinely dangerous, I’d not hesitate in saying so.

I’d also point out that on test, you are expected to ride within the law at all times. Though there is defo some flexibility given that an examiner (TC?) would not fail you for doing 61mph - rather he’d assess you as if he was on the road and give you some leeway (as I understand). That said, on test doing three figures in a 60 probably would lead you to fail.


@TimR whilst the IAM do have their own book, everything still evolves around Roadcraft, and so decent groups and schools encourage the reading of Roadcraft rather than anything else.

Totally agree as group i did my test with no issues using Roadcraft as an aid however tge group i began observing with I was not allowed to encourage the use of Roadcraft, and to relate everything to their book .
I hasten to add that my time as an observer with them lasted until the day after my associate passed his test due to conflicts with the group leaders

I am an IAM member and have the RoSPA cert as well. In terms of differences between the two organisations I think they are pretty much the same. The main difference however is that RoSPA require a re-test every three years whereas IAM issue your pass and then you need do no more. I’m a courier and I like the re-test idea as it is a useful way to identify and eliminate any bad riding habits that creep in unnoticed.


@jjmurphy The retest requirements also now apply to the IAM for all but the basic pass which is back to the old system.

The IAM retest requirement was brought in with the introduction of the IAM first several years ago, which is why the Institute testing requirement is now considered on a par at least with the RoSPA gold.

The IAM first might even be considered a step above a Gold now, but sorry to contradict you, the re-test requirement most certainly applies to the IAM now.

Not for ordinary members though TC. You can pass your IAM test, never retest and still be a full member. Indeed in the group I observe for, there is ongoing discussion around existing members whose riding has slipped back and how to encourage them to retest and/or for an observed ride.

On that part - I think Rospa is ahead of the game.