The U Turn - A Different Question


I may well be showing my ignorance here, but I gotta ask - what is the big deal about dabbing a foot during the U Turn on the test?

I mean, normally, you’re gonna be doing close to zilch miles an hour - what does it prove?

It proves that you possess balance and proper machine control (clutch/throttle) - if you don’t possess these qualities they will be exposed by a poorly executed u-turn. :wink:

OK - I get that - but how many riders do you know who have excellent machine control, yet dab a foot when they pull a U Turn? :wink:

I just wonder where the value is in it - when you can ride a perfect test but fail due to dabbing a foot on this particular manouevre, when it doesn’t actually hurt to dab a foot… imho :smiley:

It just proves to the examiner that you have attained balance and throttle/clutch control to the required high standard.Putting a foot down may indicate that you have not achieved the required level of competence - e.g. becuase you wobbled, or got your clutch throttle wrong.Back in the real world - many riders having got their full licence - have abandoned the u-turn altogether :Whistling: - and do three point turns, put their feet down, drop the bike on the floor occassionally because they’ve been distracted by a passing bint. . .:Whistling: :stuck_out_tongue: I tend to take more seriously the skills which make or break (literally) you as a rider, braking from high speeds without locking up the front, riding fast through bends and selecting the right combination of brakes, gears, throttle and line etc. And all the usual observation/anticipation skills which increase your chances of not hitting or getting hit by something.It’s like the car driving test - there is stuff in that you quickly dispense with as irrelevant or unecessary once you’ve got the licence.

In Holland we had to do a figure of 8 in a really confined space. That was tough as it was lock to lock at about 3mph. It improves your machine control. I haven’t practiced it since then though so I know I couldn’t do it now.

I asked myself the same question about the u-turn many times after it was my downfall at the end of my DAS last summer. In the end I came to a similar conclusion to what Sid Throttle is saying. In my opinion the u-turn isn’t necessarily just a test of whether you can execute a u-turn without hesitating or putting your foot down - it is more a test to show the examiner that you can control the bike at low speeds, start off steadily and safely, bring the bike to where you want it to go while at a low speed and it also gives the examiner a chance to check out your observations and manoeuvres while the examiner isn’t himself negotiating the roads behind you on a bike or in a car. Plus I’m sure there are a lot of other things as well. This isn’t all marked down on the test sheet but I’m sure they do clock them nonetheless. :slight_smile:

But then again I’m not an examiner so I could be talking tripe! :smiley:

Sid’s right, it shows control.

Just like when doing a car test you have to reverse round a corner. I’ve had my car licence for years, and cant remember the last time I did one of those manuavers!!!


Read this and memories came flooding back !

I failed my test in December on my U-turn, was really p****d about it at the time because the road i was told to do it on was the one the use for the 125s and was narrower than the standard road for the big bike test.

I went round, panicked at the crest of the camber and dabbed my foot down. Got back to the test center and the examiner said he was really close to passing me but decided not to.

Re took test (after 1 was cancelld on me whilst i was sitting in the waiting room to go out ) and breezed it, was more relaxed, had infinately better control. THinking back I have a great deal of grattitude that the examiner made me re take. The difference 2 days of extra training had on my riding/control were huge.

When i finally picked up my shiny new bike the first thing i did was try a U-turn…and nailed it.

I don’t think we had to do a U turn when I passed my test (back in the day, when all this were fields…)
But would have had no problem on a MTX125.
Try doing a U turn on a sports bike on anything narrower than the English Channel and you’ve got nae chance.I think it’s a pretty pointless exercise and that they can assess your balance and machine control easily while following on the test.
Could as easily make you do a wheelie for 10m - that would demonstrate good balance and throttle / cluthc control…

The guidence to examiners is available online on the DSA website somewhere. Yes, it is a test of balance, observation, slow control and general competence. All things that are vital should you need to move slowely and safely near other vehicles. The test is not a test of confidence, and the guidence makes it clear that it is a minor, not a major if you dab a foot down due to loss of confidence. It is a major if you put a foot down to lack of control. I do know people who have got away with a slight dab at the ground during the turn. I guess what the examiner is looking for is whether your foot would make any difference to the turn.

Sorry if i’m repeating previous comments. Occaisionally I think of the u-turn and slow control when filtering through slow and tight moving traffic. They obviously couldn’t put you through that on your test, but the u-turn uses the same skills. That said, making me filter on my test would have had high comedic value, wobbling my arse down the road, falling off, pinned helpless against a car.

Oddly, when filtering I can get around cars, feet up, with the speedo showing ‘0’.

Then when it comes to turning around in the road, I revert to learner-mode and crap it up.

But for what it’s worth, I do agree with the idea of it; it shows you’ll be able to handle the bike when it comes to stuff like filtering in heavy traffic.

I’ve just seen your other post about the DSA guidance information so I’m going to look at that shortly. But the point above is new info to me. I was told during my training that “a foot down will result in a fail” with nothing whatsoever mentioned about this. I don’t know if that is because it is not well known outside of the DSA buildings or because my instructors wanted to discourage anyone from putting a foot down unnecessarily. What I do know is that there were times during my training when I’d touch my foot down briefly during my u-turn because I thought I was going to fall, and there were times when I kept my foot up and completely fluffed up the u-turn purely because I had a momentary loss of confidence. (Of course there was also a number of times when I just fluffed up the u-turn cos I was goign too fast or too slow.)

I wonder how I would have performed if I had known this…:unsure:

Section 2.07 on page 57 of the PDF is what you are after.

I suspect that a foot down will look like a momentary loss of control unless the bike is clearly under control and a toe shoots out due to apprehension. Therefore a toe down is to be avoided if possible.

"During the U Turn exercise, an examiner should assess the actions of the candidate

in the normal way. If, for instance, the candidate loses control of the machine and

puts a foot down to avoid falling, then obviously a serious fault has been committed.

If, on the other hand, the rider dabs a foot down in a moment of apprehension and

then completes the exercise, the fault should be assessed as only a driving fault."

I felt very hard done by at the time, as I had just completed 5 days of training only to be foiled by a few seconds of poor control.

The truth is that my u-turns in the coned car-park/off-road area were pretty much 100% fine (as in, I could nail it every time). Out on the road, where curbs and cambers are present, my u-turns were 50/50 at best. My control at slow speeds therefore weren’t up to scratch so I cannot complain that I don’t have a full licence! :slight_smile:

I’ve changed my strategy now - getting a 125 (hopefully next week :D) and going to get some proper L-plated experience under my belt before attempting either the A2 or advanced access test. :slight_smile:

I’ll stop now though as I’m hijacking the thread. :stuck_out_tongue:

For weeks before my test, every day I went past my office and did a U turn in the road before entering the car park. I did the same every night when I got home. Both roads were narrow. Then, whenever I saw a narrow road whilst out riding, I did a U turn, and then a second to end up back in the right direction. I did this for weeks, and on the day before my test my trainer took me to narrower and narrower roads - I must have done more than 30 U turns that day in different conditions. I didn’t miss a single one.

Yeah I had a little yam 125 and used to practise u-turns under the rail arches round the back of metropolis in Vauxhall - must have done a hundred until I was perfect.