Connor, one of our soon to be Instructors completed his upgrade assessment with us over the past couple of weeks to progress from an A2 to a full A licence. Below is his long and in-depth review of Mantis in comparison to other schools he has trained with in the past.
If you want to understand why Mantis Motorcycle Training is becoming so popular you can look at my past experiences.
I passed my A2 back in 2014 with another school, I never covered aspects of everyday riding such as overtaking and filtering. I instead covered what I needed to know to pass my test (some of you may feel this is good but this is not a viable option for long term progression). As an in-experienced rider at the time I did not know any different and just assumed these “advanced” skills were something you learnt after you were let loose on the road. Following on from passing my A2 I took my ERS (Advanced Riding Qualification) with the same school that taught me and physically lost my confidence based on the short tempered, rudeness of the instructor who did not understand that I am not a conventional learner nor am I a quick learner. During my training session the instructor became more and more impatient me with me and ended up leading me through corners at speeds I could not sustain. I turned me from an in-experienced rider to a rider who lacked the confidence to try to improve based on how badly I was treated during my ERS.
This is where Mantis came to my rescue. I met Kelly through a friend who was enamoured with her training school and how they taught her son. It was suggested that I go and see her to rebuild my confidence in riding.
My first ride out with Kelly was in October 2015 straight away she managed to identify my riding issues based on how I struggled with corners. Together me and Kelly worked on a plan of action to improve my cornering and my riding as a whole. We started with understanding body position and centre of gravity on a bike and combined it with looking into corners. The easiest way to describe how I improved is that now I don’t scream every time I go into a corner, instead I understand how to approach, navigate and deal with any type of corner. It has enabled me to be a more relaxed rider with a consistent positive riding style.
When I got 2 years on my A2 I decided I wanted more power and a bigger bike to assist me in my work. I got in contact with Kelly and immediately she sprang into action and had me booked to do my Mod 1 within an hour of talking to her. Mantis unlike other schools also has multiple social channels to contact. If you don’t like talking on the phone they have Facebook and email services that you can contact them on.
The first thing Kelly did was get me to her training school for an assessment. At first I thought this was kind of funny, a rider who covers over 30,000 miles a year having to go for an assessment. When I actually started the assessment I discovered that I had picked up some bad habits and actually struggled with some of the Mod 1 manoeuvres. However, with Kelly this was no problem, within one evening session I was back up to par with all the manoeuvres and ready to take my Mod 1. The brilliant thing about Kelly as an instructor is that she can actually teach rather than follow a syllabus. As I previously stated I am not a quick learner, I struggle and get anxious easily. Kelly knew the techniques to appeal to my learning style and controlled my I cannot do this attitude and turned it into a positive I can do this attitude. This session also enabled me to get a feel for the training school and the bikes they provide. The training site is suitably sized for all manoeuvres and Mantis offer the option of going to the Mod 1 centre to practise the test for real. I had heard rumours that there were issues with the site and I can honestly say it was of brilliant quality and there were no issues at all. I wasn’t expecting much for a training school bike. My previous training bikes included a Kawasaki DT Tracker (I am 6ft 2 and this bike was not suitable for me), an ER5 with a bad brake and a few other bikes. At Mantis Kelly picked the best bike to suit my ability and riding style. I was placed on a Bandit 600. The mechanics there are top notch, the bike did not feel like a training school bike. It felt like a brand new machine!! There were no squeaks, no clunky noises and all the consumer able items were present and in pristine condition. This gave me additional confidence when using their bikes as I didn’t feel like I was going have mechanical failure.
When training with Kelly she treats you like family, not just a client. She is dedicated and actually has a passion for what she does. Kelly isn’t there to get you to pass, Kelly is there you get you to be the best rider you can be! This is why I believe Mantis is so popular now as it’s the only training school in Kent that has this mentality.
So Mod 1 test day (plot spoiler I actually failed due to nerves :O ) . Kelly got us to arrive at the training school early so we could practise the Mod 1 so we could be as ready as we could possibly be. Due to an incident with the other student I was placed on the Fazer 1000 (like what other training school has an awesome bike like that!). Kelly’s planning enabled me to become familiar and comfortable with this bike without any concern that I was new to it. We rode from the training school to the Herne Bay test centre via Canterbury. This was brilliant as it covered every type of road scenario and different traffic conditions. I was shocked that Kelly began to talk us through filtering in traffic as this was something my previous training school would not let us do. Kelly used positive reinforcement to iron out any bad habits or potential issues in our riding all the way down there. We arrived at the centre with no trepidation, we were calm and relaxed even after navigating Canterbury’s busy roads.
Due to an issue at the test centre we had out tests cancelled. Kelly, instead of giving up like the other instructor at the test centre did was straight onto the phone and booking us into another local test centre in Gillingham. A big thanks to the examiner Nigel for going to Gillingham to assess us.
After getting to the test centre in Gillingham I managed to fail my test due to panicking whilst breaking and locking the bike up. Totally my fault but Kelly was still there to explain how I should approach this in the future and re-iterated what she has taught me about the amount of breaking.
Second time lucky was the plan, again due to the conditions at Herne Bay our tests were cancelled. Kelly again managed to rebook us in Burgess Hill in West Sussex. Can you name one other school that would be willing to go that far to make sure their students could get a test? We again took a very scenic route to the centre (which was around 60 miles) and it was quite possibly one of the best rides on a motorcycle I have ever done! This time at the test centre we both passed (me with 0 minors). It is easy to say Kelly doesn’t go the extra mile she goes the extra 60 miles!!!!
Finally, on the day of our Mod 2 assessments we took a leisurely passed trip to Herne Bay where Kelly gave us her final pointers and reassurances about passing. After the first student went out I actually had an anxiety attack and Kelly was there to help calm me down. Instead of ignoring it or telling me to stop making a scene she talked me through my concerns managed to calm me down prior to taking my test. Finally, when my time had come I went out, performed a very strong ride and passed with 3 minors, 2 for hesitation and 1 for approach speed. All of which I noted during my assessment I was already making plans on how to improve on them next time.
So in summary, Mantis is not just a training school, Mantis is so much more, its where you can go to be the best rider you can possibly be. You have no limits there instead you have the best instruction possible to enable you to progressively improve. I can’t wait to come back and attempt my ERS again with Kelly rather than my old school.
On a personal note, thanks Kelly for helping me out. You have pretty much saved me from having a dangerous collision because of my lack of confidence in corners and you have encouraged me to attempt things that I never thought I could do, such as my first track day!!!