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Thread: How to Fail Your Motorcycle Licensing Test

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kiryu, Gunma

    Default How to Fail Your Motorcycle Licensing Test

    It is well known that the practical skills portion of the licensing procedure in Japan has absolutely nothing to do with ascertaining how well the applicant rides. It is about showing the examining officer that you can perform the dance they want to see you do exactly in the way they want it done.

    Applicants start out with 100 points and every time they do something they weren't supposed to do....or fail to do something they were supposed to do...or do it but just not in the exact way or at the exact time they were supposed to do it, they get points knocked off. Applicants have to make it back to the finish line with at least 70 points still remaining in order to pass the practical skills test.

    I have found online a list of what the examiners are looking for and the points assessed against riders for each infraction. In the interest of saving people a few trips to the licensing center and also peeling back the veil and showing that not everything we don't know or understand in Japan is either arbitrary or unknowable, I am providing an English summary here. This is all information culled directly from official guidelines issued by the National Police Agency...facts from the source, not urban legends, anecdotes, or gaijin guesses. I am including only those elements specifically relevant to motorcycle licensing:

    Section 1: Safety Equipment / Posture

    Riding with incorrect posture: 10 points
    (That includes riding with your knees splayed out instead of gripping the tank).

    Section 2: Taking Off

    Lack of smooth clutch/accelerator coordination: 5 points
    Kill the engine with your crappy clutch technique: 5 points
    Roll backwards a little: 10 points
    Roll backwards a medium amount: 20 points
    Roll backwards a lot: FAIL
    Delayed take off due to poor technique or indecision: 5 points
    Delayed take off to the point it interferes with traffic: FAIL

    Section 3: Maintaining Speed

    Taking more or less than the specified min/max time on a section: 5 points
    Failure to achieve the specified speed: 10 points
    Failure to achieve the specified speed, due to a panic stop: FAIL

    Section 4: Turn Signals and Safety Checks

    No signal on take off: 5 points
    No signal on lane change: 5 points
    No signal on right/left turns: 5 points
    No signal leaving roundabout: (not really applicable, but signal anyway if your test course routes you through one)
    Failure to do a safety check (look all around): 10 points

    Section 5: Control

    Coasting (clutch disengaged): 5 points
    Coasting (clutch disengaged) downhill: 5 points

    Not being prepared to brake: 5 points
    Not breaking up your braking (brake-release-repeat): 5 points
    Not having brake applied during a stop: 5 points
    Not being in neutral when stopped along roadside: 5 points
    Putting your right foot down during a stop: 5 points
    Awkwardness with the brakes on take off: 5 points

    Creeping forward when you're supposed to be stopped: 5 points
    Not using BOTH front and rear brakes: 10 points

    Going a little faster than the road/traffic conditions allow for: 10 points
    Going a lot faster than the road/traffic conditions allow for: 20 points
    Braking during a curve: 20 points
    Failure to stop in the designated area during sudden stop: FAIL
    Accelerating/braking like an irresponsible jackass: FAIL

    Section 6: Handling

    See-sawing due to poor handling or indecision: 5 points
    Sudden turns: 10 points
    A little wobbly riding: 10 points
    Worse wobbly riding: 20 points
    Drop the bike: FAIL
    Inability to get through a section (crank, S-curve, etc): FAIL

    Section 7: Vehicle Awareness

    Stopping too far before stop line: 5 points
    Failing to stop with vehicle aligned to designated spot: 5 points
    Failure to maintain safe separation distance all around you: 20 points

    Out of bounds a little (hit curb with tire): 5 points

    Brush up against obstacle (road cone, etc): 20 points
    Smack into something (or be in danger of it): FAIL

    Section 9: Lanes-n-Things

    Straying into adjacent lane: 5 points
    Crossing into opposing traffic lane to avoid obstacle (if it interferes with opposing traffic): FAIL
    Entering into a safety zone ("zebra zone"): FAIL

    Section 10: Changing Lanes-n-Things

    Improper lane change entering the narrow road section: 5 points
    Improper lane change at an intersection: 5 points
    Lane change where lane changes are prohibited: 10 points
    Interfering with following traffic by your poorly executed lane change: FAIL

    Section 11: Going Straight, Left-Right Turns

    Improper left/right turn: 5 points
    Proceeding unsafely: 10 points
    Failure to go slow when mandatory: 20 points
    Not complying with lane directional markings: 10 points
    Entering an intersection on a yellow light and then stopping in crosswalk: 20 points
    Running red light: FAIL
    Failure to yield right-of-way: 10 points
    Impeding traffic: FAIL
    Failure to stop at designated position: FAIL
    Failure to yield at crosswalks: FAIL

    Section 12: Protecting Pedestrians

    Splashing mud: 10 points
    Failure to maintain a safe distance: FAIL

    Section 13: Top Speed, Railroad Crossings, and Parking

    Changing gears while crossing railroad tracks: 5 points
    Improper use of horn: 10 points
    Panic braking: 10 points
    Failure to maintain safe following distance: 10 points
    Improper stopping/parking: 5 points
    Speeding: 20 points
    Failure to stop at railroad crossing: FAIL
    Improper passing/overtaking: FAIL
    Cutting in: FAIL

    For anyone who wants to see and check it for themselves, the information regarding the grading of the tests, as well as information stipulating exactly what must be covered in tests for each class of license and an absolutely mind-numbing degree of detail on the minutiae of course dimensions and layouts, this is the 42 page PDF file from the National Police Agency (promulgated October 3, 2016). If clarification is needed regarding any bit of it, you will find that the PDF provides reference to the relevant sections of laws.
    Last edited by Mike Cash; 04-01-18 at 04:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Yamaguchi-ken N. of Shimonoseki


    Thanks Mike for posting that. That's very kind of you.

  3. Default

    Jeebus! Thanks for that, Mike!

    Ahem, what's "irresponsible Jackass" in Japanese?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kiryu, Gunma


    Quote Originally Posted by clubtoothedgapfoot View Post
    Jeebus! Thanks for that, Mike!

    Ahem, what's "irresponsible Jackass" in Japanese?

    The info above goes a long way toward explaining the purpose of all the colored lights on bikes at driving schools and test centers. They indicate what gear you're in (1st through 4th, anyway), whether you're using both brakes, whether you have reached 40kmh, whether you've killed the engine or not, etc.....things that help the examiner spot places for deducting points.
    Last edited by Mike Cash; 04-01-18 at 09:32 PM.

  5. Default

    Oh, touché,

  6. #6


    Wow, thanks for researching and translating. I really hope I never need to take this test.

    Roundabouts? I haven't encountered one in Japan yet that I can recall.

    Didn't see wheelies mentioned in there either, but maybe that falls under the "accelerating like a gaijin" penalty.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kiryu, Gunma


    Lots more detailed explanation of everything here if anybody wants to go read it for themselves. It's way more than I feel like translating just for my own amusement.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007


    How Japanese... The irresponsible jackass tops it of course, but how about this one:

    Not breaking up your braking (brake-release-repeat): 5 points

    The idea here obviously being that you should act as a human ABS, rapidly releasing the break to prevent washing out.
    Crash test genius

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kiryu, Gunma


    The "irresponsible jackass" was my own poetic license. Wild/rambunctious acceleration/braking is what they're talking about. The 暴走 (bousou) from 暴走族 (bousouzoku) is the term actually used.

    The human ABS bit applies to all license types, not just motorcycles. I remember them having us do that when I went to driving school here for large trucks and then again for tractor-trailer, but the only explanation I got was that the idea is to flash your brake lights to warn following vehicles.... which struck me as stupid because that's what brake lights are for anyway, whether they're flashing or not and because if that was really the official rationale behind it then they should just mandate flashing brake lights. It isn't as though the technology hasn't been around for fucking decades now.

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