How do I get on the road?
A quick guide to two wheeled licencing
Do you want to get on the road? Have you been wondering where to start and at what age?
Let’s help you to get around those troublesome obstacles….
15 years old
Buy a copy of the Highway Code and read it: understanding the rules of the road will make life easier once you get out there on your own. It applies to every road user including cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians, bikers, scooter riders, car and lorry drivers. Use the knowledge wisely, it’s there to help you and the people we share the roads with.
Apply for a provisional licence, it costs £50 and you can apply one month before your sixteenth Birthday. Use this official Government website link to avoid the dangers of scamming websites.
16 years old
Book and take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), a one-day course. The CBT is valid for two years and costs around £90-£125. You can use your own bike or hire one from the training school. The CBT allows you to ride a restricted moped on L-plates at 16, but you can’t carry passengers or ride on the motorway.
New mopeds are restricted to 28mph. That’s slower than a cyclist down hill. A restricted ‘ped will however give you freedom but feels very, very sloooooow! There’s a good reason why many of them end up being derestricted, or tuned – 40mph feels much safer than 28mph but the law is an ass and it’s illegal to ride anything faster until you’re 17. If you are likely to tune or derestrict your 50 though you’re better off buying a two stroke.
You can take a Motorcycle Theory Test (different to car theory, but still hazard perception and multiple choice) and the two part AM ‘moped’ licence at 16 (or above). This allows you to take passengers on a moped and ditch the L-plates.
17 years old (or over)
If you already have a CBT you can progress to a 125cc machine, if not you need to take one. Or you could drive Dad’s Ferrari, hardly fair is it?
You can also take the Motorcycle Theory Test. It lasts for two years and allows you to take an A1 licence. The theory test costs £25.
At 17 you can take your A1 licence (a two-part test), which allows you to ride a 125 without L-plates and carry a passenger. Yippee – at last you’re getting somewhere!
19 years old (or over)
If you already have a valid Motorcycle Theory Test or have held an A1 licence for two years or more you don’t need to take it again before doing your A2 test.
Like all the practical motorcycle tests, A2 is a two-part test with both on and off road modules. Pass it and you’re allowed to ride bikes up to 46.6bhp, you can also take passengers and ride on motorways.
24 years old (or over)
Finally (if you’ve stuck with it this far) you can gain a full ‘A’ licence and ride whatever you want! If you’ve already got a valid CBT, AM, A1 or A2 licence you don’t need a CBT, or Motorcycle Theory Test. If you haven’t, you will still need a CBT and Theory before taking your two-part A test.
Rip up those ‘L’ plates, go and buy the machine of your dreams and head off into the sunset. Congratulations, you’ve joined an elite group of full-licence holders and can now enjoy the wonderful world of two wheels with no restrictions…
Can I help myself?
The more preparation you do on your own the easier (and cheaper) the test process will be. Learn and understand the theory, make sure you pass it first time. Downloading a theory test app will help you to prepare for it. The Motorcycle Theory Test UK app costs just £2.29 on iTunes or £2.50 on Android and includes all the latest DSA questions, has an inbuilt intelligent coach and hazard perception videos. Failing that, buy a book on passing your test and suss out what the test involves. It’s common sense, not rocket science.
Hazard perception, awareness and planning will keep you safer on the road than a Hi-Viz jacket ever will. Treat riding like a game of chess: think a few moves ahead and ride defensively. Training isn’t just about passing a test, it’s about survival and enjoyment. Hazard perception is a big part of honing those survival skills.
Check out the video below
Compulsory Basic Training – CBT
CBT isn’t a test as such; it’s basic training to make sure you know how to ride a bike/scooter without endangering yourself or others. You can’t actually fail it but certificates won’t be given out if you’re not deemed safe. It can be retaken though. From April 2016 some theoretical knowledge will become part of the CBT and passing on an auto will mean a recommendation for further training before riding a geared machine.
Can I take my test on a Vespa T5 or LML?
You used to be able to take a full test on a Vespa T5 or LML Star because it made enough power at the time to ride a larger capacity geared scooter, but things changed in January 2013 (again). You can take an A1 test on a geared scooter but will only be allowed to ride a 125cc. It does mean you won’t need to take a CBT again though…
So what do I have to ride to do direct access or A2?
Probably the number one reason why a number of scooter riders stick to L-plates, especially female and smaller male riders, is that the size and weight of a 500/650cc geared motorbike, as used by most training schools can be intimidating. Sadly, you must pass your test on a bike of at least 395cc, even if you only want to a ride a vintage Lambretta LD150 or more modern Vespa PX200.
A2: At least 395cc and between 26-46bhp
A: At least 595cc, 53.6bhp
Can I do my test on a maxi scooter?
You could take a test on a large capacity twist-and-go scooter but if you pass on an auto, then that’s all you can ride. Our advice is to do the full monty because one day you might want to ride something larger than a scooter and by then the test process may well have got harder.
Module 1 is off road and is taken at a Multi-Purpose Test Centre (MPTC) and a Mod 1 test costs £15.50. The pass certificate is only valid until your theory test runs out, so don’t leave it too long!
Module 2 is taken on road, it costs £75, takes around 40 minutes and an examiner follows you on the test route.
Direct Access (DAS)
If you’re aged 24 or over you can take a Direct Access test after passing your Motorcycle Theory Test (you also need a valid CBT). Direct Access allows you to ride any bike.
Typical costs are around £600 for a Direct Access course taken at a local motorcycle training school. It can work out cheaper to ‘pay as you go’ for bike training though, providing you’re either a quick learner or competent rider.
Car licence only?
If you passed your car test before January 19th 2013 you can ride a three-wheeled Piaggio MP3 LT, Yourban LT, Gilera Fuoco LT, Quadro or Peugeot Metropolis. They’re classed as tricycles but ride and lean like a bike. It’s a clever loophole that means you don’t need a bike licence. Even so, we recommend you take at least some form of training before wobbling off into the city. We recommend non-riders take a CBT.
Riding is one area that you should never stop improving; after all it can save your life. Advanced training of any form is worth doing. Enhanced Rider Scheme, RoSPA, AIM, BikeSafe and track days all have their own particular benefits and will improve safety, bike skills and enjoyment.
Police motorcyclists make the best kind of riders. They’re taught using a system of motorcycle control from the book, ‘Police Motorcycle Roadcraft. The book is available to the public and the RoSPA advanced motorcycle test is based on it. Buy a copy, read it and understand it. Use the skills to your advantage and you’ll avoid most accidents. You’ll also be faster and smoother as a result.
MOTORCYCLE AGE/TEST REQUIREMENTS AT A GLANCE
TEST YOU CAN TAKE
MACHINE YOU CAN USE
120-125CC, 14.75bhp capable of at least 55mph
At least 395cc, 26-46.9bhp
At least 595cc, 53.6bhp