L plates are for learners, not for life
L plates are for learners, not for life

 

If you look around the campsite and town at any big scooter rally, or around the car park at a ride out you’ll see an abundance of classic and modern scooters. A variety of machines from all marques dating back to the 1950s, sometimes even earlier than that. They’re owned by riders of all ages. Although, sadly it’s the over 50s who are the most prevalent age group.

 

The lines of a classic Lambretta spoilt by the big L
The lines of a classic Lambretta spoilt by the big L

 

Join the club

 

Not that there is anything wrong with being in your 50s (I’ve recently joined that club myself) but it is a shame that many of those riders will still be riding on ‘just’ a CBT. If you’re one of them and you’ve only just got on to two wheels then that’s great, you’re sussing it out and gaining some experience during the first two-year period. But what about those serial CBT offenders? The ones who complain about having to take yet another CBT every two years, whilst at the same time moaning that a full licence is too expensive.

 

If you’re a serial CBT rider why not make 2021 the year to gain yourself a full motorcycle licence? If you’re serious about scooter riding, a full licence should be at the top of your priority list. Stop the excuses and get it sorted.

 

This young rider may well be on the way to a full licence
This young rider may well be on the way to a full licence

 

“It’s too expensive”

 

Compulsory Basic Training was introduced in 1990. How many CBT tests have you taken? On average it costs £125 for a one-day CBT. If you’ve done five CBTs then you could have passed your Direct Access for the same (or less) money and never have to waste any more days doing the same boring basic training… ever again.

 

Linsey after passing her Direct Access with zero faults - she's a driving instructor but she was a very nervous learner
Linsey after passing her Direct Access with zero faults – she’s a driving instructor but she was a very nervous learner

It’s cheaper than a car licence

 

Although quality bike training isn’t exactly cheap, riders are still quite lucky. It takes less time and less money to pass your bike test than it does a car test. The DVSA recommends 45-50 hours of paid car tuition plus half again of private practice. The car test is much more difficult than it used to be. You’ll pay around £25-£30 an hour for car lessons, that’s over £1200 for the lessons needed to take you to test.

 

I bet most CBT riders will already have a full car licence though and the cost didn’t put them off…

Riding a geared bike is part of the test experience, don't let it put you off
Riding a geared bike is part of the test experience, don’t let it put you off

 

Why should I have to pass on a geared bike to ride a scooter?

 

The current licencing system means that you DO need to take your test on a motorcycle, the capacity will depend on your age and which test you take. It may not seem fair if you ‘only’ want to ride a scooter but that’s the way it is. Perhaps you should have done it years ago when the test was easy and could be done on your classic scooter by riding around the block whilst an instructor walked around with a clipboard. I did.

 

Don’t be afraid, just book yourself some lessons with your regular CBT instructor, or another local training school. If you’re not used to geared motorcycles the bike may seem powerful and heavy at first but you’ll be fine, take your time and gain some confidence. You might even enjoy the experience. Remember, the end goal is to gain your freedom and remove the shackles of the ‘L’plate.

 

The money you saved on the 2020 rally season will easily pay for your full licence
The money you saved on the 2020 rally season will easily pay for your full licence

Pay as you go – it’s cheaper

It costs around £650-£750 to do a DAS – Direct Access course. You don’t have to pay upfront for a full course of training though, you can pay as you go, just like you would with car driving lessons. The price of riding lessons is around £30 per hour including bike hire. If you’re already an experienced rider with good habits you won’t need many lessons so it can often work out cheaper to ‘pay as you go.’

You can help yourself by reading up on the test and practising your theory beforehand. The official DVSA Learning to Ride Guide costs just £8.99.

Free yourself and your scooter from the shackles of restriction
Free yourself and your scooter from the shackles of restriction

 

I don’t want to ride anything bigger than a 125

 

Although you might be quite happy with your Royal Alloy 125, Vespa PX 125 or Milano 125 wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get rid of those nasty ‘L’plates? There’s nothing spoils the look of a lovely scooter more than stupid big L plates. Wouldn’t it be good if you could get rid of them, take a passenger, ride on the motorway, or have the option to buy a larger capacity scooter (or bike) in the future? One thing is for sure, tests and training don’t get cheaper or easier so do it sooner rather than later.

 

Plenty of scooters with L plates but many more ride without illegally
Plenty of scooters with L plates but many more ride without illegally

 

Illegal riders

 

As well as serial CBT offenders there are plenty more who ride illegally, either with or without a CBT. Riding tuned scooters on a provisional licence (sometimes with no licence at all) just because you’ve always done it and got away with it doesn’t make it alright. Time is running out for you horrible lot to get yourselves legal. With licences, tax, MOT and insurance all being done online now it’s only a matter of time before you’re refused insurance, or refused an insurance payout due to your fibs. The same goes for accidents, they’re the best way for the law to catch up with you.

 

Wanna be adored? Lose the L plates in time for summer...
Wanna be adored? Lose the L plates in time for summer…

 

Book in now!

 

We all know that Covid has affected every part of life in the last year, the training and testing process is one of the big casualties. Instructors and examiners were unable to work for 19 weeks last year and have so far been unable to work in 2021. It’s going to take time to catch up on the sheer number of test cancellations and the backlog it has caused for instructors. We suggest booking lessons sooner rather than later.

 

It’s likely training and testing will be allowed to resume in March, get yourself booked in now, especially if your current CBT is coming to the end!

 

Words and photos: Iggy

 

SLUK guide to Direct Access

 

You can read all about Direct Access training and the test itself in the comprehensive three-part feature we published a while back. It’s a warts ‘n all look at the test from a female perspective. Believe me, there is nobody who was more afraid of that training than Linsey was (I live with her).

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