Getting your motorcycle licence

Getting your full licence can be daunting, particularly if you are just starting out. Industry regulations place limits on motorists depending on their age which can make things tricky when it comes to getting your licence. Outlined below are the various steps involved in getting you on the road.

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Getting your A1 or A2 licence

The type of motorcycle you can ride depends on your age. To get started you'll need a provisional licence which only involves filling out some paperwork.

 

Provisional licence

To get started on motorcycles, it's Category A which is the one that is relevant to you.

If you have already passed your car test, then you need to apply for 'Category A' provisional motorcycle entitlement on your car licence. You do this by applying to the DVLA. You'll then need to take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT).

If you don't have a car licence, then you'll need to apply for a provisional motorcycle licence first by filling out and posting application form D1 with a fee, a photograph and identification to the DVLA. You get this form from the Post Office.

The DVLA will post back your provisional licence. You can now go ahead and book up a CBT training course with your local training school. You can only start riding on the road after you've completed your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT).

Once you've passed the one-day CBT course, you'll get a DL196 certificate (CBT certificate) that's valid for two years. You must carry the DL196 certificate with your provisional licence to make it legal for you to ride on the road.

You can then go on to do the A1, A2 or A motorcycle licences. See more about those below.

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Passing CBT

The CBT is divided into five sections and the instructor will assess your ability in each one. There's no time limit, but each one must be completed before you can move on.

The day starts off in a classroom where the instructor will tell you what the day will involve and then tell you all the legal aspects and rules of riding on the road.

After this, you'll go out to the bikes and be shown the basic checks you need to do each time you ride in the future, as well as being shown how to start the bike and how the controls work. You'll then move onto an area (not on the public roads) to start riding for the first time. You'll begin with learning how to use the clutch to move forward, followed by how to stop, how to turn, and how to make an emergency stop.

Once comfortable with that, it's back to the classroom for a briefing about riding on the road. This covers the Highway Code, how to stay visible, how to control your speed and how to ride defensively. After the briefing you'll be taken out on the road for a ride. Your instructor will start you off on quieter roads and then move you onto faster, busier roads.

When your instructor feels confident that you're safe and competent to ride on your own, you will be issued with a DL196 (CBT certificate). This is your CBT and is valid for two years. During these two years, you can ride on the road with L-plates but you can't carry a pillion or go on motorways. You'll need to do another CBT if you don't pass the Theory and Practical Test before the CBT certificate expires.

If you passed your car test before February 2001 you automatically have provisional entitlement to ride a moped (no larger than 50cc) without L-plates or taking CBT, although it's always advisable to take this introductory training. You can also carry a pillion passenger.

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Theory Test

The theory test can be done in a day and is split into two parts.

The first part is a test on the Highway Code. You'll have to answer 50 multiple-choice questions on computers at test sites throughout the country. The test lasts 57 minutes and you have to get 43 out of 50 to pass.

The second part is a hazard perception test. You will watch 14 video clips of hazards and then have to identify the hazards by clicking the mouse button on them. You get just one shot at this and have to get at least 44 out of 75.

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Motorcycle Licences - AM, A1, A2, and A

Everyone has to pass the CBT to get riding on the roads with L plates. To progress, you'll need to work your way up through the Category A licences.

The AM Licence lets you ride mopeds up to 50cc (which must not go faster than 28mph). To get an AM Licence you must be at least 16-years-old. To get rid of your L plates you'll have to pass the Theory and Practical Test within two years of your CBT. You can then ride around on your 50cc moped until you're too old to ride any more or you can look at riding more powerful machines by doing the A1, A2 or A Licence Practical Tests.

At the age of 17 you can get an A1 licence and at the age of 19 you can the A2 licence. The A1 licence lets you ride motorcycles up to 125cc and 15 BHP - so if you're 17 or 18 then you can only get 125cc motorbike. Once you're 19 you can ride 47 BHP motorcycles but only when you have passed your A2 Licence. Both the A1 and the A2 Licence consist of a Theory Test and a Practical Test. If you already have the A1 Licence when going for your A2 Licence, then you won't have to do the Theory Test again.

To get the full A Licence, which lets you ride any power of bike, you must be at least 24 years old. However, you can also get an A Licence when you're 21 but only if you've held the A2 licence for two years. In short, you would have had to have passed your A2 Licence when you were 19, in order to do the Direct Access for the A Licence when you're 21. This A2 Licence route is the only way for a 21, 22, and 23-year-old to get on a high powered machine. It makes sense because they would have gained 2 years of riding experience on a 47BHP machine before making the transition to a motorcycle of any power.

Read on below for a more detailed description of each of the four licences.

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AM Licence (mopeds up to 50cc)

The AM Licence lets you ride mopeds up to 50cc (which must not go faster than 28mph). To get an AM Licence you must be at least 16-years-old. To get rid of your L plates you'll have to pass the Theory and Practical test within two years of your CBT. You can then ride around on your 50cc moped until you're too old to ride any more or you can look at riding more powerful machines by doing the A1, A2 or A Licence Practical Tests.

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A1 Licence

For those aged 17 to 19 the next step is getting your Category A1 licence.

The A1 licence restricts you to riding a 125cc bike with no more than 15 BHP (11KW) of power. You must take your test on the same power of machine.

Module One of the Practical Test is conducted off road at a Multi Purpose Test Centre (MPTC) and covers getting your bike on and off its stand, riding a slalom course and figure of eight, hazard avoidance, controlled stops and emergency stops, a U-turn and slow-speed control.

If you pass Module One, you will then go on to take Module Two and this is a ride out on the roads, while accompanied by your examiner. You'll have radio contact throughout. The examiner will eventually lead you back to the test centre, where you will hear the result. Hopefully you've passed and now have a full motorcycle licence.

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A2 Licence

The minimum age for an A2 licence is 19 and it lets you ride a bike with 47 BHP. If you already have a 15 BHP A1 licence then to upgrade it to a 47 BHP A2 licence you'll only have to do another practical test but on a 47 BHP bike. Once you have an A2 licence you're then restricted to A2 bikes for 2 years or until you're 21.

Module One of the Practical Test is conducted off road at a Multi Purpose Test Centre (MPTC) and covers getting your bike on and off its stand, riding a slalom course and figure of eight, hazard avoidance, controlled stops and emergency stops, a U-turn and slow-speed control.

If you pass Module One, you will then go on to take Module Two and this is a ride out on the roads, while accompanied by your examiner. You'll have radio contact throughout. The examiner will eventually lead you back to the test centre, where you will hear the result. Hopefully you've passed and now have a full motorcycle licence.

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A Licence

You have to be at least 24 years old if you want to sit your bike test and then go on to ride any power of motorcycle. This is called 'Direct Access' and you'll have to do your CBT, Theory Test and the Practical Test. If you don't want to wait until you're 24 to ride any size of motorcycle then you can also do Direct Access when you're 21 but you must have held the A2 licence for at least two years. This means you would have to do the A2 licence as soon as you turn 19. This route is the only way for a 21, a 22, and a 23-year-old to get on a high powered machine because they have gained more riding experience over the years on their A2 licence.

Module One of the Practical Test is conducted off road at a Multi Purpose Test Centre (MPTC) and covers getting your bike on and off the stand, riding a slalom course and figure of eight, hazard avoidance, controlled stops and emergency stops, a U-turn and slow-speed control.

If you pass Module One, you will then go on to take Module Two and this is a ride out on the roads, while accompanied by your examiner. You'll have radio contact throughout. The examiner will eventually lead you back to the test centre, where you will hear the result. Hopefully you've passed and now have a full motorcycle licence.

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Checklist for your test

  • Your licence card and its paper counterpart.
  • Your Practical Test appointment letter.
  • Your Theory Test pass certificate.
  • Your CBT certificate.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Valid road tax disc.
  • Bike fitted with L Plates.
  • If the bike is more than 3 years old, you will need proof of MOT status.
  • Your helmet and gloves.

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All content is supplied by the MCITA. All MCITA members comply with Standards designed to ensure a consistent level of safety, service and training quality as an assurance to anyone taking motorcycle training for the first time, wishing to improve their skills or trying out a new aspect of motorcycling.