You can ride: up to a 125cc motorcycle or scooter with just a CBT or take your A licence (also known as Full or Unrestricted) which will mean you can ride any motorcycle, unrestricted.
For a 125, you’ll need: A CBT, which lasts for 2 years
A CBT will cost you: Around £90 for the CBT test
For the A licence, you’ll need: A CBT, Motorcycle Theory Test and to complete training and the motorcycle practical test Modules 1 and 2.
The A licence will cost you: Around £70 for the CBT test, £25 for the Motorcycle Theory Test and around £650 for the training (known as Direct Access or DAS) and Module 1 and Module 2 test fees.
When you are 24 years old or older, you can apply for the Category A motorcycle licence. This will allow you to ride any motorcycle, without restriction.
The only time you can apply for a Category A licence when you are under 24 years of age is if you have held an A2 motorcycle licence for 2 or more years and are over 21 years old.
Nope! If you take your A licence on a manual motorcycle then you are entitled to ride an automatic (scooter). However this doesn’t work the other way around. If you take your A2 motorcycle licence on an automatic motorcycle (or scooter), you will only obtain an automatic licence.
If you opt for the easiest route, the CBT, that’ll cost you around £70-£100 and it takes a day.
The price includes the hire of a 125cc motorcycle or moped, and the loan of equipment (usually a helmet, jacket and gloves). At the end of the day your instructor will issue you with a DL196 form, also known as a CBT certificate. Look-out, world! You’re ready to ride.
If you’re new to motorcycling and want to get a motorcycle because:
Then you don’t have to get a Category A motorcycle licence, you can start with a CBT. The A licence requires you to jump through a few hoops: the CBT, Motorcycle Theory Test, 3 days of training and then the Module 1 and 2 motorcycle test. This little lot adds up to around £700.
If you just want to get a motorbike and get the wind in your hair, then a CBT is an excellent choice, allowing you to dip your toe in the water and try out motorcycling without a huge financial commitment.
A CBT takes under a day to complete and once you have your certificate, you can jump on a 125cc motorcycle or scooter and get out there. Then if you get the bug and want to get your full motorbike licence, you can use your CBT, do your Motorcycle Theory Test and get some training to take your Modules 1 and 2 motorcycle test.
You can ride any motorcycle. However, you may be limited not by what you can afford to buy but what you can afford to insure. If you are new to riding, even if you are an experienced car driver, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find insurers who’ll quote you on a Group 17 superbike, such as a Honda Fireblade or Ducati Panigale. You’ll have to earn your stripes, chalk up some experience on less powerful motorbikes and then come back to a superbike at a later date.
To take your A category motorcycle licence you’ll need:
You’ll then need training to get you up to the required skill level to take your A motorcycle test. Most motorcycle training schools will offer a 3-day course, where you’ll take your Module 1 test on the second day and the Module 2 test on the third day.
A 3-day A motorcycle training course, including motorcycle and kit hire and your test fees will cost around £650. A 2-day course will cost around £100 less.
Total cost to get an A category motorcycle licence: £600-750.
Your A2 motorcycle test is in two parts; Module 1 and Module 2.
Module 1 is an ‘off-road’ course but don’t be alarmed. The horribly sloppy choice of phrase by Her Majesty’s Government doesn’t mean you’ll be donning motocross boots and riding a big-hairy dirt-bike through muddy fields. Off-road simply means: not on a public highway.
The Module 1 test involves the candidate demonstrating a set number of manoeuvres to the examiner at an approved motorcycle test centre. You’ll be very familiar with the course layout, as you’ll have covered it during your training, albeit at a different location.
The manoeuvres that you’ll be examined on are:
The Module 1 test takes around 15 minutes to complete and by the time you head to your Module 1 test, you’ll have carried out the routine so many times, you’ll practically be able to do it with your eyes closed. However, we all know that nerves play a part in how you perform, so just remember to relax. If you can do it on the training ground, you can do it on the day.
You can only take the Module 2 once you have passed your Module 1. You’ll usually take your Module 1 the day before your Module 2 test is booked.
The Mod 2 test is less compartmentalised than the Module 1. The Mod 2 involves an eyesight test and then around 30-minutes of assessed riding on the public roads. At the end of the test, when you return to the test centre, the examiner will ask you a few questions relating to the motorcycle you’re riding and topic of carrying a passenger (known as a pillion).
If you fail your Mod 2 test, you’ll only need to retake the Mod 2 and not the Mod 1. If you need to resit your Mod 2, budget around £150 which includes some pre-test training, motorcycle hire and the test itself.
You’re in a good place to start. You’ll just need to get a CBT certificate to ride a 125cc motorcycle, whether you have a car licence or not. The CBT is a day-long course involving car-park drills and on-road assessment. Thanks to your full car licence, you’ll have good road awareness and knowledge and so the CBT will be much easier for you.
It costs £41 per year to tax any motorcycle with an engine capacity of 151-400cc, or £43.05 if you pay by Direct Debit. You can only buy this tax for a 12-month period.
A motorcycle of 401-600cc costs £62 to tax for 12 months or £65.10 if paying by Direct Debit. You can also buy tax for a 6-month period at £34.10 or £32.55 if paying by DD.
If your motorcycle is over 600cc, the tax bracket is £85 for 12 months, £89.25 by DD. For 6 months it is £46.75 or £44.63 for DD.
Average A category motorcycle insurance costs will vary hugely as the range of bikes that qualify for an A licence is massive; from little 125s to 2300cc power cruisers. There are 17 motorcycle insurance groups and you’d be well advised to look at motorcycles in and around the Group 10 category. A powerful superbike will be group 17 and eye-wateringly expensive to insure
You can always consider a maxi-scooter, like a Yamaha T-Max or Suzuki Burgman 650. These versatile machines are great for commuting, city-centres and mid-distance blasts. They’re generally cheaper to insure as well as cheaper to buy. So it’s worth considering whether you really need a motorcycle if you are watching the pennies.
Let’s take two theoretical riders, looking to insure their A2 motorcycle in two different locations.
The first hypothetical location is a city centre postcode (SE5), medium to high risk. The second hypothetical location is a suburban postcode (RG45), low to medium risk.
Our hypothetical A2 motorcycle is a Triumph Street Triple, which is roughly Group 14 insurance The bike is worth £6500 and garaged at night.
Rider 1 is 24 years old. Rider 2 is 35 years old. Both have zero No Claims Bonus.
Rider 1, 24-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance £1500 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 24-year old: Third Party Only Insurance £1250 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance, £1000 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Third Party Only Insurance, £850 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 24-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance £2000 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 24-year old: Third Party Only Insurance £1500 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance, £1200 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Third Party Only Insurance, £900 per year, £250 excess
These are just estimates but they give you an idea of how much it would cost to insure a Group 10 scooter or motorcycle in a city-centre or suburban location. Remember that other factors will affect the cost of your insurance, including:
The bike’s make, model and value. How many years you have been riding and your No Claims Bonus. Where you live and where the bike is kept overnight. Whether you use the bike for commuting and your annual mileage. The level of cover you require: Fully Comp, Third Party Fire & Theft or Third Party Only.
If you’re thinking of getting an A motorcycle licence but you’re watching the pennies, the general rule of thumb is to avoid new motorcycles and avoid sportsbikes.
Of course, some manufacturers will try and lure you in with a ‘good’ deal, offering cheaper or even free insurance and that might work for you.
However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a £10,000 new bike will be more expensive to insure in the long run, compared to a second-hand £1,500 motorcycle.
If the bike is cheap to replace, it’ll probably be cheaper to insure. That is why sportsbikes are out, even ones that are a decade old: they have fairings which are expensive to replace, should they get scratched in a low-speed accident or smashed in a more serious one. Sportsbikes often feature slightly higher specification and with that, parts are more expensive in general.
If you’re dead-set on having a superbike as your first bike, then you might get lucky with a few ‘modern classic’ superbikes. When a motorcycle is 15 years old it is deemed a ‘classic’ by most insurers. A 15-year old bike means it came out in the early 2000s and there are plenty of 150+bhp, 170mph rockets that fall into this classic category. For example: Suzuki GSX-R1000 K1 and K2, Ducati 998 and 999, various Honda Fireblades, the supremely quick 1998 Yamaha R1 and also hyperbikes like Suzuki’s Hayabusa.
While you might be able to get a more sensible quote on these machines compared to modern tackle, don’t expect a bargain – you’ll still be looking at four-figure quotes for these three-figure licence losers.
A better way to insure a first ‘big’ bike
If you can’t be doing with smaller engined-bikes or more modern machines, look to bikes that are roughly a decade old and around the 800cc mark.
Bikes like the Suzuki V-Strom 1000, BMW R1200RT, Yamaha Fazer 1000, Honda VFR800 and Honda’s CB1300S all pack a big-bike punch, are capable of out-accelerating most performance cars but will be cheaper to insure than out-and-out performance bikes.
You can pick up some great low-owner, low-mileage examples of the above bikes for around £3,000. Performance and fun without breaking the bank.
Unfortunately not. Those annoying insurance companies want it all their own way; if you’ve had an accident in your car, they’ll want you to declare it when you’re getting a motorbike insurance quote. However if you’ve got an immaculate driving record, with a full NCB, that counts for nothing in the eyes of the insurers. Another classic case of ‘one rule for them’.