You can ride: up to a 125cc motorcycle or scooter with just a CBT or take your A2 licence which will limit you to a motorcycle or scooter up to 35kw (47bhp).
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 A2 licence, you’ll need: A CBT, Motorcycle Theory Test and to complete training and Modules 1 and 2.
The A2 licence will cost you: Around £70 for the CBT test, £25 for the Motorcycle Theory Test and around £650 for the training and Module 1 and Module 2 tests.
When you are under 24 years old and coming to biking from scratch, the A2 restricted licence is the highest category of licence you can apply for.
However if you got your A2 licence when you were 19 and have been riding for 2 years or more on this licence, you can apply for your full (Category A or sometimes known as DAS) motorcycle licence. The minimum criteria you need to hit is:
When you pass your A2 restricted motorcycle test, you’re entitled to ride any motorbike or scooter, providing that:
Nope! If you take your A2 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.
At 19, you’re entitled to go straight for the A2 restricted licence, which means you can ride a motorcycle making a maximum restricted power of 35kW (47bhp). You’ll take your A2 test on a motorcycle of at least 395cc (probably a Honda CB500F or similar).
However the A2 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 £600.
If you just want to get some wheels and get out on the road – whether that’s for an easier commute or because you fancy getting up and on two wheels ASAP, then a CBT is your best choice.
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.
Yes! However you have to have held your A2 motorcycle licence for 2 years and be a minimum of 21 years of age.
If you pass your A2 restricted licence at 19 and then reach 21, you can take your Category A motorcycle licence.
If you pass your A2 motorcycle test at 23, then the moment you hit 24 you can take your category A licence.
So if you are 22 or 23 and coming at motorcycling from fresh, it may be worth you just doing your CBT and clocking up a couple of years of experience on the road before going for your Category A (Full or DAS) motorcycle test. Why? Because if you sit your A2 licence at 23 years old and 10 months, you’ll only be allowed to ride a restricted (A2 / 46bhp) motorcycle but if you had waited three months, when you’d reach 24 years and 1 month old, you could take almost exactly the same test and have an unrestricted, Category A motorcycle licence.
You can ride motorbikes with:
The reality of this is far simpler than it sounds. You can ride any motorcycle, as long as its original power output is no more than 95bhp. An unrestricted A2 licence means this 95bhp motorcycle will need to be restricted down to half of its original power (47bhp).
The beauty of this is that it means you can buy a ‘bigger’ bike and ride it in restricted format, then when you remove your restriction, you can keep the same bike but enjoy it with its intended power output.
However, years ago the restriction used to be 33bhp and in theory you could buy a powerful motorcycle, like a 200bhp Suzuki Hayabusa and restrict it to 33bhp. Those days are now gone.
Fortunately, 47bhp is plenty and you won’t feel like your bike or scooter is gutless. In car terms you’ll easily be able to out-accelerate a Golf GTI and crack 100mph, so you’ll have plenty of punch.
To take your A2 category motorcycle licence you’ll need:
You’ll then need training to get you up to the required skill level to take your A2 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 A2 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 A2 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.
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 is 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 by DD.
Average A2 insurance costs will vary hugely as the range of bikes that quality for an A2 licence is massive. There are 19 motorcycle insurance groups and most A2 motorcycles and scooters will be around Group 10 whereas a powerful superbike will be group 19.
A2-ready scooters, although offering very similar performance to an A2 motorcycle will often be 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.
What’s important is that all A2 motorcycles are easily capable of getting up to the 70mph motorway speed limit. In fact, most of them will get into triple figures.
The ‘fastest’ A2 motorcycles are usually the ones where the manufacturer’s original power output is close to the 47bhp output that you’re allowed to ride on an A2 restricted licence.
Why? Because these motorcycles have been developed by the manufacturer and geared according to the power they produce. A 95bhp motorcycle might be geared to 130mph but when in its 47bhp restricted form, those tall gears will slow down its acceleration.
Engines with lots of torque, i.e. single-cylinder or twin-cylinder motorcycles, like Yamaha’s (now ancient) SZR660, Buell’s (old but not quite ancient) XB9r are good examples of bikes that make the most of the 47bhp horsepower restriction by the very fact their engines produce lots of torque and the torque output is barely affected by the A2 restriction.
Modern bikes like Kawasaki’s Ninja 650, Yamaha’s MT-07 and Honda’s CB650F are great A2 motorcycles that can easily crack 100mph, even in restricted form.
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 Honda CB500F ABS, which is roughly Group 10 insurance The bike is worth £3500 and garaged at night.
Rider 1 is 19 years old. Rider 2 is 35 years old. Both have zero No Claims Bonus.
Rider 1, 19-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance £800 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 19-year old: Third Party Only Insurance £650 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance, £500 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Third Party Only Insurance, £350 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 19-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance £1200 per year, £250 excess
Rider 1, 19-year old: Third Party Only Insurance £850 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Fully Comprehensive Insurance, £800 per year, £250 excess
Rider 2, 35-year old: Third Party Only Insurance, £500 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 A2 motorcycle and you need to keep your costs down then a 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 £7,000 new bike will be more expensive to insure in the long run, compared to a £1,500 motorcycle.
The simple rule is to keep the bike’s value low. By choosing a bike that is cheap to repair and cheap to replace, you’re onto a winner. That is why sportsbikes are out: 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.
Three absolutely stonking A2 bikes for those on a budget are Honda’s CB500, Kawasaki’s ER-5 and Suzuki’s GS500E. Yes, they’re about as sexy as Angela Merkel but, just like old Angela, they’re financially sound.
Yes, these bikes are long in the tooth these days but they’re all ideal first A2 motorcycles for the budget conscious. All can be picked up for well under £1,500 (infact there are loads of good ‘uns for under £1,000 if you look hard enough). They’re generally very reliable, cheap to run and repair. The bonus is, they’re under the radar when it comes to motorcycle theft as the thieving toe-rags have their eyes on far shinier and more expensive bikes.
A cheap A2 motorcycle makes sense in so many ways. You’ll be gutted if you drop it or get nudged off it by a dozy car driver but think how bad you’d feel if you were watching your £7,000 fully-financed pride and joy sliding down the road, leaving an expensive trail of broken plastic and scratched metal.
If you’re struggling to get cheap motorcycle quotes on modern motorbikes, try a few of these instead. They can all be bought for around £1,500 and make great first A2 motorcycles:
Honda CBR600F (pre 1999)
Suzuki SV650 (pre 2003)
No, the only restrictions are to the engine’s power. An A2 restricted motorcycle must not be capable of making more than 95bhp in standard trim and must be restricted to half of that figure, 47bhp, for it to be ridden by someone on an A2 restricted licence.
The largest engine capacity A2 motorcycle available to buy today is the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic. Its 1690cc v-twin engine is massive – bigger than most modern cars – but due to its low power output, it qualifies as an A2-ready motorcycle. At over £20,000 new, you’d better be careful not to drop it!