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I have a full car licence, can I ride a 125cc motorcycle?

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Historically, a full car licence permitted drivers to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc without having to take any other tests or entitlements. However, the current rules state that even if you have a full licence for a car, you still have to take your CBT in order to be able to ride a small (125cc or under) motorcycle and use L-plates on the bike too.

There are a few exceptions to this, which are outlined below.

What bikes can I ride on a full car licence?

If you have a full Category B driving licence for a car but no bike-specific categories on your licence, you cannot ride any type of motorcycle on UK roads without taking the appropriate tests and so, gaining motorcycle-specific entitlements.

The one exception to this is if you gained your full car licence prior to February 2001, in which case you can ride a moped of up to 50cc and with a top speed of up to 50km/h only, without taking a CBT or any other tests. This is reflected by the presence of Category p entitlement on your driving licence.

Therefore, if you just want a bike to nip around on, you can take your motorcycle CBT and within a day you could be on two wheels!

I have Category “A” on my driving licence, can I ride a motorbike?

Yes, Category A entitlement on your driving licence allows you to ride any motorcycle with no maximum power limit, including pillion passenger carriage and using motorways.

Check whether your licence is indeed Category A or whether it is Category AM (moped), A1 (up to 125cc), A2 (restricted, replaces the old 33bhp limit) or Category A.

What category is a full motorcycle licence?

Category A is a full motorcycle licence, allowing you to ride any capacity motorcycle, with no restrictions.

I have a full car licence can I ride a 125cc?

As mentioned above. If you have a full car licence, you can ride a motorcycle or scooter up to 125cc but you have to take your Compulsory Basic Training first. This is a day-long course that starts in a car park and ends up with you out on the road on a motorcycle or scooter. Once you’ve done that, you can ride a motorcycle or scooter with an engine capacity up to 125cc, on the road with L-plates for up to two years. After this two-year period you will need to re-take your CBT.

The Grandfather Rights

Following the Coronavirus not many people want to use public transport to get to work. Many are considering getting a two-wheeler, either a moped or small scooter or motorbike to get around. It’s a wise decision and ensures you reduce the risk of being infected with Covid19.

Some car drivers who have held their full licence for many years might have an inkling that their licence entitles them to ride a small motorcycle or scooter. In some cases that might be correct.

If your driving licence shows a category p (lowercase p) on the pink plastic card and you passed your driving test before the 1st February 2001 (known as grandfather rights) then you are entitled to ride a moped. A moped is a scooter that has a maximum engine capacity of 49cc. You can read all about what a moped is and how fast they can go in the link.

When you have your full driving licence you are considered to know the roads, but whether you know how to correctly control a moped, or how to position yourself on the roads is another matter. It is worth getting instruction and remembers a CBT only takes a day and you don’t pass or fail, so with your p entitlement there is nothing to lose and your CBT training will also enable you to ride a larger motorcycle (up to 125cc).

If you passed your car driving test after the 1st of February 2001 then you will need to complete a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course. This will enable you to ride a moped or any motorcycle or scooter with an engine capacity of up to 125cc.

The best 125cc motorcycles and scooters

ktm 125 duke best 125cc bikes - I have a full car licence, can I ride a 125cc motorcycle?

We’ve written a couple of handy guides to help you choose a great two-wheeler to suit your needs.

Check out our guide to the best 125cc motorbikes and the best 125cc scooters.

Don’t forget to think about insurance. Check out our easy estimator tool below.

Take our 1-minute insurance challenge

We've created a quick motorcycle insurance estimator that takes just 60-seconds to fill out and requires no personal info. Are you paying over the odds for your motorcycle insurance?

‘Big’ bike or 125?

If you have a car licence and you just want to nip around on a motorbike, you can take your CBT and then ride a 125cc motorbike for 2 years, with L-plates. After that time, you’ll have to retake your CBT.

However, if you want to ride a larger, more powerful motorcycle you’ll need to take your motorcycle test. There are various options, so check out our motorcycle licence guide landing page to make the next step.

CBT Clothing Guide

cbt test clothing guide - I have a full car licence, can I ride a 125cc motorcycle?

Do you know what you’ll need to wear to take your CBT? Do you know what the school provides and what you must bring?

It’s never that clear, so we’ve written a guide to the clothing you need to wear to your CBT test. You don’t want to turn up and then be turned away.

Get advice from real bikers

If you’re thinking of getting on two wheels, whether that be a scooter or motorcycle, with a CBT or a full licence, you’ll probably have a lot of questions you want answers to, like how can you secure it, where do you put the oil, what are the best tyres?

Why not check out www.ridersite.com where there’s a specific beginner motorcycling forum where you can ask any question you like to an audience of experienced bikers who have been through everything you’re going through as you start your exciting journey into biking!

  • Nigel says:

    I have an old type paper licence from 1978 which used to cover provisional bike licence up to 250cc on l plates does this ruling still stand?

    • Ben Cope says:

      Hi Nigel, it doesn’t I’m afraid.

      You can ride up to 125cc with a valid CBT certificate. (or a full motorcycle licence category A) A 250cc motorcycle will required a full motorcycle licence.

      From 90-one.com:

      Up to February 1983 learner motorcycle riders could ride motorcycles with an engine capacity up to 250cc. In February 1983 the law changed limiting learner motorcycle riders to 125cc. In December 1990, the law was changed again, requiring motorcycle riders to complete a basic training course (CBT) which substantially reduce the number of learner motorcyclists being killed and seriously injured. The CBT certificate is valid for 2 years from completion of the course.

      • Bernard Higham says:

        Hi Ben, Great News You Can’t Ride a 250cc made in 1955 that will do about 55mph. But You can Ride a New 125cc Some will do 100mph.

        • Bob says:

          On the bright side a car license holder pre-2000 can drive many of the three-wheeled motorbikes of any capacity with their licences. These can exceed 120 mph and can be up to 1000cc. The current laws are quite ridiculous. Imagine an old AJS 350 single versus a modern 125. CBT lets you ride the faster 125 but not the slow AJS. That’s why kids get a car licence because they can drive any car of any power rather than muck about with bikes. My kids laugh at the idea of wasting time on a bike licence. A lot of young people just do a CBT so they can ride 125s with no intention of going further. Be nice to see figures of fatalities from pre-1983 and today on bikes per capita – not just figures.

          • Mark Mathews says:

            I have category A on my licence which is limited to 79 (3) – three wheels. Since this is officially counts as a motorcycle (albeit limited to three wheels) if I wish to ride a two-wheel Category A motorcycle on a Provisional basis do I need a CBT (since I am upgrading from one motorcycle level to another)?

  • John gidlow says:

    I have a 125 motorbike no CBT can I ride on the roads I have full driving licence since 1985

    • Ben Cope says:

      Hi John, no you’ll need to have a valid CBT to ride a 125cc. If you have a p category on your licence from when you took your test back in 1985, you will be able to ride a moped without a CBT.

      • Jamie Kimmins says:

        Just a quick question i past my test over 20 years ago have a p category on licence do i need 2 do cbt test

        • Ben Cope says:

          Yes, the P enables you to ride a moped (under 50cc) but if you want to ride a motorcycle or scooter up to 125cc you need a CBT test.

    • Bob says:

      You can ride a 3-wheeled motorcycle. The modern ones have a very close two-wheel configuration which is massively stable but can be any engine size. So you can have a 750cc cruiser that is more stable than a standard 750cc m/bike. Look them up. They are basically safer motorbikes and can be driven on car licences pre-2000. Google them. They’re fab.

  • Les cashmore says:

    I passed my test in 1973 my licence shows a category A and P on it what engine size of motorbike can I legally drive

    • Ben Cope says:

      Hi Les, see my answer to Howie. It also applies to you. Thanks, Ben

    • Ian says:

      its only to 50cc moped p and if you have A on your licence it will have a code 79 and in brackets it will say 3 or tri meaning you can only ride a 3 wheeler and not a motor bike.

  • Howie Williams says:

    All very confusing. I have a full driving licence since 1993 and Category p 118 restriction. What cc scooter can I ride?

    • Ben Cope says:

      Hi Howie, if you have a full car licence obtained before 1st Feb 2001 you have a full category p (moped) on your licence. You would therefore not require a CBT (DL196) certificate to ride a moped (under 50cc).

      If you have a full car licence obtained after 1st Feb 2001 you also have a full category p, however your licence will show code 122 next to the category. This means a CBT must be completed before a moped can be ridden.

      If you want to ride a 50cc – 125cc motorbike you need a CBT.

  • kev says:

    I have a full UK license from 1991
    I was advised I can ride a 50 cc without L plates and a 125cc with L plates as there was a law change 1n the late 90s also 2001.
    But as I passed my car license in 1991 it doesn’t apply, I received that information from a motorbike forum

  • David latham says:

    I understand you can ride any 3 wheeled or quad on car license… is there a restriction to this?

  • Alex says:

    I did a full moped test in Dec 2006, when was 16 so I could carry pillion passengers and no dreaded L plates on my 50CC moped. I then passed my car driving test in Dec 17. On DVLA online is says my CAT A started in Jan 2013 but has a 79(3) restriction and it shows a provisional CAT A with no restriction from Oct 17 . I just wondered if because I did a full CAT P test whether I didn’t have to keep doing my CBT to drive a 125CC?

  • Colin says:

    Hi I passed the driving test in 1976 what motorcycle can I ride without l plates and all so what trike can I ride

    • Brian Vickers says:

      None is the answer, if you want to ride a motorcycle without L plates you need to pass a motorcycle test, trikes also come under the motorcycle licence now, so you can’t ride a trike either.

  • donnarowley@hotmail.com says:

    If i have a CBT and a full car licence since 1993 do i need to complete the theory test?

  • Peter says:

    Hi. I passed my motorcycle test around 1959/1960 (in Chatham, Kent) and rode a series of bikes up to 1000cc between then and 1975. I then emigrated to the RSA and passed my car driving test – I did not ride much there and my motorcycle licence was never used. My question is – can I resurrect my bike licence? If so, how?

  • John says:

    Hi please can you help me, I passed my car test in 1979 and have cat A on my license but in the number 12 section it’s got 79 (3) can I ride a motorcycle, I await your reply thanks. John

  • rez says:

    hi there all i wanted to find out what sort of test i need to ride motorcycle i have full uk driving license

  • Craig says:

    How long can I ride a 125cc on L plates if I passed my car test in 1991 please?

  • Mark Farrell says:

    Hi I have a full car licence since 1982, I have A and p and am catogary on my licence what size motorcycle can I ride

  • Steve says:

    I have class A on my license, but this shows code 79(tri) next to it. I have never taken a CBT and passed the manual car driving test in 1997.
    I only want to be able to drive up to 125cc using a international driving permit (1949) for driving abroad.
    Would I have to take a CBT here for that, and put UK L plates on any 125cc moped I rented?
    I never have any intention of ever riding anything larger than 125cc, so do not want to take a full size motorbike test.

  • Judy says:

    I have a full UK licence from 1988 what do I need to ride a 125cc or a 50cc moped and carry a passenger. Its needed for our motorhome. Im a bit confused If I do a CBT can I carry a passenger ?

  • Kevin says:

    Hi I have cat a on my car licence what does that entitle me to ride. In section 12 it says 79(tri)

  • Dean Holt says:

    I passed my full car licence in 1995 but I have an A on my provisional entitlements does that mean I can ride a 125 or do I need to do my CBT?

  • Jackie says:

    Hi, I have full car licence (1988) and full moped licence (approx 1980). Will I need CBT to ride a 125cc bike?

  • patrick kennedy says:

    I have a full driving licences do I have to do another theory test before getting a bike test

  • Andy Wilson says:

    Hello, I want to start riding a 125cc Vespa Scooter with pillion passenger. I have had a Uk driving licence since Feb 1981, I rode a 50cc moped and a 125 motorbike for a few years in the early eighties. I have a paper document D740 with A and GH categories on it, and a Driving Licence card (pink Plastic,with my photo on it) from July 2016. On the card I have A – 79(3) and AM in the bike categories. I live in France and most likely will only ever ride the bike here. I can get insured here and the insurer has seen my driving licence and is satisified that it covers me to ride a 125 at least and there a no real restrictions for carrying pillion passengers in France, you just have to hold on and put your feet on the footrests.
    Can I go-ahead with my plan or do I need to take any additional tests? I can come to the Uk to take them if needed.

  • P butterworth says:

    I lam 68 and hold car licence can I ride and buy a3 wheeled scooter and carry a passage on it I was thinking of buying a Yamaha 125 cc tricey

  • Bob says:

    There are many 3 wheel motorbikes. Some with two very close 2 front-wheels for fantastic stability. If you have a pre 2000 car licence then you can ride these at any capacity some really nice 750cc versions. Just google 3-wheel motorcycles, that look just like motorcycles, and you can buy them. Don’t waste time/money doing tests when you don’t need to do so. These bikes are even more stable than standard m/bikes

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