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Get Your Motorcycle Licence – An easy guide

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Apply for your Provisional Driving Licence

Click Here For Our Provisional Motorcycle Licence Guide


If you don’t already have a driving licence, to start your journey you need a to apply for, and obtain, a provisional licence.  You can apply online using the gov.uk website, or using a D1 Application for a Provisional Driving Licence form available from the Post Office. Or, if you would rather, you can order the D1 form online from the DVLA website. You will need to pay a one-off fee of £34 for your licence.

What age can you apply?

You can apply any time after you turn 15 years and 9 months old.  The process is straightforward, and the website will take you through it step by step.

In order to obtain your provisional licence, you will also need to able to:

◦ Prove that you are able to read a number plate from 20 metres away

◦ Provide an identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport

◦ Provide proof of addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years

◦ Pay £34 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card

◦ Provide your National Insurance number if known

Your licence document should arrive in the post approximately 1 week after your application is received. This document will enable you to be able to ride on public roads as once you have undertaken your CBT.  Whilst you may be very pleased that you have a provisional licence, chances are you are lacking in experience.  Because of this, there are strict limitations placed on provisional licences, the most important are that:

  • You must not ride without displaying L plates at all times (D plates in Wales)
  • You must not carry a pillion passenger
  • You must not ride on motorways

Complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Click Here For Motorcycle CBT Guide

Compulsory Basic Training – commonly referred to as CBT –  is the course that you have to complete before you are legally able to ride a moped or motorcycle on the road. Your CBT certificate – the DL196 – is valid for two years and you need to take and pass a practical test within that time or you will have to undergo your CBT again.

Your CBT will need to be completed at a driving school that is local to you.  The training school sets the course price, meaning that costs can vary depending on where you do the training and if you bring your own moped or motorcycle, helmets and any other equipment.  The average cost for a CBT Course in the UK is around £130.

The training ensures that you can ride safely on your own, whilst you wait to take your full moped or motorcycle test. The CBT will make you aware of the rules of the road and safety legislations, as well as your obligations as a road user.

The CBT comprises of 5 elements.  These are:

A – Eyesight Test

B – Controls Overview

C – Off Road Training

D – Safety Talk

E – On Road Training

There is no pass or fail, and once you have completed your CBT you will be able to ride:

  • A moped if you’re 16 or over
  • A motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over

If you ride on the road once you have completed your CBT, you must still display L plates until such time that you pass a theory and practical AM or A1 test.

You don’t NEED to go any further!

Your Choices After Your CBT

If all you want to do is get on two wheels as quickly as possible, then with a CBT you’re good to go.

The CBT certificate (DL196) is valid for 2 years.  During this time you may decide you want to ride a more powerful motorcycle with a bigger engine than 125cc. If this is the case, you’ll need to take your motorcycle test.

If you’re happy with a 125, you can just renew your CBT every two-years. If you want to get a bigger bike, you’ll need to consider the following:

A2  – Minimum age 19 or over: A2 Motorcycle Licence

A  –  Minimum age 21 or over: Unrestricted A Motorcycle Licence

If you do want to ride a bigger-engined motorcycle, then carry on following the steps below.

Take the Motorcycle Theory Test


If all you want to do is get onto two wheels as quickly as possible, then you only need a CBT – you don’t need a Theory Test. You’re done, read no further! Goodbye and good luck!

However, if you are planning on moving on from your CBT and taking an AM, A1, A2 or A test, you will need to sit a theory test. These tests are comprised of two separate parts, that you can take at different times.  You must pass both parts of the test in order to pass the theory test.

The Motorcycle Theory Test is just one element of obtaining a motorcycle licence.  It shows your knowledge of the laws of the road and instils good safety practices into riders of all ages.

The theory test is all about learning the rules, regulations and legal obligations faced by all road users.

The theory test is made of a multiple choice question test and then a further hazard perception test, using a video to spot hazards on the road. You will be given an allotted amount of time in which to complete the tests, and they must be carried out under controlled test conditions.

During the test, you will be asked 50 questions, all with multiple choice answers.  You will need to get at least 43 right to pass.

There is no rush to take your theory test, as you should have plenty of time to revise and prepare before you book.   You can learn at your own speed, and undertake practise tests online before you sit the test on the day.  If you fail, you can re-take the test when you feel ready to try again.

If you are planning to just stick with your CBT accreditation, you do not need to sit a theory test of any kind.

Category AM Motorcycle Licence


The AM Test

If you are happy enough whizzing around with L plates on, then that is fair enough.  But, if you would like to ride without L plates, or with a passenger on board,  you must complete further training and testing.

If, however,  you know that you will only ever ride mopeds and have no interest in getting a licence which allows you to ride more powerful motorcycles and scooters, this is the licence for you.  This test will allow you to ride a moped or scooter up to 50cc, with a top speed of 45 mph, without L plates and with a passenger riding pillion.

To take and complete the test you will need to:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have a valid CBT certificate
  • Pass the motorbike theory test
  • Pass the two-module motorbike practical test

The test must be carried out on a 50cc motorcycle or moped.

Category A1 Motorcycle Licence


The A1 Motorcycle Test

Once you reach 17 years of age, and have passed your CBT and theory tests, you can take a 2-stage practical test to achieve an A1 accreditation.  An A1 licence allows you to ride a motorcycle or scooter up to 125cc (with maximum power of 11 KW) without L plates, and to carry a passenger.  Effectively, the A1 test works using the same eligibility criteria as the AM Moped Licence but for more powerful motorbikes, making it an appealing alternative to those looking to ride more than a moped.

Passing the A1 test could also help to reduce the cost of your motorcycle insurance.  After 2 years of holding an A1 licence you are entitled to take a further practical test and qualify for an A2 motorcycle licence.

To summarise then, the A1 licence allows riders aged 17 and over to:

  • Ride a light motorcycle up to 11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1kW per kg) and 125 cc (rough top speed of 60mph)
  • Ride without L-plates
  • Carry a pillion passenger
  • Ride on motorways

Category A2 Motorcycle Licence


The A2 Motorcycle Test

Once you turn 19, you can take the leap up to an A2 Motorcycle Licence.  This will  allow you to ride a motorcycle or scooter with power up to 35KW (46.6 bhp) which will typically mean up to 500cc engine size.  It could also mean a restricted version of a bigger and far more powerful model.

There are two ways to qualify for an A2 licence:

  1. If you have held an A1 motorcycle licence for at least 2 years you can qualify for an A2 licence by taking another practical test or
  2. If your are 19 years old you can take the direct access route by completing your CBT, as well as passing both your theory and practical tests.

An A2 licence allows riders aged 19 and over to:

  • Ride a bike that produces no more than 35 kW or 47bhp (these are normally advertised as A2 bikes in dealer showrooms)
  • Ride without L-plates
  • Carry a pillion passenger
  • Ride on motorways

Category A Motorcycle Licence


The A Motorcycle Test

A is definitely top marks when it comes to being a bike rider.  This is a full motorbike licence and will allow you to ride any motorcycle or scooter of any size or power.  At 21 years old, the motorbike world really is your oyster!

There are 2 ways to obtain your full A licence:

  1. If you have held an A2 Motorcycle Licence for 2 years, you can take another practical test or
  2. You can take the Direct Access route by completing CBT, Theory tests and a practical    test if you are old enough

Once you have successfully obtained your unrestricted  Motorcycle licence, you are legally allowed to ride any motorbike or scooter without L plates and to carry a passenger.

Because the A test is for big boys bikes, it must be carried out on a motorcycle that produces at least 54bhp or 40kw and is over 595cc. It is also not advisable to go straight into the A licence without any previous riding experience, even if you are legally old enough to.

Motorcycle Licence FAQ

How much are motorcycle lessons?
The costs vary and mainly depending on where you’re located. A typical package costs around £30-40 per hour and can be booked in blocks, usually from 8 hours to 16 hours.

How many lessons before the motorcycle test?
This is entirely dependent on the rider’s ability and the instructor’s confidence that you’re ready to take your motorcycle test. For most new riders, you’ll need 12 hours training in preparation to take your motorcycle test.

Where can I get motorcycle lessons?
There will be a motorcycle training school local to you. A good place to start is to search for motorcycle training and your local town’s name. You can also use this government website to find a school that offers CBT training as they will also run courses to help you get your full motorcycle licence.

Questions or Comments?

If you’ve got a question about this article and you need a bit more guidance, drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Likewise, if you’ve got something to add to this article or an experience you’d like to share, let’s hear it!

We love reading your comments and helping our readers.

  • Andrew Parker says:

    Simple and informative at the same time.

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