First: Get Into Motorcycling
Owning a motorcycling offers a fun, cost effective way for younger individuals to get around without having to rely on public transport or Mum’s (or Dad’s!) Taxi.
If you are planning on taking to the road on two wheels, you will first need to complete your basic motorbike training and invest in some must have items of clothing to keep you safe out on the roads.
What is a CBT?
Before you can take to the open road, you will need to prove to the world that you are a safe and proficient rider. In order to do this, your biking career begins with your CBT – your Compulsory Basic Training.
Your training course usually lasts only a day and successful completion of the course is legally required before you can ride a bike or a moped on the road. Offering a basic knowledge of the how to ride safely, the CBT allows you to ride on your own while displaying L plates (or D plates if you are in Wales).
Once you have completed your CBT you can:
- Ride a moped if you are 16 or over
- Ride a motorcycle up to 125cc with a power output of up to 11kW if you are over 17
You should expect to pay around £100-£150 for your CBT course, and this price usually includes bike hire, helmet and clothing (except boots).
Finally, remember that your CBT test is only valid for 2 years, after which time you will need to take it all over again, or move on to a moped or motorcycle test.
What clothing do I need to ride a motorbike?
Having the right gear can help to keep you safe when out on the open roads. Not only do helmets, gloves and other items offer basic crash protection, the right bits of kit will also help to protect you from sun, rain, wind, noise and even debris.
Some items are an absolute must have, whereas others will help you to feel more comfortable while you ride. These include:
A Helmet – by law, you must wear a safety helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road. Check out our guide to the best cheap motorbike helmets.
Visors and goggles – if you choose to ride with an open face helmet and goggles, the goggles they must either meet a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark, or meet a European standard that offers at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard and carry an equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.
The Highway Code also advises that motorcyclists should also wear ‘strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision’. These include:
- Motorcycle Boots – these should be sturdy and provide support for your feet and protection for your ankles. Scooter boots are a good option as they are short boots, which are cheaper and can often be worn as every day boots. You should budget around £80 on a decent pair of boots.
- Motorcycle Jacket – this should be made from leather, heavy synthetic or denim materials and be made up of several protective layers underneath. Check out our guide to good and inexpensive motorcycle jackets. You need to spend around £100 to get a decent jacket but around £200 is advisable if you want one that will last and keep you warm and dry.
- Motorcycle Trousers – again, these should be made from leather or other heavy weight and protective materials. Budget around £100 for a pair of sturdy textile waterproof trousers.
- Motorcycle Gloves – these should be made from tough yet breathable material to offer protection against the vibrations of the bike, as well as offering increased grip. You need to spend £30+ to get a decent pair of gloves. Short motorcycle gloves work well as they offer good protection and are easy to wear.
Everything you wear while riding should be a comfortable fit to ensure that they don’t distract you, and if you are planning on riding in all weathers, you may want to consider investing in waterproofs as well.
What helmet should I choose?
Whether you choose to spend £50 or £500 on your first motorcycle helmet, there are some rules that all helmets in the UK must comply with.
Every single helmet legally sold in the UK must be tested to ECE 22.05. This regulation sets the standard for abrasion, impact, penetration, deformation and retention testing, as well the field of view from the visor. This standard is also accepted across 47 countries and most helmets with have a sticker on them confirming that they comply.
It is also important that when buying your first helmet that you have it properly fitted. Visit an approved motorcycle accessories stockist and try on several before you make your final choice. You should also always buy brand new, as a used helmet may not have been well looked after, or worse still, may have been involved in a collision that could compromise the level of protection it offers.
Finally, there are three main different types of helmets to choose from – open face helmets, full face helmets and flip front helmets. There are also different types and fit of visor, and a variety of add-ons that can be included to increase your comfort when riding.
Our best advice is to not go too mad with your first helmet. Choose one that offers a high degree of protection, fits properly and is designed to suit the type of riding you are likely to be starting out with. As your riding career progresses, there will be plenty of opportunities to upgrade your lid as you learn more about your own riding style and personal preferences.
You can buy a really good helmet for around £150 but first check out our guide to the best rated SHARP helmets – choosing one from there will ensure you get a quality lid at a price you are happy with.
What jacket should I wear?
Think of your motorcycle jacket as an additional layer of armour to protect you should you make contact with the road. You can choose from leather or textile, both of which have their own benefits.
Motorcycle-grade leather jackets are incredibly strong and durable, and offer excellent protection against abrasion and impact. The leather however must be at least 1.2 millimetres thick and designed for riding.
Textile jackets can offer a higher level of water resistance making them a great choice for riding in inclement weather, and they often allow for better airflow than leather can. They are often cheaper than a quality leather jacket and are lighter and easy to wear. They don’t need breaking in like a leather jacket does.
We’ve written a guide to the best motorcycle leather jackets, with picks for every budget and we’ve also written a guide on what to look for when buying a textile motorcycle jacket.
Do I need boots?
Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous but only when you come off. Everything you wear while riding should really have been designed to mitigate damage and offer extra protection.
Specially designed motorcycle boots provide protection against exhaust pipes, weather conditions and road debris, as well as being study enough to protect your foot and ankle against injury should the worst happen.
As with all your kit, try on a few first and find some that are comfortable. Cold feet or boots that rub will be a distraction while you ride, and that in itself with increase the risk of losing concentration on the road while riding.
What are the best gloves?
A decent pair of gloves will help to protect your hands against the elements while riding, as well as reducing vibrations and numbness and ensuring a better grip.
There are lots of gloves to choose from, but for your first pair look for gloves that offer the following:
- Multiple layers of protective material across the palm of the hand
- Abrasion-resistant material to help avoid cuts, gravel rash and friction burns if you do make contact with the road
- Impact protectors that remain in place to protect both the knuckles and the wrists
- Secure fasteners on the inside of wrists to prevent the gloves from being worn off or torn open in a crash
- Material that extends about 5cm above the wrist to prevent bare skin between your gloves and riding jacket
Finally, like all of your riding kit, ensure that your gloves fit properly and feel as comfortable as they can. While the idea of wearing bulky gloves on a hot summers day may not be appealing, a good pair of biking gloves can protect your delicate hands from unwanted injury and give you a better overall riding experience.
A good pair of gloves needn’t cost the earth. They start from around £30 but you can spend over £250. Check out our guide to the best motorbike gloves and pick a pair that suits your budget.