Get into motorcycling

Author: Iggy Grainger Posted: 29 Aug 2014

Getting started in motorcycling is a complicated business

The offside rules to motorcycling…

Getting into motorcycling can be quite daunting and confusing for a beginner. It’s also harder to explain than the offside rule. Here’s our handy guide to try and simplify some of these off putting rules and regulations.

15 years old

Buy a copy of the Highway Code and read it, understanding the rules of the road will make life easier once you get out there on your own. It applies to bicycles, horses, pedestrians, bikes, scooters, cars and lorries. Use the knowledge wisely.

Apply for a provisional licence, it costs £50 and you can apply one month before your 16th birthday. Use the following link to avoid scamming websites:

16 years old

Book and take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), a one-day course. The CBT is valid for two years and costs around £90-£125, you can use your own bike or hire one from the training school.

The CBT allows you to ride a 50cc moped on L-plates at 16; you can’t carry passengers or ride on the motorway. New mopeds are restricted to 28mph.

Find your local test centre, also known as an Approved Training Body (ATB), at this website:

AM licence

You can take a Motorcycle Theory Test (different to car theory but still hazard perception and multiple choice) and the two part AM – Moped Licence at 16 (or above) which allows you to take passengers on a moped and ditch the L-Plates.

17 years old (or over)

If you already have a CBT you can progress to any 125cc machine (if not, you need to take one), you still can’t take passengers or ride on the motorway though.

Theory test

You can take the Motorcycle Theory Test; it lasts for two years and allows you to take an A1 licence. The theory test costs £31 but will reduce to £25 on 1st October 2014.

A1 Licence

This is a two-part which allows you to ride a 125 without L-plates and carry a passenger.

19 years old (or over)

If you already have a valid Motorcycle Theory Test or have held an A1 licence for two years or more you don’t need to take it again before doing your A2 test.

Like all the practical motorcycle tests, A2 is a two-part test with on and off road modules, pass it and you’re allowed to ride bikes up to 46.6bhp, you can take passengers and ride on motorways.

21 years old

Two years after passing an A2 licence you can upgrade to a full A licence.  You will just need to take practical tests (no need to take your theory again).   The earliest you’ll be able to do this is 21, if you take your A2 at 19, and the good news is – that’s up to three years earlier than if you wait until Direct Access!

24 years old (or over)

Finally you can gain a full ‘A’ licence and ride whatever you want! If you’ve already got a valid CBT, AM, A1 or A2 licence you don’t need a CBT, or Motorcycle Theory Test. If you haven’t, you will still need a CBT and Theory before taking your two-part A test.

*If you passed your car driving test before 1st February 2001, you do not need a CBT to ride a moped.

Compulsory Basic Training – CBT

The CBT isn’t a test as such; it’s basic training to make sure you know how to ride a bike/scooter without endangering yourself or others. You can’t actually fail it but certificates won’t be given out if you’re not deemed safe. It can be retaken though.

There’ll be a maximum of four riders per instructor for the on-site training and riding but only a maximum of two riders per instructor for the on-road training and riding.

A CBT elapses after two years if you take no further practical training but you can take it again straightaway and it will be valid for another two years.

A1/A2/A Licence

Module 1 is not taken on the public road but at a Multi-Purpose Test Centre (MPTC), a Mod 1 test costs £15.50. The pass certificate is only valid until your theory test runs out; so don’t leave it too long!

If you don’t pass, you have to wait three working days before having another attempt.

Module 2 is taken on road, it costs £75, takes around 40 minutes and an examiner follows you on the test route.

Direct Access (DAS)

If you’re aged 24 or over you can take a Direct Access test after passing your Motorcycle Theory Test (you also need a valid CBT). Direct Access allows you to ride any bike. Typical costs are around £600 for a Direct Access course taken at a local training school.

Car licence only?

If you passed your car test before January 19th 2013 you can ride a Piaggio MP3 LT, Yourban LT, Gilera Fuoco LT or Peugeot Metropolis. They’re classed as tricycles but ride and lean like a bike. It’s a clever loophole that means you don’t need a bike licence.

Advanced training

Riding is one area that you should never stop improving; after all it can save your life. Advanced training of any form is worth doing; Enhanced Rider Scheme, RoSPA, AIM, BikeSafe, track days, California Superbike School, BMW Rider Training, Ron Haslam Race School and MotoGymkhana to name but a few.  They all have their own particular benefits and will improve safety, bike skills and enjoyment.

Motorcycle Roadcraft

Police motorcyclists are taught using a system of motorcycle control from the book, ‘Police Motorcycle Roadcraft’. The book is available to the public and the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) advanced motorcycle test is based on it. Buy a copy, read it and understand it. Use the skills to your advantage and you’ll avoid 99% of accidents, you’ll also be faster and smoother as a result.


What can you ride?


Min. age


Mopeds with speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h

CBT, theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled moped



Small motorbikes up to 11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW per kg) and 125 cc

CBT, theory test, practical test



Medium motorbikes up to 35 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW per kg), bike mustn’t be derived from vehicle more than twice its power

Direct access route: theory and practical

Staged access route: 2 years experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test



Motorbikes unlimited in size/power, with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with power output over 15 kW

Direct access route: CBTtheory and practical (you must be at least 24)

Staged access route: held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years - practical test (21 or over)

24 (direct) or 21 (staged access)


This is a Honda CG125 folks

Latest Advice
  • Best battery motorcycle charger safety_THUMB
    What’s the best motorcycle battery and how do I charge it?
  • Mobile phone use motorcycle car law uk_THUMB
    Can you use a mobile phone in a car or on a motorcycle?
  • How are motorcycle insurance premiums calculated, how do comparison sites work, what cover do you need and why cheap motorcycle insurance isn’t always best
    Everything you need to know about motorcycle insurance but were afraid to ask
  • learning_to_ride_costs
    How much does it cost to learn to ride a motorcycle?