The Government like to keep us bike and scooter riders on our toes and they like to change the rules as often as possible to confuse us. I’m sure you’re well aware by now that the rules are changing again in 2013 as the 3rd European Driving Licence Directive comes into force on January 19th. Try explaining the latest shake up to somebody interested in getting on to two wheels and you’ll have more success with the off side rule so here’s some boring but necessary information.
You’ll need to obtain your provisional licence before taking a CBT.
Before taking a test (or riding on the road) you have to complete a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course. A one-day basic training course, which costs around £120, or less if you use your own machine. The certificate lasts for two years. If you passed your car test before February 2001 you can ride a moped without a CBT but will still need one to ride a motorcycle/scooter higher than 50cc.
You need to pass the motorcycle theory test before progressing on to taking one of the practical tests.
When the new laws come into force there will be four types of motorcycle licence, which are as follows:
If you’re aged between 17 and 19 this is your only option, you can take A1 on a bike/scooter of 120cc-125cc with a maximum power of 14.6bhp, it must be capable of 55mph for the test. Once you’ve passed the A1 test you gain a full licence and can ride with a pillion and on motorways but can’t ride anything larger than a 125cc.
To take the A2 test you have to be 19 years old (or above). The test has to be taken on a machine of at least 395 cc with a minimum power output of 33bhp and maximum output of 46.6bhp. Once you’ve passed A2 you can ride any bike as long as the power is restricted to (or below) 46.6bhp. If the bike produces 93.9bhp or above in standard trim it can’t be restricted, so don’t expect to ride an R1 on this licence!
Direct Access will still be available but the minimum age will rise to 24. The test must be done on a bike of at least 595cc producing 54bhp or more. The exception to this rule is that it can be taken two years after passing your A2 licence, so if you take your A2 at 19 and pass ‘A’ you can ride what you like – so get that test passed as soon as possible!
If you take your test on an automatic machine all categories and licences are still relevant but you’ll only be allowed to ride automatic machines.
The DVLA have tried (not very successfully) to simplify things with this diagram
Here’s a handy video guide to the new rules, courtesy of Top Gear Bike Training.