If you want to drive a car you simply take some lessons at 17 or older (around 70 hours tuition is recommended), pass the theory and practical tests then drive whatever supercar you fancy (or can afford to insure!) Insurance costs are extortionate for young drivers though so a couple of years on a moped, or bike can be a cheaper option. It will also help you to be a better driver in the future and hopefully you’ll enjoy riding. You’ll quickly realise the benefits of nipping through traffic, and love arriving at your destination feeling exhilarated so will stick to two wheels (or go back to them in the future).
Getting on a bike and riding the machine of your dreams isn’t quite as straightforward though, so here’s a handy guide to help you understand how and when to get on the road.
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. We’ll be showing a CBT in detail in the next week or so.
Module 1 is off road and is taken 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! Module 2 is taken on road, it costs £75, takes around 40 minutes and an examiner follows you on the test route.
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.
When you’re 15 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 all road users. Use the knowledge wisely; it could save your life.
Apply for a provisional licence, it costs £50 and you can apply one month before your sixteenth Birthday. Use the following link to avoid scamming websites: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence
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 restricted moped on L-plates at 16; you can’t carry passengers or ride on the motorway. New mopeds are restricted to just 28mph, many cyclists can ride faster than that.
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. Unsurprisingly not many people bother.
If you already have a CBT you can progress to a 125cc machine (if not you need to take one), you still can’t take passengers or ride on the motorway though.
You can take the Motorcycle Theory Test; it lasts for two years and allows you to take an A1 licence. The theory test costs £25.
An A1 licence (a two-part test) allows you to ride a 125 without L-plates and carry a passenger.
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.
You can drive a 44-ton HGV at 21 years old but aren’t allowed to ride anything more exciting than a Honda CBR500R for another three years!
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 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 loophole that means you don’t need a bike licence.
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 and MotoGymkhana all have their own particular benefits and will improve safety, bike skills and enjoyment.
Police motorcyclists make the best kind of riders, they’re taught using a system of motorcycle control from the book, ‘Police Motorcycle Roadcraft. The book is available to the public and the RoSPA 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.
The Motorcycle Industry Association have produced this handy flow chart to try and simplify what is still a complicated sounding process: Routes-Flow-chart-web-low-res-4