The Law

1. How old do you have to be to ride a motorcycle?

You must be at least 17 years old to ride a motorcycle and 16 years old to ride a moped.

2. Do I need a driving licence to ride a motorcycle?

Yes, you must have a licence which allows you to ride motorcycles (category A).  The licence can be:

  • A provisional driving licence with motorcycle entitlement
  • A full car licence which automatically provides provisional motorcycle entitlement
  • A full motorcycle licence
  • A full moped licence.  This provides automatic provisional motorcycle entitlement if you’re aged 17 years or over

3. What can I ride if I have a provisional motorcycle entitlement?

A motorcycle up to and including 125cc with a power output of 11kW (14.6bhp).  With provisional motorcycle entitlement you must not:

  • Ride on motorways
  • Carry pillion passengers
  • Ride without L-plates

4. When do provisional motorcycle licences expire?

All provisional licences issued from 1 February 2001 are valid until the holder’s 70th birthday.  Holders of old licences can apply to have their licence replaced with one that will include provisional motorcycle entitlement valid to age 70.

5. What is CBT?

CBT stands for Compulsory Basic Training and must be completed by all learner motorcyclists and moped riders before riding on the road.  Certain exemptions apply.

Once you’ve completed CBT you’ll be given a DL196 which must be produced before you can take the practical motorcycle test. The DL196 has a two year life and if you don’t pass both your theory and practical tests during this time you will have to take the CBT again.

6. What is a category A1 licence?

This is a light motorcycle licence which gives you full licence entitlement to ride any motorcycle up to and including 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW (14.6 bhp).

7. What is a category A licence?

The standard motorcycle licence. This is obtained if the practical test is taken on a bike of over 120 cc but not more than 125 cc and capable of at least 100 km/h (62 mph). After passing the standard practical test, you will be restricted for two years to riding a bike of up to 25 kW and a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16 kW/kg. After this you may ride any size of bike

Riders aged 21 or over, or those who reach 21 before their two year restriction ends, have other options.

Direct and accelerated access

Direct access
After taking CBT and the theory test, the practical test may be taken on a motorcycle with a power output of at least 35kW. A pass allows you to ride any size of bike. All or part of the CBT course may be taken on either a learner bike or a large bike. You may practice for the practical test on bikes larger than the learner bike specification provided:

  • you are accompanied at all times by an approved instructor on another bike and in radio contact
  • you wear fluorescent or reflective clothing and follow all other provisional licence restrictions

Accelerated access
Riders who reach the age of 21, while still within the two year period where they are restricted to maximum 25 kW machines, but who wish to ride larger bikes need to pass a further test on a motorcycle of at least 35 kW. They may practice on bikes over 25 kW under the same practice conditions for direct access riders. You will revert to learner status while practicing (on a motorcycle greater than 25 kW) although test failure will not affect your existing licence.

8. What if my practical motorcycle test is passed on an automatic motorcycle?

Then the full licence gained will be restricted to automatic bikes only.

9. Do I have to pay road tax for a motorcycle?

Yes, you need to tax your vehicle, but you no longer get a disc. The fee varies with engine size.

10. Do motorcycles require an MOT?

Yes, the MOT applies to all motorcycles, mopeds and scooters over three years old.  The purpose of the test is to check that the vehicle is roadworthy.  You’ll need to produce the test certificate when you renew your vehicle excise licence.

11. Do I need insurance to ride a motorcycle?

Yes, it is illegal to ride without insurance.

12. Do I have to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle?

Yes, it is a legal requirement to wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle in the United Kingdom and most other countries worldwide.