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Getting my Motorcyclist’s License; what do I need?

Getting your motorcyclist’s license is easy. You don’t have to pay for hours of expensive driving lessons, high insurance costs, or expensive fuel re-fills as you would if you were learning to drive a car.

There are different types of license available to new and prospective (‘Learner’) riders at different stages during their driving history. The licenses available are dependent upon the rider’s age, and the stage of motorcycle learning at which they find themselves. As a general overview; prospective riders of 16+ can ride a Moped, and riders of 17+ can apply for a license to ride a Motorcycle. In both cases, riders with a CBT certificate will be required to display L-Plates and are forbidden to carry a passenger pillion (sitting on the back of the bike) unless they have previous motorcycling qualifications.

Getting your motorcyclist’s license: riders aged sixteen and over

  • Before a Learner motorcyclist can start riding, they must complete two separate forms; the provisional motorcycle licence and the Compulsory Basic Training or ‘CBT’ certificate. These can be obtained from your local Post Office or online at: Once you have ticked the administrative boxes, the rest is relatively straightforward.
  • The CBT involves a practical learning session which can be arranged via a training centre, and takes one day; the CBT allows you to ride a moped for up to two years and is essentially your provisional license to ride.
  • Learner motorcyclists aged sixteen and over can apply to ride a 50cc Moped; riding at a maximum speed limit of 30mph.
  • Provisional licenses expire after two years, however these can be repeatedly renewed until the age of 70. This means that if you are finding it tough to learn, don’t panic, because you have ample time to keep on trying!
  • Complete your Theory and Practical tests. The final stage for riders hoping to get their full motorcycle license involves carrying out two tests; the Theory test costs £30 and involves a multiple choice examination and a hazard avoidance test conducted via video footage; the Practical costs around £90 and involves an on-road exam as well as a practical test which takes place at a testing centre.

Getting your motorcyclist’s license: riders aged seventeen and over (no previous motorcycling experience)

  • If you already have a license to drive a car, this should include a provisional license for you to learn to ride a motorcycle. Don’t waste time filling out another form when you may already have ticked that administrative box! Take a look at the fine print on your car license forms to check your permissions. Look out for your ‘Vehicle Entitlements’. The Category ‘A’ entitlement covers motorcycles, scooters and mopeds.
  • No car license yet? Don’t worry; just sign up for the one-day CBT course at one of the approved training bodies. Find a list here: The course costs £120; telephone your chosen training centre in advance of the day to check that they supply gloves and other equipment you may need. The CBT is essentially an in-depth training course, teaching you all of the useful things that you will need to know as a motorcyclist. You will also meet fellow Learners and be able to swap tips and learn from one another.
  • Riders aged seventeen and over can obtain a license to ride a 125cc motorcycle. The motorcycling testing system is setup to allow you to gradually work your way up the motorcycling ladder. Learners start out with a low-powered, basic moped and progress through different license until they are technically capable of managing a high-powered motorcycle.
  • Complete your Theory and Practical tests as above. Please note that the bike you use for your Practical test is of paramount importance; if you use a simple ‘twist and turn’ bike then you will only be qualified to ride this bike through your newly-acquired license. To hold a valid license for a geared bike, you will need to make a request to your training centre that your test be conducted on a geared motorcycle to cover all angles.

Getting your motorcyclist’s license: riders aged seventeen and over (with previous motorcycling experience)

  • See the tips above for riders without previous motorcycling experience. You can take advantage of all of the above; however you also have more freedom in terms of the motorcycle you choose to ride. Whereas a 16-year-old is restricted to a 50cc Moped, and a 17-year-old on a provisional A1 (‘light motorcycle’) license is restricted to a motorcycle of 125cc, you can upgrade your provisional status and receive a little more motorcycling freedom. After two years have passed, you will need to either re-take your CBT, or proceed to take your Practical and Theory tests.
  • Once you have your A1 sorted, you can take the full test (the ‘A2’) and receive a 33bhp entitlement (that means that you can obtain a license to operate a more powerful motorcycle, carry passengers, travel without L-plates, and ride on motorways). The restriction to the 33bhp bikes is valid for two years, thereafter you can start considering upgrades to a more powerful vehicle.
    Getting your motorcyclist’s license: riders aged twenty-one and over
  • The older you are, the more freedom you get. Riders aged twenty-one and over can graduate automatically towards an unlimited license (i.e. one via which they can choose to operate a motorcycle of their chosen power and speed), provided that their carry out their practical on a motorbike of at least 33bhp.
  • Riders may even practise on a motorcycle which exceeds 33bhp, provided that they are wearing fluorescent motorcycling gear and are accompanied by a recognised motorcycling instructor.

It’s as easy as that.

Source material:

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