Getting a motorcycle licence

Article reviewed: 2013/02/05 | Next review due: 2014/08/24

With a French A1 license you can legally drive a 125cc in the UK, however for all vehicles over 125cc you must also pass a motorcycle test and get a full motorbike licence. If you do not have a CBT certificate you also need to put L plates on your bike.

Before you begin your training for a motorcycle license, make sure that your driving licence is valid, otherwise you’ll need to first get a provisional license from the DVLA. This permit is valid for two years, but if you don’t pass your motorbike test within that time frame then you are suspended for 1 year from applying again.

CBT course

CBT (compulsory basic training) is the first step to getting your motorbike licence. You can use own motorcycle for these tests, or you can borrow one from your training school. This exam tests for theory as well as practical driving skills on the road. Training is usually for a full day and once you pass you’ll be given a DL196 form, valid for two years.

CBT courses include five elements: introduction, classroom learning, on-site driving practice, theoretical learning and practical on-road driving. These five steps must all be passed and approved. You can only pass from one stage to another when your instructor is satisfied with the result. Applicants generally need at least two hours on the road.

When the five steps are completed successfully, you will receive a certificate called the DL196. This document is the legal evidence that validates your training, allowing for your licence to be updated with a legal licence to drive a scooter or motorbike of 125cc and under.

The minimum driving age for driving a moped is 16 years old. If you already have a driving licence issued before 1998 you may be able to drive up to a 125cc, however in the UK, driving licences issued post 1998 generally do not allow the holder to legally drive a scooter or motorbike without first taking a CBT test.

Theory Test

The theory test consists of 35 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. There are many books you can revise from to improve your chances, and you can take the test several times if you initially fail. If you already have a drivers licence, however, you don’t need to take the test again.

Full motorcycle licence

The practical test must be taken on a bike of between 75 cc and 125 cc. There are two types of full motorcycle licence:

A1 Licence

A light motorcycle licence (A1), which restricts riders to any bike up to 125 cc and a power output of 11 kW

Restricted Licence

A standard motorcycle licence (A), 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 kilometres per hour (km/h per hour)..
After passing the standard motorcycle 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.

Direct and accelerated access

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

Direct access

After taking Compulsory Basic Training (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. To practice for the practical test on bikes larger than the learner bike specification you must:

  • be accompanied at all times by an approved instructor on another bike and in radio contact
  • wear fluorescent or reflective clothing
  • 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.

What it costs:

  • CBT (1 day): £100 - £130
  • A1 Licence (2-4 days): £300 - £400
  • Restricted Licence (2-4 days): £300 - £400
  • Direct Access (2-4 days): £500 - £700
  • Accelerated Access (2 days): £300 - £400

Tooltip information:

  • CBT: Compulsory basic training
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