The Provisional Licence
Unless you already possess a full car licence, you need to obtain a provisional licence before you can start training to ride a motorcycle.
A provisional licence is a temporary licence that gives you the ability to ride on the road for the purposes of training before you have your full licence, but comes with several restrictions:
You are legally required to take a CBT course before you can ride, this ensures that you know the basics of how to ride and will not be a danger to other road users.
Your bike must be equipped with L-plates so that other road users know that you are still learning.
You may not ride a motorcycle over 125cc and 15bhp on public roads
You may not carry pillion passengers
You may not ride on motorways.
As mentioned before, if you already have a full car licence, you already have the motorcycling provisional category, so you need not apply for another provisional licence.
Before you may ride on the roads on a provisional licence, you must take the CBT, or Compulsory Basic Training course. There is only one exception to this: if you obtained your full licence before the 1st of February 2001, you may ride a moped on the road without taking a CBT, however, it is highly recommended that you do so for your own safety and for the safety of others.
The CBT takes around six hours and consists of a series of classes, both in-door and outside, with at least two hours being spent on the road. These classes will give you the basic skills needed to operate a motorcycle and teach you important road theory so you can stay safe on the road.
Don’t worry, the CBT is not a test and you cannot pass or fail. If you don’t have a grasp of the basics in the allotted 6 hours you will simply return the next day at no extra cost (in most cases) and carry on with your training until your instructor is satisfied that you are safe to ride alone on the public roads. This is a rare occurrence however and most people complete the CBT within the allotted 6 hours.
After you have completed the CBT, you are free to start your bike training and are able to take the Theory Test.
The next step to becoming a fully licenced motorcyclist is the motorcycle theory test. The theory test consists of two parts, a multi-choice exam and a hazard perception test and is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of essential concepts vital to staying safe on the road.
In the multi-choice exam, you will be given 50 questions on topics including road safety, the law and important knowledge such as braking distances and road signs. In order to pass this part, you must score 43 out of 50.
In the hazard perception test, you will be showed a series of 15 video clips. During these clips you will have to click a mouse when you see a hazard developing, showing that you recognise hazards well ahead of time and can therefore take appropriate action to avoid them.
Once you have passed your theory test, you are able to move on to the practical tests.
Now you have your theory test out of the way, you are going to want to concentrate on road training. Road training is done through a combination of lessons and solo practice and depending on the rate at which you learn and the amount of solo practice you get, can take anywhere from a month to 6 months. It is advised that in between lessons you try to ride as much as possible, acting on what you have been taught during lessons.
When your instructor thinks you are ready, you will take two practical tests, called Module 1 and Module 2. These tests may be taken one after the other or at different stages in your training, depending on what your instructor thinks is best for you.
Categories of licence
When you take your motorcycle test, age and experience will dictate which of four categories of full licence you are allowed to go for. They are as follows:
AM – Moped – available from 16 years old. Tests must be taken on a motorcycle or scooter restricted to 28mph, with a maximum capacity of 50cc.
A1 – Light Motorcycle – available from 17 years old. Tests must be taken on a motorcycle with a minimum power of 15hp and 120cc capacity.
A2 – Medium Motorcycle – available 2 years after passing A1, or at 19, whichever comes first. Tests must be taken on a motorcycle of at least 395cc, with power ranging between 33.5 and 47hp.
A – Unrestricted Motorcycle – available 2 years after passing A2 or at 24 through DAS, whichever comes first. Tests must be taken on a motorcycle of at least 595cc and 53hp.
Module 1 – Off Road Test
The first test will take place at a Multi-Purpose Test Center and will assess your ability to control a motorcycle at various speeds and perform a number of manoeuvres such as:
Wheeling the motorcycle (pushing the motorcycle while not sat on it)
Riding a slalom and a figure of eight
Once you have completed all of the manoeuvres to an acceptable standard, you will be issued with a certificate, enabling you to take the Module 2 test.
Module 2 – On Road Test
The second test will start at a Multi-Purpose Test Center and then move onto the road where you will spend the majority of the test.
Module 2 is designed to assess your on-road proficiency and will last an hour, around 40 minutes of which will be on the road. During the on-road portion, you will be directed along a prescribed route by your examiner while he watches your actions.
You will be expected to perform a mirror checks and turns and obey road signs, all while staying aware of the road conditions and reacting accordingly.
If you have performed well enough, you will be issued with a pass certificate and your full motorcycle licence will be mailed to you. Congratulations!
The DAS, or Direct Access Scheme, is available for people aged 24 or over and is designed as a “fast track” into riding an unrestricted motorcycle.
Though DAS you can circumvent the AM, A1, and A2 licence categories and go straight for the CatA practical tests. The DAS works in much the same way as the normal practical tests except there are extra parts added to accommodate for the size of motorcycle you are riding and extra responsibilities it entails.
You must still have a provisional licence and pass the CBT and Theory test before you can apply for a DAS test, but allot of motorcycle training schools offer the CBT and DAS as a single package, with one taken after the other (with the theory test in between).
Once you have your full licence you will be able to ride any motorcycle that complies with your current category:
AM – Mopeds restricted to 28mph and 50cc
A1 – Any motorcycle up to 125cc and 15hp
A2 – Any motorcycle up to 46.6hp and a power to weight ratio of 0.26hp/kg
A – Any motorcycle.
This guide has been written by Tristan Cooper of Motorbike Test HQ and shall be featured on our training page shortly.