The Law
  Motorcycle Licences
  Provisional Licences
  Full Licences
  Motorcycle Training
 The Theory Test
  Licence / Test Groups
  Sidecars / Disabilities
  Helmet Law
  Visor Law
  L Plate Law
  Tyre Law
  Pillion Law
  Where To Find Us

The Law

The motorcycle test groups, licence groups, motorcycles for test, what licence you actually get and what bike you are then entitled to ride all changed 19/1/2013

The Motorcycle Training / Test Training page (see button above) gives more basic info. on the actual ages and tests, if that's all you're after.

It's all getting very complex, if in doubt - check it out !

UK Motorcycle Licences

The law on Motorcycle testing and licensing changed (yet again) on 19 January 2013, introducing new classes of vehicles, tests and licences.
It's all about harmonising with Europe, so that we can trust Jonny foreigner's licence and they can trust ours. Then add a dash of Civil Service incompetence and , to the best of our understanding, you now get :-

Provisional Licences

All Moped and Motorcycle provisional licence holders (including full car as provisional) must, by law, hold a current DL196 (CBT) certificate, showing they have completed the Compulsory Basic Training course before riding on the road. (A Provisional Licence / Entitlement isn't valid without a CBT certificate).

Provisional Moped licences - This is an important change for 16 year olds ! - read this carefully.

Age 16 It's Group P up to 18/1/2013 and now the new Group AM from 19/1/2013.
Anyone with a licence first issued before the 19th will have both the old Group P and also get the new Group AM, anyone after the 19th will just have AM.
The difference is slight, technically the new AM is a 50 cc restricted to 45 kph (28 mph) but the old P was up to 50 kph (32 mph). All Mopeds from 2003 have met the new AM anyway but older bikes might be Group P.
New licence holders under 17 need to be careful they are actually licenced for the Moped they are riding. We doubt Plod will even care but an Insurance Company looking for a way out?

And remember, if you de-restrict your Moped, it's then legally a Motorcycle (see Top tips/misc./de-restricting Mopeds) - you'd better be over 17 and told the insurer.

Provisional Motorcycle licences. Again, important changes for ALL learner motorcyclists! - read carefully. There's now 3 new Groups for motorcycle !

Licences issued before 1st Feb 2001 had their motorcycle provisional entitlement limited to 2 yrs. from date of issue; whilst those issued from 1st Feb 2001 are valid to age 70. If your entitlement has lapsed you can have this restored immediately.

Provisional licences (unfortunately) simply show Group A - but age limits also apply.
Age 17 - your provisional entitlement is Group A1 (125cc, 11kW) only. After CBT you can ride up to 125cc on L-plates unaccompanied though.
Age 19 - your provisional entitlement is now Groups A1 and A2 only. You can ride an A1 unaccompanied on L-plates (as above) but not an A2. You can only ride an A2 if accompanied by a qualified Instructor.
Age 24 (or any age 21+ if and only if 2 years after passing an A2 test). Your provisional entitlement is now Groups A1, A2 and now Full A.
As above, you can only ride an A1 unaccompanied on L-plates. For both A2 and Full A you must be with a qualified Instructor.

Remember, on a provisional licence / entitlement you must display L-plates and no pillion passengers or motorway use!

Trikes - 3 Wheelers. Simply it's almost certainly no.
There's no provisional class for Trikes, you can't ride them on L-plates at all.
The only exception is registered disabled.

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Full Licences

A full Moped licence automatically gives you a Motorcycle provisional but you must be over 17
A full car licence will automatically give you a motorcycle provisional.
And now, getting a full moped licence depends on whether you've got Moped Group P or AM......
You honestly couldn't make this up - read on.

Full Motorcycle licence (but not Moped) can ride on Motorways and carry pillions.
Full Moped licenced riders can carry pillion but still no Motorway use.

Just like car, Motorcycle licences can be taken with either automatic or manual gearboxes but (just like car) an auto pass is then restricted to auto only.
Strangely there's no differ with Moped, auto or manual counts as the same.

Full car licences issued before 1st Feb 2001 automatically gave you a full moped Group P licence (how mad). You could ride without L-plates, even endanger a passenger all without taking any training but we recommend you do. Training is essential.

Car licences issued after 1st Feb. 2001 now only give a moped entitlement. You need a CBT as well but that CBT is then valid for the life of your car licence (but only for a moped), it's not 2 year time limited as for bikes and it counts as a FULL Moped Group P licence (no L-plates), you don't have to take the Moped (Group P) test; you can do it by training instead.

New licences (Group AM) are now a recognised European category so those will have to take the AM test and the CBT will be time limited again - it's a mess!

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) :-

Can only be carried out by Approved Training Bodies using qualified Instructors, all regulated by the Driving Standards Agency and the course content laid down by law. (See Training/CBT)
We provide the bikes, helmets etc., try before you buy !

DL 196 (CBT) certificates issued before 1st Feb 2001 were valid for 3 years from date of issue (and are now out of date).
Certificates issued from 1st Feb. 2001 are only valid for 2 years.

The CBT will have to be retaken if both theory and practical tests haven't been passed before expiry. (Except for full car licence holders entitled to and who only want Moped Group P, as above.)

A CBT obtained on a moped is also valid for motorcycle (at 17 yrs. old).
If you passed a Full Moped test (it must be by test) after 1st Dec 1990, you don't need a CBT for motorcycle.

Residents on some remote islands are exempt from CBT (but only riding on those islands). Check with DVLA / DSA if you think your location may be exempt.

If you do your CBT on a motorcycle with sidecar or a moped with more than 2 wheels, your provisional entitlement will be restricted to that same type of vehicle. That option now only applies to registered disabled, there's no provisional 3-Wheeler anymore.

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Motorcycle Training

As above, CBT training can only be carried out by Approved Training Bodies and Instructors.

For up to 125cc learner bikes, you can teach yourself and/or be taught by a mate; it's quite legal as long as your mate isn't paid anything. If he/she takes any money then that's "professional instruction" and the Instructor must be qualified (ask to see his DSA licence).

For anything over 125cc (a "Direct Access") you are only allowed on road if accompanied by a DSA Qualified Instructor, on another motorcycle and in radio contact at all times.
So professional training is the only route here.

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The Theory Test

You will probably have to pass the Theory Test before taking a practical test for a moped or motorcycle. The only exemptions now, are for those doing "Progressive Access".

A full car licence does NOT exempt you from the Theory Test anymore.

The theory test is not required if you are upgrading your licence from a lower category after at least 2 years. (A1 to A2 then to Full A). You will be doing what is termed "Progressive Access".
If you're upgrading in less than 2 years (Accelerated Access) then it's the full test again, including the Theory Test. However, if your old Theory Test is still valid it's OK to reuse it. (We did say it's a mess.)
The Theory Test Pass Certificate is valid for 2 years.

The test uses a computer but the questions can be read to you on earphones and you may ask for an extended special needs test if necessary. The pass mark is 43 out of 50 multiple-choice questions.
There's a Hazard Perception test as well. It's video clips, each containing at least one "hazard" (max. 2) and you're expected to click when you would react (not when you spot the hazard - that's the mistake people make). Each video clip scores a max. 5 points and a minimum 0, depending on how well you spot that "trigger point". The pass mark is 44 out of a possible 75. (So you have to be consistently averaging at least 3 out of 5 points per hazard.)

Allow an hour from start to finish; your result will be given on the day.

We recommend a DVD-Rom trainer (Only £10 from us and £8 refund on return too, so just £2 to train !) as the format of the hazard test is not as straightforward as you might think.

Kent's Theory Test Centres are: - Canterbury, Chatham or Sidcup
Hastings, Eastbourne and Croydon are also available.

Call the Booking Centre on 0300 200 1122
Or book on the net (go to our links page and it's one click from there).

Test Times are 9.00am to 4.15pm Mon. to Fri.
and to 6.15pm some evenings.
9.00am to 12.15pm some Saturdays.

You are welcome to call us and arrange to test your knowledge on our computer simulation, or book a CBT course and have a go at the end of your CBT. We can then assess you for your test course and you will be better prepared for your Theory Test.
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Test / Licence Groups

Firstly, a word about the test itself:-
The test is now in 3 parts, Theory, Module 1 (off-road set exercises) and Module 2 (the on-road test).
You must take and pass these in order. The Module 1 pass certificate is valid for 2 years from the date of your Theory Test pass.
If you're exempt from the Theory Test, (say doing "Progressive Access") then the Module 1 certificate is valid for only 6 months. - Crazy innit?
If you fail a Module 2, you don't have to retake your Module 1, as long as it's still valid.

After 19/1/2013 those Module 1 certificates already issued become age related. If you've an earlier Module 1 Group A pass certificate, how old were you when you took it? Even if it was only on a 500 cc, it'll still be honoured but it's only a "new" Full A if you were 24+, if not, it's a "new" A2.
An old A2 (125cc) will still be honoured but becomes only a "new" A1 (125cc) though.
Say you passed Mod 1 aged 23 but failed Mod 2 before 19/1/2013 ?
Then, when you retake your Mod 2 you re-use the same Mod 1 certificate but you take an A2 test.

Moped Group P Is, by law :-Max. 32 mph, 50 cc, age 16 or over:-
You can no longer take a Moped Group P test.
You either have one already (Grandfather rights on old car licences) or you validate your entitlement by CBT.
So:-Training instead of testing, - interesting concept - but only if your full car licence was issued between 1/2/2001 and 18/1/2013.

Moped Group AM Is, by law :-Max. 28 mph, 50 cc, age 16 or over and you need :-
A provisional Moped entitlement
A valid Compulsory Basic Training certificate
Then ride with "L" plates
Pass Theory Test
Pass Moped test
Ride without L-plates and even carry a pillion passenger
But remember if you de-restrict your moped, it's then legally a motorcycle (see Top tips/misc./de-restrict mopeds)

A1 "Light Motorcycle" Is, by law :-Max. 125 cc, 11kW / 14.6 Bhp, age 17 or over and you need :-
A provisional Motorcycle entitlement
A valid CBT certificate (unless you've already passed a moped test, see above).
Then ride with "L" plates
Pass Theory Test
Pass your test on a machine between 120 & 125 cc, capable of at least 90 kph (55mph)
Ride without "L" plates and carry a pillion passenger but only bikes up to 125cc and 11kW

A2 "Medium Motorcycle" A new "Direct Access" class
Is, by law:- Max. 35kW / 47Bhp, age 19 or over and you need :-
A provisional Motorcycle entitlement
A CBT certificate (unless you've already passed a Moped or A1 test, see above)
Learn on a machine up to 35 kW but only with a DSA approved Instructor in radio contact.
A valid Theory Test (unless you've already passed A1 test at least 2 yrs previously, see above).
Pass your test on a machine of a minimum 395cc and power from 25 kW to a max. of 35 kW. (From 2014 it will be from 20 kW / 27 bhp).
Ride without "L" plates and carry a pillion passenger but you are restricted to a max. 35 kW machine which, if restricted, is not derived from a vehicle more than double it's power.

A "Full Motorcycle" amended "Direct Access" class
Is, by law any Motorcycle over 35kW / 46 Bhp, age 24 or over. However, any age (21+) if you passed the new A2 test at least 2 years previously and you need :-
A provisional Motorcycle entitlement
A CBT certificate (unless you've already passed a moped, A1 or A2 test, see above)
A valid Theory Test (unless you've already passed a A2 test at least 2 years previously, see above).
Learn only with an approved Instructor, in radio contact.
Pass your test on a machine of a minimum 595cc and power greater than 40 kW / 57 bhp.
Ride any bike you want straight way, without "L" plates and carry a pillion passenger.

With any "Accelerated Access" or "Direct Access" test if you are unfortunate and don't pass, your existing licence remains valid - don't panic, you keep trying.


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Sidecars / Disabled Riders

Learners can no longer practise with a sidecar combination, there's no provisional 3-Wheeler at all.
Except for disabled, in which case the same Bhp rules etc. will apply. Only disabled can take their test on a 3 wheeled machine. Again the same (restricted licence) and other rules will apply. Disabled riders will then have their entitlement restricted to combinations.

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Helmet Law

When riding a moped or motorbike, we all know that a safety helmet must be worn but there's a little bit more than that. Legally :-
1 The strap must be done up properly.
2 It must fit properly. How many times have you seen a kiddie riding pillion with granddad's helmet on!
3 It must be an approved safety helmet. It'll either display a BS6658 sticker on the outside, or an EC approval mark somewhere inside. Only BS 6658 types A & B or EC Regulation 22 type 05 series can legally be sold in the UK.

The new EC marks have caused a bit of confusion. These are now sewn inside the helmet (often to the strap) The EC mark is a circle with an E inside and number giving the country of origin (for example E6 is Belgium) then you'll se a long number which must begin with 05
We've seen 04 and 03 series sold in the UK already. Not only is that illegal but also they're not good enough, so don't be ripped off.

And, if you want to be really well informed about any helmet, before you buy - go to our Links Page and check out SHARP, every helmet's been individually tested.

Remember, not complying with the above is the same offence as not wearing one.

The DETR has published advice (DETR/VSE6 Oct 2000) that states "…you can wear other types of helmet which could reasonably be expected to give the same……….should seek confirmation from the supplier that the helmet does offer a similar or greater level of protection." This is interesting; previously we were told that your helmet had to display the kite-mark, which shouldn't be removed. Now surely, even if the sticker has been removed it still meets these criteria? They do qualify their advice with the disclaimer that their opinion hasn't been tested by the courts, though.

Passengers in a side-car don't need to wear a helmet if the sides of the car are over 18inches / 457mm high, neither does a Sikh who is wearing a turban and of course no-one needs a helmet to push the bike on foot (but you do if you freewheel on it).
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Visor Law

A visor (or goggles) isn't a legal requirement but if you do have them, then the law applies. Legally :-

1 It must be an approved visor / goggle It'll either have a BS4110 mark or the new EC Regulation 22 type 05 mark (see helmet law for details on EC marks).
The EC visors often have a removable sticker showing the approval and of course you'll peel it off. So how is the plod going to deal with that then?

2 It may also be tinted and will be marked something like CP50. That's a 50% tint and is the darkest you're allowed by law. Even then, it'll be marked "for daylight use only" and is a nick-able offence after lighting up time.

Lets settle this once and for all Dark, mirrored etc. visors are illegal, wear sunglasses instead. Anyone caught selling them risks a £1000 fine.

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L-Plate Law

Learners must display L-plates, we know that but the full requirement is :-
They must be BS plates, you can't make your own.
They must be full size; cut down plates aren't legal and yet we've seen even Dealers delivering bikes like that.
They must be front and rear facing, not stuck on the mudguard facing the sky.

It's 3 points on your licence and how easy to spot ?
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Tyre Law

More on this in Top Tips/Tyres
Motorcycle tyres must legally have at least 1mm of tread depth, continuously across 75% of the tyre. That's pretty silly though; the minimum recommended is 2mm. Would you believe that there is no minimum tread for a moped tyre, only that it's visible ! Shall we just say that's a health risk.
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Pillion Law

Without going through all the road traffic acts, here's a brief synopsis:-
You must hold a full licence for the machine you're riding, wear a safety helmet etc.
Your Bike must be adapted to carry a pillion (a rear seat and passenger footrests).
Your pillion must wear a safety helmet and sit astride the machine facing forward (side-saddle is illegal).

There's no legal age required for riding pillion but he/she must big enough to hold on, sat astride with feet on the foot pegs (so there is a size limit) and able to fully understand the detailed instruction you will surely give.
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