Becoming a Biker
If you want to ride a motorcycleFirst things first. Everyone needs some sort of licence, otherwise you can't take to the road, even under instruction.
Since 1st February 2001
All learner riders must complete a Compulsory Basic Training [CBT] course before riding a moped or motorcycle on the road.
Since 19th January 2013
New rules include changes to motorcycles you can ride and the age you have to be to ride them.
See the video New rules for riding a motorcycle or moped from 19 January 2013
See the video What to expect on your Motorcycle practical test
On successful completion of a CBT course you will get a training certificate [DL196].
Certificates issued after 1 February 2001 will be valid for 2 years. Keep your certificate safe because you will need to show it to the examiner when you take your moped or motorcycle practical test. You may also need to show it to the police.
Also since 1st February 2001, a person passing a car driving test will be required to undertake a moped riding course before they can ride a moped on the road. A code number 122 is printed on the driving licence. This is only valid after a driver has successfully completed a basic moped training course.
Persons who already hold a full car licence, or who passed a car test before 1 February 2001, are not required to take training before riding a moped. But they are encouraged to do so.
Up-to-date legal requirements for riding your bike in the UK from the DVLA. Everything is covered, from basic 'Compulsory Basic Training' (CBT) through to Direct Access.
Compulsory basic training
Here's where everyone starts, and the title means just what it says. It is usually completed within a day, and it's designed to make sure you've reached a certain standard before you are allowed to ride on the public road. If you have your own bike, you can use it for CBT (and the rest of your training), but many people train on one of the school's bikes (prices vary, from about £95 per day is normal). You'll need to come dressed sensibly - at least jeans and a sturdy, preferably leather, jacket, and strong boots - but most places provide helmets, gloves, waterproofs and a dayglo bib for safety.
The first thing the instructor will do is check your documents to make sure your licence is in order. Then you'll have to take an eyesight test - you should be able to read a normal car number plate from a distance of 20.5m (if you wear glasses you must wear these for training and the test). Then it's into the classroom for a talk on the aims of CBT, and a discussion about clothing and equipment. Next it's out on the training pad (usually a large, empty car park) to learn what the various bits of a bike actually do. You'll be shown how to put the bike on and off its stand, which will help you get a feel for the balance of the machine.
Then you'll start riding. You'll learn the basics of clutch control,pulling away, stopping under control, emergency stops, U-turns and normal turns, all in the safety of the training area. The instructor will be constantly assessing how fast you're grasping what he's teaching, and if you need more help or time on one particular aspect, you'll get it. Once he's happy with your progress, and your head's buzzing with new information, you'll go back into the classroom to cram it full with some more. This stuff is as important as the riding itself. You'll cover the legal aspects of riding a bike, highway code theory and the effects of traffic conditions and weather conditions on the way you ride, as well as the need to be visible to other road users. Some of it will be familiar territory to anyone with a car licence, but the instructor will emphasise the very different attitude you need to ride a bike.
CBT ends with a minimum two-hour instructor-accompanied road ride. On the ride, you'll cover positioning at junctions and crossroads, roundabout protocol, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights, U-turns on the road, and more emergency stop practice. Once you've proved you've mastered these basics, you'll be issued with form DL196, and you can go on to the next stage.
Once you've got your CBT, you'll have to take a theory test, to prove you've got a grasp of road signs and the theory behind staying safe on the road. The only exceptions are for holders of full car licences, and holders of full moped licences (but only those obtained by passing the two-part theory/practical test itself). The test consists of about 50 multiple-choice questions chosen from a list of 800 or so.
Sample some OFFICIAL Motorcycle Theory Test Questions
Sample some Hazard Perception questions
Look for a Motorcycle Training School in your area
A moped has a maximum engine size of 50cc, with a maximum design speed of 30 mph. If it was first used before 1st August 1977, it must also be moveable by pedals.
Anything else is a motorcycle
Why ride a bike?Its great fun and , above all, a bike saves time. A 1 hour journey by car in London, will only take 15 minutes by motorcycle, whatever the traffic.
How popular is it?110,000 people will take their motorcycle test this year and Bike manufacturers expect to sell over 50,000 new bikes
How safe is it?In 1994, 445 bikers and pillion passengers were killed, compared with 1,749 car drivers and their passengers. However, the bikers number 630,000 compared with 21 million cars. A third of motorcycle deaths are caused by excessive speed.
Can I buy a bike, some L-plates and hit the road?The law says novice motorcyclists must have compulsory basic training (CBT) before they ride on the road. Use a school approved by the DSA. You will be able to hire a bike, helmet and clothing, useful if you then decide biking is not for you.
What will CBT teach me?You will be shown how a bike works and taught basic handling skills. When you recieve your CBT certificate you will be able to ride a bike up to 125cc on the road with L-plates.
What is the novice biker's biggest error?Once they have passed their test, going straight from a 125cc to a superbike (750cc). Get some extra training first.
What are the best novice bikes?Bike magazine recommends the Honda CG125, Kawasaki KH125, Suzuki GS125
New bike Laws?You will need to take a theory test if you want a licence for a new category of vehicle, for example, if you have a car licence and you want a motorcycle licence you will need to take a theory test.
Sample the Official Bike Theory Test questions