What to expect during your bike tests (theory and practical)

Getting a bike licence can be a confusing procedure. Not only do you have to understand the bewildering licence laws that vary depending on your age and riding experience, you also need to complete Compulsory Basic Training and then pass a theory test and two practical exams at two different locations! They certainly haven’t made it easy to take to two wheels. If you are bewildered by what is involved in acquiring your full licence, then hopefully this guide will help you.

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Compulsory Basic Training is your first step onto two wheels, irrespective of age. You can take CBT at 16-years old and it is a simple assessment that you are competent and can control a two-wheeled vehicle enough to be safe on the UK’s roads. You can’t actually pass or fail CBT as it is just training, however if the assessor deems you are not up to standard, you won’t be awarded a certificate of competence.

CBT takes place over a day and you start off with a general chat with the instructor about bikes, safety clothing etc. before venturing outside. In an off-road environment (which is often a car park) you will be asked to demonstrate your control of a bike by riding around cones, braking, U-turning etc. and when the instructor is happy you aren’t a liability, it’s onto the road.

With radio communication between you and your instructor, you will spend two hours riding around a set route on the road and afterwards, if all goes well, you will be awarded a CBT certificate of competence. This is valid for two years and means you can ride on the road on a bike of the capacity relevant to your age, displaying an L-plate and not taking a passenger. You’ll also need insurance but during the CBT you’ll be covered by the training centre’s insurance.

Theory Test

To gain a full licence you need to pass the Theory Test, which is a similar test to the one that car drivers have to pass. The test is booked directly through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It costs £23 and involves 50 multiple choice questions followed by a Hazard Perception test, which is a series of videos. You need to score at least 43 out of 50 points on the Theory Test and 44 out of 75 on the Hazard Perception to pass. Achieve this and your Theory Test certificate is valid for two years.

Practical Test: Module 1

Irrespective if you are going for an A1, A2 or A licence, the Practical Tests are identical and the only variation is the capacity and power of the bike you take them on. Practical Test Module 1 takes place at one of the DVLA’s dedicated test centres in an off-road (tarmac) environment, costs £15.50 and lasts about 20 minutes.

You will need to demonstrate that you can complete set exercises that include a slalom, U-turn, cornering and controlled stop, cornering and emergency stop and cornering and hazard avoidance, all at above 19mph if you are on a moped and 31mph if you are on a motorcycle.

This is a simple pass or fail result and you are allowed five riding faults (minor faults) and no serious (major) faults before you fail. Achieve this and you can take Module 2. Fail and you need to wait at least three days before you retake and you will need to pay the test fees again.

Practical Test: Module

Having passed Module 1, you can take Module 2. The second part takes place at one of the DVLA’s test centres and is an assessed road ride that lasts around 40 minutes and costs £75 (£88.50 at weekends). Before the ride there is an eyesight test and afterwards you will be asked two vehicle safety questions.

The riding assessment will be on normal roads, but not motorways, and will include an angle start, hill start and normal stops. You are allowed 10 riding faults (minors) and no serious (major) faults before you fail. Pass and you will have a full A1, A2 or A motorcycle licence, depending on your age. Congratulations, you can now ride on the road without an L-plate, ride on a motorway and even take a passenger if you want.