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Motorcycle Licence & Tax

Motorcycle Licence

If you're confused about all the rules and regulations relating to riding you bike on the road this guide should help, but please check your own position with your chosen training centre.

  1. Correct Licence
  2. CBT
  3. Theory Test
  4. Moped Licence
  5. A1 Licence
  6. Restricted Licence
  7. Direct Access
  8. Accelerated Access
  9. How much does it cost?
  10. Restrictor kits

The Correct Licence

Before you think about training make sure you have a valid licence. With a full car licence you can learn on bikes up to 125cc. Otherwise you will need to apply to DVLA for provisional motorcycle entitlement to be added. A provisional bike licence is valid until 70 years of age (if supported by a C.B.T certificate). Also make sure that your licence has your current address on it.


Compulsory Basic Training is the first step everyone has to take. They will check your documents and eyesight. You can use your own bike but most riders borrow a training school bike. It involves a mixture of theory, basic bike control, practice riding on an off road car park area; it's an ongoing assessment that isn't conducted on a pass or fail basis. It is usually done in one day.

The CBT course involves five elements:

A. introduction

B. practical on-site training

C. practical on-site riding

D. practical on-road training

E. practical on-road riding

The five elements have to be completed in sequence, although the order of the exercises within the element can be varied. You will only move on to the next element when your instructor is satisfied you have learnt the necessary theory and demonstrated the practical skills to a safe basic level. Trainees must, by law, receive a minimum two hour on-road ride in Element E.

When all five elements have been satisfactorily completed, a certificate of completion, called the DL196, is issued. This is a legal document which validates the relevant entitlements on your driving licence. It is important that the holder of a DL196 considers the following points:

  • a DL196 certificate validating a provisional moped or provisional motorcycle entitlement lasts for two years - CBT will have to be retaken if both theory and practical tests are not passed within the two year certificate life
  • for moped entitlement only, if you pass your car driving test whilst your DL196 is still current or complete a CBT course and obtain a DL196 after passing your car test, the certificate is not subject to expiry, you will therefore need to keep your DL196 certificate safely. Please note that this applies to mopeds only, for riding motorcycles as a learner the DL196 remains valid for two years

Once you have your certificate you are advised to take additional training to pass your theory and practical tests and qualify for a motorcycle or moped licence. You must take the DL196 certificate with you when you go to your practical test.

Check Here for your closest D.S.A. Approved Training Body.

Theory test

You now need to take a multiple choice test of about 35 questions lasting about 30-40 minutes, complete with a series of video clips where a candidate must pick out developing hazards. There are plenty of books available to guide you but do do your homework ! Since 1 February 2001, anyone wishing to take a motorcycle test must pass the theory test before they can book the practical test. There is no exemption for Car Licence holders.

Practical test

After the usual pre-test preliminaries e.g. licence and identification check the examiner will help the candidate with the fitting of the radio and earpiece.

While accompanying the candidate to the machine the examiner will explain how the test will be conducted and how the radio equipment works.

The law requires anyone riding a motorcycle, scooter or moped, with or without sidecar, to wear protective headgear securely fastened. The test cannot therefore be conducted unless the candidate is wearing properly secured protective headgear.


An exemption to this requirement exists for followers of the Sikh religion if they are wearing a turban.


Test Manoeuvres

During the test specific manoeuvres must be carried which include:

  • emergency stop exercise

An emergency stop is given on every motorcycle test and can be given at any time during the test. The candidate will be told the route to take and the examiner will demonstrate the signal that will be given.

  • wheeling / stand exercise

The candidate will be asked to position the machine alongside the kerb and put it on its stand, then take the machine off the stand and wheel it across the road in a 'U' turn. (Either a centre or side stand is acceptable, but a machine without a stand is not suitable for the purposes of the test).

  • U-turn exercise

Via the radio, the examiner will ask the candidate to ride the machine back across the road. The candidate will be asked to move off from a parked position and to turn the machine around to face the opposite way, within the road width.

  • slow ride exercise

If the candidate has not had the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to control the machine at slow speed e.g. at junctions, they will be asked to ride as if in slow-moving traffic as a separate exercise.

After the practical part of the test the candidate will be asked a question on 'balance when carrying a passenger'.

When the practical test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.

If you pass and have a photocard driving licence issued after 1 March, 2004 the examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically. If you want to use this service, the examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. DVLA will then send you your new full licence by post within three weeks of you passing your practical test.

If you pass your test but do not want to use this automatic service, or have a licence issued before 1 March 2004, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.

Once you pass your standard motorcycle test you are restricted to machines of 25 kW (33 bhp) with a power to weight ratio of 0.16 kW/kg for two years.


If you fail the test you should ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving report form will also show you where you made any mistakes.

You must wait 10 clear working days after your practical test before you can book another one.


Moped Licence

If you 16 then this will be your first step. A moped has an engine up to 50cc with a maximum speed 30mph. Anyone who passed their car test after 1st February 2001 must now complete a CBT before they can ride a moped.

A1 Licence           

A strange new idea ! Aimed at commuters who would be happy restricted to a 125cc bike but we would suggest going straight for the restricted licence as it won't cost much more and gives you the choice to go for a larger bike in the future.

Restricted Licence             

If you pass this test you will be able to ride bikes up to 25KW/33bhp (which covers most cruiser/commuter 250cc bikes.) for 2 years after which you will be able to ride any bike. You will be able to carry a passenger and lose the L-plates. The test is taken on a 125cc bike and this time you will be followed by a Driving Standards Authority examiner with a one way radio. They will be watching for safe, confident riding skills including emergency stop, hill starts, u-turns and the route will include most traffic hazards ie traffic lights, roundabouts and right turns.

Direct Access                                       

If you are over 21 and would prefer to learn on a larger bike and not have the 33bhp restriction then this is the route to take. You will have similar training to that of the restricted licence starting out on a 125cc but will then progress onto a larger (minimum 46.6bhp) bike. Most training schools prefer a GS500E or similar. You cannot train independently as the rules say you must always be accompanied on the road by an instructor in radio contact. Pass this test and you can ride whatever you like straight away.

Accelerated Access                                     

If you have taken a restricted licence test and decide you don't want to wait the 2 years to step up to a larger bike and you are over 21 you can take this test. 

How much does it cost?                         

Training / Test Approximate Costs
CBT About £70 - £100 for a days training including test and bike hire.
Theory Test £20.50
A1 Licence Over 2-4 days £200 - £300
Restricted Licence Over 2-4 days £200 - £300
Direct Access Over 2-4 days £250 - £500
Accelerated Access Over 2 days    £200 - £400

Restrictor Kits                           

Due to the changes in legislation which introduced the restricted licence some manufacturers have produced models specifically to comply with the 33bhp limit or already have lower power models available. However some riders prefer to buy a more powerful bike they want now and fit a restrictor kit and then remove it when the 2 year limit is up. Most insurers are reluctant to get involved however with such bikes. This is because:

  1. they don't seem to reduce performance hugely
  2. some riders remove them straightaway (shocking but true!!)
  3. it costs them the same, if it is stolen or damaged, as a full power model.


Motorcycle Road Tax

Motorcycles    TC 17
(not over 450kg unladen)


Motorcycles (with or without sidecar)

12 months
rate £

6 months rate £

Not Over 150cc



151cc - 400cc



401 - 600cc



All other motorcycles



Tricycles TC50 (not over 450kg unladen)

Not over 150CC



All other tricycles





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