How to get a motorcycle licence: a quick TG guide | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Friday 22nd September

How to get a motorcycle licence: a quick TG guide

Want to start riding but don’t know where to begin? Some consumer advice here

Get a valid provisional licence

What do I need?

If you’re completely new to the roads you'll have to begin by applying for your provisional licence which costs £34 after which you'll be able to book some TESTS. Oh, and make sure you can read a number plate from 20 metres away.

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age to get your provisional licence is 16 (you can apply as early as 15 years and 9 months) and you are able to ride up to 50cc/4kW at this age with a CBT. Once you are 17 you can scoot along in something up to 125cc with a CBT.

Advertisement - Page continues below

What if I already drive a car?

If you already have a car licence you can go ahead and begin to book your CBT/Theory using this. If you got your car licence before 1 Feb 2001 you're already able to ride a moped without L plates, complete with a pillion passenger on a 50cc and below bike.

Book your CBT

What is it?

The CBT test (Compulsory Basic Training) is a course you are required to take before you ride a moped or motorcycle on the road. This is to make sure you can ride safely on your own first before you can then go onto practice for your full moped or motorcycle test. The CBT is not a test that you pass or fail but you can be asked to return another day if the course instructor deems you as not road ready.

How much is a CBT?

Course prices are set by training schools and may vary. They are usually around £100+. Schools will ask you to come wearing boots and protective clothing, most if not all will provide you with a helmet, gloves and jacket but of course you can bring your own.

Do I have to do a CBT to ride a bike on the road?

Yes. You are required to undergo the minimum amount of learning via completing your CBT to ensure you are road ready and safe to legally ride a bike on the road.

Advertisement - Page continues below

What type of bike can I complete my CBT on?

You can complete your CBT on a manual or automatic bike. Passing your CBT will allow you to ride either but it's better in the long term if you learn on a manual too. Most test centres will have a range of bikes to choose from ranging from scooters, mopeds, naked bikes and more. If you have your own bike (up to 125cc only) you can use that too.

What is the CBT like on an automatic bike?

Using an automatic bike is generally easier to learn on as you don’t have to worry about gear changing, clutch control and more.

What is the CBT like on a manual bike?

Learning on a manual motorcycle is very similar to the automatic CBT. Main difference is the additional time it takes your instructor to teach you how to use the clutch and gearing system. They’ll take you through the gearing system - the 'one down four up 1,N,2,3,4,5 style - how to change gears, clutch control, biting point and more. On an automatic bike it’s usually twist and go. Personally, we'd recommend doing the manual test to learn how to use the gears, as it is much easier to teach yourself to use an electric/automatic bike later on.

How long is the CBT certificate valid for?

Your CBT certificate is only valid for two years, so you must pass your full moped or motorcycle test within that time or you have to either retake the CBT or... y'know, stop riding.

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

Once I’ve completed my CBT what can I ride?

After you’ve completed CBT, you can ride (with L plates) a moped if you’re 16 or over, or a motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over.

What happens in the CBT?

The CBT is generally a day filled with classroom learning safety and road standards followed by practical outdoor elements on a closed area learning turns, manoeuvres and more until your instructor thinks you are safe to go out onto the road. Once on the road, your instructor will follow you and another learner giving instructions via radio which you can hear but not respond to via your earpiece. The duration on road is two hours and you will be required to prove you can handle the bike on the road, are aware of safe riding, obeying speed limits and more in order to complete the course.

What limits are there with a CBT?

You will be required to ride with L plates until you complete further tests, you can't ride on motorways or carry a pillion passenger. Dependant on your age you will also be limited to 50cc or 125cc.

What happens once I’ve passed?

Once passed, keep hold of your certificate as you’ll need this to book your practical. This is valid for two years. You need to pass both modules of the motorcycle test in that time, otherwise you’ll have to pass the theory test again. If you fail you’ll get a letter at the test centre. It’ll tell you which parts you did not score enough points on so you know what to practice for next time.

You have to book and take the full test again, even if you passed one part this time, and you’ll have to wait a minimum of three days to take the test again.

More from Top Gear

See more on Bikes

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5