Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Motorcycle Rider

Last Updated: 02/03/2022

Whether it’s for the exhilaration of riding on two wheels or the convenience of getting through traffic much quicker, if you want to learn how to become a motorcycle rider, then this page is for you.

There are few things in life that will get your adrenaline pumping quite as much as that first ride on a motorcycle.

Being in control of that two-wheeled machine, the road stretching out in front of you and the potential for endless hours of freedom staring you in the face, it can be an exhilarating feeling.

Being able to ride a motorcycle is about control, about freedom and about your independence.

It’s convenient, quick and you can often cut your commute to work significantly by making the journey on a motorcycle.

There are many things to consider when you make the decision to learn to ride a motorcycle.

What type of bike will you want to ride?

How much will insurance cost?

Have you got somewhere safe to store the motorcycle, both at home and your place of work?

To help you answer some of these, and more besides, see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) lower down the page.

First, however, you’ll need to learn how to ride a motorcycle and pass the relevant training and get your licence.

What Licence Do I Need To Ride A Motorcycle?

To get started with motorcycles, your first port of call will be to complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT).

This training is a great starting point for motorcyclists and is something that is also mandatory.

Before starting your CBT, you must apply for a provisional driving licence.

The centre at which you chose to learn will provide you with a motorcycle to use during lessons, so you do not need to worry about owning one in order to complete your CBT.

The CBT was introduced by the Government in 1990.

Good news here though; firstly, it’s pretty straight forward to complete. I

f you are comfortable riding a pedal bike (i.e. have a good balance) and you have a solid understanding of the highway code, then you’ll find it fairly straight forward.

Secondly, there is no exam.

That is because it’s training, not a test.

One thing to note though – if during your CBT your trainers believe you to be unsafe, then you will be required to take some additional training until you reach the point at which you’re considered safe.

You will need to complete the CBT, unless you fall into one of the following three criteria:

  • You want to ride a moped up to a maximum of 50cc and pass your car test before 1st February, 2001.
  • You want to ride a motorcycle and have a full moped licence from passing a moped test since 1st December 1990
  • You have a full motorcycle licence for one category and want to upgrade to another

If you do not fall into any of those three categories, then the CBT is, as the name suggests, compulsory, even if you have a car driving licence.

After successful completion of your CBT, you can ride motorcycles of certain specifications.

See the next section for clarity on that.

You have two years from the point of which you complete your CBT to pass your full moped or motorcycle test.

If you do not, then you must retake your CBT or stop riding.

What Can I Ride Once I Have Completed My CBT?

Once you have completed your CBT, what you can ride will depend on your age.

If you’re aged 16 or over, then you can ride a moped.

If you’re aged 17 or older, then you can ride a motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW.

You must also use L plates (L or D plates in Wales) once you have your CBT.

So, what next?

How Can I Ride A Bigger Motorcycle Than 125cc?

If you want to ride a motorcycle that is more powerful than 125cc, then you will need to pass a motorcycle test to add the necessary entitlements to your driving licence.

It’s important to note that there are different classifications of motorcycles for which there are different age and licence requirements.

The licences you will be aiming for are an A1, A2 and A licence.

There are generally two ways in which you can achieve these licences.

They are:

Progressive Route:

Complete specific training, tests and gather necessary experience.

Direct Access:

Complete specific direct access motorcycle training with professional instructors and take the full motorcycle test on a bike over 595cc with a minimum power output of 40kW.

Which Licence Do I need?

It’s important to know what motorcycle licence you will need to have in order to ride the bike you wish to ride.

A summary is as follows:

Light Motorcycle Up To 11 kW & 125 cc OR Motor Tricycles Up To 15 kW:

Licence: A1

Licence Requirements: CBT, theory test, practical test

Age: 17 and over

Standard Motorcycle Up To 35 kW:

Licence: A2

Licence Requirements: Direct access route (for more info, see later in our guide) OR progressive access route – 2 years’ experience on an A1 motorbike and a further practical test.

Age: 17 and over

Unrestricted Motorcycles Over 15 kW:

Licence: A

Licence Requirements: Direct access route – CB, theory and practical OR progressive access route – held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years and complete a practical test.

Age: 24 (direct) or 21 (progressive)

How To Get Your A1 licence (Step-By-Step Guide)

This guide assumes that you have already completed your CBT and that you’re aged 17 or older.

Step 1: Apply For Your Theory Test

Before you can sit a motorcycle test, you will need to have passed your motorcycle theory test.

You can sit this from the age of 16 and can do it before or after your CBT.

From experience, it’s better to do this as soon as possible.

Get lots of revision done at every possible opportunity to give yourself the best chance possible of passing first time.

The test will consist of two parts.

Firstly, some multiple-choice questions and then secondly a hazard perception test which will be about spotting hazards on the road while watching a video.

Even if you have a car driving licence, you still need to take the specific motorbike theory test before taking the motorcycle practical test.

Step 2: Take Motorcycle Lessons

There are many providers out there who can give you lessons to prepare you for your practical motorcycle test.

Like when learning to drive a car, there are no set amount of lessons that you need to take.

It’s more about feeling ready and knowing everything there is to know.

Your instructor will also be able to indicate when they feel that you are ready to take your motorcycle test.

Step 3: Take Your Motorcycle Practical Test

Once you have passed your theory test and feel confident enough and ready to take your practical test, then you should book the test in and get ready.

In the lead-up to your test date, continue to practise at every opportunity so that you’re as confident and familiar as possible.

How To Get Your A2 Licence (Step-By-Step Guide)

If you want to work towards your A2 licence, then you will need to have completed the A1 steps above and have 2 years’ experience on a motorbike.

Step 1: Complete Your Two Years Experience

As mentioned, you will need to demonstrate that you have two years of experience on an A1 motorbike having achieved your A1 licence.

Step 2: Book An A2 License Test

Once you have the experience, you can then apply to book your A2 motorcycle test.

This is a practical test.

Again, training centres are available to help brush your skills up before you sit the test.

Direct Access Route To A1, A2 & A Licenses

If you prefer to obtain your motorcycle licences quicker, then you can complete what’s known as Direct Access Training.

This allows you to undergo training with professional motorcycle instructors.

There are many course providers like this out there and some motorcycle manufacturers (e.g. Honda) also have schemes that allow you to train to the licence required to ride your new motorcycle.

These schemes also regularly offer cost savings on booking it yourself.

Direct Access Training is a quicker way to reach the level of entitlement you want on your licence, so is definitely something worth looking into.

You will always need to have completed your CBT before starting any motorcycle licence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Equipment Will I Need?

To safely ride your motorcycle, you will need to invest in good quality clothing and safety gear.

As a bare minimum, a professionally fitted motorbike helmet, protective jacket and trousers (“leathers”) and motorcycle boots are highly recommended.

How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Accident?

Accidents can happen very easily when you’re riding a motorcycle.

Here are some tips for staying safe:

  • Always wear a good quality, well-fitted helmet
  • Wear bright clothing – you will need to wear protective trousers and a jacket, so why not have some bright colours on them to help other motorists see you.
  • Obey traffic rules and signals at all times
  • Drive within the speed limits
  • Ensure your motorcycle or moped is well maintained
  • Frequently check your lights to ensure they’re working
  • If in doubt, slow down

Do I Need To Own A Motorcycle To Complete CBT Training?

No. Training centres will have bikes which you can use for the CBT.

I Have A Full Car Driving Licence – Do I Need To Do CBT?

Yes. Unless you fit the criteria mentioned within this guide, then you need to complete CBT to ride a motorcycle or moped.

How Much Does CBT Cost?

Your CBT will cost approximately £125 and will consist of one full day of training

Will I Get Punished For Riding On Public Roads With A Valid CBT?


You can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to 6 penalty points if you are caught riding without a valid CBT certificate.

Further Resources