Motorcycle licence: what you need to know

To ride motorcycles and mopeds on public roads in the UK, you must have a provisional licence and a Compulsory Basic Training certificate (CBT).

The below table from shows the different licence categories and the requirements, which will then be broken down in more detail:

Licence categoryVehicles you can rideRequirements for licenceMinimum age


Mopeds with speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/hCompulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled moped 




Light motorcycle up to11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW per kg) and 125 ccCBT, theory test, practical test




Standard motorcycle up to 35 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW per kg), bike mustn’t be derived from vehicle more than twice its powerDirect access route – theory and practical

Progressive access route – 2 years experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test practical.




Unrestricted motorcycles in size/power, with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with power output over 15Direct access route – CBT theory and practical (you must be at least 24)

Progressive access route – held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years – practical test (21 or over)

24 (direct)

or 21 (progressive access)

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

As first mentioned, all learner motorcyclist and moped riders must complete a CBT course before riding on the public roads.

The CBT is not a test, it is a training day. In order to teach you the basic skills you need to be on the road. You must demonstrate balance, emergency stops, cornering and general competence. As long as you are safe on the bike, you will walk away with your certificate.

The day will comprise of different sections which you need to complete to a safe and satisfactory standard. If you have never ridden any bike before, it is possible you will need another full days training. For the most part of the day, you will be in a large off road area, where you will practice:

  • Pulling Away and Stopping
  • Slow Control Riding
  • Controlled Emergency Stops
  • Figure of Eight
  • Turn in the Road

You will then be issued with a radio, and get ready for the on road section. This will last at least two hours, in which your instructor will follow behind you asking you to navigate the different roads, doing controlled stops throughout.

After the ride you will be debriefed, discussing the road hazards encountered and if you have gained your certificate.

Category AM – 16 years old

scooter sell my bikeYou must be 16 to have an AM licence, this lets you ride a 50cc moped, restricted to 28mph. AM licences are issued to applicants who have completed their CBT.

You will need to display your L-Plates while riding on a CBT; you cannot take a passenger or ride on the motorway.  However, if you want to ride a larger bike, you will need to take your theory test and then the practical test. You will then be able to discard the L-Plates!

Category A1 – 17 years old

You must be a minimum of 17 years old, have your CBT and theory to take your A1 practical test. The test can be taken on either a manual or automatic, 115cc – 125cc motorcycle. You will need to complete both Module 1 and 2 in order to pass your test.

Module 1 (off road) consists of a series of manoeuvres, some slow speed such as Slalom and some at slightly higher speeds, such as 32 mph for the avoidance manoeuvre. This Module is testing your machine handling skills and your complete control.

Module 2 test consists of a 40 minute road ride. The examiner will brief you before setting off; you will have an eyesight test and a couple of safely questions before starting riding. You will then start the ride, with the examiner following behind you. They will be giving you directions, looking for control of the bike at all times, lane discipline and so on; your instructor will train you to standard.

Once you have passed this test you will be able to ride:

✓ Motorcycles and scooters up to 125cc

✓ Without L-Plates

✓ With a pillion passenger

✓ On the motorway roads

Category A2 – 19 years old

Licence category A2 is available for anyone 19 years old and over. If you don’t already hold an A1 motorcycle licence (above) you will need a CBT and theory test, before you take the practical test.

The two ways to obtain an A2 licence:

  1. If you have held an A1 Motorcycle Licence for two years, you can have another practical test on a 35kw bike
  2. If you are 19 or older, you can take the Direct Access route. You’d need to complete your CBT, pass your theory and practical test

You can take your A2 motorcycle test on either automatic or manual bikes. If you go for automatic, you will only be able to ride automatic bikes. However if your test is on a manual bike, you are entitled to ride both manual and automatic.

Your A2 licence allows you to ride up to 35kw maximum power output, you can carry passengers and ride on motorways. Examples of A2 permitted bikes include: Honda NC700, Kawasaki Z800e, BMW G650GS.

After 2 years, or when you get to 24 years old you can go for the A licence, which is unrestricted.

Category A – 21 (Progressive Access) or 24 (Direct Access)

If you are 24 years old you can sit your bike test and then go on to ride any power of motorcycle. If you take this Direct Access approach, you will need to do your CBT, theory test and practical test.

motorcycle rider
If you don’t want to wait until you are 24, then you can actually do the Direct Access route when you are 21. You must have held your A2 licence for at least two years, which would mean you need to do your A2 licence when you turn 19. This route is offered because in the 2 years riding on the A2, you’ll have gained tons of riding experience.
As mentioned in the A1 Licence section, Module 1 of the practical test consists of off road manoeuvres, as below:

  • Wheeling the moped or motorcycle and using the stand
  • Riding a slalom and figure of 8
  • A slow ride
  • A Turn in the Road
  • Cornering and controlled stop
  • Cornering and the emergency stop
  • Cornering and hazard avoidance

Module 2 is an on road test, taking 40 minutes comprising of:

  • Eyesight test
  • Safety questions
  • Road riding
  • Independent riding

If you live in the North Yorkshire area I would suggest contacting 3D Motorcycle Training for more information on the modules.

At the end of your test, you will go through the results and feedback. Hopefully you’ve passed and now have a full motorcycle licence!

Which means you can ride any bike, anytime, anywhere..

Have fun and travel safe!

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