Unlike learning to drive a car, it’s perfectly legal to get out on the road unsupervised while you’re learning to ride a motorbike.
You’ll have to stick to certain sizes of bikes, display L-plates, take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and you’ll still need motorbike insurance as a learner
You’ll be able to compare and buy a standard motorcycle insurance policy - you'll just have to state you’re a learner when you take it out.
Your premiums will be more expensive than someone with riding experience who has passed a test, because insurers view you as more of a risk on the road.
Sixteen year olds can only ride mopeds and scooters up to 50cc. If you’re aged 17+ you can ride a moped, scooter or small motorcycle up to 125cc on the road as a learner, with a provisional licence and a CBT certificate.
While you’re training to ride a bigger motorbike, you can’t practice out on the road unaccompanied.
If you’re being taught to ride at a motorbike school by a professional instructor, you’ll have the option of using their training motorbikes. The school’s insurance will cover you to ride them.
If you choose to use your own motorcycle at a riding school you’ll need to take out your own cover.
The same goes for taking your CBT course - if you use the training school’s bikes you’ll be covered by the school’s insurance. If you use your own bike you’ll need your own policy.
One important thing to check with your insurer is whether you’re covered to ride to the training centre to take your CBT or training.
If you’re not, you’ll have to arrange transport for your bike or have the instructor accompany you.
Your insurance will hopefully get a bit cheaper once you’ve passed your test, but until you build up your insurance and no-claims bonus, you’ll still pay more than those who have been riding longer.
Just as with learner riders, you’ll have three levels of cover to choose from:
As well as the type of bike, its value and how powerful it is, your premiums will also be based on things like:
The younger you are, the more expensive your insurance
If you live in an area with a high level of bike theft, you’ll pay more
If you’ll be commuting at night, or you use your motorbike for work, your insurer will see you as more of a risk and charge you more for your insurance
Locking it in a secure garage will mean cheaper premiums
Using secure locks or having an insurer-approved alarm fitted can bring your premiums down
Any major changes to your bike will push your premiums up
Your premiums will be affected by other named riders and their claims history. Cover for carrying pillions can also be more costly
There are a few ways you can get your premiums down.
If you already have a full car licence and/or have driving experience, you’ll get cheaper premiums when you take out motorbike insurance.
You might also be able to use the no claims bonus (NCB) that you’ve built up on your car to get a discount - although check with insurers as very few allow you to transfer NCB from bike to car or vice versa.
Choosing a smaller motorbike will also cut the cost of your premiums.
That’s because insurers deem them less of a risk on the road as their engines are not as powerful as more sporty models.
If you’re a young rider or you’re inexperienced, your insurer might charge you an additional excess on your policy.
Check your documents to see what extra excesses apply to you.
Once you’ve completed your CBT course and passed your theory and practical test, you’ll be fully qualified to ride.
Which licence you’ll hold will depend on your age, experience and the power of bike you want to ride:
To carry a pillion passenger on your bike, you must have a full licence for the type of bike you’re riding.
You also need to let your insurer know that you want to carry passengers to make sure you’re covered. There might be an extra cost for pillion cover.
If you had a full car licence before February 2001, you can ride a moped up to 50cc without passing a motorbike or moped test and without L-plates.
Last checked 24 August 2022