How to get your moped or motorbike licence

Find out the step-by-step process for getting your moped or motorbike licence, from your provisional licence, to training, to taking your full test.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 13 November 2019  | 4 min read

The basics

If you want to start riding a moped, or motorcycle, there are few options for getting out on the road, depending on what sort of bike you want to ride.

It’s illegal to ride a motorbike on the road without the correct licence and motorbike insurance, so make sure you know what you need to do to get qualified.

Key points

  • You can ride mopeds (aged 16+) or motorbikes (aged 17+) on a provisional licence as long as you complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and have insurance
  • For insurers to cover you on a provisional licence, you need to have done your CBT
  • Passing your theory and practical driving tests can reduce the cost of your insurance

You’ll need different classifications on your driving licence to ride different types of bikes and surprisingly not all of them require you to pass a test.

For example, if you passed your driving test some time ago, you might already have a moped licence without even knowing it.

If you got your full driving licence before February 2001 you’re also licenced to ride a moped up to 50cc on the road without displaying L plates or taking CBT

Get started with a provisional licence

The first licence you’ll get will be your provisional licence, which you apply for when you start learning to drive a car or ride a moped or motorbike.

If you already have a full drivers licence, you won’t have to apply again for a provisional licence for a moped or motorbike. That's because the provisional entitlement to ride certain types of bike is already on your licence.

In order to learn to ride you’ll need to complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) when you receive your provisional licence.

With provisional motorbike licence entitlement you can:

  • Ride a moped or scooter up to 50cc if you’re aged 16+ as long as you’ve completed your CBT, display L plates and have insurance
  • Ride a motorcycle up to 125cc if you’re aged 17+. Again, you’ll need CBT, L plates and insurance
  • Ride larger, more powerful bikes if you’re aged 19+, but only when accompanied by an instructor during riding lessons

Now you’ve got your provisional licence, the next step's taking your CBT.

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You can ride a moped on a provisional licence as young as 16, but you’ll have to wait an extra year before you can ride a motorcycle

Take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Unless you passed your driving test before February 2001, you have to successfully complete a CBT course to ride anything legally on the road.

It’s not a test you pass or fail. You’re trained until your instructor is satisfied you understand the theory and practical skills.

Training’s usually one or two days long and once completed you can get out on the road without supervision on a 50cc moped for 16 year olds or a 125cc motorbike if you’re aged 17+.

When you complete the training you’ll be given a certificate of completion (DL196) which lasts for up to two years.

You’ll still need L plates though, and you’ll only be able to ride a more powerful bike with an instructor - which means taking lessons.

Motorcycle lessons

Before you take your moped or motorbike test you’ll need lessons.

For bikes less than 125cc, can choose to learn with an experienced rider, through hourly lessons with a trainer or by taking an intensive course.

The only way you can get any practical experience on a bike more powerful than 125cc is with a qualified instructor.

Moped and motorbike tests

You won’t be able to remove your L plates, carry a passenger, or ride on the motorway until you’ve passed a full motorbike or moped test.

The test you take depnds on what you want to ride and your age. You can choose from:

  • AM - moped up to 50cc - 16 years+
  • A1 - up to 125cc motorbike - 17 years+
  • A2 - bikes with a power output less than 35kW - 19 years+
  • A - unrestricted motorbikes, progressive access - 21 years+
  • A - unrestricted motorbikes, direct access - 24 years+
  • has full details of each licence type if you need more information.

    Your moped and motorbike theory test is made up of a multiple-choice exam and a hazard perception video test (£23).

    The practical test has two parts too. Module one is an off-road riding test taken in a motorcycle manoeuvring area (£15.50). You must pass this to move on to the second part, module two, which is an on-road test (£75 weekdays, £88.50 evenings, weekends and bank holidays).

    Once you’ve passed all parts of your motorbike or moped test, you’ll get a full motorbike licence for the classification you took.

    Upgrading your licence

    To upgrade your moped license to a A1 motorbike licence, you’ll need to be at least 17, have a valid theory test and you’ll have to retake your practical test on a bike between 120-125cc.

    To change your A1 motorbike licence to an A2, you must be over 19 and have held your A1 licence for at least two years.

    You’d then need to make sure your theory test is valid and retake your practical riding exam on an A2 category bike.

    For a category A licence, if you’ve held an A2 licence for at least two years, you can take your practical test on a suitable bike as young as 21 (progressive access).

    If haven’t held an A2 licence for long, you’ll need to wait until you’ve had it for two years. For those who have another category licence, you’ll need to wait until you’re 24 before you can take a category A licence test (direct access).

    How does getting your motorbike or moped licence affect your insurance?

    If you’ve not passed a test, you’ll need to take your CBT as part of the terms of your cover and some insurers will ask for a copy of your DL196 certificate.

    If you take your test and pass, let your insurer know – it proves to the insurer that you’re a more competent and experienced rider.

    Insurers assume that experienced riders are less likely to have something go wrong, which could mean your insurance costs less.

    But the more powerful the bike you ride, the more likely you are to have a serious accident, and this'll affect the cost of your insurance too.

    For example, say you have a provisional license, ride a 50cc moped and currently pay £100 per year for your bike insurance.

    You fancy a change, so you take your category A riding test to be able to ride a 400cc bike.

    Although you now have a full licence rather than a provisional, you’re also riding a much more powerful bike, which instead of reducing your insurance, could easily push your premiums over the £100 you used to pay for your moped.

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