So you want to ride a Motorbike

Some people ride motorcycles and scooters through necessity. The cost of a car, insurance, fuel, maintenance, tax, etc etc... make it a logical choice to pick the two-wheeled option. 

Others prefer the freedom that riding a motorbike gives. These people ride for pleasure. It has been my good fortune over the years to belong to this category.

This is a simplified version of what you will need to do. Along the way you will meet Options. Hopefully, you will find the right Option for you.


You need a licence to cover the class of vehicle that you are riding. Make sure you have a Provisional Licence that covers your class of bike. For Motorcycles you need Class A. For Mopeds, Class P. (N.B. If your already have a full licence for a car or other group, the provisional entitlement will be shown on the paper counterpart of your licence).


At 16 you can only ride a Moped (as defined).

At 17 you can ride a Moped or Motorcycle up to 125cc (Includes automatic Scooter between 49cc and 125cc).

At 19 you can take your test on a 47 bhp bike (Class A2)

At 24 you can undergo Direct Access Training. (see later)

For those who have never ridden before, we offer a one hour taster session to help you decide whether biking is for you. This session is done off-road and carried out on a "one-to-one" basis. The cost of this session is £35.

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

If you want to ride a Moped, Motorcycle or Scooter on a public road, you must undergo a CBT course. (An exception relates to those who passed a car test before 1 February 2001. These people can ride a Moped if their licence shows Category P as a Full entitlement).

CBT is not a "test", it's a training course with a certificate at the end. The CBT certificate validates your Driving Licence, allowing you to ride Mopeds and Motorcycles for 2 years from the date of issue. You must ride unaccompanied. You cannot ride on Motorways. You must display L plates.

The content of the CBT course is laid down by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). It contains five elements, all of which are concerned with SAFETY. At Valley Bike School we aim to complete our CBT course in ONE day but if you do not complete the course within the one day, don't worry. We will finish your training at a time to suit you. Whilst riding a bike you will encounter hazardous situations. There is no mileage in rushing your training or short-cutting the system. Unlike some, our prices are all inclusive - there are no hidden extras such as bike hire, insurance and petrol.

The five elements of the CBT course are:

1. Introduction

2. Practical on-site training

3. Practical on-site riding

4. Practical on-road training

5. Practical on-road riding

Even if you don't intend taking your test just yet, it is a good idea to "gen up" on the Highway Code. This is especially true of younger riders who have little or no experience of the "rules of the road".


Complete your CBT course and ride a Moped, Scooter, or Motorcycle for up to 2 years. Within that 2 years you must pass your Practical test or undergo CBT training again which will give you a further 2 years. Currently, you can complete a CBT Course as many times as you like.


Class A1 Licence (You must pass a theory test) Minimum Age 17

Take a Practical Test on an A1 machine. (As defined). We use Yamaha YBR 125's. When you pass you will be restricted to riding a machine of the A1 Class. Unlike the earlier regulations, there is no automatic entitlement to ride bigger bikes unless you take other tests (See below). NB If you pass your test on an "automatic" machine (Scooter) you will be restricted to riding an automatic. 


Class A2 Licence (You must pass a theory test) Minimum Age 19


Take a Practical Test on an A2 machine. We use Kawasaki ER5's. When you pass you will be restricted to riding a machine of the A2 Class. To ride bigger bikes you will need to take another test. Again, if you pass your test on an "automatic" machine (Scooter) you will be restricted to riding an automatic.


Class A Licence (Direct Access) (You must pass a theory test) Minimum Age 24 (Unless you have had a full Class A2 licence for 2 years)

Take a Practical Test on a bigger bike. (We us Kawasaki ER6's, Kawasaki Versys and Yamaha XJ6's). It must be capable of delivering 53.6 brake horse power (bhp). This route is known as Direct Access. Once you pass the "Big Bike" test you can ride any bike from day 1.

The Practical Test is the same as Options 2 and 3 but to take advantage of the Direct Access option, you must take lessons with an approved Instructor and be in radio contact. Currently, we have four Direct Access Instructors, three of whom are trained to Advanced level with the police.

The Direct Access route changed in January 2013.

Theory Test

Based on the Highway Code, the Theory Test must be taken by everyone before they can take their Practical Test. Even though you have been driving a Class I HGV since Noah launched his Ark or have recently passed a Theory Test for another class of vehicle, you must pass a Theory Test for Motorcycles. The current cost of a Theory Test is £31.00 and can be booked on line at or over the phone on 08700-101372. We can book your theory test for you if you want.

The Theory Test consists of two parts:

Part 1... 50 multiple choice questions. You must get 43 right to pass.

Part 2... Hazard Perception element. This involves 14 video clips than contain 15 "scoreable hazards". You must score at least 44 from 75 in this element.

If well prepared, the Theory Test should hold no fears for anyone.

There are a number of books, CD-ROMs and DVDs on the market to help you pass the Theory Test. We recommend the DSA's own products that can be obtained from most large bookstores, from us, or from The Stationery Office directly TSO

Practical Test

We book Practical Motorbike Tests in advance. The cost at present is £90.50 on weekdays, split into 2 Modules. (The cost is more for a Saturday or for an "extended" test).

Contrary to the belief of some, the examiner is not there to fail you. There are no "quotas" of pass and fail. If you show that you have the ability to handle your machine well and have a good knowledge of various road situations then you should pass. You are allowed upto 15 minor riding faults (5 for Module 1 and 10 for Module 2) but a "serious" or "dangerous" fault will mean a fail, even if you have no other minor faults.

There are many reasons why people fail but the most common reason is "NERVES"! Don't put undue pressure on yourself - try to relax and "enjoy" the experience. That is obviously easier said than done but many a good rider fails because nerves gets the better of them. You need total concentration and it is impossible to give your best if all you can think about is the "churning" within your stomach! Remember - the examiner is there to "assess" you. He or she will not put extra pressure on you.

Module 1 lasts for 10 - 15 minutes. In this part you will be asked to:

Push the bike backwards from one set of cones to another;

Ride through a slalom of cones followed by a figure of 8 around two cones;

Slow ride exercise;


Controlled stop to a set location;

Emergency stop from 50kph (32mph) ;

Swerve manoeuvre from 50 kph (32mph) 


Module 2 lasts for 40 minutes but that doesn't mean that you will spend all of those 40 minutes riding the bike. Your documents will be checked and you will be given a radio. Once this has been checked you will go outside and take an eyesight check. Then comes the "safety questions". You are asked two questions about your machine. These can be found via this link... SAFETY QUESTIONS.

Now, finally, it's time to ride your bike. Approximately 35 minutes are left for you to demonstrate that you are safe and fit to be allowed out on the road - without L plates. The only "set" manoeuvre on Module 2 is moving away from the kerb. This may be on an incline or from behind parked vehicles.

After the test you will be asked a question relating to carrying a passenger.

And... that's it... Easy ! So calm down and relax !

DSA statistics show that the top 10 reasons for failing the Practical Test are:

10. Observation before turning

9. Correct positioning

8. Controlled Stop (Emergency Braking)

7. Moving away safely

6. Moving away under control

5. Observation at Junctions

4. Inappropriate Speed (Too slow as well as too fast)

3. Rear Observation (Mirrors and Shoulder Checks)

2. Signal Correctly

1. U-Turn

Read 6045 times Last modified on Sunday, 03 April 2016 13:09