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DVLA GUIDE - Unofficial Guide to the DVLA™ Motorcycles & Mopeds

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  Jump to:   About Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)   Motorcycles You Can Ride   Returning to Motorcycling

Motorcyclists Direct Access Scheme

Direct access is a scheme which allows a person over the age of 21 to avoid the two year/25 kW restriction by taking a test on a machine of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). A pass allows you to ride any size of bike. Any instruction given on a machine that exceeds the normal learner motorcycle specification must be supervised at all times by a certified motorcycle instructor who should be in radio contact. You should also wear fluorescent or reflective clothing and follow all other provisional licence restrictions.
Accelerated access

Riders who reach the age of 21, while still within the two year period where they are restricted to maximum 25 kW (33 bhp) machines, but who wish to ride larger bikes need to pass a further test on a motorcycle of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). They may practise on bikes over 25 kW (33 bhp) under the same practice conditions for direct access riders. You will revert to learner status while practising (on a motorcycle greater than 25 kW (33 bhp)) although test failure will not affect your existing licence.

Mopeds and Tractors

If you want to ride a moped you can take your theory test when you are 16, but again you must make sure you have a valid provisional licence.

If you are 16 and already have a provisional licence for an agricultural vehicle or a moped, this will give you provisional entitlement to drive a car when you are 17.

About Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Compulsory basic training (CBT) was introduced in 1990 to help reduce the very high accident rate among inexperienced motorcyclists. CBT must be completed before a learner moped or motorcycle rider is allowed to ride on the road with L-plates or D-plates in Wales.

You will need to complete CBT if:

  • you want to ride a moped (a moped has an engine not over 50 cc with maximum design speed not exceeding 50 kilometres per hour (km/h) which is approximately 31 miles per hour)
  • you want to ride a motorcycle

If you obtained your car licence before 1 February 2001 you do not need to complete a CBT to ride a moped.

What does CBT involve?

The CBT course involves five elements:

  1. introduction
  2. practical on-site training
  3. practical on-site riding
  4. practical on-road training
  5. practical on-road riding

The five elements have to be completed in sequence, although the order of the exercises within the element can be varied. You will only move on to the next element when your instructor is satisfied you have learnt the necessary theory and demonstrated the practical skills to a safe basic level. Trainees must, by law, receive a minimum two hour on-road ride in Element E.

Certificate of Completion (DL 196)

When all five elements have been satisfactorily completed, a certificate of completion, called the DL196, is issued. This is a legal document which validates the relevant entitlements on your driving licence. It is important that the holder of a DL196 considers the following points:

  • a DL196 certificate validating a provisional moped or provisional motorcycle entitlement lasts for two years - CBT will have to be retaken if both theory and practical tests are not passed within the two year certificate life
  • for moped entitlement only, if you pass your car driving test whilst your DL196 is still current or complete a CBT course and obtain a DL196 after passing your car test, the certificate is not subject to expiry, you will therefore need to keep your DL196 certificate safely. Please note that this applies to mopeds only, for riding motorcycles as a learner the DL196 remains valid for two years

Once you have your certificate you are advised to take additional training to pass your theory and practical tests and qualify for a motorcycle or moped licence. You must take the DL196 certificate with you when you go to your practical test.

Where and How Much?

Only instructors certified by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) can teach CBT at an approved training body (ATB). ATBs must have instructors who have successfully completed a two day assessment and have sites approved by DSA for off-road training.

The cost for the course varies typically from ?70 to around ?100. Most ATBs offer the loan of machines and helmets for the course. The cost of CBT may be incorporated into the cost of a full training course that leads to a motorcycle test.

Motorcycles You Can Ride

A moped has a maximum design speed not exceeding 50 km/h (approx. 31 mph). It has an engine capacity no greater than 50 cc and can be moved by pedals, if first used before 1 August 1977. A learner motorcycle has an engine up to 125 cc and a power output not exceeding 11 kW

Full motorcycle licence

There are two types of full motorcycle licence:

  • a light motorcycle licence (A1), which restricts riders to any bike up to 125 cc and a power output of 11 kW. The practical test must be taken on a bike of between 75 cc and 125 cc
  • a standard motorcycle licence (A), is obtained if the practical test is taken on a bike of over 120 cc but not more than 125 cc and capable of at least 100 km/h per hour. After passing the standard motorcycle practical test, you will be restricted for two years to riding a bike of up to 25 kW and a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16 kW/kg. After this you may ride any size of bike

Note: The BMW C1 motorcycle is not a suitable machine for a practical test.

Direct and accelerated access

Riders age 21 or over, or those who reach 21 before their two year restriction ends, have other options.

Direct access

After taking CBT and the theory test, the practical test may be taken on a motorcycle with a power output of at least 35kW. A pass allows you to ride any size of bike. All or part of the CBT course may be taken on either a learner bike or a large bike. You may practice for the practical test on bikes larger than the learner bike specification provided:

  • you wear fluorescent or reflective clothing and follow all other provisional licence restrictions
  • you are accompanied at all times by an approved instructor on another bike and in radio contact

Accelerated Access

Riders who reach the age of 21, while still within the two year period where they are restricted to maximum 25 kW machines, but who wish to ride larger bikes need to pass a further test on a motorcycle of at least 35 kW. They may practice on bikes over 25 kW under the same practice conditions for direct access riders. You will revert to learner status while practicing (on a motorcycle greater than 25 kW) although test failure will not affect your existing licence.

Sidecars

Learners who wish to ride with a sidecar can practice on a combination with a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16 kW/kg. On obtaining a standard licence, you will be restricted to a combination with the same power/weight ratio for two years. At age 21 learners may, only within direct or accelerated access, practice on a larger combination, but the test must be taken on a solo bike (although physically disabled riders can use a combination).

Returning to Motorcycling

When riding mopeds or motorcycles it is always very important that you wear the correct protective clothing in order to protect you from the weather and also to help other road users to see you.

Importance of protective clothing

Without the right clothing you can get very cold and wet when riding a motorcycle. Special motorcycling clothing is available which:

  • protects you from the weather
  • helps to protect you from some types of injury
  • helps other road users to see you

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle on the road. You should also consider using the following items of clothing when riding a motorcycle:

  • visors or goggles
  • gloves and gauntlets
  • protective clothing
  • boots
  • visibility aids

Safety Helmets

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle on the road. All helmets sold in the UK must either:

  • comply with British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI kitemark
  • comply with UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • comply with any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area which offers a level of safety and protection equivalent to BS 6658:1985 and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI kitemark.

Damage to Helmets

If your helmet receives any serious impact you should always buy a new one. Damage won't always be visible to the naked eye. For this reason you should never buy a second-hand helmet.

  • The Safety Helmet and Assessment Rating Programme Opens new window

Visors and Goggles

A visor or goggles are vital to protect your eyes from wind, rain, insects and road dirt. All visors or goggles must comply with a British Standard and display a BSI kitemark, or they must comply with a European standard which offers a level of safety and protection at least equivalent to the British Standard and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI kitemark (ECE 22-05).

If you need glasses or contact lenses to read a numberplate at the prescribed distance then you must wear your glasses or contact lenses when you ride. You should not wear tinted glasses, visors or goggles if you are riding in the dark or conditions of poor visibility.

It is very important that you keep your visor or goggles clean. You must have a clear view of the road ahead at all times. To clean your goggles or visor wash them with warm soapy water. Do not use solvents or petrol.

Protective clothing

Motorcycle clothing is of two main types:

  • clothing made from man-made materials
  • leather clothing

When you are choosing protective motorcycle clothing make sure you look for additional protection for the shoulders, elbows and knees.

Gloves and gauntlets

Good gloves or gauntlets are essential when your ride a motorcycle. Never be tempted to ride without gloves. If you fall off you could seriously injure your hands.

Motorcycle boots

It is important to wear good boots or footwear when you ride a motorcycle. If you wear sandals or trainers your feet will have little protection if you fall off.

Riding in cold weather

When riding in very cold weather your hands and feet can become painfully cold. No matter how good your gloves or boots, the cold will eventually get through. If you're serious about motorcycling in cold weather you should consider buying electrically heated inner gloves or electrically heated handlebar grips. However, these accessories put a large demand on your motorcycle's electrical generator so you should check that it can cope with the extra demands before you buy and fit them.

Visibility aids for motorcyclists

Many road accidents involving motorcyclists occur because another road user didn't see them. Using some form of visibility aid will help others to see you. Remember you need to be visible from the side as well as the front and back.

Wearing fluorescent orange or yellow clothing in daylight will improve your chances of being seen.

Other methods you could use to help other road users to see you in daylight include:

  • wearing a white helmet
  • wearing brightly coloured clothing
  • riding with your headlamp on dipped beam

To improve visibility in the dark you need to wear reflective material. They work by reflecting the light from headlamps of other vehicles. This makes you much more visible from a long distance away.