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Inside Bikes

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If you’ve just decided to get into motorcycling, or returning to it after a few years doing the old mortgage/kids thing, then welcome to biking – the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

I’ll be looking at licences, some basic traffic law, clothing, buying your first bike or scooter, plus lots more over the next few months. We hope this series answers all your questions on biking, but if you have a suggestion, feel free to email us on;This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here’s some Frequently Asked Questions on getting your motorbike licence; Can I ride a 125cc bike at aged 16?

No. You can only ride a moped, which is a motorcycle or scooter which can travel no faster than 50kmh – or about 30mph – flat out.

What can I ride at 17 years of age?

Basically, you have two choices when you are under 21. Either you can go for an A1 licence, which allows you to ride 125cc motorbikes and scooters, or try for a standard A class licence, which will let you ride bigger bikes, making up 33bhp.

Don’t forget that whilst you’re still a learner, with your plates on, you cannot carry a passenger, no matter how long that passenger has held a licence.

If you pass your test – both CBT theory and practical – on a 125cc motorcycle, then you can move up to riding 33bhp limited bikes – the engine size doesn’t matter, just the 33bhp limit.

Then you’ll to wait two years – without copping a ban for various offences – before riding more powerful machines. You will also find it very expensive to insure a bigger bike, no matter how clean your licence is, until you have built up two or three years no claims discount.

I’m 17 and I want to just get to college – what should I ride?

You can ride a 125cc bike, or scooter, restricted to 14.6bhp, which means about 65-70mph in the real world. You must complete CBT Part 1, and the theory test, before taking to the road. You then have 2 years (it used to be 3 years if you completed CBT Part 1 before 1st Feb 2002) to pass CBT Part 2.

Whilst you are 17, it is probably best to buy a cheap used scooter, as 125cc bikes hold their value better, then do one year on the scooter, before graduating to a motorcycle. You can buy a cheap commuter type scooter from as little as £300-£400, whereas a brand new 1255 motorcycle will cost over £2000 and you may well lose much of that value if you crash or damage the bike, even slightly.

Hold on, I just want to ride a scooter to college – do I need all that CBT motorcycle testing business for a scooter too?

No, you can get an A1 scooter licence, which allows you to ride a 125cc 14bhp automatic scooter indefinitely. But NOT motorcycles. All you do is pass the CBT Part 2, but riding an automatic ‘twist ‘n’ go’ type scooter, with a 75cc-125cc engine size.

Alright. Tell you what, I’ll do the car thing for a few years, meet some bling-bling babes, then check the bikes gig later when I’m 21 – what do I do then?

Basically, you’re looking at learning to ride on Direct Access, at you own pace, on a bike making up to 47bhp, then once you pass CBT part 2, you can ride whatever you like – in theory. In reality, most insurance companies will not insure novice riders on bigger bikes, even when they passed Direct Access and are aged in their 20s or 30s.

Most training schools will start you out on a 100-125cc machine around a car park, assuming you are a total novice, in the run up to getting CBT part 1. Then you’ll find yourself on something like a Honda CB500 twin, or Kawasaki ER5 whilst doing the Part 2 tuition, linked to you instructor via walkie-talkie on the open road.

Obviously you could learn on your own bike too, but it’s probably better to learn on the school machines, then try a couple of used bikes in the 400-600cc range, before you buy your own motorcycle.

What bike should I buy?

Ideal first bikes to own include the Yamaha Diversion 600, the Honda CB500 twin, the Kawasaki ER5 twin and the Suzuki Bandit 600. Machines like the Yamaha Virago 535, the BMW F650 CS and Honda Shadow 600 all have low seat heights, whilst bikes like the Suzuki SV650S, the Yamaha Fazer 600 or the Kawasaki Z750 offer a bit of sporty performance.

Cool. Where can I get this CBT training stuff?

Most bigger motorbike dealers have a training school on site. Otherwise you can check your Yellow Pages, under Motorcycle Training, or see the bike press for adverts.

One last question; my Dad says he doesn’t want to take the car to B&Q on Saturdays, `cos the traffic’s so bad – can he ride a scooter on his car licence when he needs to drool over power tools at weekends?

Your Dad can ride a 50cc, restricted scooter on a car licence, without taking a test, but only if he passed his car test before 1st Feb 2001. Anyone passing the car test after that date, will need to take a mini bike/scooter test, to establish they have mastered the basics of riding a scooter, before legally getting on the road.


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