If you’re a teenager thinking about buying your first motorcycle or scooter, it can sometimes seem quite bewildering trying to understand everything you need to do to get on the road.
But fear not, Insidebikes had devised this simple guide to help you get a better handle on what you’ll need to get yourself on two wheels this year.
The first thing you’ll need to do is apply to the DVLA for a driving licence. You can do this up to three months before your 16th birthday (although it will only be valid when you turn 16). You’ll need to ensure that your eye sight is up to the required standard (which is ensuring that you can read a standard UK number plate from 20 metres away) and that you can provide proof of your address. If you can do this, you can apply for your provisional driving licence online at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence. You can also apply by post, filling in a form D1 from Post Offices, although the cost of postal applications is more, £43 to £34 at the time of writing.
This process can take a week or two, and you won’t be able to get out on the road until your licence arrives, so if you do want to get out there right on your birthday, make sure you plan and apply in advance.
To get on the road, you’ll need to undertake what is known as Compulsory Basic Training, or the CBT as it is better known.
This is a one day course that teaches you the basics and lets you practice under the supervision of a qualified instructor. You will spend the morning training and practicing away from the public roads, before undertaking at least two hours of riding on the public highways.
The price for this varies, and will depend on the individual school and other factors, such as whether or not you have your own bike and equipment, but usually the school will provide everything for you, with a typical price guide being between £100-150 for the day.
It is important that you undertake the CBT before riding on the road unsupervised, as failure to do so can lead to up to six penalty points and a £1000 fine. After passing the CBT, your instructor will give you a certificate which is valid for two years and which entitles you to ride unsupervised, subject to various restrictions. For example, you will not be allowed to use motorways or carry a passenger, and you must display L plates on the front and rear of your motorbike or scooter to denote that you are a learner rider.
The CBT is the minimum amount of training required to get on the road. Additional training is also available and recommended, both for your safety and to get the most out of your riding.
At 16 years old you’ll be restricted to riding a moped. Moped is a catch-all term to describe a powered two-wheeler of 50cc (or less) and a top speed restricted to 45kph (28mph). These mopeds allow you to gain roadcraft and are ideal in an urban environment. A moped can give you independence and is an inexpensive and flexible way to get you to school, college or your first job. Although most mopeds are twist and go style scooters, it is possible to buy geared motorcycles if you prefer. Scooters tend to be easier to ride and more practical, thanks to their twist and go transmissions, underseat storage and enclosed bodywork, although geared mopeds are styled more like larger motorbikes.
From 17, your choices include 125cc machines. These are classed as ‘A1’ motorcycles and are have a power limit of 11kw (14.75bhp). Most A1 bikes will have a top speed of around 60mph, meaning that you can head out on dual carriageways more comfortably. These bikes are also available as twist and go scooters and motorcycles, in a range of styles that include sports, naked, off-road and classic/retro.
If you’re aged under 19, your choice of bikes are increased to include A2 licence machines, which are restricted to 47bhp, although unlike the smaller machines you are not allowed to ride these unsupervised until after you’ve passed your test.
By law, you must wear an approved crash helmet which bears the appropriate EU or British Standards safety mark.
It’s worth remembering that this is the absolute minimum required by law, however it is strongly advised to invest in protective motorcycle gloves, boots, jacket and trousers, which can be made of textiles or leather. These will add protection to other parts of your body in the event of a mishap, as well as protecting you from the elements in year long riding. Many motorcyclists live by the mantra ‘all the gear, all the time’ and it’s a good way to be. Invest in the best quality safety gear you can afford and, as tempting as it may be, avoid buying second hand helmets (as you don’t know their history) and look out for cheap, counterfeit helmets that can appear on the market from time to time and which don’t offer adequate protection. Also ensure that your helmet fits correctly. It should be snug enough that it won’t come off in the event of an accident, but not too tight that it becomes uncomfortable.
You’ve got the licence, done the training and invested in the bike and some kit. Now it’s time to get legal.
There are a number of legal processes you need to follow before you can get on the road.
When you buy a bike, you’ll have to ensure that it is registered in your name. All mopeds, scooters and motorcycles have a registration document, also known as a V5, which you have to get in your name. If you are buying a new bike, the dealer will sort it all out for you, but if it’s a second hand machine, you will have to fill in the change of keeper section on the V5, which the old owner will then send off to the DVLA. You should keep the receipt section of the V5 until the new document comes through, usually after a week or two.
If your new purchase is over three years old, you will need to ensure it also has a valid MoT test certificate. The MoT is an annual test to ensure that your bike is safe to ride. The MoT transfers between owners, but if your bike doesn’t have one you’ll need to arrange for it to be tested before you can use the bike. It’s also worth remembering that you need to check the condition of your bike anytime you ride it, even if it has a valid MoT certificate.
A legal requirement for all motorists is valid motor insurance. As a minimum, you’ll need Third Party Only insurance for your moped or motorcycle. This will give you cover in case you cause an accident that injures a person or damages their property. Third Party Fire and Theft is the next level of cover and insures you against the bike being stolen or damaged by fire. Fully Comprehensive is the third option, and covers your machine in the event of an accident even if you are at fault. Insurance premiums are calculated on a number of factors, including experience, and being able to build up a no claims bonus can prove beneficial in coming years.
You’ll also need to get road tax for your bike. Also known as vehicle excise duty, this can be done online or at a Post Office once you have valid motorbike insurance and an MoT certificate. Finally, remember to put L plates on your bike. You’re now ready to head out on the highway and enjoy the freedom that your new moped, scooter or motorcycle will bring.