The past few years have seen the emergence of a new class of motorcycle – called A2.
Introduced in January 2014, the A2 licence is designed to help young riders graduate to bigger bikes in a stepped and responsible manner. From the age of 17, you’ll be restricted to a 125 but from 19 to 23 you can ride an A2 bike, which has a maximum power output of 47bhp and a minimum weight of 175kg.
They are not just for inexperienced riders, as A2 licence bikes make great day-to-day rides – especially in the city. What bikes you can ride can be confusing though, so to try and make sense of it, we’ve compiled this A-Z of the A2…
A is for… Aprilia. The Piaggio owned company is best known for it’s tiny 125cc sportsbikes and 1000cc fire breathers, but somewhere in between there are a range of bikes that can be ridden on an A2 licence with a restriction kit fitted. If you’re new to the game, perhaps the 850cc Mana could be one to consider. It’s a pretty rare sight on UK roads but has a loyal following and one big attraction to novice riders – it’s an automatic. With its scooter style twist and go transmission, the Mana is really simple to ride – although the V-twin engine and auto ‘box does make it pretty heavy at 234kg.
B is for… BMW. BMW’s new G310 series is an example of a new generation of bikes developed especially for the A2 rider. At £4900, the G310GS has been designed to get young riders into the BMW brand at a young age.
C is for… CB500. Honda’s CB500 range was developed specifically to meet A2 licence regulations. With the X (adventure), R (sport) and F (naked) styles, there’s a CB500 to meet most tastes.
D is for… Ducati. A Ducati you can ride on an A2 licence? It’s true! Ducati introduced the 400cc Scrambler Sixty2 for just that purpose. You can also get restrictor kits for some earlier air-cooled Monsters and SS models, if you fancy something a bit sportier.
E is for… European Union. The current ‘progressive’ licence scheme is a result of the snappily titled European Driving Licence Directive 2006/126/EC. It brought the UK into line with other EU member states when introduced in January 2014.
F is for… Fail. We all hope it won’t happen, but there is a chance you won’t pass your test. If that is the case, you can still ride a 125 on a provisional licence until such time as you get that all important pass certificate.
G is for… Guzzi. Want a classically styled bike to ride on an A2 licence? The latest Moto Guzzi V7 is as traditional as they come, but has been designed to come right in on the 47bhp power limit and oozes big bike class as well as authentic classic charm.
H is for… Harley-Davidson. You can be the king of bling on a Harley at just 19 years old. With a sub £6,000 price tag and an option to restrict the power to 47bhp, even models from the iconic American brand can be ridden by new and young bikers.
I is for… Indian. Anything Harley can do, Indian can do at least as good. Last summer the other American heritage brand announced an A2 version of its 999cc Scout Sixty, a good looking and fine riding cruiser that costs £8999 new.
J is for… Jackets. And helmets, and boots, and gloves. It goes without saying that buying the right gear is just as important as buying the right bike. Buy the best you can afford and look after it. It’s not just there to protect you, but to keep you warm and dry when the weather turns bad.
K is for… KTM. Austrian manufacturer KTM has been one of the key players in the A2 class over the past few years, with the 373cc single cylinder powerplant in the faired RC390 sportsbike and the aggressively styled 390 Duke roadster. With tough looks and lively performance, it’s little wonder these are popular choices with young riders.
L is for… Licence. There’s a three step process to getting your driving licence. Before you do your practical test, you’ll be required to do a theory test and the compulsory basic training (CBT). Once you’ve done that, you can ride on the road on a 125cc bike on L Plates. If you want to practice on an A2 bike, you’ll need to be accompanied by an approved riding instructor.
M is for… Motorsports. You wouldn’t automatically think about racing these A2 licence bikes, but new for 2017 is the World Supersport300 Championship – a support class at world superbikes. Open to the KTM RC 390, Kawasaki Ninja 300, Yamaha YZF-R3 and Honda CBR500R, it’s aimed at being a development series for aspiring racers aged 15 and over.
N is for… New Riders. If you want to go straight to an A2 bike and bypass riding a 125, you’ll need to be with a training school to go out on the road. Unless you have a fair bit of riding or driving experience, you should bank on between 28-50 hours of practice before taking your test, at a cost of between £500-£1000.
O is for… Old Banger. Or a pristine classic. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a bike, there are plenty of 1990s bikes you can pick up for a song and have fitted with a restrictor kit. Think Honda CBR600F, Suzuki Bandit 600 and Yamaha FZR600 for starters.
P is for… Piaggio. The three-wheeled MP3 is a bit of a rarity in Britain, but they are positively everywhere in France and Italy. It’s a scooter with two wheels at the front and one at the rear, making it extremely stable and difficult to fall off. With a 400 or 500cc engine, you can ride it on an A2 licence. They make a lot of sense in the city, as the narrow width means they can cut through traffic. The Met Police even use them in London.
Q is for… Quirky. Fancy something a little bit different upon which to serve your two year A2 apprenticeship? How about a three-wheeled Gilera Fuoco or a Husqvarna supermotard? Great talking points, if you can find one!
R is for… Restrictor. It is possible to have a restrictor kit fitted to second hand bikes to make it A2 licence eligible. Because the law states that the bike can only be restricted by a maximum of 50%, the most powerful unrestricted bike you can start with is 70kw/93bhp. The same power to weight ratios that apply to new bikes must also be adhered to and you’ll have to provide official proof (for example from a dealership) to say that the work has been carried out if you wish to ride it on a bike test. Unlike new bikes, you can also derestrict these bikes when you have a full licence.
S is for… Street Triple S. Fancy Triumph’s awesome new Street Triple but only have an A2 licence? Don’t worry, the British factory could have the bike of your dreams as they are building a dedicated A2 version of their new-for-2017 middleweight, complete with its own 660cc engine.
T is for… Test. To get your licence, you’ll need to pass the CBT (compulsory basic training) and theory test, before taking the practical test. Beware if you plan to take the test on your own bike though, as not all A2 licence legal bikes are eligible to do the test on. It’ll need to at least 395cc and make at least 33bhp, ruling out the 300cc class supersport bikes.
U is for… upgrading. If you’re between 19 and 23, you’ll be restricted to an A2 licence, but you don’t automatically need to wait until 24 to get onto a bigger bike. Once you’ve held a licence for two years you can upgrade to a full licence, or A category as it is officially known, by taking module one and module two of the direct access test.
V is for… V-Strom 250. Fancy a practical everyday ride with some authentic adventure bike styling? Suzuki’s soon to be on sale V-Strom 250 doesn’t come close to meeting the A2 licence’s 47bhp upper capacity but few bikes look as ‘full-sized’ as this, and it promises to be cheap to run too.
W is for… weight limit. To meet A2 licence restrictions, your bike must weigh a minimum of 175kg and have a power to weight ratio of not more than 0.2kW/kilogram, ruling out lightweight sportsbikes as A2 licence machines.
X is for… X-MAX 400. It’s not just motorcycles that can be ridden on an A2 licence. If you fancy a big twist and go scooter, there are plenty of options out there that meet the requirements, including the super practical X-MAX 400, which offers a great combination of practicality (with space for two full-face helmets under the seat) and enough performance for motorway riding.
Y is for… Yamaha. There are plenty of geared bike options in the Yamaha range. You could buy a restricted version of one of the brilliant MT-07s, but for sportsbike fans the YZF-R3 is a great fun little bike that’s agile and easy on petrol.
Z is for… Zero. Californian electric bike brand Zero’s entire range meets the A2 power and weight requirements, but there’s a kicker. Because electric bikes make so much torque, a Zero has more pulling power than a 1000cc sportsbike. With 146Nm of torque (a Suzuki GSX-R1000 has 118Nm) the Zero offers insane acceleration to go with it’s economical (and ecological) running. Charge it up overnight and you’ll get up to a claimed 200 mile range for a few quid’s worth of electricity. And there’s a £1500 Government grant towards the purchase price. It’s the future, today.
This article is for guidance only. Regulations are updated regularly, so always check current licence legislation and bike eligibility before committing to any purchase.
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