Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 9th December 2019

Top five… answers to questions motorcyclists always wanted to know (but were too afraid to ask)

Motorcycling is a wonderful way to get around but with just over a million licenced bikes on the road we are very much in the minority of British road users.

As a result, we can sometimes feel some ambiguity when it comes to rules for motorbike riders on the road.

In a bid to demystify some of these commonly asked questions, we’ve taken a look at five subjects motorcyclists frequently find unclear and do our best to answer them.

Do I need to take the CBT when I have a full car licence?

This is pretty simple and the answer is ‘yes’.

A full car licence automatically provides provisional motorcycle entitlement but you MUST complete the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before you can take to the road.

To all intents and purposes the rules for car licence holders and provisional licence holders are no different. To take to the road, you must take the CBT – after which you are able to ride an A1 licence bike (typically a 125) on L plates. You won’t be able to carry a pillion or use motorways, regardless of whether you have a full car licence or not. Also remember that the CBT has a validity of just two years, so if you want to continue riding after that time, you’ll either need to pass a full test or redo the CBT.

Is it legal to filter through traffic?

In short, yes!

Filtering (or lane splitting as it is called in America) is the name given to riding down the middle of stationary (or slow moving) cars.

Despite what many car drivers may think, filtering is perfectly legal if done in a responsible manner. Riders are obliged to carry out filtering in a safe and responsible manner. Safety is arguably a matter for the police to decide, but it is fair to say that flying down the middle of stationary cars at 60mph is NOT safe, but riding alertly at 15mph most probably is.

At what age can children ride as pillion passengers?

This is a commonly asked question, to which there is no exact answer.

The law states that the passenger must be able to sit astride the bike with their feet on the footrests, and able to hold on properly. In theory that means it’s more down to the height of the rider and the ergonomics of the bike. 

The pillion also needs to wear a helmet (and should wear full safety gear) and, of course, the rider must have the appropriate licence and motorbike insurance cover to carry a passenger.

Can I get a licence only to ride automatics?

Yes, although there are not many automatic motorcycles on the road there are some (mainly scooters, electric bikes and Honda’s DCT models). 

Just as passing your car test in an automatic car means you won’t be able to drive a manual, so the situation is the same on a motorcycle. You can pass your test on an automatic (or semi-automatic) bike but, if you do, you’ll be restricted to an auto.

It’s also worth noting that, for various reasons, not all bikes are eligible to take a test. Most A1 and A2 bikes are, but you can see the full list on the Governments website

Can I go into the cross hatch area separating lanes?

This is another frequently asked question, with many motorcyclists using these areas for overtakes and to ride slowly down the outside of queuing traffic.

The law states that if the areas of diagonal stripes or chevrons is bordered by a solid white line then you should not enter the area, except in an emergency.

If the border is a broken white line then you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and that you can see that it is safe to do so.