Many young people express a want, or a need, to get a motorcycle early in their lives. As with any type of driving, there are a number of stages to pass first, alongside your motorcycle training – here’s what you need to do to get out on the saddle:
The first stage in getting your two wheels on the road is the Compulsory Basic Training course for 16-year-olds and upwards, which is essentially an introduction to using a motorcycle on the road. It’s not a test and you cannot really fail.
You’ll be introduced to the theory of riding, and how to practically operate a vehicle. Unless specified, you’ll be able to use a bike and gear on hire from the training center, which means that you don’t need to worry about damaging it. Once completed, you have two years to move on to the next stage.
As with a car, you’ll be required to take a theory test before the test to obtain your full license – so probably in the two years, after you take the CBT. You’ll need to attend a theory training centre, where you’ll take 50 multiple choice questions; you’ll need 43 correct answers or more to pass. The test costs £25.
There’s a huge range of learning materials online that can help you prepare for the test, and a good way to practice for test conditions is by taking a test online, using sites such as Safe Driving for Life. There is also a hazard perception test, and materials are available online.
There are a number of different practical tests that allow you to ride bikes of varying power. Clearly, riding a 500cc superbike and a 75cc smaller model are two completely different tests, but not everyone wants to ride a bigger bike. For example, passing the A2 test (over the age of 19) allows you to ride a bike with a power limit and power to weight ratio restriction. Should you then wish to progress, two years later you can take a full test.
That full test consists of two modules; module one needs to be passed before you can take module two. The first module is taken off-road, as it measures your ability to react and maneuver the bike in more prescriptive situations. For example, you should demonstrate an ability to ride in a figure of eight, perform a u-turn, or take specific types of corners. Each of these movements should be performed as if they are on the road, in a realistic situation.
Module 2 takes place on-road, via a radio link with an examiner, who will be following and looking to see evidence of safe driving, to include starting and stopping. As you ride, you’ll be assessed for minor faults (ten of these equals a failure) or major faults (one equals failure). Before you ride off you’ll take an eye test from a distance of 20 meters (new plates) and asked two safety questions known as ‘show me, tell me’. You’ll be told on the day if you’ve passed or failed.
If you’re over the age of 24 (or have held your A2 for two years) you can ride a category A bike through a direct access course. This four-day course allows you to ride any bike at all, without taking the ‘lower’ tests already. It lasts around four days, but riders who pick things up quickly can sometimes do it in less time.
No matter the route you take, these tests are designed to prepare you for riding a high-powered and mobile vehicle – one which will hopefully give you years of pleasure.