Starting out motorcycling
WHAT LICENCE DO I NEED TO GET STARTED ?
Regardless of the style of licence you must have provisional motorcycle (category A) entitlement on there with valid dates.
If you are already qualified to drive a car and have the more recent licence you'll find confirmation of your provisional entitlements on the back.
If you haven't passed your car test and you only have a provisional licence then check the back of the photo card for your provisional (category A) entitlement.
DO I NEED TO SIT A THEORY TEST ?
No, not if you only want to complete the CBT course: everything you need to achieve the certificate will be given on the day.
As part of any test training for a full licence whether A1, A2 or full A licence you must sit a Motorcycle Theory Test. You can book this directly with the Driving Standards Agency at www.gov.uk/book-a-driving-theory-test or on 0300 200 1122.
DO I HAVE TO LEARN ON A BIKE WITH MANUAL GEARS ?
Definitely not you could complete your CBT on a Honda SH125 scooter and then your full A licence on a Honda NC750DCT with automatic gears. In both instances your licence will be restricted to automatic models only.
Frankly if all you want to do is ride a scooter (big or small) or a bike with automatic clutch then there is no reason to learn to ride a bike with a manual clutch and manual gearbox if you don't want to.
WHAT TEST SHOULD I DO ?
If you only want to ride a 125cc or less on L-plates then you'll only need a CBT It's valid for 2 years once completed whereupon you can simply do the course again.
If you want to ride a bigger bike or any bike without L-plates then you'll need to do a test.
There was a lot made of the licence changes but in reality it's not that complicated. The DSA simply want everyone under the age of 24 to get a bit of experience before they get on a bike with a lot of power. Although not massively popular a decision in truth it makes a lot of sense.
Ultimately you should do the test relevant to the bike you want to ride; there's no point doing the full A category test if all you want to do is ride a 125cc bike without L plates regardless of your age.
In most instances the the biggest thing to consider is most likely your age at least with regards what you can qualify yourself to ride:
You're 16 years old: You can complete the CBT and ride up to 50cc moped on L-plates that doesn't exceed 28 mph.
You're 17 years old: You can complete the CBT and ride up to 14.6 bhp on learner plates for two years.
If you want to remove the L-plates straight away then you could also take your A1 test immediately.
When the two years are complete you could sit your test (you could then do the A2 test up to 46.6bhp as you've turned 19) OR complete another CBT course and get another two years on a 125cc displaying L plates.
You're 19 years old: You can complete the CBT and can then ride up to 14.6 bhp on learner plates for two years; or you can go on and immediately to learn to ride a bike up to 46.6bhp (A2 licence). Once you've passed your A2 test you can ride anything up to 46.6bhp without displaying L-plates.
Once you have two years post-test experience you could then sit the A category test early (usually you have to be 24 or older) and get a full unrestricted licence.
You've already turned 24: Motorcycling is all yours. You too must complete the CBT first which gets you on a bike up to 14.6 bhp on learner plates for two years but you can also choose to qualify for either A2 or A category licence immediately.
All of the tests beyond CBT require you also complete the theory test once you’ve passed that it’s valid for two years:
Okay so you know the power restrictions but what can you actually ride?
The following isn't an exclusive list, but should give you an idea
A1 category up to 14.6bhp: Honda Vision 110, PCX125, SH125, CBF125 or the MSX125
A2 category up to 46.6bhp: any of the above, plus CRF250M, CRF250L, CBR300R, CB500F, CB500R, CB500X
A Category unrestricted: any of the above, plus CB650F, CBR650R, NC750, VFR800 and so on.
You've read all of that and you're not sure what the quickest way is to a full unrestricted licence for your age?
16 years old: 2 CBTs (one at 16, another at 18) one A2 test at 19 and one A test at 21.
17 years old: 1 CBT, one A2 test at 19, one A test at 21.
19 years old: CBT, one A2 test immediately, one A1 test two years later.
22 years old: CBT, one A test at 24.
24+ years old: CBT, one A test immediately.