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Learning to ride


What licence do I need to learn to ride a moped or motorcycle?

Unless you already hold a car licence, you will need to apply for a provisional licence. You can apply for your provisional licence when you are at least 15 years and 9 months old. Ensure that you use the official Government website to apply. Once you have received your provisional licence, you must complete compulsory basic training (CBT) before you are able to ride on the road.  

What you can ride will depend on your age and what training you have received. The Government website has a flowchart to help you to determine what vehicles you are entitled to ride.

What are the different types of motorcycle licence?

There are four categories of motorcycle licence; AM; A1; A2; A. Each category has different entitlements.

 Motorcycle licences

What is Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)?

Compulsory Basic training (CBT) is a course that you usually have to take before riding a moped or motorbike on the road.
CBT has five elements:

  1. Introduction and eyesight test

  2. Practical on-site training

  3. Practical on-site riding

  4. Practical on-road training

  5. Practical on-road riding

It is not a test that you pass or fail; you move from one section to the next when the instructor is satisfied that you have learnt the necessary theory and demonstrated the practical skills to a safe basic level.

Once you have completed the training, you will need to display L plates (L or D plates in Wales) while riding.

How do I book my CBT?

You can book your CBT  directly with a motorcycle training school. You can find your local training providers using the Government website.

The training school sets the course price and can ask you to share your driving licence information with them.

Your CBT is valid for two years. After this, you either have to pass the full motorcycle test to gain your licence or complete your CBT again.

What will I need to take to my CBT?

To prepare for your CBT, you will need to have basic knowledge of road signs and the Highway Code.

You will need to take your licence to your CBT training course.

You must wear:
  • a motorcycle helmet

  • motorcycle boots or other sturdy footwear

  • motorcycle or heavy denim trousers

  • motorcycle or heavy denim jacket

  • motorcycle gloves.

You cannot ride your own moped or motorcycle to the training centre unless you are taking your CBT again before your current certificate expires.

What can I ride after completing my CBT?

After you have completed your CBT you can ride a:

  • moped if you’re aged 16 or over

  • motorbike up to 125cc, or with a power output of 11kW if you’re aged 17 or over.

You must ride with L plates (L or D plates in Wales) displayed on your moped or motorcycle once you have completed  your CBT until you have passed your full test.

CBT is a basic course, and so you should consider taking additional training with a professional motorcycle instructor before riding on the road on your own.

Where do I put L (L or D) plates on a moped or motorcycle?

You are legally required to display L plates on the front and rear of your moped or motorcycle on completion of your CBT. They must be full size and as close to upright as possible.

What can I do after my CBT?

The CBT entitlement lasts for two years. After two years, you either have to take it again or you can progress towards another category of motorcycle licence. RoSPA recommends that after your CBT you invest in extra training to develop your skills as a motorcyclist. You can develop these skills throughout your learning period; ensure that you have training with professionals.

How do I gain a full motorcyle licence?

Once you have completed your CBT and gained more practical experience of riding on the road, you can start to think about obtaining your full motorcycle licence. The first step will be to take the motorcycle theory test. You can find your closest test centre on the Government website.

You will need to have lessons with a training school to help guide you and improve your skills. RoSPA recommends taking frequent, and regular professional lessons during your learning period.

The process to obtain your full licence is as follows:

  1. Theory test – split into two parts

    1. Motorbike theory test

    2. Hazard perception test

  2. Pass Module 1 (off road) motorbike practical test

  3. Pass Module 2 (on-road) motorbike practical test

  4. Upgrade your licence to full or restricted licence. The licence is only valid for the sub-category of motorcycle on which you passed your module 2 test.


What's the difference between a full and restricted licence?


Differences between restricted and full licence

What motorbike(s) can I ride?




AM   A1 A2 A





19; Held full A1 licence for more than 2 years

21-23 (Progressive access); held full A2 licence for more than
2 years

24+ (Direct access)

Max speed

28 mph

60 mph

28 mph

Legal limit of the road you're on

Legal limit of the road you're on

Legal limit of the road you're on

Legal limit of the road you're on

Engine size





No restriction

No restriction

No restriction

Power output

4 kW

11 kW

4 kW

11 kW

35 kW

You can ride a motorbike of any size

You can ride a motorbike of any size

How do you get a licence

Provisional licence and take CBT course

Provisional licence and take CBT course

Pass theory test, then two part practical test on a moped no more than 50cc or 4 kW

A1 with L plates until CBT expires then pass test and two part practical test on a bike between 120cc and 125cc and not exceeding 11 kW

Full A1 licence for less than 2 years or valid CBT, pass motorcycle theory test, then as below

Full A1 licence for more than 2 years; pass 2 part practical test on a bike at least 245cc (between 20 - 35 kW). You must pass module 2 within 6 months of passing module 1

Full A2 licence for more than 2 years; pass 2 part practical test on a bike at least 595cc and 50 kW with min kerb weight of 180kg. You must pass module 2 within 6 months of passing module 1

Full A2 licence for less than 2 years or valid CBT; pass motorcylce theory test then as below.

Full A2 licence for more than 2 years; pass 2 part practical test on a bike at least 245cc (between 20 - 35 kW). You must pass module 2 within 6 months of passing module 1

Result of passing

Can ride mopeds up to 50cc with L plates

Can ride a motorcycle of up to 125cc with

Can ride mopeds up to 50cc without L plates

Can ride any motorcycle up to 125cc (or 11 kW) without L plates

You can ride any motorcycle not exceeding 35 kW

You can ride a motorbike of any size

You can ride a motorbike of any size

Length of licence

2 years

2 years

No restriction

No restriction

No restriction

No restriction

No restriction

Can I carry passengers?








Can I ride on motorways?








Further training

AM Licence

AM Licence

A1 licence
when 17

A2 licence
when 19

A when 23

Advanced Training

Advanced Training


If you’re still unsure about what machine(s) you can ride, follow the Government website advice.

What is the difference between direct access and progressive access?

To obtain your full motorcycle licence, you can take what is known as a direct access or progressive access route.

Can I carry passengers?

Carrying passengers on your bike is a different skill to riding a bike on your own. If you only have a provisional motorcycle licence, you are not allowed to carry a pillion passenger.

If you are entitled to carry passengers, you will need to consider whether there is adequate seating space and footrests.

Is there a minimum age for a pillion passenger?

There is no minimum legal age for a pillion passenger, but you need to make sure that they are wearing the correct protective clothing, they are able to reach the footrests and are able to hold on to the grab rail or driver at all times.

I ride a motorbike for work. What do I need to know?

Legally, employers must treat riding for work in the same way as any other health and safety risk. All employers should prioritise rider safety and encourage training and development to help employees stay safe.

If you ride for work, your employer must ensure that you are:

  • Legally entitled to ride the vehicle

  • Properly trained

  • Competent

  • Fit to ride safely.

For more information about riding for work with a focus on the gig economy, you can read RoSPA’s Driving and Riding for Work in the Gig Economy guide, which provides advice on  you and your employer’s responsibilities, maintaining and loading your bike, and rider safety.
The Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ScORSA) helps businesses to manage road safety, regularly hosting webinars on key road safety issues at work, including a recent session which discussed powered two wheelers and riding for work.

Should I get post-test training?

A good rider never stops learning. Post-test training can help to improve your riding skills, increasing your confidence and enjoyment whilst reducing your chances of being in a crash. RoSPA strongly recommends that motorcyclists seek out post-test training to improve the safety of themselves and others.

Extra training can significantly improve your ride by helping you to:

  • Get a superior reading of the road by improving your observation skills

  • Always be in the right position through enhanced planning

  • Know how to corner safely to keep your ride smooth and stable

  • Understand when and how to brake and accelerate safely

  • Avoid potholes and other surprises.

Where can I find post-test training?

RoSPA offers post-test training under the RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders (RoADAR) scheme. RoADAR’s aim is to reduce crashes by encouraging an interest in road safety and by improving driving and riding standards, knowledge and skill. In order to do this, RoADAR has around 55 local groups that can provide training to help you improve your riding skills and prepare you to take an Advanced Test.

To find out more about RoADAR, you can visit via the website or call the team on 0121 248 2099.

You can also click here to find a RoADAR group local to you.

Many other major organisations also offer post-test training. Officially launched in spring 2022, the Elite Rider Hub is a motorcycle training portal that contains carries details of all key providers, backed by key motorcycling organisations including RoSPA and the Department for Transport. There is also information about rider training in Scotland on our Better Bikers page.

RoSPA also offers a Level 2 Award in Advanced Riding. This four-day course aims to help qualified riders to develop their skills to an advanced level, which in turn can reduce their risk of being involved in a crash on the road. RoSPA’s Motorcycle Training webpage can be found here, and the Level 2 Award can be found here.

Enhanced Rider Scheme

The Enhanced Rider Scheme provides training to help fully licensed riders to continue to develop their riding skills and enjoy their riding more. There is no test at the end of the training.

The scheme is suitable for riders who:

  • Have just passed their test

  • Are returning to riding after a break

  • Are upgrading to a more powerful motorcycle

  • Want to check their riding standard

It starts with a rider assessment with an expert trainer in different road and traffic conditions.

The ride is usually one to two hours, long enough for the trainer to make a good assessment of the rider's skills. If the ride shows the rider does not need more training, they will get a 'Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency certificate of competence'. Otherwise, the rider will receive personalised training to improve their skills. The training will depend on what the rider needs to brush up on, and might be an all-day course or a shorter session. Once the rider has successfully completed the training, they will get the 'DVSA certificate of competence'.

Many motorcycle insurers offer discounts to riders with the DVSA certificate of competence.

Further details of the Enhanced Rider Scheme, including how to find your nearest enhanced rider scheme trainer', are available here


BikeSafe is a police-led scheme designed to improve rider's skills, knowledge and hazard awareness, and make riding safer and more enjoyable. A BikeSafe Observer assesses the rider and gives them feedback, highlighting areas where they can develop their skills.

BikeSafe often bridges the gap between passing the motorcycle test and moving on to advanced motorcycle training.

Biker Down

Biker Down is a free training course run by bikers for bikers. The course is aimed at motorcyclists of all ages and levels of experience. The course offers people the chance to learn practical skills to help avoid being involved in a crash, as well as essential first-aid training and advice on what to do should they find themselves first on the scene of a crash where someone is injured. The course uses the expertise of the Emergency Services and Road Safety Officers to prepare motorcyclists should the worst happen on the roads.

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