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UK Motorbike licence basics

Posted by Sue Barker on Sunday, March 17, 2019 Under: Guest Motorcycle Articles
Getting a motorbike licence can be a bit complicated. The process involves several steps that must be accomplished in sequence and within a prescribed time frame. The basic requirements are described below.

Provisional Motorbike Licence

The initial requirements for operating a motorcycle on public roads are that the rider is 17 years or older, has a DL196 certificate of CBT completion, and has a driving licence that permits operation of motorcycles on at least a provisional basis. Either a provisional driving licence or a full car or moped license provides the requisite provisional motorbike entitlement.

Provisional motorbike licence entitlement permits a rider (after completing Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), discussed below) to operate a bike up to 125cc or with a power output limited to 11kW. Riders with provisional motorbike licences must display "L" plates ("D" plates in Wales), and must not carry a pillion passenger or ride on motorways.

CBT - Compulsory Basic Training

The CBT requirement began in 1990 to reduce accidents among beginning riders. The CBT course has five components: an introductory segment, practical training on site, practical riding on site, practical training on the road, and practical riding on the road. Each component must be completed in order, and the road-riding component must last at least two hours. A DL196 (Certificate of Completion) is issued to riders upon successful completion of the CBT course. It is a prerequisite to operating a motorbike on the road and taking the practical test. The DL196 is valid for two years. Both the Motorbike Theory Test and Motorbike Practical Test must be passed within this period. Otherwise, the rider must complete the CBT course again to obtain another DL196.

The Motorbike Theory Test

The next step is to take and pass the Motorbike Theory Test. This is a computer-based test that is comprised of two parts. The rider must pass both parts in order to receive the motorcycle theory test certificate that is needed to take the practical test. Riders failing to pass the motorbike practical test within two years will have to take the theory test again.

The Motorbike Practical Test

The practical test has two sections. Both must be passed to obtain a full motorbike licence. The first section (Module 1) is done off the road, and involves prescribed manoeuvring requirements such as swerving, making U-turns, controlling the bike at low speed, and stopping. The remaining segment (Module 2) is a road test that also includes a vision check and questions concerning safety issues. Once riders pass the practical test they can receive their full motorbike licence, no longer need L plates, and may ride with pillion passengers and on motorways.

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