How to get a motorcycle license in Dorset

Rider on red Honda motorbike

With the lockdown, many of us have more time to focus on our hobbies and interests. If you’re anything like me and are always on the lookout for new and exciting things to do, riding a motorcycle may have come across your mind.

A quick Google search will reveal a mountain of information. However, you will quickly come across some confusing terms, different age bands and different categories within the motorcycle license.

Through our own experiences and with the help of some instructors, we have compiled this article to explain the basics and get you rolling in the right direction.

Different motorcycles licenses

First of all, you will find that there are various categories of motorcycle license.

To someone who’s completely new to motorbikes, you may not know how insanely fast motorbikes are. Entry-level motorbikes can be 3 or 4 times faster than entry-level cars when it comes to acceleration.

The reason for the different categories is to restrict individuals of various ages to certain power outputs in an attempt to reduce the dangers caused by inexperienced riders, but also to decrease the danger to them.

Here’s a breakdown…

16 years old and over

If you’re 16 years old or above, and hold a provisional driving license (apply for this on GOV.UK), you can go ahead and complete what’s known as a CBT – Compulsory Basic Training.

A CBT isn’t a test as such, but more of an introduction to operating and riding a motorcycle. These CBTs are run by instructors and riding schools throughout the UK, and a CBT certificate is required in order for you to ride any type of motorbike on UK roads, as well as for any further motorbike tests.

Although it isn’t a test, you do need to prove that you can ride a motorcycle competently by the end of the test in order to receive the certificate. Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult and your instructor will do their best to help you with every step.

Here’s a quick video with more information about the CBT:

With a CBT certificate, you can ride a 50cc moped.

17 to 20 years old

With a provisional driving license or a car license, you can complete a CBT, as well as the motorcycle theory test and A1 motorcycle test.

Passing the motorcycle theory and practical test will allow you to ride bikes up to 125cc. However, you will need to display L plates at all times, cannot ride on motorways or take pillions (passengers) on your motorbike.

19 to 20 years old

Covering some of the ’17 to 20 years old’ group from above, this group is slightly different. If you are 19 – 20 and have held your A1 motorcycle license for over 2 years, you can complete the A2 motorcycle tests.

If you haven’t held your A1 license for 2 years, you will need to follow the 17 – 20 group steps (above).

The two A2 license tests will allow you to take off your L plates, ride on motorways and carry a pillion on your A2 bike.

On top of this, you can now ride much more powerful motorbikes that fall into the A2 category. This includes bikes that:

  • produce no more than 35kW of power; or
  • produce up to 70kW of power, but are restricted down to below 35kW.

You cannot ride a motorbike which has to be restricted by more than 50% in order to produce 35kW of power.

The A2 bikes group covers a huge amount of motorbikes, including the previously-mentioned mopeds, as well as roadsters, cruisers and other high displacement bikes that have engines as large as 1500cc. Crazy!

At this point, there are still a few bikes which you cannot ride. However, you will not be running out of options. Even highly experienced riders own A2 bikes, because with less power also come other benefits, such as fuel efficiency and handling. But don’t be fooled, there are plenty of fast A2 bikes out there!

All of these numbers are very confusing. However, the reality is that your motorbike instructor will be able to help you find an A2 bike. On top of this, there are plenty of sites out there that tell you which motorbikes you can ride.

If you’re getting started on a budget, here’s a great article covering the 10 best A2 bikes under £2,000.

Here are some videos of the Module 1 and Module 2 tests that are part of the A2 bike test. Module 1:

and module 2:

21 to 23 years old

If you’re new to riding and are 21 to 23 years old, you’ll land in the A2 bike category when learning to ride. Following the completion of your CBT and motorcycle theory test, you will need to take the A2 category motorcycle practical tests.

This will result in the same restrictions as the group above (up to 35kW of power, or up to 70kW if restricted down to 35kW).

If you are 21 to 23 years old, but have held your A2 license for over 2 years, you will be able to take the full category A license tests. This will allow you to ride any road-legal motorcycle without power restrictions; whether that’s a moped, or the world’s fastest production motorcycle in the world.

24 years or older

As long as you have completed your CBT and theory test, you can take the full category A motorcycle tests. This will allow you to ride any motorcycle without worrying about any of the above-mentioned restrictions.

Motorcycle training schools in Dorset

Whether you need to take your CBT, start training or approach any of the practical tests, you will need a motorcycle instructor or training school. Thankfully, there are plenty in Dorset!

For your search, we would recommend A2 Motorbikes, again! On their site, you’ll find a ‘Training Schools’ tab, where you can search for schools in your area. Here’s a link to some of the main motorcycle training schools in Dorset.

Motorcycle training instructor

Motorcycle insurance

Just like cars, you will need to insure your motorbike in order to ride it legally on UK roads. Based on experiences of the instructors we spoke to, online research and feedback from actual motorbike riders, we have concluded that one of the best motorcycle insurers is Lexham Insurance.

Lexham Insurance is affordable and will guide you through the process, whether you’re new or experienced to riding. We decided to speak to them as though we were completely new, and were pleased to learn that they were happy to offer some very valuable guidance about motorbikes.

As with cars, the higher power and more expensive the bike, the higher the insurance bill. It’s always worth looking at some smaller engine bikes, such as A2 bikes, to build up a year or two of no claims bonus. This little trick can lead to reducing your motorbike insurance premium from £100 per month or more, down to £10 per month.

Motorcycle MOT in Dorset

One other key factor to consider is your MOT. Just like you need insurance, you’ll also need to hold a valid MOT certificate for your bike.

Once again, we have turned to A2 Motorbikes for this one. You’ll be glad to know that there are tens of MOT stations that provide motorcycle MOT tests.

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