Join LBLogin
london's home of biking

How to get a scooter or bike license

By: Tasha Crook | Published 25 October 2005, 18:42 | Views: 115,847 | tags: the basics, advice, licences, test, scooters, training
With the Mayor, Ken Livingstone putting bus and Tube fairs up in 2006 and extending the Congestion Charge zone. More people than ever, are turning to scooters and motorbikes to get them around the jam packed streets of London. And if that’s not enough, we have the Government making it harder to get into motorcycle riding, with even more tests being brought in for new riders. Is it any wonder, why it feels so confusing, if you want to get on two wheels to know where to start?

Not only is motorcycling one of the most economical ways of getting about, it is also one of the most exciting, pleasurable and satisfying experiences. With motorbikes becoming more powerful and with the increase in the amount of traffic on our roads, it is getting more critical to train riders new and old, about better observation, anticipation, being able to read the road, as well as being prepared for the unexpected actions of other road users. In order to be a safe rider you need to understand that it takes skill, control and practice. But the most important thing is, to make safety your responsibility.

Compulsory Basic Training

The CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) was set up in 1990. It was introduced to reduce the extremely high accident numbers in learner and inexperienced riders. All training schools offering a CBT will have been approved by the DSA (Driving Standards Agency), do check this, before booking any courses. Prior to any learner motorcycle and scooter rider going on the road unaccompanied with L-plates, they must complete a one-day CBT course. This also includes all new car drivers who want to endorse a full moped licence.

You will need to complete CBT if:

• you want to ride a moped (engine not over 50cc with maximum design speed not exceeding 50km/h (approx.31mph)
• you want to ride a motorcycle

If you obtained your car licence before 1 February, 2001 you do not need to complete a CBT to ride a moped, though we would strongly recommend that you still do it, as it provides essential basic training that will be the foundation for your personal saftey when riding a bike.

What does the CBT course involve?

The CBT course involves five elements:

A. introduction
B. practical on-site training
C. practical on-site riding
D. practical on-road training
E. practical on-road riding

These five elements have to be completed in sequence, although the order of the exercises within the element can be varied. You will only move on to the next element when your instructor is satisfied you have learnt the necessary theory and demonstrated the practical skills to a safe basic level. Trainees must, by law, receive a minimum two hour on-road ride in Element E.

Certificate of completion (DL 196)

When all five elements have been satisfactorily completed, a certificate of completion, called the DL196, is issued. This is a legal document which validates the relevant entitlements on your driving licence. It is important that the holder of a DL196 considers the following points:

• A DL196 certificate validating a provisional moped or provisional motorcycle entitlement lasts for two years. CBT will have to be retaken if both theory and practical tests are not passed within the two year certificate life.
• For moped entitlement only, if you pass your car driving test whilst your DL196 is still current or complete a CBT course and obtain a DL196 after passing your car test, the certificate is not subject to expiry. You will therefore need to keep your DL196 certificate safely. Please note that this applies to mopeds only, for riding motorcycles as a learner the DL196 remains valid for two years.

Once you have your certificate you are advised to take additional training to pass your theory and practical tests and qualify for a motorcycle, or moped licence. You must take the DL196 certificate with you when you present for the practical test.

Where and how much?

Only instructors certified by the Driving Standards Agency can teach CBT at an approved training body (ATB). ATBs must have instructors who have successfully completed a two day assessment and have sites approved by DSA for off-road training. The cost for the course varies typically from £70, to around £100. Most ATBs offer the loan of machines and helmets for the course. The cost of CBT may be incorporated into the cost of a full training course that leads to a motorcycle test.


A moped is a motorcycle that has the following features:

• maximum design speed not exceeding 50 km per hour (km/h) (about 31 miles per hour (mph)
• an engine capacity no greater than 50 cc
• it can be moved by pedals, if the moped was first used before 1 September, 1977

You can only hold a provisional moped licence if you are at least 16 years old. It entitles you to ride a moped on the road as a learner with L-plates (D-plates in Wales) but you must not carry a pillion passenger, or go on a motorway. Your provisional licence is only valid when you have the DL 196 certificate issued on completion of compulsory basic training (CBT) by an approved training body (ATB). A CBT certificate obtained on a moped is also valid for motorcycles once the rider has reached the age of 17 years and has the necessary licence.

If you have a full car licence, you are automatically entitled to ride a moped without L-plates (D-plates in Wales) if you obtained your full car licence before 1 February, 2001. If you obtained a full car licence after 1 February, 2001 you must first complete a CBT course and obtain a DL 196 certificate to validate your entitlement.


There are two types of full motorcycle licence to aim for:

• a light motorcycle licence (A1). The A1 licence restricts riders to any motorcycle up to 125 cc and a power output of 11 kW (14.6 brake horse power (bhp). The practical test must be taken on a motorcycle of between 75 cc and 125 cc.
• a standard motorcycle licence (A). The A licence is obtained if the practical test is taken on a motorcycle of over 120 cc but not more than 125 cc and capable of at least 100 km/h (62 miles per hour (mph).

After passing the standard motorcycle practical test you will be restricted for two years to riding a motorcycle of up to 25 kW (33 bhp) and a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16 kW/kg. After the two year restriction period you can ride a motorcycle of any size.

Direct Access scheme (DAS)

Direct Access is a scheme which allows a person over the age of 21 to avoid the two year/25 kW restriction by taking a test on a machine of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). A pass allows you to ride any size of bike. Any instruction given on a machine that exceeds the normal learner motorcycle specification must be supervised at all times by a certified motorcycle instructor who should be in radio contact. You should also wear fluorescent or reflective clothing and follow all other provisional licence restrictions.

Accelerated Access

Riders who reach the age of 21, while still within the two year period where they are restricted to maximum 25 kW (33 bhp) machines, but who wish to ride larger bikes need to pass a further test on a motorcycle of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). They may practise on bikes over 25 kW (33 bhp) under the same practice conditions for direct access riders. You will revert to learner status while practising (on a motorcycle greater than 25 kW (33 bhp)) although test failure will not affect your existing licence.

New Drivers Act

This affects you if you first passed your driving test on or after 1 June, 1997. If you reach six or more penalty points within two years of passing your driving test (i.e. during the probationary period), the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will automatically revoke your driving licence when notified by a court or fixed penalty office.

To regain your full licence you must then:

• obtain a provisional licence
• drive as a learner
• pass the theory and practical test again

Penalty points counting towards the total of six include any you incurred before passing the test, as long as the offence took place not more than three years before the latest penalty point offence. Points imposed after the probationary period will also count if the offence was committed during that period. Passing the retest does not remove penalty points from your licence, and if the total reaches 12, you are liable to be disqualified by a court.

Hazard Perception Test

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has developed a modular, multi-media training resource for the hazard perception test. The resource is available in DVD and VHS video format and is called ‘The official guide to hazard perception’; this was formerly known as ‘Roadsense’. This training resource adopts a structured approach to defining hazards, looking for clues, the ‘mirror- signal- manoeuvre’ routine, scanning and planning, prioritising, cutting down the risks and responding to hazards. The DVD also has a number of interactive, example hazard perception video clips. The hazard perception training material has been developed, not as a ‘teach yourself’ product, but as one where guidance from a professional trainer is essential.

Integrating theoretical hazard perception training into the practical training sessions will ensure that as competence is achieved in each of the necessary skills, they can be strengthened and applied while you are on the road to increase the road safety benefits.

Why was the hazard perception element introduced?

The government is committed to reducing the numbers killed and seriously injured (KSI) on Britain’s roads by 40%, by 2010. The hazard perception element was introduced into the driving test in November 2002 as one of the measures that should help achieve this target by encouraging appropriate training in scanning the road, recognising at the first opportunity from the clues that a potentially dangerous situation might arise and adopting a driving plan to reduce the risk.

New drivers are disproportionately involved in accidents, especially in the first months after passing a driving test. It has been proven that drivers who have taken hazard perception training have much better hazard perception skills. It is also worth pointing out that during the development of this test, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) worked closely with colleagues from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the road safety division of the Department for Transport, both of whom thought this test suitable for testing the hazard awareness skills of all drivers.

Are there separate versions of the hazard perception test for each category?

Recognition of available clues and perception of danger are skills that are necessary in all drivers and riders, irrespective of the vehicle used. For this reason, the same version of the hazard perception test is used for all categories of test.

How does the hazard perception test work?

The hazard perception part is delivered on a computer, and you respond by clicking a button on the mouse. You will be presented with a series of 14 video clips which feature every day road scenes, in each clip there will be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.

To achieve a high score you will need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five. As an example, of how to identify and respond to a developing hazard, consider a parked vehicle on the side of the road. When you first see it, it is not doing anything; it is just a parked vehicle. If you were to respond to the vehicle at this point, you would not score any marks, but you would not lose any marks.

However, when you get closer to the vehicle, you notice that the cars right hand indicator starts to flash. The indicator would lead you to believe that the driver of the vehicle has an intention of moving away, therefore the hazard is now developing and a response at this point would score marks. The indicator coming on is a sign that the parked vehicle has changed its status from a potential hazard into a developing hazard.

When you get closer to the vehicle, you will probably see the vehicle start to move away from the side of the road; another response should be made at this point. Different clips in the test will have various signs to indicate that the hazard is changing its status and is now starting to develop.


The maximum you can score for each developing hazard is five points. If you respond throughout the developing hazard and score different points you will always score the highest number of points i.e. if you react and score five then three then two points you will be awarded five points. You will not be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test; as on the road, you will only have one chance to respond to the developing hazard, so you will need to concentrate throughout each clip.

If you react inappropriately during the video clip by clicking continuously or in a pattern of responses you will score zero for that clip. At the end of the clip a pop-up box will appear informing you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.

Theory Test

You will need to take a theory test if you want a licence for a new category of vehicle, for example, if you have a car licence and you want a motorcycle licence you will need to take a theory test. Once you have been registered at reception you will go through to the test room. You may not take anything into the room with you; all personal items must be stored in the lockers provided.

Once you are in the test room you may not talk to or distract other candidates. The computer screen will display your name and the category of test you are taking. If you have any problems during the theory test, you should raise your hand to attract the attention of the test invigilator.

Preparing for the theory test

The driving theory test has two parts, part one is a multiple choice test of 35 questions and part two is a hazard perception test of 14 video clips in which you will have to identify 15 developing hazards. To prepare for both parts of the theory test we recommend that all candidates, regardless of driving experience, use the resource material available.

With your first theory test booking confirmation letter, DSA send you a CD ROM which you should watch. This explains the process of taking the theory test. To prepare for the multiple choice part of the theory test, there are three books known as the source material, these include The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs, and the relevant vehicle Driving Skills series.

The complete set of theory test questions and answers are also available in book and CD-ROM format. All of these products are available to buy from most high street book shops, they are also available to order over the phone and online through The Stationery Office.


All of this information can be found on the DSA website. Hopefully this article has made things a little clearer for you, especially, if you’re looking to do any part of your motorcycle licence in the near future. Don't let the bulk of information put you off, getting started is very easy, as once you're surrounded by other bikers and people taking their first steps on one, then you'll get all the support you need.

It is also good to talk to someone who has recently completed any of the tests, just so that you have a good idea of what to expect. Also, ask around with your friends which training schools they used, it’s good to go to a reputable school where you know they have a good pass rate. So, what are you waiting for?

Related Links
Government DSA license information
The Highway Code
List of training schools
Motorcycle Theory Test CD-ROM


Leave Your Comment!

» Register now to leave comments! It only takes a few seconds...
David Butcher | 10 December 2009, 22:39
Dear Sir,
With regard the the theory test I found this on the following web site, guide "You now need to take a multiple choice test of about 35 questions lasting about 30-40 minutes. There are plenty of books available to guide you but do your homework ! We known some people take this 4 or 5 times! You are exempted if you already have a full car licence" Is this not true? as you state I still need to take the theory test even if I have a full car lincence.

Would appreaciate your advice.

regards Dave

blur | 30 January 2013, 17:33
you still have to take theory test if youve passed your car test,buy cd " passing our motorbike theory test" has hazard perception on it so u click mouse etc. you take a mock test on your poooter many times as you like me and husband passed ours 1st time after using this

HUNNY11 | 31 May 2014, 20:24
dear sir / madam
I want to get some information regarding bike learning licence, can we apply learning licence with ARC card? ( issued by home office, for asylum seekers)
Our weekly bike-meet at Borough Market Stolen Vehicle Database - help fight bike crime! Like Out Race Photography? Buy Prints Online Then!