Rules for motorcyclists
General guidanceMotorcycle licence requirements
On all journeys, the rider and pillion passenger on a motorcycle, scooter or moped MUST wear a protective helmet. This does not apply to a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban. Helmets MUST comply with the Regulations and they MUST be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motor tricycles and quadricycles, also called quadbikes, should also wear a protective helmet. Before each journey check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition.
Laws RTA 1988 sects 16 & 17 & MC(PH)R as amended reg 4
It is also advisable to wear eye protectors, which MUST comply with the Regulations. Scratched or poorly fitting eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly in bright sunshine and the hours of darkness. Consider wearing ear protection. Strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision.
Laws RTA sect 18 & MC(EP)R as amended reg 4
You MUST NOT carry more than one pillion passenger who MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests. You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger unless your motor cycle is designed to do so. Provisional licence holders MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger.
Laws RTA 1988 sect 23, MV(DL)R 1999 reg 16(6) & CUR 1986 reg 102
Daylight riding. Make yourself as visible as possible from the side as well as the front and rear. You could wear a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips. Dipped headlights, even in good daylight, may also make you more conspicuous. However, be aware that other vehicle drivers may still not have seen you, or judged your distance or speed correctly, especially at junctions.
Highway Code - Rule 86 Help Yourself To Be Seen
Riding in the dark. Wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility in the dark. These reflect light from the headlamps of other vehicles, making you visible from a longer distance. See Rules 113–116 for lighting requirements.
Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.
Remember: Observation – Signal – Manoeuvre.
Motorcycle licence requirements
If you have a provisional motorcycle licence, you MUST satisfactorily complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course. You can then ride a motorcycle up to 125 cc with a power output not exceeding 11 kW on the public road, with L plates (in Wales either D plates, L plates or both can be used), for up to two years. Under direct access you can practise on a motorcycle that exceeds 125 cc provided that:
you meet the minimum age for the category concerned
you’re accompanied at all times by a qualified approved trainer, who is on another motorcycle and in radio contact with you
fluorescent or reflective safety clothing is worn during supervision
red L plates (D plates in Wales) are fitted and provisional licence restrictions followed.
Law MV(DL)R regs 16 & 68
A1 motorcycle licence: At age 17 or over, you take a test on a motorcycle without sidecar of between 120 and 125 cc. If you pass you may ride a motorcycle up to 125 cc with power output up to 11 kW, or a motor tricycle with power not exceeding 15 kW.
A2 motorcycle licence: At age 19 or over, you take a test on a motorcycle without sidecar of at least 395 cc with a power output of at least 25 kW but not exceeding 35 kW. If you pass, you may ride any motorcycle not exceeding 35 kW and with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2 kW/kg.
Full A motorcycle licence: Test taken on a motorcycle without sidecar, of at least 595 cc and an engine power of at least 40 kW. This gives you full access to all motorcycles and motor tricycles. You obtain a category A licence by taking progressive access from age 21, or under the direct access scheme from age 24.
Category A under progressive access: You can take a category A practical test at age 21 if you already have an A2 licence that you’ve held for a minimum of two years. You don’t need to take another theory test or hold a CBT certificate.
Category A under direct access: This is for riders aged 24 or over. To obtain a category A licence you must
successfully complete a CBT course
pass the motorcycle theory test
pass the practical motorcycle test.
You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger or pull a trailer until you have passed your test. Also see Rule 253 covering vehicles prohibited from motorways.
Law MV(DL)R reg 16
Moped licence requirements
A moped MUST have an engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc, not weigh more than 250kg and be designed to have a maximum speed not exceeding 28mph (45 km/h). Before June 2003 a licence allowed the riding of mopeds up to 50km/h.
To ride a moped, learners MUST
be 16 or over
have a provisional moped licence
complete CBT training.
You MUST first pass the theory test for motorcycles and then the moped practical test to obtain your full moped licence. If you passed your car driving test before 1 February 2001 you are qualified to ride a moped without L plates (and/or D plates in Wales), although it is recommended that you complete CBT before riding on the road. If you passed your car driving test after this date you MUST complete CBT before riding a moped on the road.
Laws RTA 1988 sects 97(e) & 101 & MV(DL)R regs 38(4) & 43