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Driving licence you need to ride a motorcycle

Motorcyclist carrying out manouevresDriving licence rules under the EU directive for moped, motorcycle and tricycle riders changed on 19 January 2013. Categories of motorcycles and the types of machines contained within each category of the EU Directive are detailed below.

Motorcycle and tricycle entitlement

There are two routes to access motorcycles:

  • for young riders, Progressive (also known as 'staged') Access to more powerful motorcycles having regard to:
    • age
    • previous experience gained riding less powerful motorcycles
    • competence demonstrated riding the higher category of machine
  • Direct Access to category A2 and category A for candidates who satisfy the minimum age requirement

Motorcycle and tricycle riders

Anyone who passed a practical category A motorcycle test before 19 January 2013 will still be restricted to a motorcycle of 25kW for two years from the date of test pass. However, if you want to ride a larger motorcycle you will need to follow the rules for motorcycle riders outlined below.

Category B1 (quads and tricycles) is no longer a sub-category of category B, and tricycle entitlements are displayed differently on the licence.

Tricycle riders retain their full category B1 (trikes and quads) entitlement but it is displayed differently on driving licences. It will be shown as category B1 and category A (restricted to tricycles), unless the rider already holds full A entitlement.

The following rules apply for motorcycle and tricycle riders:

Category A1 (small motorcycles up to 11kw - 125cc)

Category A1 covers small motorcycles with:

  • a cylinder capacity not more than 125cc
  • power output not more than 11kW and a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.1kW/kg
  • motor tricycles with a power not exceeding 15kW

The minimum age for A1 remains at 17 years.

You must have a valid CBT certificate and pass the motorcycle theory and practical tests to get this entitlement.

Category A2 (medium motorcycles up to 35kW)

Category A2 covers medium sized motorcycles, with or without a sidecar, which have:

  • an engine power output up to 35kW
  • a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW/kg - the motorcycle must not be derived from a machine of more than double its power

The minimum age for A2 is 19 years.

There are two routes to get this motorcycle entitlement:

  • Progressive Access (also known as ‘staged access’) – you can obtain entitlement to category A2 from age 19 years provided you have a minimum of two years' experience on the lower motorcycle category and pass the relevant motorcycle tests. The period of two years will commence from the date you receive full licence entitlement for the lower category.
  • Direct Access – you must be aged 19 years or over, hold a valid CBT certificate and pass the theory and practical category A2 motorcycle tests

Category A

Category A covers unrestricted motorcycles above 35kW and includes tricycles over 15kW.

There are two routes to get this motorcycle entitlement:

  • Progressive Access (also known as ‘staged access’) - you can obtain entitlement to category A from aged 21 years, provided you have a minimum of two years' experience on a category A2 motorcycle with a full licence and pass the category A practical motorcycle tests
  • Direct Access - you must be at least 24 years old, have a valid CBT certificate (only if you do not have full entitlement to A1 or A2) and pass the theory and category A practical motorcycle tests

Please note that that all learner riders of category A2 and category A motorcycles must be accompanied by an Approved Motorcycle Instructor (AMI) at all times when riding on public roads.

Tricycles

You will need to follow the same rules if you wish to ride a tricycle that falls within these categories.

Please note that tests for mopeds with three or four wheels, A1 and A tricycles and sidecar combinations will only be offered to people with disabilities.

Sidecars

You can only use a motorcycle with a sidecar for your test if you have a disability. Learners of categories A and A1 who wish to ride with a sidecar can practice on a combination with a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16kW/kg. The licence you obtain from passing this test will only allow you to use a motorcycle with a sidecar.

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