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Driving licence you need to ride a motorcycle

Motorcyclist carrying out manouevres Driving licence rules for moped, motorcycle and tricycle riders changed on 19 January 2013. These rules will affect you if you pass your test after this date, or you apply to renew or replace your driving licence. Those who are disqualified until tested prior to the above date will be subject to the new European Union (EU) rules and categories.

Changes to moped entitlement

Moped category P has been replaced with a new European category AM.

Existing driving licence holders with moped entitlement

If you already have the entitlement to ride a moped, you won't lose it. Previously your entitlement was shown on your driving licence as category P and covered you to ride mopeds with:

  • an engine size up to 50 cc (cylinder capacity)
  • a maximum speed up to 50 kilometres per hour (km/h)

New European rules now apply. You won't lose your category P entitlement but you will also be awarded categories AM and Q on driving licences issued from this date.

Your entitlement will show as:

  • category AM (new European category) - gives you entitlement to ride mopeds with a maximum design speed over 25 km/h but not more than 45 km/h, small three wheelers (up to 50 cc and below 4 Kilowatt (kW)), and light quadricycles (unladen weight less than 350 kilograms (kg) and up to 45 km/h)
  • category P - extending the above to include two or three-wheeled mopeds with a higher maximum speed of up to 50 km/h (to retain your existing entitlement)
  • category Q - extending the above to include two or three-wheeled mopeds with a maximum speed up to 25 km/h (to retain your existing entitlement)

You won't need to do anything – your existing entitlement is still valid and will be amended when you next apply for your driving licence.

New moped riders

The minimum age to ride a moped will still be 16 years and you will still need to:

  • complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for the relevant motorcycle category
  • pass a theory test
  • pass practical tests

Once you have passed your tests, your moped entitlement will be shown on the driving licence as:

  • category AM (new European category)
  • category Q

If you pass a test for a car or any of the motorcycle categories, you will also receive entitlement to ride a moped. However, a valid CBT certificate will still be required to ride a moped on the road if a full motorcycle test category has not been awarded. This moped entitlement will be shown as above (categories AM and Q).

Changes to motorcycle and tricycle entitlement

The new EU Directive redefines categories of motorcycles and amends the types of machines contained within each category. There will be 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

Existing motorcycle and tricycle riders

If you already have full motorcycle entitlement, it won't change under the new EU rules. 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 new rules for motorcycle riders outlined below.

Category B1 (quads and tricycles) will no longer be granted as a sub-category of category B and there will also be changes to how tricycle entitlements will be displayed on the licence.

Existing tricycle riders will not lose their full category B1 (trikes and quads) entitlement but it will be 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.

New motorcycle and tricycle riders

For new riders of motorcycles from 19 January 2013, the following new rules apply:

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 will be required to 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 2 years' experience on the lower motorcycle category and pass the relevant motorcycle tests. The period of 2 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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