CURRENT MOTORCYCLE & TRIKE LICENSING LAWS IN A NUTSHELL
This is a somewhat complex subject but I will endeavour to keep it as simple as possible.
As of January 19th 2013 the laws governing motorcycle licensing have gone through some sweeping changes.
In the main, these changes will affect young people under the age of 24.
People wishing to ride trikes, who did not already hold a full licence prior to January 19th 2013, will also be affected.
Compulsory Basic Training:
The rules on the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course remain relatively unchanged.
As before the changes, people with a provisional motorcycle licence must complete a CBT course before they can take a moped or motorcycle onto the road. (As of 19th January 2013 this now also applies to trikes).
The CBT certificate will still be valid for two years. If after two years the rider is still on a provisional licence they must complete the CBT again.
This has not really changed. At the minimum age of 16 you can take a test on a solo moped with a maximum capacity of 50cc and top design speed of 30mph.
On passing the test you can only ride mopeds with a maximum capacity of 50cc but you can take off the L-plates and carry a passenger.
Then we move on to the new ‘Staged Access’ test categories.
A1 (Light Motorcycle):
At the minimum age of 17 you can take a test on a motorcycle with a minimum capacity of 120cc and a maximum capacity of 125cc with a power output maximum of 14.6bhp. It but must also be capable of a speed of at least 55mph.
(A theory test must be passed before applying for the practical test).
On passing the category A1 test you can only ride motorcycles with a maximum capacity of 125cc and 14.6bhp for a minimum of 2 years but you can take off the L-plates and carry a passenger and ride on the motorway.
A2 (Standard Motorcycle):
At the minimum age of 19, after holding A1 licence for a minimum of 2 years, you can take a test on a solo motorcycle with a capacity of at least 395cc with a power output between 33bhp and 46.6bhp with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW per kg.
(Any motorcycle with the power output up to 93bhp (70KW) can be used if it has been restricted to a power output between 33bhp and 46.6bhp with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW per kg).
On passing the category A2 test you can only ride motorcycles with a maximum power output of 47bhp for a minimum of 2 years.
A (Unrestricted Motorcycle):
At the minimum age of 21, after holding A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years, you can take a test on a solo motorcycle with a capacity of at least 595cc with a power output of at least 40kW (approx 54bhp).
On passing the category A test you can ride any motorcycle you choose.
To take the category A test before the age of 24 you must have completed the theory test, then the category A1 test, followed by a minimum two year gap, then the category A2 test followed by another two year gap.
NB. There is no requirement to pass a moped test in the staged access system.
You cannot take a Direct Access test below the age of 24. The Direct Access test allows you to gain an unrestricted licence without having to take the staged access tests.
At the minimum age of 24 you can take a direct access test on a solo motorcycle with a capacity of at least 595cc with a power output of at least 54bhp (40kW).
(A theory test must be passed before applying for the Direct Access test).
On passing the Direct Access test you can ride any motorcycle you choose.
On January 19th 2013, all trikes became part of the motorcycle ‘Category A’ licence.
To ride a trike you will first have to pass a test on a solo motorcycle (unless you are a person with disabilities and you have officially notified the DVLA of your disabilities: See the ‘Disabled People and Trikes’ section below and the ‘Motorcycle Test & Trikes’ section of this website for further details relating to people with disabilities riding trikes on a provisional licence).
NB. The correct form for notifying the DVLA of a disability is here:
Do not surrender your licence when you send in this notification, the DVLA will let you know if they require you to send your licence to them for any reason. If you are required to send your licence in to DVLA for any reason, we recommend you keep a good photocopy or scan of both sides of your licence.
After passing the full ‘Category A’ test on a solo motorcycle, either via staged access or direct access, irrespective of disability; you can then ride any size or type of trike you like.
Contrary to popular misconception, it doesn’t matter if a trike has a car engine or a bike engine. Nor does the weight of a trike make any difference to licensing; all trikes will now fall into the Category A licence.
NB. Just to complicate matters Trikes weighing no more than 450kg (unladen) are tax class 50 for VED but trikes weighing more than 450kg (unladen) must be taxed in the PLG class. This does not affect licensing because the current licence system is based on European law but the Vehicle Excise Duty system is based on British Law.
So, to put it plainly for new licence holders, you cannot ride a trike on a provisional licence and you cannot take a test on a trike unless you are disabled and you have notified the DVLA of your disabilities.
NB. These changes only affect people who did not hold a full car or bike licence prior to January 19th 2013. If you passed a full category B (car) licence test prior to January 19th 2013, you can still ride any trike you like (under what is commonly called “Grandfather rights” because your legal licenced status pre-dates the change of category for trikes.
Also, if you hold a full category A motorcycle licence, irrespective of when you passed the test you can now ride any trike you like.
The DVLA policy people have also confirmed that people who hold a current (issued prior to 2013) provisional licence which states B, or B1 do in fact have "grandfather rights" on their provisional status but only for the duration of that license.
(Obviously old paper licenses last until the age of 70 but photo licenses last 10 years before requiring renewal and we are informed that upon renewal this grandfather entitlement will be lost).
So to put it in a nutshell: People with a pre 19/01/2013 provisional licence which states B, or B1 are not required to complete a CBT course to ride a trike on L-Plates.
Disabled People and Trikes:
Thanks in great part to the work carried out by the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD) with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), people with disabilities who cannot ride adapted solo motorcycles will still be able to ride a trike on a provisional licence and take a test on a trike.
However, as this will now need a provisional motorcycle licence, a CBT course must be completed before going on the road, and that CBT will last just two years. (The motorcycle CBT course may be adjusted slightly for trikes).
Before taking a practical trike test, a motorcycle theory test must be taken
On passing a test on a trike a disabled person would have a category A licence restricted to ‘trikes only’. (The motorcycle test may also be adjusted slightly for trikes).
This dispensation for disabled people also applies to the use of motorcycle/sidecar combinations being used for training and tests.
I hope this article clears up some of the confusion on this subject.
If you are a disabled person who had been worrying about your freedom to ride a trike, you should remember that it was the NABD who made this exemption possible and if you are not an NABD member, maybe you should be?
If you would like an NABD information pack, contact the NABD office on 0844 415 4849 or via firstname.lastname@example.org or you can join on-line via www.nabd.org.uk
The NABD welcomes all bikers into its membership. You don’t have to be disabled to support the world’s leading support group for disabled motorcyclists.