There have been lots of enquiries on this subject so I thought I’d better clarify the situation.
On January 19th 2013 the European legislation on ‘staged-licensing’ for motorcycles came into effect.
NB. See the ‘Motorcycle & Trike Licensing’ section of this web site for more detailed information on staged licensing for motorcycles.
How Does It Affect People Riding Trikes?
As of January 19th 2013 Trikes became part of the Category A (motorcycle) licencing regulations. Previously Trikes came within the Category B (car) licencing regulations.
For people who hold existing full car licenses (category B) prior to January 19th 2013, nothing changes. (New licensing regulations cannot be backdated so ‘Grandfather Rights’ apply).
After January 19th 2013 only people with disabilities, who have officially notified the DVLA of their disabilities, will be permitted to ride trikes on a provisional licence and/or take a test on a trike.
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.
This dispensation was included in the European legislation due to consultations between the NABD and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) including the submission of a very detailed report by the NABD Chairman relating to the use of trikes and sidecar outfits by disabled people and the impracticality of trying to fit Trikes and/or Motorcycle/Sidecar outfits into the criteria used within the staged licencing of motorcycles.
People with disabilities who wish to begin riding a trike on a provisional licence that was issued after January 13th 2013 will have to complete a CBT course (slightly amended to suit trikes) prior to riding unaccompanied on the road.
NB. people who hold a current provisional licence (issued prior to 2013) which states B, or B1 do in fact have ‘grandfather rights’ on their provisional status for the duration of that license and therefore are not required to complete a CBT course (though their insurers may still insist that they do).
Entitlements given on the old paper licenses last until the age of 70 but photo licenses last just 10 years before requiring renewal and we are informed by the DVLA that upon renewal this ‘grandfather rights’ entitlement may be lost.
To gain a full licence they will also have to do the motorcycle theory test and then the practical test (Mod 1 test is also slightly adapted to suit trikes; i.e. less cones and no avoidance manoeuvre, use of reverse if one is fitted, etc.)
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; throughout Europe all trikes will now fall into the Category A licence.
A disabled person taking a test on a trike will qualify for a Category A licence that is restricted to the use of trikes. It will not qualify them to ride solo motorcycles or drive cars.
There is no change to the dispensation that allows disabled people to use a motorcycle and sidecar combination to take a motorcycle test, though this would result in a Category A licence that is restricted to motorcycles fitted with sidecars.
Trikes and motorcycle/sidecar combinations used for CBT, training and tests should not be subject to the power output or power-to-weight ratio restrictions detailed in the new motorcycle staged licensing directive.
Under the European legislation Able-bodied people who didn’t hold a full Category B (car) licence prior to January 19th 2013 will have to pass a motorcycle test on a solo motorcycle before they can ride a Trike. (Those who already hold a full motorcycle licence will by default be able to ride Trikes).
Recently Unearthed ‘UK Specific’ Legislation on Trike Entitlement:
On April 10th 2014, a new piece of UK legislation came into effect which allows any person over the age of 21 who holds a full Category B (car) licence (irrespective of disabilities or what year they passed the full Category B test) to ride any size of trike within UK territory.
NB. It should be stressed that this legislation is only valid within UK territories. Elsewhere in Europe the 3rd Directive rules apply as originally implemented on 19/01/2013.
As we steadily approach the time when the UK officially leaves the European Union, many questions remain unanswered and it is impossible to guess what changes may occur once we no-longer have to adhere to European legislation but rest-assured the NABD will be fully involved in the formulation of any legislative changes that might have an effect on the right of people with disabilities to ride motorcycles, trikes and/or sidecar combinations.
As Chairman of the NABD I am regularly involved in consultations with licensing authorities and I have recently been invited to join a working group at the Department for Transport to look at possible changes to UK licensing categories.
If you are a disabled person who had been worrying about your freedom to ride a trike or motorcycle/sidecar outfit, you should remember that it was the NABD who made this exemption possible and if you are not an NABD member, perhaps 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.