The 6 Steps to learning to ride a (motor)bike!

Logbook Loans advice on motorbikes…

In our last article we looked at the benefits of motorbikes vs cars. As part of that article we referred briefly to the training you have to undergo to ride a motorbike in the UK. As this is a topic that many people are unfamiliar with, we thought we’d return to it in more detail in this article.

It can be very daunting to start the process of learning to ride a motorbike. Don’t worry if you feel nervous – this is totally understandable. Make sure you take your time and be patient. Your aim should be not to get up and running on a bike as fast as possible, but to make sure you learn well and can stay safe on the road.

Once you are ready to get going, there are various things that you need to do to meet the legal requirements of riding a motorbike. There are six steps you need to take:


STEP 1 – Licence

First and foremost  you will need a licence. To learn to ride you need either a full valid car driving licence or a provisional motorbike licence, which currently costs £50. 

There are then various types of motorbike licence to aim for, as follows:

  • AM licence – if you are 16 or over and want to ride a moped up to 50 cc
  • A1 licence – if you are 17 or over and want to ride a motorbike up to 125 cc (11KW)
  • A2 licence – if you are 19 or over and want to ride a motorbike up to 35 kW
  • A licence – if you are 21 or over and want to ride any size of motorbike

There are also various ways that you can get your licence, depending on the type of licence it is, how old you are, and whether you hold any other kind of motorbike or driving licence. The DVLA have produced flowcharts for each type of licence that you can view here, to work out the best way for you to get the licence that you need.


STEP 2 – Eye test

You need to be sure that you can read a new-style number plate from 20 metres away. It is fine to wear glasses or contact lenses to do this, as long as you always wear them when you’re driving. Get this sorted out now, because you will be tested on it later on in the process.


STEP 3 – Compulsory basic training course (CBT)

All learner motorbike and moped riders must complete a CBT course before they can ride on the road. This course will take at least one day but there is no fixed timescale and you will only be signed off the course once your trainer is happy that you are safe to ride unaccompanied on the road.

The course is run by experienced motorcyclists who will provide you with a wealth of valuable practical advice. There is no exam but you will only move on to the next element in the course when you and your trainer are satisfied that you’ve learnt the theory and completed the practical skills to a safe level. 

The course covers five different elements:

  • Introduction to CBT: helmets / clothing / eyesight / licencing and legal requirements
  • Practical on-site training:  motorbike controls / machine safety checks / using the stand / wheeling the motorbike / starting and stopping the engine
  • Practical on-site riding:  riding techniques / stopping / riding slowly / using the brakes / changing gear / developing steering and balance skills
  • Practical on-road training: The highway code / safety / legal requirements / road positioning 
  • Practical on-road riding:  at least two hours of road riding dealing with different situations and hazards.

The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) have produced an excellent video explaining more about the CBT course which you can view here.

The cost of CBT varies but it’s usually between £120 and £160. You may be accompanied by other learners on your course.


STEP 4 – The theory test

After your CBT, the next step is to pass your theory test. This test is specifically for motorcyclists, so you still need to take and pass it even if you have already passed your car theory test. The test has two parts: 

The theory test has two parts:

  • multiple choice – questions on the Highway Code, traffic signs and essential riding skills
  • hazard perception – testing your responses to film clips on various hazards that you could meet on the road.


STEP 5 – The practical test

The final step is to take your practical test to prove you are capable of riding competently and safely on the road. There are two modules in this test:

  • Module 1: a 20 minute test off-road, which includes:
    • wheeling the motorbike
    • using the stand
    • a slalom and figure of eight
    • a slow ride
    • U-turn
    • Cornering
    • controlled stop
    • emergency stop
    • hazard avoidance


  • Module 2: a 40-50 minute test on-road, which includes:
    • an eyesight test
    • safety questions
    • road riding
    • independent riding

For more information, check out the DVSA videos here for Module 1 and Module 2 of the practical test.


STEP 6 – Stay safe

Of course learning to ride is only the beginning of your motorbike journey. Once you are legally on the road you will continue to learn as you go. Even after you have gone through all the above steps, there will always be room to grow and improve. 

One of the most important things to be aware of at all times is safety: how do you keep yourself safe and ensure that you are not endangering those around you? So do take a look at our article Top Ten Safety Tips for new Motorcyclists to get moving in the right direction.


Good luck as you begin your motorbike journey. Remember to check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Logbook Loans