Learning to ride a motorcycle is a process that includes a few different steps. The age you begin learning to ride at and the power of the motorcycle you wish to master, all influence how long it takes to finish motorcycle driving school. For example, if you only want to ride a 50cc moped or scooter for a few years while you study for ‘the knowledge’ to become a taxi driver, a Compulsory Basic Training course is all you really need. On the other hand, if you dream of taking to the open road on a classic Norton or Harley Davidson, you’ll need your CBT training plus licence training which, depending on your age, might mean returning to complete further motorcycle training courses to move from a lower level motorcycle licence to a higher one over a few years. It sounds complicated, so below we look at the different paths to obtaining a motorcycle licence and how long on average it takes to complete each.
The progressive approach to motorcycle licences
The progressive approach to learning to ride a motorbike, allows you to begin riding as early as 15 years and 9 months of age. You’d need to start by finding motorbike CBT near you and achieve your DL196 certification. This usually takes about a day.
Once you’ve got your CBT certification, you can take to the roads but have a few restrictions. You can’t take passengers, you can’t use motorways and you’re not allowed to ride a moped, scooter or motorcycle with a higher engine power than 50cc. Your CBT certification remains valid for two years, after just one year you can decide to take your AM motorcycle licence test or sit your CBT training again after two years to keep riding as you were.
After riding on an AM licence for a minimum of one year, you can take an A1 licence test without any further training, two years later the A2 licence test and then another two years later, the full ‘A’ licence test when you’re 21. The progressive approach to a full motorcycle licence takes around five years but means you can obtain a full licence at 21 years old, rather than 24 years old if taking the direct access route to a licence.
Arguably, the time you take in motorcycle training courses could just be a single day when you take the CBT course. If you took training before each licence test, you’d need to allow 3 – 5 days for the licence training and a half-day for the test. This would mean you’d spend around 13 – 21 days in motorcycle training and four days testing over the five years of moving from CBT to full A licence.
The Direct Access approach to motorcycle licences
Not everyone dreams about riding a motorcycle at the tender age of 15, and that’s where the direct access approach to motorcycle training comes in. You’ll still need to start by finding a motorbike learning school near you to take your CBT certification. The CBT course usually lasts about a day.
Once you’ve got your DL196 – the CBT certification – you can move straight on to the highest licence level possible for your age. This means, if you’re 24 years old or older, you can elect to take a DAS course that teaches you to ride on a higher-powered bike and sets you up to pass you’re A motorcycle licence test the first time. DAS courses, regardless of the licence level you are aiming to achieve, last anywhere from 3 to 5 days.
DAS courses take you through all the necessary theory associated with riding a motorcycle safely and legally as well as the practical elements of balance, turning, stopping, etc. so you become competent and confident on the right powered machine before taking your licence test. There’s quite a bit to cover, so a DAS course would last up to 5 days, after which you’d take your licence test and be set to ride on UK roads once you’d passed.
On average, finishing your motorcycle training, if obtaining your licence with this method, would take around 5 days – that’s the CBT course and the DAS training. Allow another half day for the actual licence test.
Learning to ride
Whichever path you choose to become a licenced rider, it’s wise to take some training to help you improve and make you aware of the things a motorcycle test will be looking for. The first step is always to look for ‘motorcycle lessons near me’ from a school that has experience and will provide everything you need to get started. There’s no point buying a motorcycle before you have a licence to ride.
Whether you spend 25 days over a five year period working towards a full motorcycle licence or 5 days learning to ride and reaching the highest possible licence you can for you age, motorcycle training should leave you feeling able to control your motorcycle and ride safely with confidence on the road.