Biking can be cheaper than owning a car but you need to budget for proper clothing which can cost over £1,000. The right gear is essential if you ever hit the tarmac.
What you need to ride a motorbike
- Safety clothing including a leather or Cordura textile suit, gloves and boots.
- Look for the CE Mark or British Standard on all clothing.
- Make sure you try on a helmet when making a choice. It should be comfortable and fit in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Ask your clothing supplier for advice as the proper fit of all clothing is essential.
- Wear a high visibility vest on top of your safety gear and ride with your headlamp dipped.
Riding gear will help protect you in the event of a fall or crash but will not prevent the serious risk of injury should you collide with something at speed.
Learning to ride on two wheels
Qualifying to ride a motorcycle depends on your age and the size of your bike.
Mopeds 50cc or less (AM)
- If you are 16 or over, you need a provisional driving licence and a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate to ride a moped with L plates until the certificate expires. Once you have passed your driving theory test and your motorcycle theory test, you can sit your practical test on a moped no more than 50cc. You are then qualified to ride a moped without L plates and carry a pillion passenger
- If you are 16 or over and have a full car licence you can ride a moped without L plates and carry a pillion passenger.
Motorcycles up 125cc (A1)
- If you are 17 or over and have a valid driving licence with provisional motorcycle entitlement and a CBT certificate you can ride an A1 with L plates until the certificate expires
- To ride a motorcycle up to 125cc without L plates and carry a pillion passenger, you must have a valid driving licence, CBT certificate and a valid motorcycle theory test certificate and pass the practical test on a bike between 120cc and 125cc.
Motorcycles up to 35kW (A2)
- If you are 19 or over and hold a valid driving licence with provisional motorcycle entitlement, have a CBT certificate and have passed the motorcycle theory test you can sit the practical test on a bike between 25kW and 35kW.
- If you are 19 or over and have held an A1 licence for less than 2 years and have passed your motorcycle theory text, you can sit the practical test on a bike between 25kW and 35kW.
- If you are 19 or over and have held an A1 licence for at least 2 years you can sit the practical test on a bike between 25kW and 35kW.
Motorcycles unlimited in size and power (A)
- If you are 21-23 and do not have an A2 licence or have held one for less than 2 years, you will have to wait until you are 24 or have held an A2 licence for 2 years before you can sit the practical test on a bike of at least 40kW
- If you are 21-23 and have held an A2 licence for more than 2 years you can sit the practical bike test on a bike at least 40kW
- If you are 24 or over and have an A1 licence, a valid theory test certificate and motorcycle theory test, you can sit the practical test on a bike at least 40kW. If you do not have an A1 or A2 licence you will need to get a CBT certificate before applying for the theory and practical tests
- If you are 24 or over and have had an A2 licence for less than 2 years, you need to have a valid theory test certificate and a motorcycle theory test certificate before applying to sit the practical test on a bike of at 40kW
- If you are 24 or over and have had an A2 licence for more than 2 years, you can apply to sit the practical test on a bike of at least 40kW.
Bike safety courses by Police Scotland
Contact Police Scotland to find out if they are running a bike safety course in your area.
Safety tips for mopeds and scooters
- Think of yourself as being on an equal footing with other road users, take your fair share of the road and don’t ride in the gutter.
- Avoid drain covers and white lines at all times: they are slippery and even worse in the wet.
- Look at the road as you ride.
- Diesel and oil spillages are dangerous to ride on. Look out for the tell tale blue line on the road (and you can normally smell it too). It can be found almost anywhere, but especially on roundabouts and corners.
- Wear something bright so that other road users can see you.
- Put your dipped headlamp on every time you go out.
- Watch for other road users including cyclists and pedestrians.
- Good quality safety clothing is a must. Look for CE or British Standard Kite marked clothing.