Are four motorcycle tests too many?

motorcycle training instruction

Published on 12 August 2016 by Robert Drane

The National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA) has written to the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones, calling for a reformation of the current motorcycle testing system. 

Young motorcyclists face age restrictions per engine size and each of the four categories require their individual test to be licensed. A 17-year-old car driver requires just one test to be able to drive any engine size.

The NMDA believes that this is “at odds with the automotive industry”.

The four testing subcategories:

  • Moped, tricycle or quad bike (up to 50 cc, up to 28mph, min age 16)
  • Light motorcycle (120 cc to 125 cc, min age 17)
  • Standard motorcycle (395+ cc, min age 23)
  • Unrestricted motorcycle (595+ cc, min age 24)

Data from 11/08/16

Stephen Latham, Head of the NMDA, said: “The age restrictions are complicated and inconsistent with the simpler licence system for driving cars, where a 17-year-old can learn to drive any car regardless of engine size.

“A streamlining of the system would bring motorcycle testing in line with other vehicle tests and simplify the position for learners.”

They also emphasised the issue facing young apprentices working with motorcycles who would not be able to test-ride certain bikes due to engine size age restrictions.

Stephen Latham added that “this would enable the new motorcycle apprentice standards to be fulfilled, and also make the system more economically viable for riders, encouraging growth for the industry during a time when ensuring consumer confidence is paramount.”

The BMF feels that the current motorcycle test regime is certainly unsatisfactory. The DVSA will admit that doing the same test three times on different size bikes is pointless. A logbook/training route could be an option within the EU Third Driving Licence Directive but has not been implemented in the UK.

The BMF would like to see a reconsideration of the test regime but there is no appetite for revising the Directive in the EU. It therefore seems unlikely that any substantial change can be made here until the UK has left the EU.

(Note that the 125cc learner capacity limit was introduced by the UK all by itself, prior to any EU directives, and in some road safety forums it has been suggested that stepped licencing should be introduced for car drivers).

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Main image by Tedder (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped and resized.