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A guide for new bikers

Whether you’re looking for pure performance or simply a handy way to get around town, there’s plenty to think about as a new biker. Here’s our 4-step guide to getting yourself on the road on two wheels…

Whether you’re looking for pure performance or simply a handy way to get around town, there’s plenty to think about as a new biker. Here’s our 4-step guide to getting yourself on the road on two wheels…

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
26 JANUARY 2021
6 min read
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Some simple steps to get you started

#1 Getting your licence

The number one requirement for any new biker is of course, your licence. There are two types of licence and several types of licence category, so it’s worth checking which one you’ll need to ride your motorbike of choice. You’ll also have to meet the minimum age limit, which is higher for some licences. 

For higher-level A and A2 categories, previous experience as a rider can count towards the requirements (called the progressive route) or if you’ve never ridden before you can gain the license purely by taking tests (called the direct route).

The most basic licence (AM) allows you to ride: 

  • mopeds (with a speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h)
  • small 3-wheelers (up to 50cc)  
  • light quadricycles (with a top speed of 45 km/h)  

You’ll need to complete your compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test and practical test to get this licence.

Bike categories, age and licence requirements


Vehicles you can ride


Minumum age


Mopeds with a speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h

Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled mopeds



Small 3-wheelers up to 50 cc and below 4 kW

CBT, theory test, practical test



Light quadricycles weighing under 350 kg, top speed 45 km/h

CBT, theory test, practical test



2 or 3-wheeled mopeds, top speed 25 km/h

Granted with AM



Light motorcycle up to 11 kW and 125 cc, with a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW/kg

CBT, theory test, practical test



Motor tricycles with a power output of 15 kW or lower

CBT, theory test, practical test



Standard motorcycle up to 35 kW, power ratio up to 0.2 kW/kg. The bike must not be derived from a vehicle more than twice its power.

Direct access route – theory and practical. Progressive access route – 2 years’ experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test



No restriction on size or power for motorbikes with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with a power output over 15 kW

Direct access route – CBT theory and practical.

Progressive route – you need to have held an A2 licence for 2 years minimum, plus a further practical test

24 (direct access)

21 (progressive access)

#2 Choosing your first bike

With so many bikes on the market, it can be difficult to know where to begin choosing your first set of wheels. To narrow down the selection, think about power, insurance costs, comfort and practicalities like having somewhere to store your stuff.

#3 Choose your insurance

As with car insurance, there are three different levels of insurance for motorcycles. When searching for quotes, don’t assume third party is the cheapest option, as this isn’t always the case. Make sure you compare your options and find the cover that’s right for you.

Third party only
Third party only does what it says on the tin – it covers other people, their vehicles and any other damaged property if you’re at fault in an accident. It won’t cover you, your belongings or your bike. 

Third party fire and theft
Much like third party only, this level of cover protects other people and their property but won’t cover you. It will, however, cover your bike if it gets stolen or is damaged by fire.

Comprehensive cover will cover you, your bike, your passengers and any third parties that are involved in an accident. This level of cover will offer you more protection than the other options, but may not necessarily be any more expensive.

#4 Get kitted up with a helmet and leathers

Once you’ve got the bike sorted, the final step is to make sure that you’re dressed for safety (as well as style). Having the right gear will help keep you safe, warm and dry so it’s definitely worth investing in good quality. A decent helmet and some good leathers will cover the basics, while gloves and boots keep your extremities warm, safe and dry.

Helmets are 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. You must wear a helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road. You can see approved helmets and how much protection they offer on the government's Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme.

As well as having an undeniable cachet of cool, motorcycle leathers (that’s your jacket and trousers) give you support around the neck and chest, are waterproof so you can ride in any weather, and can offer some protection if you have an accident.

These will dramatically improve the comfort of your ride, especially in cold, rainy weather. They also offer wrist support, help you regulate your body temperature and can give you some extra protection in case of a crash.

Good motorcycle boots support your ankles, give you better traction on the soles than the average shoe, and can help protect your feet if you have an accident.

All those items can add up, so it’s worth considering some extra protection as part of your insurance. You can add helmet and leathers cover to your quote when you compare motorbike insurance policies with us.

A word of warning

It’s well-known that motorbikes come with their own set of dangers. 

According to government data, motorcyclists accounted for 19% of all road-user fatalities, despite making up 1% of total road traffic. 

In 2017, there were 18,620 motorcycle user casualties, with 6,050 killed or seriously injured. That’s in spite of the fact that motorcycles only accounted for 3.7% of all new licensed vehicles in 2017. 

If you’re planning on getting out on the road, don’t let these statistics put you off. Just make sure you’re riding safely and taking all the right precautions before you set off.

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