If you’re thinking about making the move to a powered two wheeler, firstly welcome to the club, and secondly, we know you’re likely to feel slightly apprehensive about the switch.

We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions when starting your journey as a motorcycle or scooter rider to help you take the first steps.

Are motorcycles safe?

Whether you’re switching from a car or public transport to a motorcycle or moped, the first question on new riders' minds is whether they are easy to ride. Powered bikes tend to get a bad reputation due to some riders not taking the proper precautions, but if you’ve ever ridden a push bike then you’ll likely have no problems with a motorcycle or scooter. There are of course additional risks to riding when compared with driving a car. But if ridden sensibly, at the correct speeds and with awareness of other road users, a motorcycle or scooter is a perfectly safe alternative.

How do I choose my first motorcycle?

If you’ve never ridden before, choosing your first bike can feel pretty daunting, with a long list of different manufacturers, engine sizes and bike styles to choose from. Your age, the type of licence you hold, how much you’re willing to pay, and how far you’re likely to be travelling will affect which type of bike you’ll be looking to buy. We’ve created a handy guide to help you choose your first motorcycle. Or, if you know what type of bike you want but don’t know how to ensure you get a good deal, check out our second hand scooter and motorcycle buying guide.

Where should I buy a motorcycle?

Where you purchase your motorcycle will depend on what’s most important to you. Realistically, you have two options: you can buy new or used from a dealer, or you can buy second hand from a private seller.

If you’re concerned about the upfront cost of your bike, private sales tend to be less expensive than buying directly from a dealer. However, you won’t receive an additional warranty or the assurance that your bike has been checked over by a professional prior to purchase.

Buying from a dealer, on the other hand, will mean the bike is likely to have a 3 or 6 month warranty, and will have been professionally checked over and likely to have been recently serviced. This is usually reflected in the price, with prices at dealerships being more expensive than private sales, even for second hand vehicles.

When buying your first scooter or motorcycle, we would recommend purchasing from a dealer. Although you are likely to pay a higher price, this is usually worth it for the added peace of mind.

Should I buy a new or a used bike?

Again, this really comes down to personal preference and how much you are willing to pay for your bike. If you only have a small budget, the chances are you are looking at a second hand bike.. This means that it is more likely that you may need to carry out repairs and maintenance on an older bike than a brand new one due to typical wear and tear.

If purchasing a brand new bike, you are likely to be covered by warranties as well as being on a bike without a history of faults. But it’s always worth bearing in mind the depreciation of a new bike. Much like cars, as soon as you ride a bike off the forecourt the value of your ride will drop.

For the best deal, we would recommend looking for a ‘nearly new’ second hand bike. These will tend to have a much lower number of miles on the clock, meaning you are less likely to have any issues with wear and tear, while still being a lot more affordable than a brand new model, but this will depend on the budget available to you.

How often do I need an MOT?

If you purchase a brand new bike you won’t need to get an MOT for the first 3 years. After this time you will need to ensure that you get an MOT test every year for both motorcycles and scooters. If you would like to know more about what’s included in a motorcycle MOT test, the government website has a handy guide on the parts checked in an MOT.

How often do I need to have a service?

There is no legal requirement for you to service your motorcycle, though you’re responsible for making sure your scooter or motorcycle is always roadworthy. It can be unsafe even if you have a current MOT certificate.

We would recommend staggering your service with your yearly MOT. This way you can ensure that a professional is looking over your bike every 6 months and ensuring it’s in tip top condition for you.

If you decide to purchase a brand new motorcycle, you will be required to have a service at regular intervals to ensure your guarantee/warranty stays valid. Whether this is after a certain amount of time or after you have travelled a particular distance will be outlined when you make your purchase or in the owner’s manual.

With second hand vehicles, without a warranty, there is no legal obligation to service your vehicle. However, each model will have its own manufacturer guides for servicing, centred around mileage limits, so these should generally be followed. We would recommend that you service your vehicle at a registered garage, as having this record will make your bike more saleable if you do decide to part with it in the future.

What age do I have to be to start riding a scooter?

You can ride a 50cc moped from the age of 16 with L plates once you have completed a compulsory basic training (CBT) course.

Do I need a licence to ride?

Yes. You will need a provisional driving licence in order to take your CBT and legally ride on the road.

What kind of motorcycle can I ride?

When you’re first starting out, the motorcycle or scooter you’ll be able to ride will depend on your age and the licence you hold. From the age of 16, once you have completed your CBT, you will be able to ride a 50cc machine with L plates. At 17 you will be able to ride a 125cc bike with L plates, once you have completed your CBT.

If you’re looking for a larger bike or you require more power, you will need to have a full motorcycle licence. To understand what licence you will need, please see our guide to motorbike licencing.

What are the different types of motorbikes?

When you first made the decision to move to a powered two wheeler, you probably assumed there were just motorcycles and mopeds. However, there are a range of different bikes on the market. The most popular types of bikes you’ll see are:

  • Standard / Naked
  • Cruiser
  • Sport Bike
  • Touring
  • Sport Touring
  • Adventure
  • Dual Sport
  • Scooter
  • Maxi-scooter
  • Moped
  • Off-road

What motorbikes and scooters are popular?

As a beginner it can be tricky to know which bike to purchase. Depending on your age and your needs, there are quite a few options to consider.

If you just need a bike to get you to work in a  busy town or city, then a city friendly 50cc scooter will probably suit your needs. We’ve rounded up the very best 50cc scooters to help you choose. If you’re travelling a little further and need a bit more power but still want the comfort associated with the upright ride of a scooter, please see our list of the top 125cc scooters.

If, however, you would prefer a motorcycle, there are some really great affordable options for beginner riders. We’ve compiled a list of the top 125cc motorcycles for beginners to help you make your choice.

COST

How much does a scooter or motorcycle cost?

When buying a scooter or motorbike there are a lot of different options available to you. For your first bike, if you look at second hand options you can easily pick up a scooter for under £1,000. Motorcycles tend to be slightly more expensive than scooters, but there are plenty of affordable options available. If you’re looking for more information on the cost benefits of switching to a scooter, we have a helpful guide to becoming a scooter commuter.

Can I pay monthly or do I have to pay in full for a new bike?

If you’ve decided you’d rather have a new scooter or motorcycle, you will likely be able to purchase this on a pay monthly finance option. This can help to make the switch more affordable. If you decide to purchase a second hand scooter, most dealerships will also allow you to pay monthly. However, if you purchase privately you will need to pay for your bike up front.

How much will road insurance cost?

The exact cost of motorcycle or scooter insurance will depend on a number of different aspects, for example your age, location, no claims history, number of points on your licence and type of bike you’re looking to insure, to name a few. However, if you are looking to reduce the cost of your policy, we’ve compiled some tips for saving money on your policy

What bikes are cheap to insure?

Typically (though definitely not guaranteed), the larger the engine or the newer a bike is, the more expensive your insurance will be. If you’re looking to save money on your insurance, we would recommend looking at older models with smaller engines.

How much is road tax for a motorcycle?

Motorcycle road tax tends to be a lot lower when compared to a car. The actual amount you will need to pay is dependent on the engine size of your vehicle. If you’re looking at a beginner motorcycle, you’ll expect to pay £20 for the whole year.

Motorcycle (with or without a sidecar)(TC17)

Engine size (cc) Single 12 month payment Single 6 month payment
Not over 150 £20 N/A
151-400 £44 N/a
401-600 £67 £36.85
Over 600 £93 £51.15

What’s the total average monthly cost of owning a motorcycle or scooter?

Switching to a motorcycle or a scooter from a car can be a great way to save some money each month. Although you will still need to get insurance, tax and MOTs for your bike, the cost of these tends to be much cheaper than for a car.

The exact cost will depend on the bike you choose to ride, as there is a wide range of makes, models and engine sizes to choose from. However, if you’re switching from a car you’re likely to see big savings in other areas too as bikes tend to have a much higher MPG, as well as being able to park for free in many car parks (please always check, however, as the restrictions will differ from place to place).

LEARNING TO RIDE

How do I learn to ride a motorcycle or scooter?

It’s really easy to get started on a powered two wheeler. All you need is a provisional licence and you’re ready to take your CBT. The CBT, or compulsory basic training, is a one day course where you will learn how to safely ride a bike on the road. After completing this course, you will be able to ride on the road unsupervised with L plates attached to the vehicle. The engine size you will be able to ride at this point will depend on your age. If you’re interested in taking your CBT, our helpful guide outlines what to expect on a CBT course.

How old do I need to be to ride a scooter or motorcycle?

You can ride a 50cc scooter with L plates attached and no pillion from the age of 16, after completing your CBT. At 17 and over you’ll be able ride a 125cc bike with the same restrictions.

What licence do I need to ride?

The type of licence you will need will depend on what type of bike you would like to purchase. To understand what licence you will need, please see our guide to motorbike licencing.

What type of motorcycle or scooter will I be able to ride after completing CBT?

Depending on your age, you will either be able to ride a 50cc scooter or a 125cc motorcycle. From the age of 16, you will be able to ride a 50cc vehicle , and from the age of 17 you will be able to ride a 125cc motorcycle.

How long is a CBT valid for?

Once complete, your CBT will be valid for 2 years, at which time you will need to either take a full motorcycle licence test or retake your CBT to continue riding on the road.

Can I ride on motorways after taking my CBT?

No. In order to ride on motorways you will be required to pass your full motorcycle licence test. You may however ride on dual carriageways.

Do I need L plates?

You will need learner plates attached to your vehicle to ride on the road after completing compulsory basic training. You can ride on the road with L plates for up to 2 years after completing your CBT, after which time you will either need to take your full test or retake your CBT.

Should I get my full licence?

If you’re looking to ride a larger bike, or you really enjoy riding and decide you’d prefer to do so without L plates, you can take your full motorcycle licence. Find out more about motorcycle vehicle licencing options.

Can I take passengers on my bike?

When you’re first starting out, having completed your compulsory basic training, you will not be able to carry passengers with you. In order to do this, you will need to obtain your A1 Motorcycle licence, which you can take from the age of 17. This and other higher level motorcycle licences will allow you to take a pillion on the road with you as long as you have adequate insurance cover..  

I have a car licence - can I ride a scooter or motorcycle on this?

As a general rule, you will not be able to ride a moped without completing a CBT course first. However, if you passed your driving test before 1 February 2001 you can ride a 50cc moped without L plates, without taking a CBT. However, we would always recommend that everyone looking to ride on the roads for the first time undertakes compulsory basic training to ensure the safety of themselves and other road users.

There are some popular three-wheeled scooters such as the Piaggio MP3, Yamaha Tricity 300 and Peugeot Metropolis that are technically classed as trikes and can be ridden on a car licence.

INSURANCE

What level of insurance cover do I need?

There are three levels of cover you can take out when insuring your bike: 3rd party, 3rd party fire and theft and comprehensive. See our article for a full explanation of the different types of insurance cover to help you decide.

What factors determine the price of my policy?

There are a number of factors that influence the price you are quoted for motorcycle insurance, these include:

  • The value, make and model of your bike
  • The security of your bike
  • Modifications to your bike
  • The level of cover
  • Your age, occupation and where you live
  • Where the bike is kept when not in use
  • Your riding record and no-claims eligibility
  • Your voluntary excess
  • How you use your bike and the number of miles you do per year

What are the different classes of motorcycle use?

How you plan to use your motorcycle will be asked when you complete your application for insurance. There are four classes of motorcycle use:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure: covers normal day to day riding, such as shopping, visiting friends or pleasure rides. 
  • Commuting: covers everything in social, domestic and pleasure as well as covering you for your commute to and from one place of work on a daily basis. 
  • Business use: if you use your bike as part of your job, you will need business use insurance to cover you for this
  • Courier & delivery: if you’re using your bike while working as part of a delivery service, such as food delivery, you will need specific insurance to cover this

Can I transfer my car's no-claims bonus to my bike?

Normally, transferring No Claims Bonus between vehicle types such as motorcycles and cars is not possible. Though there are some exceptions to this, such as Lexham’s Car Insurance which is able to take motorcycle no claims bonus into account and offer an introductory discount for claim free experience built up from being on a motorcycle or scooter.

What extras can I add to my insurance cover?

For your piece of mind, we offer a range of additional extras that you can add to your insurance cover, including:

SAFETY & SECURITY

What protective gear do I need to ride a motorcycle or scooter?

Being safe on the road is of paramount importance when riding a motorcycle or scooter. By law, you must wear a suitable safety helmet when riding a powered bike on the roads. There are a few options to consider when choosing the right helmet, so check out our motorcycle helmet guide for more information.

Although a helmet is the only piece of safety gear required by law, we recommend that you invest in a full set of protective clothing to keep you protected on the road. At a minimum, we would recommend gloves, leathers, a jacket, and boots.

Does a scooter or motorcycle need to be locked when it’s parked?

Yes. Whether you’re leaving your motorcycle on the side of the road or within a private parking area, you should always ensure your bike is safely locked up. Unfortunately, motorcycles are an easy target for thieves. If you’re looking for more ways to ensure your bike is secure, see our top tips for keeping your bike safe from thieves.

For Third Party, Fire And Theft and fully comprehensive insurance it will be required that you lock your vehicle. Check your policy documents for exact requirements.

Is it safe to ride a motorcycle in the rain?

As with any vehicle, riding in the rain brings with it a new set of considerations. It is of course possible to stay completely safe while riding in adverse conditions. Our main tips for staying safe are to ensure your bike, especially the wheel tread, is suitable for the conditions, and ensure to accelerate and brake slowly. Need some more advice? See our tips for staying safe on your bike

BIKER ETIQUETTE

Can I weave between traffic on a bike?

Yes, but it is extremely important to do it safely and cautiously abiding by the highway code. This is called filtering, whereby you move past queues of stationary or slow-moving traffic. In the UK, filtering is perfectly legal and it enables cyclists and motorcyclists to keep moving when wider vehicles cannot.

It is important that you take care whilst doing this to ensure that you are not putting yourself or other road users in danger. In addition, there are times when this will not be permitted at all, such as if you were to cross solid white lines.

Should I wave at other motorcyclists?

I’m sure you’ve seen motorcyclists signalling to each other as they pass on the road. Whether it’s the typical biker nod, or maybe even a wave or a thumbs up, there are lots of different ways bikers communicate on the road. If you’re just starting out and you don’t feel comfortable taking your hand off the handlebars, you definitely do not need to wave to your fellow riders, even if they signal to you.

We hope this has helped you to answer some of the questions you have about switching to a motorcycle, scooter or moped. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment in the comments section below.