If you’re thinking about making the move to a powered two-wheeler, firstly welcome to the club, and secondly naturally, the world of riding can be an intimidating place when you’re entering as a newbie however we’re here to help you out!
In this blog, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions when starting your journey as a motorcycle or scooter rider, from learning to ride all the way to motorcycle maintenance.
So without further ado, let’s get into it - shall we?
Are motorcycles safe?
Admittedly, there is no right or wrong answer to this question exactly. However, I think a lot of people share the opinion that motorcycles are as safe as you decide to ride them. If you stay at the correct speeds and with the awareness of other road users, a bike or scooter is a perfectly safe alternative.
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, you’ll likely have no problems with a motorcycle or scooter.
Learning to ride:
How old do I need to be to ride a scooter or motorcycle?
After completing a CBT, you will be able to ride a 50cc scooter with L plates from the age of 16. However, when you are over the age of 17, you will be able to ride a 125cc motorcycle or scooter, again provided you have passed your CBT with L plates on.
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 which licence you will need - check out our guide to motorbike licencing!
What type 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.
How do I learn to ride a motorcycle or scooter?
Getting started on a motorcycle is a fairly simple process. All you will need is your provisional licence and a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course booked in.
You will complete the CBT itself over a day of basic training, with some elements of theory and knowledge, but mostly for riding the bike with control and on the road safely. After completing this course, you will be able to ride on the road unsupervised with L plates attached to the vehicle.
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.
After passing your CBT:
How long is a CBT valid?
Once you have completed your CBT, it will be valid for two years. After two years you will either need to take the full motorcycle licence (before the CBT expires) test or retake your CBT to continue riding on the road.
Can I ride on the motorway 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.
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 a full motorcycle licence.
I’ve just passed my test, what are the best bikes for beginners?
Thankfully, we here at BikeMatters have compiled a variety of Top 10s for you to take a nose through to help you find the best bike for you depending on which style you prefer and which licence you hold…
Best 125cc bikes
- Top 10 125cc Motorcycles
- Top 10 125cc Bikes Best for Beginners
- Top 10 125cc Maxi Scooters
- Top 10 125cc Scooters
Best A2 Licence friendly motorbikes
Best motorbikes bikes for beginners
I’ve passed my test, how can I improve my riding skills?
Once you’ve passed your test, you will want to build your confidence when riding on the open roads. There are a few things you can do to help improve your riding, such as:
- Practice makes perfect
- Always remember the rules of the road
- Position yourself wisely
- Keep an eye on the weather conditions before your ride
- Sign yourself up for an advanced training course.
For more on improving your riding skills, head over to our Top 10 Tips and Tricks for new riders article!
Should I get my full licence?
If you’re looking to ride a larger bike, you really enjoy riding, and decide you’d prefer to do so without L plates, you can take your full motorcycle licence.
Purchasing your first bike:
Should I buy a new or a used bike?
Whether you should opt for a new or used bike really comes down to personal preference and how much you are willing to pay for your bike.
If you have a smaller budget, the chances are you are best looking at a second-hand bike. Second-hand motorbikes may mean that you will need to carry out further repairs and maintenance on an older bike than a brand-new one due to typical wear and tear.
However, if you decide to purchase 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.
Once you have decided on a new or used model, you will need to consider how to get your motorcycle home, whether that be riding it or perhaps hiring a van for the day to get it home safely...
*If you want to know more about new and used bikes, please head over to our full guide on purchasing a brand-new or used motorcycle!
What should you do when you get your first motorbike?
After buying your first monumental motorcycle, you will want to get used to it. It goes without saying that practice makes perfect when it comes to learning about your motorcycle, getting to know how it moves, how it rides, etc.
Aside from practicing on the road, joining motorcycle forums and Facebook pages can also help you further get to know your bike. These pages will also be extremely handy in the event that you’re having issues with your bike - there’ll be at least one person who has been in the same situation as you!
How do you break in a new motorcycle?
Typically with motorcycles the general rule for ‘breaking in or running in’ is between 500-1,000 miles. As you start to gradually build up mileage on your new bike when getting out and riding, the parts will start to learn to work together and unlock their full potential.
This essentially means that you'll ride your bike conservatively putting less stress on the machines while it is new, not using full power etc. It is always best to follow manufacturers guidance for this, it is always worth obeying these for the sake of your bikes mechanical health.
How do I improve my rider balance?
If you know how to ride a bike you're most of the way there. Before riding a motorcycle, newbies can fret about balancing and be intimidated, by the size and weight but soon as you have spent a little while learning the basics with a good instructor you'll be well away!
What gear should I get?
It is a legal requirement that you must wear a minimum of a helmet when riding a motorcycle. However, it is advised that you should wear full motorcycle gear when going out for a ride, including the appropriate jacket, trousers, and boots.
If you’re unsure of which gear you should be investing in, head over to our full motorcycle gear for beginners' guide and our guide to motorcycle helmets.
Motorcycle and scooter running costs:
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.
Generally, motorcycles do tend to be slightly more expensive than scooters, however again there are plenty of options available for a variety of budget range – however, it really is a question depending on your own situation and budget in mind.
Lastly, 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 to purchase a new motorcycle or scooter, you will be able to opt to pay monthly (typically known as PCP finance) making your switch to two wheels much more affordable.
However, if you decide that a used motorcycle is a better option for you, most dealerships will also offer monthly payment options on these bikes as well. The only time monthly payments will not be an option is if you decide to privately purchase a motorbike.
How much does motorcycle insurance?
The exact cost of motorcycle or scooter insurance depends on a number of different factors such as, 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 want to try and reduce the cost of your policy, we’ve compiled some tips for saving money on your policy.
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 £24 for the whole year.
For motorcycles (with or without a sidecar), the prices at the time of writing are:
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*For more on motorcycle road tax, head over to the GOV.UK website!
What’s the total average monthly cost of owning a bike?
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 can be cheaper than for a car.
The exact cost will depend on many variables such as 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 higher MPG, as well as being able to park for free in many car parks (please always check, however, as restrictions will differ from place to place).
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. However, when your bike hits three years old, you will then need routine MOTs for your motorcycle or scooter every year. 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.
It is worth noting that if you are ever unsure about whether your MOT is coming up to expire, you can quickly and easily check directly via the GOV.UK website!
How often do I need a service?
Whilst there is no legal requirement for you to service your motorcycle, it is seriously advisable that you do - you are responsible for making sure your scooter or motorcycle is always roadworthy.
We would recommend staggering your service with your yearly MOT or sticking to the manufacturer servicing recommendations for your bike.
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 in the owner’s manual.
With second-hand motorbikes, on the other hand, there is no legal obligation to service your vehicle. However, each model will have its own manufacturer guides for servicing, centered around mileage limits, so these should generally be followed.
What motorcycle maintenance tasks can I do at home?
Whilst if anything major is wrong with your motorcycle, is it advisable to take it to the professions, there are a few tasks you can carry out yourself at home such as:
- Motorcycle Brake Maintenance: How to Keep Your Brakes in Good Condition
- Motorcycle maintenance: How to tighten a loose motorcycle chain
- Motorcycle Maintenance: Guide to checking and changing motorcycle headlight bulbs
- Motorcycle maintenance: When and how to replace spark plugs
Video Guide for Motorcycle Testing
If you're looking for a step-by-step guide to the bike & scooter training process, completing your CBT, and what to expect, check out the BikeMatters video below - plus the Module 1 and Module 2 videos.
The Last Stop!
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed our run down on just some of the most frequently asked general motorcycle riding questions for new and young riders...
Last but not least, if you are a beginner rider and are in need of insurance - make sure to get a motorcycle insurance quote direct from Lexham!