How much does it cost to learn to ride?

While you need to wait until the age of 17 to get behind the steering wheel if your passion is two wheels the wait to get on the road isn’t quite as long.

In the UK, you can get a provisional driving licence at 16, complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and ride a 50cc moped.

It’s the fastest way to get on the road and when the sums are done, it’s the cheapest too.

But how much does it cost to get on the road on a motorbike in the UK?

Before you start

Before even sitting on a moped you need to get a provisional driving licence.

You can apply for a provisional driving licence three months before your sixteenth birthday and it costs £34.

Completing your CBT

A CBT is a must for anyone who wants to ride mopeds or motorbikes, and for lots of people it’s their first taste of life behind the handlebars.

For those aged 16, your CBT will take place on a 50cc moped; it’s illegal for a 16-year-old to ride anything more powerful than a 50cc moped.

At 17 you can ride anything from a 50cc up to a 125cc, so it’s up to you whether your CBT is carried out on a 50cc or a bigger 125cc.

The same applies if you’re over 17 too, so whether you’re 19, 29 or 79, you can only complete your CBT on a 125cc motorbike and nothing bigger.

But how much does a CBT cost?

The cost of motorcycle CBTs vary across the UK. A CBT can cost as much as £130 however it depends on the training school you visit with some quoting prices below the £100 mark.

As with anything when it comes to motorcycling and your safety, it’s not always a good idea to base your decision on price alone.

Did you know: The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) has recently launched an accredited training school scheme, called Motorcycle Industry Accreditation Centre (MCIAC), to help you find the leading training schools and instructors in the UK.

There’s no necessity to complete any kind of training before you take your CBT, you don’t have to have ridden a bike before and you can go from complete beginner to CBT holder in a matter of hours.

To complete a CBT, your instructor needs to be confident that you’re in full control of your moped or motorbike and would not be a danger to yourself or others on the road.

Once you’ve completed your CBT you can technically ride a 50cc or 125cc, however there are a few other requirements you’ll need before you can hit the open road, not least a moped or motorbike.

What to do when you’ve completed your CBT

After you’ve completed your CBT you don’t need any further training; as long as you tick the legal boxes you can jump straight onto a moped or motorbike.

Your CBT is valid for two years and it will need to be renewed before it expires, unless you take and pass a full test.

If you’re happy with that then you can skip the next section and learn about buying your first moped or motorbike.

If that’s not you and you’re keen to get further training and work your way up to bigger bikes through a full motorcycle licence then you should think about motorcycle lessons.

Motorcycle lessons

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While you can attempt to learn how to ride by practicing on your own after completing your CBT, most motorcycle training centres will provide lessons as part of their service.

During motorcycle lessons you’ll be accompanied by a qualified and approved trainer who must be in radio contact with you. You’ll also have to wear fluorescent and reflective clothing and have Learner plates on your bike.

Prices vary across the UK however anything around the £20 mark is standard but it depends on the school you’re attending and the instructor involved.

Theory and practical tests for your motorcycle licence

There are multiple motorcycle licences in the UK and therefore different tests, although all of them will consist of two parts; an off-road test costing £15.50 and an on-road test which will set you back £75 if you take it on a weekday, or £88.50 for a weekend or evening slot.

But before you can take the practical test, you need to pass a theory test, which will cost £23.

Once you’ve successfully passed your theory test you can move forward and take a practical test for a full UK motorcycle licence.

The motorcycle licences available in the UK are:

Minimum ageType of vehicleType of licenceLicence requirements
16Mopeds with speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/hAMCompulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled moped
16Small 3-wheelers (up to 50 cc and below 4 kW)AMCBT, theory test, practical test
16Light quadricycles (weighing under 350 kg, top speed 45 km/h)AMCBT, theory test, practical test
16Same as AM plus 2 or 3-wheeled mopeds with top speed of 25 km/hQGranted with AM
17Light motorcycle up to 11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW per kg) and 125 ccA1CBT, theory test, practical test
17Motor tricycles with a power output not more than 15 kWA1CBT, theory test, practical test
19Standard motorcycle up to 35 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW per kg), bike mustn’t be derived from vehicle more than twice its powerA2Direct access route – theory and practical OR Progressive access route – 2 years experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test.
21 (progressive) or 24 (direct)Unrestricted motorcycles in size/power, with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with power output over 15 kWADirect access route – CBT theory and practical (you must be at least 24) OR Progressive access route – held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years – practical test (21 or over).

*Source – https://www.gov.uk/ride-motorcycle-moped/bike-categories-ages-and-licence-requirements

Buying a moped or motorbike

If you’ve completed your CBT you can ride up to a 125cc motorbike if you’re 17 or over.

You can buy a 125 for as little as £700, or spend up to £5,000 for a top of the range model.

At the age of 16, a valid CBT allows you to ride up to a 50cc moped. They’re cheaper again with some new models available for as little as £500.

Insurance for your moped or motorbike

So you’ve got your first moped or motorbike and you’re itching to get on the road but there are things like insurance that you still need before jumping behind the handlebars.

Insurance is never more expensive than when you’re 16 or 17 because statistically you’re more likely to be involved in an accident or claim than any other age range.

That’s the case up until the age of 25 when finally, your insurance costs tend to come down if you haven’t made any claims but as a CBT holder without a full licence, you’re likely to pay more than someone with a full licence.

That’s why, despite the initial up-front costs, it’s probably advisable to get a full licence rather than going through the CBT cycle again and again – a full licence also means you can ride bigger, more powerful motorbikes.

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Motorcycle clothing and helmets

A helmet is the only legal requirement for safety gear when you’re riding a moped or motorbike.

A good helmet can cost anything from £200 to £1,000 but there are cheaper alternatives on the market. Whatever option you go for it must meet British manufacturing standards.

While motorcycle leathers, trousers, jackets, boots and gloves are not legally required, they’re always advisable and could save your life in the event of a crash.

Like helmets, the amount you spend on protective gear depends on your budget. A jacket and trousers can cost from around £50 to more than £500. Boots and gloves are the same; you could buy both for £50 to £60 or up to £300.

Road tax

Road tax is cheap for mopeds and motorbikes, regardless of how old you are, it’s the size of your engine that impacts how much you pay.

If your moped or motorbike is 150cc or under, you’ll pay £18 for the whole year. If your motorcycle is 151 to 400cc you’ll pay £41. If your engine is 401 to 600cc you’ll pay £62 while owners with motorbikes larger than 600cc will pay £85.

MOT and maintenance

If your moped or motorbike is over three years old then you’ll need to get an MOT every year to prove it’s road worthy.

An MOT for a moped or motorbike without a sidecar costs a maximum of £29.65.

The cost of fuel for a moped or motorbike

Fuel costs for a moped or motorbike are cheap when compared to other vehicles.

The amount you’ll need to pay to keep your moped or motorbike full of fuel really depends on the amount you travel however if you spend more than £10 a week, you’ve either got an inefficient two-wheeler or you’re travelling miles.

That might sound like a lot upfront but getting on the road on two wheels is markedly cheaper than getting behind the steering wheel in your own car.