Thursday, 20 November 2008

Getting There...The Basics

Sitting in the kitchen in Halls last night, conversation turned to biking and one of my flatmates asked how easy and what it cost to get up and running on a bike.

After trying to explain the various tests and rules he still had a confused look on his face. So I thought I'd go back to the basics and use my experience as an example.

Provisional License

First thing is to get a provisional license, which is the first step for both car and bike tests. You can apply online through the DVLA, and it costs £50. If you want to start out on a moped you can get a license from 16.

As I had already passed my car test when I started learning to ride I didn't need a provisional license as a full car license can also be used.

Compulsory Basic Training

The next stage is the Compulsory Basic Training, or CBT as it's usually called. This is a one day course (but can be longer if you don't finish) and covers mopeds up to 50cc, 125cc mopeds and 125cc motorbikes.

A CBT is not a test and it's up to the disgression of the instructor if you pass or not. It means you can ride on the road with a learner badge on front and back.

Doing a CBT on a 50cc moped is all you can do if you're under 17. Once you've completed it you can ride a moped up to 50cc, and only on a Learner plate. Once you hit 17, you'll have to do it again on a 125cc motorbike if you want to get a full license.

A CBT costs around £100 including bike and equipment (helmet etc loan) and lasts two years. If you haven't passed the next stage in the 2 years you have to retake the CBT.

My first CBT ran out before I had a chance to take the next stage, and I had to retake the course. It meant I had all my own equipment and my own bike though, so it only cost around £80.

Theory Test

This is pretty straightforward; you need to pass both parts of the Theory test - the questions and the new hazard perception part.

The questions come first and are different for cars and bikes. Even if you've got a car license you still have to do the Theory Test again for bikes. You get 57 minutes and you have to get 43 out of 50 to pass.

The hazard perception test is currently 14 clips of road senarios. You have to get 44 out of 75 to pass. The whole test costs £30 and you'll get told if you passed or not straight after.

Standard Access Test

If you're under 21, have your CBT and theory test, you can do your standard access test. You can just book the test and do it yourself, but the chances of passing are much higher if you get training off an instructor first.

Training is usually between 3 and 5 days (depending on your experience) and you get the test on the last day. It can cost anything between £300 to £600 depending on how long you need, and if you need to borrow a bike and gear.

Once you've passed you can ride any bike as long as it's restricted to 25kw. This restriction lasts for 2 years; after that you can ride any bike without the restriction and you have a full license!

Direct Access Test

Finally; if you are over 21 you can do the Direct Access test. This is the same as the standard access test except its done on bigger bikes (usually 500cc's). Again it'll cost around £300 to £600 for the training.

If you reach 21 before your standard accest restriction is over, you can also take this test if you don't want to wait for the 2 years are up.

I took the standard access test and although I'm over 21 I've decided to wait till the 2 years are up instead of doing another test. After all it's just more money and as a student that's something I'm lacking!

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