There are many reasons for wanting to learn to ride a motorbike. For one, you can zip around the city more quickly than by car. Or it could provide a relatively affordable way to do that legendary road trip you're dreaming of.
So if you decide to take the plunge and learn, you'll need to take a CBT course. And then think about what kind of insurance do you need.
What's a CBT course?
As well as having a provisional licence, you must complete a government Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course before you can legally ride a motorcycle or a moped on a public road.
The CBT course and licence requirements depend on your age and the type of bike you plan to ride. Once you've completed the CBT, you can take the full set of motorcycle and moped tests.
Do I need to wear motorcycle clothing?
You're legally required to wear a motorcycle helmet that meets British Standard BS 6658:1985 or equivalent when riding a bike. There isn't a legal requirement in the UK to wear motorbike clothing, but we'd advise you to do so. You're exposed on a bike in a way that's not really comparable to a car. And if the danger doesn't convince you to wrap up, the cold will.
According to government figures, 21% of road user fatalities in 2022 were motorcyclists.
So it's not surprising that the CBT requires that you wear the following:
- A motorcycle helmet (unless you're a follower of the Sikh religion and wearing a turban).
- Motorcycle boots or similar footwear that protects your ankles.
- Textile or leather motorcycle trousers, or heavy denim trousers.
- A textile or leather motorcycle jacket, or a heavy denim jacket with several layers underneath.
- Motorcycle gloves.
You'll probably have to make a significant investment in bike gear before you even get moving, and most insurance providers recognise that.
Scooter, sport or classic bike insurance?
Your insurance premium will depend on a number of factors, especially the kind of motorbike you choose.
- If you're learning or just want to get around town, you might be better off with a moped or a scooter. Given the low power of these vehicles, you should be able to get relatively cheap insurance from most providers.
- Larger custom cruisers or touring bikes might suit you if you're contemplating a long road trip. These large-engine bikes will cost a bit more to insure than a moped.
- If you opt to ride a classic motorcycle or restore one, it's likely that you're going to handle it with care. This is one reason classic bike insurance is cheaper than other types of motorbike cover. Insurers also know that classic bikes probably won't be used every day, plus their distinctive nature means they're harder to resell when stolen.
- Sports or naked bikes are powerful, aerodynamic machines primarily built for speed, and are likely to be seen as relatively high risk by insurers. As a result, insuring a sports bike won't be cheap, particularly if you're a young rider.
- Popular 4-wheeled quad bikes are mostly intended for off-road use, but you can get road-legal quads.
It may not be wise to get a custom cruiser if you're just trying to get to the city centre office a little quicker in the mornings. You could save yourself some money on insurance if you get the bike you need, rather than the one you desire.
Author: The AA
Published 21 August 2019. Updated 21 July 2023.