This page contains the most Frequently-Asked-Questions (and their Answers!) in the following areas:


Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Back to Top

Getting Your Licence : Direct Access and Accelerated Access

How old do I have to be to ride a bike?

16 to ride a moped (50cc max speed 28mph), 17 to ride a 125cc (11Kw), 19 to ride an A2 motorcycle (35Kw) and 24 to ride an unrestricted category A motorcycle (unless you have held an A2 licence for 2 years)

You must pass both the Theory and Practical tests to ride anything other than category AM (moped) or A1 (125cc, 11Kw), unless supervised by a qualified instructor

Can I learn to ride on my own large-capacity motorcycle?

Yes, but only when in radio contact with a DVSA-approved Direct Access qualified instructor.

You cannot ride a motorcycle of > 125cc (11Kw) unsupervised until you have passed your tests.

What is Direct Access?

Direct Access is the term used for training on a large capacity motorcycle, either category A2 or A.

What is Accelerated Access?

Accelerated Access allows a person aged 21-24 to take their full category A licence tests if they have held a full A2 licence for 2 years.

The youngest you can take your full A2 licence tests is 19.

What happened to the 33bhp limit and the automatic licence upgrade?

In January 2013 the 3rd EU Licence Directive changes were implemented in the UK, which introduced stepped licences and the new categories A1, A2 and A. These changes removed the old route whereby you could take your test before you were 21 and you would be restricted to 33 bhp for 2 years before the licence automatically became unrestricted.

Anyone passing their test under the old rules will continue under those rules, so if you have a restricted 33bhp licence it will automatically become unrestricted after 2 years. You do not need to take another test.

What do I need to bring and what do I need to wear?

What do I need to bring and what should I wear?

Put simply:

You must bring:

  • Your driving licence (both parts – the photocard and the paper counterpart)
  • Your CBT certificate (DL196)
  • Your Theory Test pass certificate (only needed for Module-1 or Module-2 test sessions)
  • Your Module-1 pass certificate (only needed for Module-2 test session)
  • Your glasses if you need them to see distance
  • Money for lunch or a packed lunch

Your must wear:

  • Sturdy over-ankle boots (not trainers, shoes or canvas shoes)
  • Motorcycle gloves (we carry a small stock of cheap gloves you can buy but we can’t lend you a pair for hygiene reasons)
  • Jeans or thick trousers (no tracksuit or jogging bottoms or leggings)
  • Warm clothing, preferably in layers
  • If you have a motorcycle helmet and jacket, please bring them otherwise you can use ours

For more details, see Your Responsibilities.

Back to Top


Licences : Categories and what they mean to you

What are the various motorcycle licence categories?

The following are the main definitions and provisional licence requirements (that is what you can do before passing the tests). For more details see here.

  • AM or P: Moped. Defined as up to 50cc with max speed 45kph (28 mph). Provisional licence available at 16, but you must complete course of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before riding.
  • A1: Small motorcycle up to 125cc and max 11Kw with max power to weight ratio of 0.1Kw/Kg. Provisional licence available at 17, but you must complete course of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before riding.
  • A2: Medium sized motorcycle. No capacity limit but max power 35Kw (46.6bhp) and max power to weight ratio 0.2Kw/Kg. If the machine has been restricted, the original must not have made > 70Kw. Provisional entitlement at age 19 but you must complete course of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and A2 machines can only be ridden when you are supervised by qualified instructor.
  • A: Unlimited motorcycle. No restrictions on power or power to weight ratio. Provisional entitlement at age 24 but you must complete course of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and they can only be ridden when you are supervised by a qualified instructor. If you are under 24 and have held an A2 licence for 2 years then they can be ridden when you are supervised by a qualified instructor.

How old do I have to be to ride a bike?

16 to ride a moped (50cc max speed 28mph), 17 to ride a 125cc (11Kw), 19 to ride an A2 motorcycle (35Kw) and 24 to ride an unrestricted category A motorcycle (unless you have held an A2 licence for 2 years)

You must pass both the Theory and Practical tests to ride anything other than category AM (moped) or A1 (125cc, 11Kw), unless supervised by a qualified instructor

What do I have to do to get a Full Licence?

Regardless of category of licence, the route is the same:

  • Complete a course of Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) – this is the step that validates your provisional entitlement.
  • Take the Motorcycle Theory Test – unless you have already passed it for a lower category of motorcycle (e.g. A2 and upgrading to an A licence)
  • Take the Practical Motorcycle Tests on a motorcycle appropriate to the category of licence required
    • Module-1 : machine handling test on an off-road area
    • Module-2 : on-road riding test including independent ride
    • The category of motorcycle on which you take your practical tests will determine the category of licence awarded.

How do I find out what category a bike belongs to?

The first place to look is the manufacturer’s website, as the categories are now standard across the EU.

The categories are based on power, power to weight ratio and for A1 the capacity and AM the max speed and capacity. You will need to locate the specifications for the bike you are considering – check the manufacturer’s website or search www.motorcyclenews.com . Power is often quoted in BHP not Kw, so here’s a simple conversion for each category:

  • AM: no power or power to weight limit, but max 50cc and 45kph (28mph)
  • A1 : max 11Kw which is 14.75Bhp; max power to weight 0.1Kw/Kg which means if it makes the maximum power it must weigh at least 110Kg (which is likely, as the Yamaha YBR125 we use weighs 125Kg, and the Miro 125 scooters weigh 108Kg without fuel)
  • A2 : max 35Kw which is 46.94Bhp; max power to weight 0.2Kw/Kg which means if it makes the maximum power it must weigh at least 175Kg (kerb weight)
  • A : no restrictions

Back to Top


The Theory Test

How do I book my Theory Test?

The official DVSA Theory Test booking website is at www.gov.uk/book-a-driving-theory-test – beware of other websites as they will charge you a booking fee!

We can book your theory test for you if you want, just give Tracy a call on our usual number.

Where can I take my Theory Test?

Theory tests are taken at a DVSA approved testing centre, but these are not the same as where you will take your practical tests. For your nearest test centre, see www.gov.uk/driving-theory-test-centre

How do I prepare for my Theory Test?

The Theory Test assesses your knowledge of the following:

  • The Highway Code
  • Traffic Signs
  • Riding- The Essential Skills

All of these are available as books published by the DVSA, we carry a small stock of these titles for sale.

One of the best resources for practicing the test is “The Complete Motorcycle Theory and Hazard Perception Tests DVD-ROM” which includes lots of questions and hazard perception clips.

Note that the complete list of test questions is no longer published, so simply practicing answering the questions is perhaps not the best way to learn. We recommend reading the Highway Code thoroughly!

Do you run training for the Theory Test?


We run a monthly Theory Test Evening Class which covers how the tests work and how to prepare for them as well as covering the main areas of knowledge required. These are a great social event too, where you will get to meet new riders just like you!

It is not a substitute for reading the Highway Code though!

Back to Top


The Practical Tests

How does the practical test work?

There are 2 parts, or modules, to the practical test.

  • Module-1 tests your motorcycle handling skills;
  • Module-2 tests your road-riding skills.

You must pass Module-1 before you can take Module-2.

See here for more information.

What does the Module-1 test involve?

The Module-1 test assesses your motorcycle handling skills. It is conducted at a DVSA test centre on a large tarmac off-road yard called the Motorcycle Manoeuvring Area (MMA).

The exercises you will be required to perform are:

  • wheeling the moped or motorcycle and using the stand
  • riding a slalom and figure of 8
  • a slow ride
  • a U-turn
  • cornering and controlled stop
  • cornering and the emergency stop
  • cornering and hazard avoidance

There is a minimum speed requirement of 50kph (~31mph) for the last 2 exercises. The test lasts for around 20 minutes.

For more information, see here.

What does the Module-2 test involve?

The Module-2 test assesses your road-riding skills. It is a pursuit-style test conducted on the public roads and starts from a DVSA test centre.

The test route will incorporate a wide variety of road and traffic situations and at all times you will be expected to comply with the rules in the Highway Code and ride according to the Essential Skills.

Before you take to the roads you will have your eyesight checked and you will be asked a couple of safety questions. During the ride you will be asked to perform an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle) and an incline start (hill start).

The test will also incorporate a section of “independent riding”, where you are expected to navigate a route using traffic signs and/or a series of directions provided by your examiner.

The test will last around 40 minutes with the independent ride section lasting around 10 minutes.

For more information, see here.

Back to Top


After Your Test

I’ve passed my test, but I’m still not confident on my bike. What can I do?

You are not alone. Passing the tests and getting a full licence is just another step on the learning journey you started when you did your CBT and will not stop for the rest of your riding life. We are always learning no matter how experienced we are.

One of the best things you can do to improve your riding is take a course of post-test training. Here at Inner Circle, we have instructors qualified in Advanced Riding Instruction who can help you develop all the way to passing your RoSPA Advanced Riding test at Gold standard, which is recognised as the highest civilian riding qualification by the Police and others.

For details of our post-test training options, see here.

What are my post-test training options?

We offer a number of courses aimed at “improving your road riding skills”. These range from a simple assessment of your current riding ability through to a programme of individual personal training to take you all the way to taking your RoSPA Advanced Riding test and hopefully passing at Gold standard.


Our Enhanced Rider Scheme training and assessment courses are a great place to start as these will give you a good understanding of your current riding level and identify any areas for improvement. The ERS Training & Assessment course includes a training session that will help you develop your skills.

If you are looking for specific training on a particular aspect of your riding, or want more bespoke training, then an “Individual Personal Training” session would be ideal. These are offered on a 1:1 basis with our qualified Advanced Riding Instructors and are available in half or full days.

In addition to these practical courses, we also run “Advanced Riding Training Tours” which combine advanced riding instruction with great roads, superb scenery and fantastic accommodation.

How do I become a Motorcycle Instructor?

To become a motorcycle instructor you must be over 21, have held a full category A or A2 motorcycle licence for 3 years and be a “fit and proper person”. The DVSA will decide if you meet the latter category, especially if you have:

  • had any convictions in the last 4 years
  • been disqualified from driving
  • any court proceedings pending against you
  • any penalty points on your licence

There are then 3 routes, depending on what you want to teach:

  • Down-trained: This is the simplest option, but you will only be able to teach Compulsory Basic Training. You will need to get a motorcycle training school to teach you how to conduct CBTs and to apply for a licence from the DVSA for you to work for them. We do not recommend this route as you are not considered ‘fully qualified’ and can only work for the one school – we do not use down-trained instructors at Inner Circle Training.
  • Become DVSA-approved: This currently involves an intensive 2-day assessment at the DVSA HQ in Cardington, near Bedford. You will need thorough training to be able to pass the assessment. Once approved you can set up your own school, conduct CBTs and down-train others. To teach on category A2 or A motorcycles you must also pass a further half-day Direct Access assessment at Cardington.
  • Join the Register of Post-test Motorcycle Trainers: this does not allow you to teach learners (see the other options), but does allow you to teach the Enhance Rider Scheme and conduct ERS Assessments. To enter the register you must either pass the DVSA’s practical riding and instruction tests or hold an accredited advanced riding instruction qualification (such as the RoSPA Diploma in Advanced Riding Instruction) and pass the DVSA’s two-part Theory Test.

If you are seriously interested in becoming an instructor, we can help you prepare for your Cardington asessments. As these have a very low 1st-time pass-rate, a formal structured training programme is advisable to ensure you succeed where others fail!

Contact us on 0161 914 7509 or via email for more information.

Back to Top


Choosing a Helmet and Clothing

What should I look for in a Helmet?

Fit, Fit, Fit.

The most important consideration BY FAR is fit. If your helmet doesn’t fit you properly, it won’t protect you properly.

Forget measuring your head with a tape measure and ordering online. A helmet needs to fit you all over your head, not just where you measured; and as helmets are shaped differently to match the different head shapes humans come with, the chances of getting a good fit without actually trying the helmet on are pretty slim.

So, go to a shop that sells helmets and try a few on. What you are looking for is a snug fit – like someone has got hold of your head and is giving it a gentle squeeze all over, at the front, top, back and sides. Not trying to crush your head, but snug. Your cheeks are likely to feel compressed a little, which is normal. With the helmet fastened so you can fit 2 ungloved fingers between your chin and the strap (less and you won’t be able to breathe, more and it may come off!) you should not be able to move the helmet more than a little side to side or up and down. You should definitely not be able to roll it off your head by grabbing it at the rear and lifting.

Now you’ve chosen a helmet that fits you, you can choose where to buy it. Just make sure you get exactly the same make and size if ordering online. When it arrives, check it fits again and if not, send it back.

Do not compromise on fit!

Right, now we’ve got the most important thing out of the way, let’s look at other considerations: Safety and Style.


All helmets sold for motorcycle use in the UK must meet European standard ECE-R22.05 (or the older British Standards which have been largely phased out). That’s a minimum standard, which means that the £30 helmet you can by in Aldi will have passed it too, just like the £2,500 Arai Rx-7 GP Carbon helmet. The more expensive helmets may offer greater protection, but only if they fit you properly! What they are likely to do is last longer, be better made, have better ventilation, removable washable linings and cooler graphics.

The UK government introduced a star-rating system for helmet safety called SHARP in 2001, which independently tests helmets bought in shops (so no cheating by the manufacturers) and publishes the results on its website. Aim for a helmet that has scored at least 4 stars.


Helmets seem to come in an endless range of styles, but there are 3 basic styles you could consider, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. These are:

  • Open Face. These helmets have no protection to your face, but offer a greater field of vision and are cooler on hot summer days. They also feel less claustrophobic and generally weigh less. Just make sure you also use eye protection as an insect hitting you in the eye at 30mph is not pleasant! Eye protection should have lenses capable of resisting an impact from a stone, so no glass lenses!
  • Full Face. These helmets have a solid chin-bar and visor and offer the greatest protection. They do feel a little claustrophobic until you get used to them and can restrict you vision, so lots of life-saver glances are required! They tend to weigh a little more than open-face helmets but come in lots of different sizes and shell shapes, as well as cool graphics!
  • Flip-Front. Beloved of the Police and Motorcycle Instructors, because we can move the chin-bar out of the way to talk to you, this style has the protection of a full-face helmet (when the chin-bar is down and locked in position) and the convenience of an open-face helmet. It tends to be slightly heavier, though, and some are physically larger too, making them more cumbersome to wear. Note that most are only tested and approved with the chin-bar down and locked, so riding with it is not a good idea. It’s not a good idea for another, less obvious reason, too. If you perform a rapid stop, the chin-bar can come down partially, obscuring your vision just when you need it most – I know of a serious accident that happened as a direct consequence of this happening.

What should I wear when riding?

An approved helmet, securely fastened, is a legal requirement, unless you are a Sikh wearing a turban, so that’s a given.

Next on my list of essential items is gloves. Good quality motorcycle gloves that won’t burst should I be unfortunate enough to need them to protect my hands. Remember, if you fall over, you instinctively put out your hands to protect yourself from the fall – come off your bike and you’ll do the same. Before you consider riding without gloves, ask yourself this: “If I needed skin grafts on my hands because I was knocked off, who would I get to whipe my arse?”. Still need convincing to wear gloves every time?

Then comes boots, with over the ankle protection, because foot injuries are very common amongst riders unfortunate enough to have an incident and who need to take a dab to try and save themselves from falling. These don’t need to be bike boots – although these would offer greater protection – but need to be sturdy and if they have laces, these need to be tucked away so they can’t get caught when you try to put your foot down (that’s just very embarrassing!).

For my body and legs, I want good protection from the weather and in case of an accident. See the “What should I look for in clothing” question for more information on what to look for.

What should I look for in clothing to wear on the bike?

Put simply, your clothing is your protection. When you are in a car you are surrounded by a metal cage with a bouncy castle (the airbags) inside. On a bike, your clothing is your only protection in the event of an accident. It is also your only protection from the weather.

In the event of an accident, you need protecting from both impact (the forces involved when you hit the ground or another object) and abrasion (as you slide along).

Protection from Impact.

This is where the armour in your clothing does its job. To be sold as “protective” armour must meet CE approval standards, and these will be marked both on the protective pads themselves, but also on the labels attached to the clothing when you buy it. Make sure there is CE approved armour at the points where your bones are close to the surface and you have less of your own padding – particularly knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and back. Back protectors now have to meet much more stringent standards and so many jackets either don’t have them fitted or have simple pads that are not claimed to be protective (and won’t be!).

Protection from Abrasion.

Your tacksuit bottoms will not offer any protection from abrasion as they will be torn apart almost the instant you start to slide. Your skin and bone offers very little in the way of abrasion protection either, and hurts like hell when it tries to. Wearing the right gear, all the time, is the only sensible way to go.

Kevlar offers the best abrasion protection, followed by leather then cordura-style textile clothing. Normal denim jeans are better than nothing, but not much as sliding along normal tarmac at 30mph with wear through them in less than 2 seconds!

Protection from the Weather.

Let’s face it, you’re hopefully not going to fall off your bike every time you ride (if you do, please contact us for some more training!), but you are going to be exposed to the weather. Again, your clothing is your only protection from the elements.

If it’s cold and wet, you need to stay warm and dry, which means plenty of layers including an outer waterproof one. Leather is not waterproof so you will need an over-layer over the top. Textile jackets with a Gore-Tex type lining are great as they often have some room underneath for a warm fleece.

But when it’s warm and dry the tendency to ride without an outer layer of protection is greater, and that’s a big mistake, for the reasons above. So now we need clothing that will help keep us cool, which means removable layers and even some vents to direct cooling air inside.

Motorcycle clothing has developed to a very high level over the last decade or so, with really good high quality gear available at affordable prices. So there really is no excuse to be unprepared!

Back to Top

Sign up for Inner Circle Training Newsletter

* = required field

Our Events on Facebook

No Events are found.