Want to get my bike licence - Chris75
As per title.

Hoping to do the CBT some time next month and then the Direct Access Course.

Will phone around some of the local training places later today, but just wanted some basic info from the Backroom.

The CBT is approx. £100.00. Direct access around £500.00. How much do I need to sped on clothing, helmet etc. Obviously not something to scrimp on but I've seen helmets from £60.00 upto £400.00?

And getting ahead of myself, if all goes well, what would you recommend for a first bike. Probably around £1500 - £2000.00 to spend.

Thanks in advance.

Want to get my bike licence - DP
I don't think you can buy a duff lid today as long as it comes from a reputable retailer. All helmets have been rigorously tested and have passed tough regulations. What it will come down to is how well it fits your head, how comfy you find it and how attractive you find the design. Generally speaking, more money buys you better comfort, lighter weight and lower noise levels rather than any extra protection. Also, it's worth looking for an ACU Gold sticker on the lid. Not only will you need this if ever you want to ride on track, but it indicates the lid has passed even more stringent tests. As further evidence that protection isn't necessarily linked to price, some sub £100 lids have this approval, and some £200 ones do not.

Go to places like J&S who often do cracking deals on "last year's" designs. I bought a £300 Shoei for £150 and have been well pleased with it. As I say, it's hard to buy a duff lid nowadays, so try plenty on and see what fits. Also make sure you get your lid correctly fitted in a shop by someone who knows what they are doing, and expect it to feel very tight until "worn in". I wore mine around the house for 15-20 minute intervals until it became more comfortable.

As regards bikes, what do you want? Are you a sportsbike / faired bike fan, or do you prefer naked bikes?

Want to get my bike licence - DP
PS - as regards kit, buy the best you can afford. Get advice from mags (RiDE is particularly good) and shop salespeople and try a lot of different stuff on. I always tend to recommend Hein Gericke who seem to do good quality kit at reasonable prices. Their "Hiprotec" soft armour always comes out brilliantly in tests, and I can vouch for their winter gloves being toasty warm and waterproof. The staff seem to know their stuff as well.

Want to get my bike licence - Armitage Shanks {p}
Any helmet with a 'kite' mark will be legal. Don't spend money on a Rossi Replica until you are sure you are going to be a mortorcyclist! Same for clothing, buy whatever meets the standard and price it at a dealership. I suggest you want Barbour/Belstaff type outers rather than leathers, at this early stage! I don't know how many BR members are bikers but if someone doesn't chip in with an opinion I think I'd go and buy a copy of "What Bike" or some such biker's magazine, to see what is good as a first machine. Good luck with the course, it should be fun now the weather is getting better.
Does your budget for the bike include the insurance? You don't say how old you are, my guess is young! Insurance could be a crippler for you!
Want to get my bike licence - Chris75
Re: Insurance, well I'll be 32 this summer and can my accord tourer is less than £250 per year.

Probaby would like some kind of sports/tourer bike. There is a large Hodnda Bike dealer not to far from me.
Want to get my bike licence - DP
I would be test riding 3 bikes then:

Kawasaki ZZR600. Still performs as well as a current 600 sportsbike, but a couple of insurance groups lower, all day comfy and £2k upwards will get you something quite decent. Insurable with no NCB too.
Downpipes rot and are expensive to replace, cush drive rubbers go (cheap and easy to do), and front discs can warp if the calipers aren't cleaned regularly. Other than that, they're bombproof. One in our club has racked up 130,000 miles and is still used on a daily commute with very few problems. I've had mine for four years now and I still love riding it. Quick enough to see off all but the most exotic of car, yet capable of 50 mpg when ridden gently, and a total pussycat at low-medium revs. Low seat, high-ish bars and a generous fairing make it very comfy.

Yamaha Thundercat. Cruelly underrated when new (the R6 stole its thunder), so available at sensible money. A little more sports than tourer compared to the ZZR, but still comfy enough to do long distances on. A much better bet than an R6 for general day to day beginner use as it's comfortable and tractable. The R6 is neither.

And of course the Honda CBR600F. Trouble is, they hold their value. You'll be looking at older / higher miles for the same money compared to the Kawasaki and Yamaha.

Don't worry about the finer points of handling in the mag reviews. It'll be years before you can even tell the difference. Our rideout groups comprise all manner of machinery, and on the road they're all pretty evenly matched. The rider is a far bigger factor in the equation than the bike, and road / traffic conditions are a far bigger factor than outright performance.

600's are a nice compromise. Unless you've owned a top end Caterham or similar it will still be the quickest acceleration you've ever experienced, yet it will still be insurable as well as not intimidating at slower speeds.

Want to get my bike licence - paulb {P}
I would be test riding 3 bikes then:

*cough* Suzuki Bandit *cough*


Frivolity aside, I second what DP says about 600s. Can't stop grinning about mine - cost me £1,500 (£250 to buy the bike and the rest to overhaul it and generally sort it out) and at 79 bhp slightly over twice the power of my first car. Power to weight and acceleration (even with my 6'6"/16.5 stone unaerodynamic frame on board) phenomenal compared with any car I've driven.

In terms of kit, I did all this last autumn and spent as follows:

Helmet: Arai Astro J, reduced in sale, £230.
Jacket/trousers: Racer Vento waterproof armoured textile jacket with detachable lining, £150; Racer Adventure trousers (which match the jacket and zip to it) £130.
Boots: Oxtar Matrix, leather with Gore-Tex lining, reduced in sale, £98.
Gloves (winter): Richa Ice Storm with removable lining, £44.
Total £652.

There are cheaper helmets around than Arai (or Shoei, depending on the shape of your head - it is said, with some truth, that you will fit either one make or the other) but I have yet to find one that ventilates as well as my Arai.

The most important thing of all is: enjoy!
Want to get my bike licence - Mad Maxy
Ah, interesting thread cos I've toyed on and off for years with the idea of doing some two-wheeling. I've never got round to doing anything about it because of 'too busy' and 'stepping into unknown/too difficult'. Now I've got some more time, so maybe...

What training/learning options are there for a COMPLETE novice? How does the CBT work? Ditto Direct Access?
Want to get my bike licence - DP
There are three aspects to it. CBT, theory test, and the main test itself. You have to complete the first two before you can do the main test.

The CBT is great fun. It's very informal, and has no particular "pass or fail" mark. You basically spend a day on a bike, learning how they work and how to ride them. In the morning you'll be in a school car park (or similar) and in the afternoon you'll go out on the road. The morning session involves learning the controls of the bike, how to start and stop it, how to do basic safety checks and then how to ride it. You'll wobble in and out of cones, learn how to change gear and so on. Once you've got this, you then go out on the road in a group, under radio contact with the instructor. There's no pass or fail as such, but the instructor will be looking for a basic level of competency in riding the bike, as well as being satisfied that you're not a danger to yourself or anyone else. Once this is complete, you get a certificate which is valid for 2 years.

The theory test works on the same principle as the one for cars, just with more bike oriented questions. It's multiple choice and done on a computer. When you pass this you get another certificate.

The Direct Access Scheme (DAS) allows you to learn, and take your test on a bike of at least 46.6 bhp (35kW) and then ride anything you like once you pass your test. These are usually packaged by training schools into a week's intensive course with a test at the end. You pay a pre-agreed sum and they throw everything in, including use of the bike, fuel, insurance and the test fee itself. I had a 3 day course with the test first thing in the morning of the 4th day. I managed to do the test with no faults, and felt pretty comfortable with it. A good instructor will assess you early on and recommend how long you will need. 3-5 days is pretty standard. I've never heard of anyone doing it in less than that.

After your test (about half an hour), the examiner will ask you a couple of safety related questions which, if your instructor is good, will have been communicated to you on Day 1 of the course - there are only a few they ever ask. You will then need to present your driving license, and your certificates for the CBT and theory test to the examiner who will complete and sign a test pass form. From that moment, you are the holder of an unrestricted category A license. Congratulations!

To get it physically added to your license, you need to send that completed form off to the DVLA together with your license (and a fee), and your license comes back a week or so later with the new category on it. Job done. Get out there and enjoy it.

Want to get my bike licence - Mad Maxy
Brilliant! Thanks, DP. I'll investigate further.
Want to get my bike licence - DP
.>> Brilliant! Thanks, DP. I'll investigate further.

No worries :-)

Do the CBT and take it from there. As I said, it's a laugh, very informal, and gives you a good feel for whether you'll enjoy riding bikes or not. If not, it's a good day out and a good experience, and you can potter about on an L plated 125 for two years if nothing else. If you do enjoy it, you've got one thing out the way to be able to get your full licence.

I used the CBT as a "trial" session. I only booked the rest of my course afterwards once I decided I enjoyed being on a bike.

Want to get my bike licence - paulb {P}
To get it physically added to your license, you need to
send that completed form off to the DVLA together with your
license (and a fee), and your license comes back a week
or so later with the new category on it. Job done.

They do even better than that, now - I handed mine in to the examiner and the DSA people sent it off to the DVLA for me. Couldn't see the point of doing it myself - it's not as if I needed the licence straight away.

In terms of insurance once you have got yourself sorted out with a bike, give eBike a look (this is who I use - sensible cover at what I thought was a pretty reasonable premium).
Want to get my bike licence - LHM
Hi Chris,

I did my DAS last year and unfortunately failed my practical test (twice) - so maybe it's not really for me :-(

I found that years of car driving made 'adapting' to bike controls quite difficult to begin with. The concept of using lots of revs /deliberately slipping the clutch / controlling speed with the back brake seemed very alien to a car driver, where clutch preservation is a priority. Even knowing that bike clutches are designed to cope with such treatment only partly helped. Riding on the open road wasn't a problem, but low-speed control takes time to develop. It might help to have access to a 125cc L-plater (post-CBT) just to run around on and develop confidence.

Otherwise, the advice given by others is all good - there's a huge range of bikes available, and anything reasonably new in the 600 - 750cc range will be more than enough bike just after passing your test. The Yamaha Thundercat would have been my choice, or possibly a Kawasaki Z750 - I can still dream......

The advice about getting gear that fits properly also needs to be applied to the bike. You really need to sit on several 'candidates' to see if it fits your particular build. Reviews are all well and good, but what fits a 5'6" 11-stone rider may not suit someone of more ample proportions (ahem!).

Good luck with your riding - one thing for sure is that it'll put a smile on your face :-)
Want to get my bike licence - DP
low-speed control takes time to

Yes! Definitely the hardest part about learning to ride.

The U-turn is apparently the part that causes most test failures, and it was the thing I struggled most with when learning, and dreaded most on the test.

As well as being hard to do, it's also one of those test items that's "instant death". If you cock it up, you fail!

Want to get my bike licence - Garethj
Another vote for Hein Gericke - their kit is good and the shop staff are helpful. Think I paid about £120 for my lid, jacket (cordura which is waterproof and breathable - better than leather unless your sliding down the road for a very long time) was about £150 and trousers were about £100, all with built in armour. Hood and Draggin are two places that make jeans and combat trousers with kevlar lining and with armour in if you want an alternative. Gloves were about £50 I think.

The Thundercat is worth a look, the Honda Hornet is fun, the Suzuki SV650 is good especially if you're short, trail bikes can be handy around town and on the motorway with a bit of a fairing. Also consider the Yamaha TDM 800 / 850 / 900
Want to get my bike licence - Group B
Do the CBT and take it from there. As I said,
it's a laugh, very informal, and gives you a good feel
for whether you'll enjoy riding bikes or not.

I did the CBT just for something to do on a Saturday because two mates of mine were doing it. As you say it was a good laugh and we went for a long ride out on rural roads to Matlock and back. I've always been car mad and not massively interested in bikes, but I certainly enjoyed the experience of riding on roads.

I got unstuck with low speed riding too. Did the U-turn okay but then at one point we had to crawl along behind some horses and I started wobbling all over the place; didn't apply enough rear brake!
Want to get my bike licence - mal
I passed my test 43 years ago, the most powerfull bike I had after passing was a 160cc twin on what were relatively quite roads then, I gave up the bike 3 years later after a skid avoiding a dog.

Shock horror to think I could, within the law, go out and buy the biggest most powerful bike possible and take it on the congested roads of today !!.
Want to get my bike licence - Clanger
I did my DAS in 2003 aged 51. During my CBT the wind sprang up so that the cones took off across the school playground where we were being trained. Looking at the poplar trees at the end of the playing fields and seeing then bent at 45 deg made me ask to defer my road experience till later. The other two guys who were experienced off-road bikers laughed heartily at my diffidence.

I failed the first test by leaving my indicator on until the examiner told me to turn it off; always a test killer. Passed the second time with 0 faults. My first bike was a Bandit 600 which I really enjoyed. Surprisingly Mrs H took to pillioning and I bought a V-strom 650 last year which has luggage and a softer engine and suspension. My first clothing spend was £99 for a suit in a sale, £60 for a helmet and £60 for helmet and gloves. I've since bought some nicely run-in leathers off Ebay for £60. Hein Gericke Darlington were and are extremely helpful whenever I've visited. If you are accompanied, I recommend an intercom to stay in touch with the pillion.

Good luck with the project.
Stranger in a strange land
Want to get my bike licence - SteVee
>>The Thundercat is worth a look, the Honda Hornet is fun, the Suzuki SV650 is good especially if you're short, trail bikes can be handy around town and on the motorway with a bit of a fairing. Also consider the Yamaha TDM 800 / 850 / 900<<

You took the words right out of my fingers :-)

Tthere is a great deal of very good training available for motorcyclists - far better in quality than that avilable to car drivers. Take the DAS test and get a full licence, then I would recommend joining an advanced group to really enjot these machines
If you fail either the theory or practical tests, just retake them. Give up only if you don't like motorcycling.


Value my car