Motorcycle Law

Rules for Motorcyclists

These rules are part of the highway code, and are numbered as they are in the book.


On all journeys, the rider and pillion passenger on a motorcycle, scooter or moped MUST wear a protective helmet. This does not apply to a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban. Helmets MUST comply with the Regulations and they MUST be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motor tricycles and quadricycles, also called quadbikes, should also wear a protective helmet. Before each journey check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition. Laws RTA 1988 sects 16 & 17 & MC(PH)R as amended reg 4


It is also advisable to wear eye protectors, which MUST comply with the Regulations. Scratched or poorly fitting eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly in bright sunshine and the hours of darkness. Consider wearing ear protection. Strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision. Laws RTA sect 18 & MC(EP)R as amended reg 4


You MUST NOT carry more than one pillion passenger who MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests. You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger unless your motor cycle is designed to do so. Provisional licence holders MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger. Laws RTA 1988 sect 23, MV(DL)R 1999 reg 16 (6) & CUR 1986 reg 102


Daylight riding. Make yourself as visible as possible from the side as well as the front and rear. You could wear a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips. Dipped headlights, even in good daylight, may also make you more conspicuous. However, be aware that other vehicle drivers may still not have seen you, or judged your distance or speed correctly, especially at junctions.


Riding in the dark. Wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility in the dark. These reflect light from the headlamps of other vehicles, making you visible from a longer distance.


Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.
Remember: Observation – Signal – Manoeuvre.

Motorcycle licence requirements

If you have a provisional motorcycle licence, you MUST satisfactorily complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course. You can then ride unaccompanied on the public road a motorcycle up to 125 cc, with a power output not exceeding 11 kW, with L plates (in Wales either D plates or L plates, or both, can be used), for up to two years.

To ride a moped, learners MUST:

You can then ride unaccompanied on the public road a two-wheeled vehicle with a maximum design speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), with L plates (in Wales either D plates or L plates, or both, can be used), for up to two years.

You MUST first pass the theory test for motorcycles and then the moped practical test to obtain your full moped licence.

If you passed your car driving test before 1 February 2001 you are qualified to ride a moped without L plates (and/or D plates in Wales), although it is recommended that you complete CBT before riding on the road. If you passed your car driving test after this date you MUST complete CBT before riding a moped on the road.

Licence categories for mopeds and motorcycles

Click on headings for more information

Category AM (moped) – minimum age 16

Category A1 – minimum age 17

Category A2 – minimum age 19

Category A - minimum age 21

Category A - minimum age 24

Progressive access is a process that allows a rider to take a higher-category practical test if they already have at least two years’ experience on a lower-category motorcycle. For example, if you have held a category A2 licence for a minimum of two years, you can take the category A practical test at age 21. There is no requirement to take another theory test.

If you want to learn to ride motorcycles larger than 125 cc and with a power output over 11 kW, you MUST meet the minimum age requirements, satisfactorily complete a CBT course and be accompanied by an approved instructor on another motorcycle in radio contact.

To obtain your full moped or motorcycle licence you MUST pass a motorcycle theory test and modules 1 and 2 practical tests on a two-wheeled motorcycle.

You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger or pull a trailer until you have passed your test. Also see Rule 253 covering vehicles prohibited from motorways. Law MV(DL)R reg 16