After having to rely on public transport for so long it was good to finally have an alternative. One thing that stands out on the photo is the big L plates. UK motorbike rules are complex and designed to make sure young riders don’t ride powerful bikes immediately. It used to be that anyone over 17 could ride up to a certain power on a provisional licence with no training. Then they brought in a rule that you must complete a CBT course and hold a DL196 certificate before you’re allowed on the roads on your own. It lasts for 2 years and restricts you to a 125 cc bike or scooter with a maximum power of 11 kW. No passengers or motorway riding allowed. However I don’t think a small bike would really be powerful enough for either. There are exceptions but they don’t really concern us here. Interestingly, if you take your CBT on an automatic scooter, you can still ride a geared bike. I phoned DVLA and asked them to confirm this.
Anyway, my certificate expires in July but I want to renew it slightly earlier so I’ve got a bit of time to try and get a full A class licence that will allow me to ride anything before my insurance is up for renewal at the end of August. The bike training place suggested I do my CBT on a geared bike so they can see how I get on and then decide how much training I need to take the full test. This is in 2 parts: off-road manoeuvres and then on-road technique including a certain amount of independent riding where you get told where to go and then decide how to get there. The motorbike theory test isn’t very different from the car one, apart from a few extra questions on things like bike handling and pillion passengers. It also includes the hazard perception element, where you have to work out which fuzzy mass of pixels on a low resolution video might cause some sort of danger.
I’ve already done quite a bit of independent riding, including a few long ride outs to places like Sheffield, York, Manchester and the Yorkshire Dales. The tricky bit is when you end up somewhere unfamiliar and get stuck in the one way system. When I rode over to Mcr I was going to ride down Oldham Road and Oldham Street and round to a bike parking spot on Fountain St, near Pizza Hut. Unfortunately Oldham St was closed because of an unsafe building so I got stuck on Great Ancoats Street and somehow ended up going past Victoria Baths, up Oxford Road past the university and up Sackville St. After that I had to get across a partly-gridlocked bus lane to get to the bike parking. All good fun. Even if I’d been riding in on motorways I’d just have come in from a different direction and probably still got lost. It’s difficult (although not impossible) to have a Satnav on a bike, but road works and road closures make it very easy for them to get out of kilter and it is impossible to have a roadmap on the seat next to you, unless you’re a London cabbie revising the knowledge and have a map on a clipboard on the handlebars.
So, 2 weeks until I renew my CBT and then hopefully get my full licence within the next 2 months. Wish me luck…