In this article, we’ll look at the A1 license, its benefits, drawbacks and other considerations.
If you’re considering gaining your A1 license over riding on a CBT or taking your test on a larger machine, read on.
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What is an A1 licence?
The A1 license is a restricted category motorcycle license you can take from 17 years of age.
The simplest and most common way to look at this is as a license for most 125cc category motorcycles.
A1 vs CBT
The A1 and the CBT are very similar at first glance. However, there are many significant differences to consider when deciding which path is the right one for you.
If you’re considering an A1 license, the following sections will help you decide whether it’s worthwhile…
There are numerous benefits to gaining your A1 license as a new rider, the biggest one being you will receive a much greater amount of training than you would compared to a CBT.
The standards required to pass are much higher for this license; as such, you’ll receive a lot of training, ensuring you’re using the best methods of control and not at risk of developing bad habits.
Other benefits of this license category include the following:
- Riding on motorways
- Carrying pillions
- Use of sidecars
- Use of tricycles
- No need to repeat the theory test when you upgrade your license
- Does not expire every 2 years like a CBT; if you’re only planning on riding small-capacity machines like scooters, this may work out perfectly for you.
As you’d expect, there are some downsides to the A1 license; it is a costly license for minimal benefit, given it does not automatically upgrade.
- Extremely expensive given the level of benefit
- Heavily limits your choice of bike
- Does not upgrade automatically to larger categories based on age or time served – you will need to retake the tests to upgrade
- Benefits such as riding on motorways or carrying pillions may be inadvisable due to the limitations of 125cc bikes
The A1 allows you to ride up to a 125cc bike with engine power not exceeding 11kw (~15hp) and a maximum power-to-weight ratio of 0.1kw per kg. You can also ride motor trikes up to 15kw (20hp).
Riding a bike more powerful than the restriction limits is not smart. Not only are you unlicensed, but it’s also very likely your insurance is invalid, a very sticky legal situation that should be avoided.
An example of this would be riding a bike that is 125cc but produces more power than the class limit.
Read here for more on the best 125cc motorbikes.
It is up to the rider to ensure the machine they are riding is suitable for the license category they hold.
Getting an A1 License
There are 4 parts to getting your A1 license:
- Complete your CBT
- Pass your motorcycle hazard perception and theory test
- Pass your Module 1 test; this is a closed-circuit test (off the public road)
- Pass your Module 2 test; this is a test on the public road
Which Bike for the A1 test?
Module 1 and 2 for A1 must be taken on what the DVLA calls a “Light Motorcycle” this is a bike within 120-125cc with a maximum speed of 55mph or above and engine power up to 11kw (~15hp).
All good motorcycle schools will be able to provide a program of training that will prepare you to go through this process and successfully pass each segment.
How much does it cost?
The total cost of obtaining the A1 license consists of passing the CBT and paying the test fees.
However, the cost for most people will be substantially higher once you factor in training, which you will almost certainly need to pass.
The average CBT cost is around £100-150 for a day of training.
Test Fees payable to the DVLA are at the time of writing:
- Motorcycle theory test – £23 (valid for 2 years)
- Module 1 – £15.50
- Module 2 – £75 weekday/£88.50 weekend
Training can vary from £500-£1000 or more; if you have no previous experience, you’re likely to require more training, so factor this in.
Total approximate cost to get an A1 motorcycle licence: £600-£1200
When estimating this, it is best to speak with your chosen school directly to discuss your requirements.
The kind of bike you choose will be very personal, according to your budget, what you intend on using the bike for, how long you plan on keeping it, and what sort of bikes you’re into.
The following segments briefly describe some things you might want to think about when deciding what bike you want once you have passed your A1 license.
When it comes to 125cc bikes, there is a myriad of options to consider.
If it is your first bike, it is often well worth considering a used 125, particularly one from the big 3 – Suzuki, Yamaha, or Honda.
These are reliable bikes with very low running costs even when they’ve been used for a few years and have many miles on them.
For somewhere in the region of £1000-1500, you should be able to pick up a reasonably well-kept example from one of these manufacturers with a full MOT that will serve you well for a few years.
Read more about buying a used motorbike.
New bikes have several advantages; if you plan on putting a lot of miles on them, such as commuting, you may find it a better option to buy a new bike and replace it every few years to retain the warranty and increase the reliability.
When choosing a new bike, you will benefit from the latest technology, such as ABS, better fuel economy, and lower emissions, exempting you from the ULEZ should you wish to ride in central London.
Some A1 bikes to consider
Check out this post for our roundup of the best A1 motorbikes to consider.
Naked sports tourer-styled bike with an upright riding position. Power output on the limit of the A1 category, ABS as standard, and a light kerb weight of 138kg.
The CBF has been part of Honda’s 125 line-up since 2008, brought in to replace the CG125, and has long since been known as a bulletproof bike, perfect for first-time riders.
Suzuki GSX-R 125
The GSX-R 125 provides sporty characteristics with its leant forward position and aggressively styled fairings. Premium touches like the latest bosch ABS and keyless ignition are included.