Can I take a passenger on my motorbike?

With so many licence classes and so many potential passengers, when can you give someone a lift?

ONCE you get on a bike it probably won’t be long before somebody else asks you to take them for a ride. But when is it legal for you to do it?

As a rule of thumb, if you’ve got the right licence to let you ride without an L-plate – whether that’s on a moped or a full category-A superbike – you’re allowed to take a passenger (provided the bike itself is correctly equipped for the job and the pillion has a helmet, of course).

But of course, even that is complicated. For instance, if you’ve got a car licence and a CBT certificate – or even just a car licence alone, providing it was gained before 1 February 2001 – you automatically have a ‘full’ moped licence. You can ride a moped with no L-plate and, yes, you can take a passenger on it. Of course, being a sub-4kW, sub-50cc machine, it might not actually move under the weight of two of you, but it’s legal. If you don’t have a car licence, just a provisional and a CBT, sorry, you’re stuck with L-plates and no passengers unless you’re one of the tiny number to take on and pass their full-on moped theory and practical tests.

The next step for most would be an A1-class bike. That’s a 125 with under 11kW. Here, most people tend to use L-plates and a CBT instead of a full licence, since by the time the CBT’s two-year life has ended, even the youngest 17-year-old 125 rider would be 19 and therefore eligible to take an A2 test. So for most 125 riders, pillions are a no-no. Of course, if you have passed your A1 test (theory and practical) to ditch the L-plates, then a pillion is legal.

Next? The A2 licence. Now, while it might feel you’re limited, the A2 licence is a full licence – you need to pass the tests, both theory and practical, to get it – so there’s no need for L-plates and yes, pillions are fair game. Since there’s no facility to ride A2 bikes on L-plates apart from under the tuition of an instructor, you’re never going to get the chance at taking a pillion on one before you’ve passed your test.

The full-fat “A” licence, again, has no facility for riding on L-plates. To be let loose on a full-power bike you’ll need to pass the practical and theory tests. Then you’re fully qualified, so again pillions are fair game.

Want more?

Click here for our Learner motorcycle section and click here to see why you should wear earplugs on your motorcycle.