Learn to ride with Visordown: Restricted or not?

Direct Access isn't for everyone. Here's why 33bhp might be the best route for you

Some riders flourish learning on a big bike - some don't...

ONCE YOU'VE completed CBT and Theory/Hazard Perception tests, the next decision you'll need to make is which sort of licence to go for. The majority of new riders over 21 years old opt for the Direct Access Scheme, which validates their licence to ride large-capacity machines straightaway. Those that aren't so concerned with riding a big bike immediately often settle for a Restricted Access, or A1 licence, which allows holders to ride machines up to 33bhp for the first two years. So which one's for you?

Direct Access

The Direct Access Scheme (DAS), which first appeared in 1997, requires candidates take their test on a bike of 47.7bhp or more and is an ideal route for those wanting to gain an unrestricted licence as quickly as possible. But before you rush out and book a course it's worth remembering that DAS isn't for everyone. Many novices, particularly smaller candidates, struggle controlling the bigger 500cc machines at low speeds, finding manoeuvres like the U-turn a major hurdle. This results in added pressure on the candidate, especially if they're booked on an intensive course, as it often takes longer than just a few days for some learners to feel comfortable riding a big bike in test situations. Ask for an assessment at your local training school.

Restricted or A1 Licence

The restricted licence route requires riders to take their test on a bike between 120cc 125cc, after which the holder may ride a machine up to 25kW (33.3bhp) for the first two years. Once the probation period is up, the candidate can ride any size bike they wish.

We'd recommend anyone that feels more at ease on a small bike to take advantage of the 33bhp rule, as it means you won't need to master a big bike before taking your test and you can always try for Direct Access at a later date. Either way, you'll have a full power licence after two years. Many riders think 33bhp machines are boring, but for many a small capacity bike can still provide a lot of fun. What's more, you can still ride a big bike (even a ZZR1400!) as long as it's restricted to 33bhp. So you get all the feel of the bike - the same handling, braking and a modest amount of acceleration - but without the mighty top end poke some big bikes whack out. Worth thinking about.

Golden Rules

Pick the licence to suit your needs

Ask for an assessment at you local training school

Take CBT before booking a full course

Listen to your instructor's recommendations

Useful Contacts

Kevin Williams www.survivalskills.co.uk

Bikesafe 01492 510969 www.bikesafe.co.uk

BSM 0870 902 1700 www.bsm.co.uk

BMF Rider Training 0800 328 9609 www.bmf.co.uk

Institute of Advanced Motorists 0208 996 9600

Driving Standards Agency 0115 901 2500 www.dsa.gov.uk

Department of Transport www.dft.gov.uk

Click this link to read about the new A2 motorcycle license

This article was originally published in August 2007

ONCE YOU'VE completed CBT and Theory/Hazard Perception tests, the next decision you'll need to make is which sort of licence to go for. The majority of new riders over 21 years old opt for the Direct Access Scheme, which validates their licence to ride large-capacity machines straightaway. Those that aren't so concerned with riding a big bike immediately often settle for a Restricted Access, or A1 licence, which allows holders to ride machines up to 33bhp for the first two years. So which one's for you?

Direct Access

The Direct Access Scheme (DAS), which first appeared in 1997, requires candidates take their test on a bike of 47.7bhp or more and is an ideal route for those wanting to gain an unrestricted licence as quickly as possible. But before you rush out and book a course it's worth remembering that DAS isn't for everyone. Many novices, particularly smaller candidates, struggle controlling the bigger 500cc machines at low speeds, finding manoeuvres like the U-turn a major hurdle. This results in added pressure on the candidate, especially if they're booked on an intensive course, as it often takes longer than just a few days for some learners to feel comfortable riding a big bike in test situations. Ask for an assessment at your local training school.

Restricted or A1 Licence

The restricted licence route requires riders to take their test on a bike between 120cc 125cc, after which the holder may ride a machine up to 25kW (33.3bhp) for the first two years. Once the probation period is up, the candidate can ride any size bike they wish. 

We'd recommend anyone that feels more at ease on a small bike to take advantage of the 33bhp rule, as it means you won't need to master a big bike before taking your test and you can always try for Direct Access at a later date. Either way, you'll have a full power licence after two years. Many riders think 33bhp machines are boring, but for many a small capacity bike can still provide a lot of fun. What's more, you can still ride a big bike (even a ZZR1400!) as long as it's restricted to 33bhp. So you get all the feel of the bike - the same handling, braking and a modest amount of acceleration - but without the mighty top end poke some big bikes whack out. Worth thinking about.

Golden Rules

  • Pick the licence to suit your needs
  • Ask for an assessment at you local training school 
  • Take CBT before booking a full course
  • Listen to your instructor's recommendations

Click this link to read about the new A2 motorcycle license

Useful Contacts

Kevin Williams www.survivalskills.co.uk

Bikesafe 01492 510969 www.bikesafe.co.uk

BSM 0870 902 1700 www.bsm.co.uk

BMF Rider Training 0800 328 9609 www.bmf.co.uk

Institute of Advanced Motorists 0208 996 9600

Driving Standards Agency 0115 901 2500 www.dsa.gov.uk

Department of Transport www.dft.gov.uk

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Reviews

Review
Review

Latest Videos

Feature
Article
Article