Here's the before pic:
And here's the after pic:
Yep, no 'L' plates and that means one thing - I passed my motorbike test! That's right, I finally have a licence to ride any motorbike, of any shape or size that is legally allowed in the EU on any public highway across all 27 countries of the EU. I can carry a passenger on the back (pillion) or I can have a sidecar attached. I can also ride Trikes and Quadbikes, should the fancy take me.
That is also the reason why I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front this week. I have been busy getting nervous about this day.
As always, getting a licence in the UK is hackneyed process that seems like a never ending story of test, hoops and general wiggly bits. So here is what I have done, a rough timeline of getting to this stage, a fully licenced rider.
1) CBT - Compulsary Basic Training: A one day course that is mandatory for anyone who does not hold a bike licence if they want to ride. You don't really pass or fail this course, you just have to show the trainer that you have reached a particular standard of riding.
You can either ride an Automatic bike (scooter) or a manual motorbike and you will get the same certificate, valid for any motorbike with an engine size no bigger than 125cc. You have to ride with 'L' plates, cannot leave the UK on your bike, cannot carry a passenger and cannot use the Motorways.
That is why, up until now , my bike has always had 'L' plates. Until today...
I got my CBT in June last year, two weeks before I picked up my motorbike, from a work colleague who sold it to me for a song! And that legendary CG125 has done a lot for me...
2) The Theory Test: The theory test is done on computers and is divided into two parts. The first is a set of questions, and the second part are a set of videos where you have to spot the hazard - the hazard perception test.
I passed my theory test in April, almost a year ago, before I had even rode a motorbike. Why? Well, the test is valid for two years, which gives you a time limit where you have to pass your practical test(s). After that, you got to start again. I knew that by passing the theory test, I had to pass everything in two years, or I would have wasted my money on it. It is a good incentive to get you to the next stage...
3) Module 1 of the Practical Test: Home of the famous swerve test, you are required to do a series of maneuvers around an enclosed space.
I passed this just before I left for my holiday at the end of March. I kept that quiet becuase after Part 1, there is...
4) Module 2 of the Practical Test: This is riding around for up to 40 minutes, taking in various roads. The test has recently changed, with independent driving now a feature of the test. This means that you follow the road sings to say, Tunbridge Wells or something like that.
There are three types of practical test you can take, and depending on what test you take, it can restrict your licence. The first is the Direct Access, which is what I did. This means riding a (manual if you choose) bike, with an engine size of at least 500cc and a power output of at least 35kw. Oh, and you have to be over 21. If you pass a test on a bike like this, then you can ride anything, ever. And as I also have a car licence, that means, sidecars/trikes/quads/whatever are all open to me.
The rules get slightly more complicated if you ride a smaller bike. Oh, and if you are under 21, then you are restricted again. Here are the rules. Oh, and if you take your test on an Automatic bike (scooter) then you are licenced to ride Automatics only. Ah, the joys of British laws...
Yeah, so you need to do four separate tests/courses before you earn your licence to ride a bike. I do not think that any other category of driving in the UK needs so many ways to part with your cash...
In conclusion however, I am unrestricted, able to ride anything, manual, automatic, with any amount of wheels (bike wise). But for now, I think I will stick with my little beastie. It's good enough for me, just now without the 'L' plates - yey!