The 'how to' of motorcycle licences
Here in Ireland, as well as the rest of the EU, there are a number of types of motorcycle licence. These vary with regards to the riders age, experience and qualification.
Ready to ride
Significant changes took place back in 2023. If you had a licence before that none of these may apply to you.
An A licence is the one we all want. Once a rider is over 24 they are permitted to ride any bike without any power restrictions. This can be attained by a process called ‘Progressive access’. This allows the rider to get an A licence after a certain amount of time without having to do an additional test. This is because the riders experience on an A2 licence is taken into account.
The one that a lot more new riders are familiar with is the A2. This is limited to riders who are over 18 years of age. Power limitations on this licence are up to 49bhp. This may sound a little low and restrictive, but there's now a large range of machinery to be chosen from in the class. Indeed, all of the manufacturers offer well designed, enjoyable to ride, machines within the prescribed power boundary.
Clean, quiet and very practical
A1 licences, meanwhile, are for riders over 16 and are limited to 15bhp or 125cc. This licence is for machines that have gear boxes.
Our last one is an AM. This covers riders of 16 and older and is for a moped or scooter that can’t exceed 45 kph. Some older car licences will have this one added as a default.
In terms of getting a licence the first person to talk to is a qualified and accredited riding instructor. Once you’ve been briefed on what you’ll need and you’ve let them know what you want to achieve it’s time to take a theory test.
All instructors must hold teaching qualifications. However, not all are this good looking...
Once that is done you’ll need to get back to your instructor and complete your Initial basic Training or IBT. Upon successful completion you’ll get a licence permit. After you’ve held that for six months you’re deemed to be experienced enough to take a test. When you pass, as you will, hold the licence for two years and use the ‘progressive access’ system to get on a full power bike.
IBT also includes a module on rider kit. You'd be surprised at how good you can look in some manufacturers clothing!
At this point you’re a fully licenced road rider. Subject to you having the money you can now ride machines such as the Ducati Panigale V4. This produces 211bhp and weighs in at less than 194 kilos. As such it’s a very long way from anything that we’ve been officially trained on. While high powered machines like this are somewhat of an exception, most of what we use when we have a full licence should inspire more learning.
Getting to ride your own bike on track is easy
There are a number of places we can do this sort of advanced riding. RoSPA is still the highest standard a rider can achieve on the roads here in Ireland. Riding off road is an incredibly effective way of adding to a riders ‘skill bank’. Off road skills courses are available, talk to any of the team at www.ccmracing.com . Riding on a closed circuit or race track allows you to work on high speed corners. Both leave the rider with a much greater confidence in and understanding of their bikes. Translated onto the road these skills make for a better rider.
Loud, dirty and a whole lot of fun!
But back to those A2 machines. Yamaha have the 700cc parallel twin range. These include the Tracer 700, the MT 07, the XSR 700. All of them look the part, are genuine ‘big bikes’. It’s the same for Honda as well as Kawasaki and Suzuki. All of the European manufacturers have something decent to offer in the class.
One of the brands that have A2 licence compatible machines available here in Ireland are Triumph. At the time of writing the company will support anyone who has passed their theory test and buys a bike from them with a €500 contribution towards their IBT.
Triumph will support your training
Some resources are rider training;
www.ridercoach.ie is one that we can’t praise enough!
www.ccmracing.com are based here in Dublin. What they don’t know about riding off road isn’t worth knowing.
www.overlanders.ie run some epic road and trail based trips all over the world from their base in Gorey. These include the BMW off road skills course in Wales.
www.mondello.ie host trackdays all through the summer, but better still are Irish company, www.motocraft.ie who run trips out of Ireland to some of the most iconic race tracks in the world. They’re extremely focused on the novice rider and a more welcoming and helpful team you couldn’t hope to meet.