Changes introduced by the Driving Standard Agency on the 19th of January (DSA) are set to restrict fledgling drivers sitting their practical test on larger motorcycles.
As part of the changes, those clutching their provisional licence and sprinting to the test centre will be met with a series of alterations designed to promote increased safety on the roads.
So what’s new?
Well, first of all, 16-years olds who have forked out on a monstrous superbike and shopped around for the best motorcycle insurance (and found a helmet that matches their eyes) will be limited in the size of machine they can use. In fact, a 16-year-old may be horrified to learn they’ll be restricted to a moped of up to 50cc with a top speed of 28mph!
In addition, 17 and 18-year-olds are unable to ride a larger motorcycle straightaway. Instead, they must pass their test on a bike with an engine size not surpassing 125cc – and after two years they can take another test to upgrade their licence to allow for larger bikes.
Those beginning to learn at age 19 or over could take their test on a bike of at least 395cc and, again, can take another test after two years to upgrade their licence.
The evolution of a biker
The introduction of this ‘incubation period’ for new drivers is likely to be met with fierce resistance from all age groups – but the safety of the motorcyclist (and other road users) should be paramount.
The new EU-wide rules are aimed at reducing casualties, but critics say under-19s will be put-off taking a test because doing so will only give them a licence for a 125cc bike – and they can already ride a 125 on a provisional licence with L-plates, without doing the test.
However, the Motorcycle Industry Association claim the impact will be negligible because many first-time motorcyclists are over 24 anyway.
Of course, for any new biker, regardless of age, the freedom of purchasing a new motorcycle comes with the urge to open up the throttle and get out on the open road; however, the DSA seems determined to decrease irresponsibility on the roads by limiting the options available to younger drivers.
The upshot, though, is that the extra experience young riders gain before they hit 21, will mean their cheaper motorcycle insurance along with making them better (and safer) riders.
Will it work? Only time will tell.
Mark Cuthill is passionate about bikes and treats his ride like one of the family. When he’s not riding, talking or dreaming about bikes, he contributes articles on behalf of Motorcycle News – industry leaders in finding you the best motorcycle insurance.