If you're new to scooters and motorcycles, you'll find there's a lot of new information to deal with all at once. You don't need to worry though, there are plenty of people who are willing to help and advise you and the route to riding is actually quite straight forward. The best source of information and advice is your nearest Honda dealer. They are always happy to assist and guide new riders so you needn't be shy. Or why not visit www.geton.co.uk. There you'll find everything you need to know and you can even take advantage of a free 1 hour taster session.
Route to riding
Many people think you can buy a Scooter or 125cc motorcycle, hop on and ride off. But that is not the case. If you are 17 and over and you want to ride, you have 3 possible routes:
|A1 Motorcycle Licence||A2 Motorcycle Licence||Direct Access|
If you only want to ride a 125cc motorcycle, you can train and take the test on a machine of 75cc - 125cc and get a Category A1 motorcycle licence. This lets you ride a motorcycle up to 125cc and 14.6 bhp (11kw).
You can carry a passenger and use motorways, but your licence will not automatically convert into a full Category A licence.
You will have to complete one of the other routes if you want to ride a bigger motorbike.
Training and testing are on a motorcycle of 120cc - 125cc, capable of reaching at least 100kph (62 mph) but not more than 14.6 bhp (11kw). Passing the practical test gets you a restricted Category A2 motorcycle licence, which lets you ride any motorcycle up to 33 bhp (25kw)*
You can carry a passenger and use the motorways, and don't need L plates. After 2 years your A2 licence becomes a full Category A licence and you can ride any size motorcycle, even if you are under 21. *Not exceeding 0.16kw/kg power-to-weight.
You must be over 21 to follow this route. Training and testing use a combination of 125cc and larger motorcycles, which you are allowed to ride on the road with a qualified instructor. Your test must be done on a machine of at least 46.6 bhp (35kw), probably around 500cc.
If you pass, you immediately have a full category A motorcycle licence, can ride a machine of any size, carry a passenger and use motorways.
Finding the Right Trainer
Many Honda dealers offer rider training and some will even provide it for free if you purchase a motorcycle or scooter from them.
It's important that you get the right trainer to help you - whether you're learning from scratch or even if you think you're sort of OK on a bike. A poor trainer will just mean you struggle when it comes to getting your licence.
All Motorcycle Industry Training Association (MCITA) members abide by standards covering safety and quality of service, so you can feel really confident in the training levels you'll receive through our recommendations. See their website www.mcita.co.uk
Passing your test should not be the end of your training. Further training will help you ride more safely and enjoy being in control of your motorcycle. The DSA Enhanced Rider Scheme is one way to improve your riding - and save money on insurance premiums.
What to Wear
You don't need to spend a fortune to get yourself kitted out for riding. Gear comes styled for every kind of riding at prices to suite all budgets. If you're uncertain about what you need, speak with your Honda dealer. They carry a range of different makes and styles and will be able to advise you on the best gear to suit your needs, and your budget.
The law says you must wear a motorcycle helmet whenever you ride so choosing the right helmet is one of the most important decisions a motorcyclist will ever make. Choosing a helmet which ensures the best protection, safety and comfort is absolutely crucial and with many brands at different price points on the market today it can be a minefield of confusion for the consumer to know which one to select. All motorcycle helmets manufactured for the European market have to conform to the current ECE 22.05 standard. This standard is a minimum and there is no official way of identifying to the buyer if a helmet exceeds it, thus giving even better protection. The price is probably the only indication that some helmets are better than others. Fit is very important and should always come above price when you are looking to purchase a motorcycle helmet. Whether you are spending £50 or £500 you should always ensure the helmet you are buying fits correctly to your head size and shape. A motorcycle helmet should act as a second skull with no excessive movement on the head left or right, up or down, when fitted. This ensures that if you ever have to try it out it will give you optimum protection. A poorly fitting £500 helmet is worse than a £50 helmet that fits correctly.
Jackets and Trousers:
Whether you go for leathers or textiles, jacket and trousers or all-in-one suit, your clothing has to do a lot of jobs. You want it to keep you warm and dry, but not too warm in the summer. Even more important, it should protect you if you come off your scooter or motorcycle. And of course you want it to look right. Leather is the traditional material for motorbike riding. It's tough, so it gives good protection against knocks and scrapes, and it wears well. Modern textile garments have come a long way. They can be waterproof, breathable, reinforced with Kevlar and similar fibres for protection, and as cosy or as cool as you need. Many jackets and trousers come with removable linings, as well as pockets for armour if it's not built in.
Yes, your hands are the first thing to get cold, but there's more to good motorcycle gloves than a thermal lining. Remember last time you fell over? Which bit of you met the ground first? Suddenly, a strong glove with a reinforced palm seems like a good idea. Gloves come in all sorts of styles, colours and sizes, so there's no need to sacrifice style for safety.
Even on a scooter, it's important to wear boots that will protect your feet and ankles if you come off. If you don't want to wear something that looks like a motorbike boot, there are plenty of style options, including casual leather boots and low-rise boots for urban riding
Be safe, be seen
Finally, remember that many motorcycle accidents are not caused by the rider, but by another driver who didn't see the scooter or motorbike until it was too late. A high-visibility or reflective vest, bib or jacket may not do much in an accident, but it might help you avoid having one.
Practical Guide to Parking
In many places, motorcycle parking is completely free. Scooters and motorbikes can be left in parking bays, car parks and in odd corners where cars don't fit. Obviously, you still can't park on a double yellow line, or blocking a pavement, but if you had no common sense you wouldn't be riding, would you?
In places where parking in general is in shorter supply, there may be restrictions. The busier the city, the more you need to think about where you stop. You can't park on the pavement anywhere in London, for example.
Different councils have different policies, so to be on the safe side, check their website for local regulations. Some allow unrestricted parking in residents' bays, but not on parking meters, for example. Others will only let you use the bays marked "Motorcycles Only", or streets where anyone can park without restriction.
With more and more riders on the roads, a few councils are starting to charge for motorcycle parking, though it's generally a fraction of what a car driver would pay.
So what if you roll into a new town and can't see a motorcycle bay? Look around for other scooters and motorbikes. If three are parked in a residents' bay you're probably okay to do the same (check they're not sporting residents permits though!).
Road signs or ticket machines may tell you whether motorcycles have to pay, but if free bike parking is the general policy, they may not bother. If in doubt, ask a traffic warden or a fellow rider what the local rules are.
There are some myths about motorcycle parking. You can't get away with illegal parking by covering up your number plate, or if you manage to get both wheels off the ground at once, for example.
Motorcycle Security - Locks - Covers
Motorcycles and scooters are easy to move around and small enough to fit into a van. Unfortunately, this makes them easy to steal. New scooters and small motorcycles are especially likely to go missing.
So do what you can to deter the thieves. Park somewhere sensible, where it's not easy to lift your pride and joy into a van, and where there's something immoveable you can lock it to. Lock the ignition (don't just take the keys out).
If your motorcycle doesn't come with an alarm and immobiliser fitted, consider getting one. To get a reduction in your insurance you'll probably need to have it sold and fitted by a professional, and go for one that's either Thatcham approved or "sold secure" - check with your insurers to see what they recommend.
A good lock will put off opportunistic thieves. A disc lock attaches to the brake disc and makes it impossible to turn the wheel. They are small and easy to carry, but make sure you don't forget you've locked it and try to ride away. A U-lock is better, especially if it's long enough to go around a lamp-post or something else that's not going anywhere. Again, look for "sold secure" or Thatcham for extra reassurance.
Even better, carry a chain that will go through your back wheel and a fixed object. Many urban motorcycle parking bays will have a rail or ground anchor, or a road sign or lamppost would do the trick. If you're riding with friends, lock your bikes together. Or you can lock your chains together, so anyone who wants to leave early can simply unlock theirs and go.
Security marking makes it much more likely your motorcycle or scooter will be recovered and returned, and may put off a thief who doesn't want the hassle. Mark all parts of the motorcycle with the frame number or the registration number.
At home, park your motorcycle in a garage if you can, or out of sight behind a fence or wall. If nothing else, use a motorbike cover to reduce temptation. And always lock it to something solid. If there's nothing there, consider fitting a ground anchor that you can chain it to overnight.
Yes, you do have to insure your motorcycle. Not only does it protect you against losing everything if things go wrong, you're breaking the law if you don't. But you can keep the costs down and make insurance work for you.
What kind of policy do you need? Third party only is the minimum legal cover, and means you're insured against any damage or injury you cause to somebody else. Or you can opt for "third party, fire and theft", which means you'll also be able to claim if your scooter or motorbike is stolen or damaged by fire.
If you also want to be covered for damage to your motorcycle if you drop it, for example, you need to go for fully comprehensive cover. The exact limits of what you can claim will vary, so you need to check the details before you sign up for a particular policy.
You'll have to give all sorts of details to get a quote, including your age, occupation, address, what motorcycle you want to insure and what you plan to use the motorcycle for. It helps if you can give the actual registration of the vehicle you want to insure. The insurance company is trying to calculate how much of a risk you are - how likely it is that you'll be making a claim.
Always compare quotes before agreeing to a policy, and don't forget to check what's included. One insurer might be quoting £20 more, but if their policy includes breakdown recovery you're effectively saving money as you wouldn't get that separately for £20.
Most insurance brokers will let you pay in instalments, to spread the cost over a few months or the whole year. Once you've been riding for a few years your premiums should come down thanks to your no-claims bonus (assuming you don't have to make a claim, of course!) and it'll be cheaper to insure a bigger motorbike. To get an idea of how expensive a motorcycle will be to insure, look for the insurance group. The lower the number, the cheaper the insurance premiums.
Motorcycle & Scooter Maintenance Tips
Whether you're a committed all year rider, take your bike out once in a while, or you're just starting out - you need to regularly check the following very important things. They may seem small, but they could prove to be vital.
So remember to regularly check:
- brakes and brake fluid - make sure you have plenty left on your brake pads and remember, brake fluid runs out and doesn't re-fill itself. No brake fluid equals no brakes!
- tyres - cracks can appear during winter time, even if you're not using your bike; also keep a look out for nails, bulges and make sure your tyres are always at the right pressure.
- fork seals - loss of oil in the fork seals will result in poor suspension performance, so check for any leaks.
- oil - regular changes work wonders for your bike and its longevity.
- coolant - this is just as important in the summer as it is in winter so keep it topped up.
- chain and sprockets - winter can cause a chain to seize and be weak in places, so make sure all your links are loose and your sprockets don't have too much wear in them.
- lights - make sure your bulbs are working and generating light, and make sure your light is positioned correctly. It's easy to blind oncoming drivers, which can be very dangerous.
- have the bike serviced regularly at your local dealer - it will save you a lot in the long run.