When young people reach a certain age they want to spread their wings, and there may be no greater motivator than seeing their mates hit the road in a new vehicle. At 16 the world of motorcycling opens up, and if that milestone coincides with Christmas the parental gift might be an obvious one.
Riders can take to the road on a moped from 16, and there’s something to be said for starting with a 50cc vehicle with a top speed of only 30mph. There’s less likelihood of an accident and it won’t hurt you as a parent in the pocket; a brand new ride may cost as little as £500. A provisional P licence will only allow moped riders to use a 50cc scooter for 16 year olds, while at 17 a rider can move up to a Provisional A licence and a 125cc vehicle.
Young riders must take Compulsory Basic Training through an Approved Training Body before they take to the road. These courses are held at training centres across the country and include five elements covering on and off road riding and training across one day. Once this is completed a full motorcycle test must be taken within two years, or the CBT training must be taken again. There are two tests, depending on the type of bike you intend to ride.
In the meantime your young rider will want to get on the road, and it’s worth doing research for the best scooter before diving in – a good store such as Metropolis Motorcycles will advise you on everything from locking and storage to fuel consumption and style.
At the same time you’ll want to find out about appropriate clothing; riding motorcycle helmets are mandatory on UK roads of course, and it must satisfy either British Standard 6658: 1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05 standards. If possible your choice should really be fitted, as a helmet that moves about will provide little protection in an accident, while a too-tight helmet will be uncomfortable and stifling.
Ask the bike shop for more information or alternatively visit the SHARP helmet safety scheme website. Damage to second-hand helmets is sometimes not visible, so be wary. The visors/goggles should also comply with British or European standards, and it goes without saying that you should still wear glasses or contact lenses if needed.
Look for the best insurance deal, which can be tricky as motorcyclists are the most high-risk demographic. They are 38 times more likely to be killed in a road accident than car occupants, and young cyclists are the most vulnerable sub-group.
There are several ways to trim costs: taking an enhanced drivers scheme, storing the bike securely when not in use, and using price comparison sites will get your new rider the best deal. You’ll also need to tax the bike; anything under 150cc costs £17 for 12 months.
The worst part of buying a bike for Christmas is that the young motorcyclist will need to wait to complete the CBT training before taking to the road, and even then it’s likely that the weather will be difficult for the rookie rider. The best advice might be to head out to a quiet road with the vehicle in the back of a car, and practice a little before hitting the city. Riders with their CBT can take to the roads unaccompanied providing the vehicle displays an L-Plate, and that it does not exceed 11kw and 50/125cc.
You can’t stay with your young driver at all times but encourage them to take their journeys at a slow, comfortable and safe pace, with steady manoeuvres. They’ll build up awareness and experience to complement their physical, practical abilities – and their new cool vehicle.