The History of the MOT

History Of Motorcycle Testing

The history of the Motorbike MOT test from the start in 1931 to the present day. In the early days of motoring, one licence covered both cars and motorcycles use.

1931

First edition of the Highway Code published including advice for motorcycle riders.

1 Jun 1935

Compulsory testing brought in for all drivers and riders who started driving on or after 1 April 1934:


• around 246,000 candidates applied
• the pass rate is 63%
• 250 examiners taking at least nine, and up to sixteen, half-hour driving tests each day


Those passing the motorcycling test did not need to take another test to drive a car. The test was conducted by the examiner positioning themselves at a point where they could observe the motorcyclist's riding such as beside a common or in a city square.

In the case of sidecar outfits or three-wheelers, the examiner might have accompanied the rider.

Examiners were responsible for handling the booking of driving tests. There were no driving test centres; examiners met candidates at pre-arranged locations such as car parks or railway stations.

1939

Testing of all vehicles was suspended during World War II. Examiners were re-deployed to traffic duties and supervision of fuel rationing.

1946

Testing resumed after the war.

1947

The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations placed motorcyclists in their own licence group, but testing remained virtually unchanged until the 1960s.

19 Oct 1956

The test fee doubled from 10 shillings to 1.

1956

Testing suspended during Suez crisis and resumed after a year. Learners allowed to drive or ride and examiners help administer petrol rations.

1961

Learner riders were restricted to machines of no more than 250cc capacity in order to deal with the high number of motorcycling fatalities.

1963

New grouping systems were introduced for driving tests and driving licences and a distinction was made between the test of competence and the test of fitness (the visual acuity test/number plate test). Mopeds were placed in their own vehicle group for driving test purposes.

1965

The application form for a driving or motorcycle licence was revised. The medical standard for eye sight changed. The distance from which a driving or motorcycle test candidate must be able read a number plate changed to 67 feet for 3? inch high characters.

1972

The minimum age for riders of motorcycles was increased from 16 to 17 years. The minimum age for moped riders remained at 16 years.

1976

A new Driving Training Establishment opened in Cardington, Bedfordshire. Newly recruited examiners undergo four weeks of initial training.

1981

The government produced a three point package of changes:

1. the maximum size of learner machines was reduced to 125cc
2. provisional motorcycling licence entitlement was limited to two years
3. A two-part test was introduced - the intention is to reduce accidents by steering learners to take training with approved organisations on suitable motorcycles.

The first part of test included some basic off-road motorcycle control exercises - usually conducted at Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) centres.
The second part included the usual on-road riding.

1989

A new accompanied motorcycle test was introduced.Prompted by concerns about accident figures, the old-style 'Part 2' motorcycle test, where the examiner stands by the roadside, was replaced by the new, more demanding 'accompanied' test'. The examiner followed the candidate on a motorcycle or in a car and maintained radio contact with the candidate during the test.

1990

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is created as an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

Provisional licence holders prevented from carrying pillion passengers.

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) was introduced for all new learner riders of motorcycles and mopeds. CBT comprises five elements including a minimum two-hour accompanied road ride. The course is designed to ensure new riders have a basic level of competence before they are allowed to ride on public roads displaying L plates and continue the learning process.

1996

Introduction of specific theory tests for car drivers and motorcyclists.

1997

Introduction of additional licence categories and tests for learners aged over 21 years riding larger motorcycles (Direct Access Scheme) and small motorcycles.

New riders under 21 years restricted to riding machines of 125cc whilst learning. Once they pass the test they are then restricted to riding machines of 25kw (33bhp) for two years. After this period they can ride any size of motorcycle.

A minimum wait between tests of the same category is introduced for unsuccessful motorcycle riders set at ten days to ensure they had sufficient time to retrain.

2001

Changes to regulations obliged people with full car licence to take mandatory training (CBT) before riding a moped.

14 Nov 2002


A hazard perception element was introduced into the motorcycle theory test; this uses video clips to test candidates' awareness of hazards on the road.

April 2009

A new two part modular motorcycle test introduced enabling the UK to comply with the EU second Directive requiring new and more demanding manoeuvres to be tested.

Module 1

Module 1 contains the specified manoeuvres element of the test which is conducted off-road. It includes exercises designed to assess the rider's ability to control their machine safely, including avoidance and emergency stop exercises.

Module 2

Module 2 includes an eyesight test and 30 minutes of on-road riding, assessing the rider's ability to safely interact with other road users.

June 2010

The new coalition government announced a review of the current motorcycle test. An announcement about the review is expected before Christmas
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