A person applying for a first-time motorcycle learner permit in category A is restricted to driving motorcycles with an engine power output not exceeding 25kW or with a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16kW/kg.
This restriction continues to apply for the duration of all learner permits and for the first 2 years after taking out a full driving licence in category A.
A motorcycle can have a restrictor kit fitted to it to meet this requirement; the kit should only be fitted by a registered motorcycle dealer and you should keep the documentation relating to the kit while it is on your bike. Manufacturers and suppliers will advise on the power outputs of individual motorcycles.
The motorcycle test
You can’t ride a motorbike on public roads without either having a learner permit or a full driving licence. In order to obtain a full licence you must first do a motorcycle test.
A driving test is compulsory for motorcyclists who have been issued with two 2-year learner permits. You may not apply for a third or subsequent permit unless you can show you have applied for a driving test. In addition, you can’t apply for a driving test within six months of receiving a learner permit unless you held a permit within the five preceding years.
Driver testing of motorcycles in Ireland is carried out directly by the Road Safety Authority to a standard that complies with the EU Directive on Driving Licences. Testing is conducted out of 32 test centres throughout the country and where possible your test will be arranged for the centre you nominate on your application form.
The motorcycle driving test is a standard test and all test centres use the same testing procedures. Motorbikes with sidecars are not acceptable test vehicles.
The test is designed to determine that you:
- Know the Rules of the Road
- Possess the knowledge and skill to drive competently in accordance with those rules
- Drive with proper regard for the safety and convenience of other road users
You can apply and pay for your driving test online.
Preparing for the test
Prior to your driving test, you should study the Rules of the Road.
It is also a good idea to practise riding as much as possible on all types of roads and in all types of traffic situations. This will improve your technique and build confidence.
On the day of your test, you should give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the test centre with a few minutes to spare. When your name is called and you are brought into the examination room, your test officially begins.
The examiner will begin by asking to see your licence and will ask you to sign a form stating that the motorcycle is both roadworthy and insured. You will also be asked to confirm that safety equipment, (gloves, boots, weather-gear) and in particular the helmet, are properly adjusted. You will then have to answer some random questions from the Rules of the Road. The examiner will then accompany you to your motorcycle to begin the practical side of your test.
Since December 2007 you cannot take a driving test for at least six months after getting your first learner permit.
Waiting times and pass rates vary from county to county so it is a good idea to apply for a test several months before your second learner permit is due to expire.
Before the practical test begins, the examiner will check your technical knowledge of your machine. You will be asked how you would do a technical check of three parts of your motorcycle. The list includes, tyres, steering, brakes, chain, reflectors, indicators, lights (including dipping the headlight), oil level and emergency stop switch (if fitted).
You will also be asked to:
- Put the machine off and back on its stand (side-stands are acceptable for this purpose)
- Move the motorcycle approximately five metres forward or backwards with the engine off
If you have a hearing impairment, you may have an interpreter with you for the oral part of the test. Your interpreter must not be your driving instructor and he or she cannot accompany you on the practical part of your test. The tester may show written instructions for this part of the test and display them as appropriate; the tester may also use basic sign language.
If the vehicle you use for the test is adapted to suit a disability (eg, it has additional controls), this will be signified via codes on your full driving licence. If you have special needs, you should indicate this on the application form for your driving test so that any necessary arrangements will be in place when you attend for your test.
You can ask for your driving test to be conducted through Irish. (You will need to complete the Irish language version of the application form and submit it as normal.) If English is not your first language, an interpreter can accompany you for the oral part of the test. Again, this person may not be your driving instructor and can’t travel with you during the practical part of the test. The tester may show written instructions for this part of the test and display them as appropriate.
Practical skills test
Before the test begins, you will be given clear instructions on the route to take. The examiner will be following you behind in a car. In exceptional circumstances, ie, very heavy traffic congestion, the tester may observe you on foot.
Don’t panic if you make a mistake during the test. It may not be as serious as you think and may not mean you have failed. Motorcycle tests are carried out using radio controls. Equipment will be provided at the test centre and personnel there advise how to use it.
You will be assessed in the following situations:
- Moving off
- Driving in traffic
- Driving left-hand circuits of a block
- Driving right-hand circuits
You will also be required to do a U-turn to show you have good control of your bike in a confined space. You may lose points for using a foot to steady the bike. You will then be asked to ride at walking pace for around 50 metres to show you have adequate control of your vehicle.
The aspects of your driving that will be assessed include:
- Road positioning
- Overtaking and passing
- Anticipation and observation
- Use of signals
- Compliance with traffic lights, road signs and road markings
- Proper use of your vehicle controls
At some point during your test, the examiner will ask you to demonstrate your hand signals. You can also expect to make a number of left and right turns, encounter a roundabout and stop at traffic lights.
Common mistakes by motorcyclists during their riding test include:
- Failure to perform a U-turn correctly
- Inadequate control at slow speed
- Inadequate observations to the rear
- Incorrect or inadequate hand-signals
After the test
When you return to the test centre, your examiner will bring you back into the examination room to give you the result. If you pass, you will be given a Certificate of Competency, which is valid for two years. A Certificate of Competency is not a full licence and it does not entitle you to drive on a motorway or to carry a pillion passenger. The certificate is not valid outside of Ireland.
If you fail to apply for a full licence during this two year period, you will have to take your driving test again. If you fail your driving test, you will be given a detailed list of your mistakes, which you should study and rectify before you sit another driving test.
There are a number of things you should do before your motorcycle driving test and a number of legal requirements to comply with.
- Check in advance that your motorcycle complies with any kW restrictions on your learner permit
- Clearly display your motor tax and insurance certificates
- Ensure the bike is roadworthy and its tyres have a minimum thread of at least 1mm – the legal thread-depth limit for motorcycle tyres in Ireland
- Make sure your brake lights and indictors are working properly
- Clean the bike thoroughly
There is a charge for the motorcycle test. The fee since 7 April 2009 is €75 for motorcycles and mopeds (categories A, A1 and M).
Payment should be made by cheque, postal order or money order. These should be crossed and made payable to the Road Safety Authority.