A guide to mopeds and motorbikes up to 125cc

Let’s take a look at whether a 125cc bike is right for you...

Mopeds and bike with engines up to 125cc are extremely popular because they are easy to ride, economical to run, and can often be affordable to insure. That makes them appealing to learners and more experienced riders too.


What does 125cc mean?

The cc stands for cubic centimetres. It’s a measurement of the size of the engine chamber and helps describe how powerful a bike is with the lower the cc meaning the lower the power that the bike creates.


Why should I choose a 125cc bike?

There are a huge range of 125cc bikes on the market, from scooters to sports bikes, so it’s worth doing your research before you buy.

One reason why 125cc bikes are so popular is because they are the largest engine size that can legally be ridden by anyone who is at least 17, has a provisional licence, and has undergone Compulsory Basic Training (CBT).

They also compare well when it comes to performance, price and running costs, which are all likely to affect the bike you choose to buy:

  • The average 125cc bike will likely have a top speed of around 70mph, and should be able to cruise along at 50 to 60mph quite comfortably.
  • A second-hand 125cc bike can be picked up from a few hundred pounds, while a new high performance machine could set you back more than £4,000.
  • They are generally cheap to run, with many capable of achieving more than 100 miles per gallon




What licence do I need?

If you have passed your car driving test, you can apply for a provisional motorcycle licence to be added to your car licence by contacting the DVLA.

If not, then you’ll need to apply for a provisional motorcycle licence by filling out a D1 application form, available from the Post Office, and sending it to the DVLA with a photograph, ID and a £34 fee.

Either way, once you get your provisional licence, you’ll need to complete CBT before you can take to the roads, unless you passed your car driving test before 1st February 2001, and only want to ride a moped (49cc), in which case CBT is not required .

The motorcycle licence system is complicated, so DVLA flowchart (PDF 469kb) is a useful flowchart from the DVLA of the different kinds of licences, including the training and tests you need to take


What is CBT?

CBT involves practical and theory training, and is compulsory for just about everyone who wants to ride a 125cc bike. Find out who is exempt from CBT.

How quickly you complete CBT is up to your instructor. You don’t need to take a test at the end, but you will only progress through the training if your instructor is happy that you have learnt the theory and shown the practical skills to a safe basic level, including a period of time riding on the public road.


Are there any restrictions on a provisional licence?

There are some restrictions for those riding on a provisional licence. You can’t carry passengers or ride on the motorway, for example. You must also display L-plates, or D-plates in Wales, at all times and re-take your CBT every two years.




How much is it to insure a 125cc bike?

How much a 125cc bike costs to insure depends partly on which insurance group your 125cc machine is in.

Depending on what make and model it is, a 125cc bike can be as low as group two (Scooter) and as high as group 12 (Sports 125), though they generally fall into the lower insurance bands.

An insurer will also consider things like your age, occupation and insurance claims history when deciding how much your insurance policy will cost.


Does derestricting my bike affect my insurance?

Some bikes come fitted with a restrictor, which limits how much power they can produce and therefore how fast they can go.

Don’t be tempted to remove the restrictor to boost your bike’s power. You could be breaking the law by riding a derestricted bike as you may not have the right kind of licence to ride a more powerful machine.

It will also probably invalidate your insurance, so you won’t be covered in case of an accident unless you have specifically disclosed this modification to your insurer and they have agreed to provide cover.


How much is road tax for a 125cc bike?

Your 125cc bike must have road tax. Any bike that is below 150cc costs £17 a year to tax . You can tax your bike online, over the phone or at the Post Office.


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