There is a lot of misinformation and opinion on biker forums about the A2 licence category – how does it work and who is it good for.
Some history: Before January 2013 someone who was either not old enough or was struggling on a full DAS bike (500cc in those days) could do their test on a 125cc bike and come away with an A2 licence. After passing they could go and buy any size bike and add a 33bhp restrictor kit (the most expensive metal washer or screw you ever bought). After 2 years the kit could be removed and you carried on riding. The advantage of this approach was it gave you time to get used to the bigger bike and stay lucky. The significant disadvantage was your test didn’t prove you could handle the bigger biker in the first place – weight, manoeuvrability etc. but OK, at least you had your test-standard road craft skills in place.
From January 2013 the A2 category became mandatory for anyone between the ages of 19 and 24 wanting a bike licence. To meet test requirements the bike must;
- Be over 395cc
- Be between 20kW and 35kW (27bhp to 47bhp) in power and not restricted from an original power greater than 70kW (94bhp)
- Not exceed a power to weight ratio of 0.2kw/kg
Rather than buying specific bikes that meet the spec, any bike school will have appropriate restrictor kits to fit to their Category A DAS bikes and use them for a student on an A2 course.
On passing your test you can then buy any size cc bike and restrict it as long as it’s original power was not greater than 70kW. After 2 years either carry on riding with the restrictor or if you want to derestrict the bike you need to do a category A motorcycle test. If you don’t pass you still keep your A2 licence.
The main misconception about an A2 licence is it is not worthwhile so who is it good for?
In short, those not old enough for a DAS licence. OK, if you are within a few months of being 24 maybe it is worth to hang on a bit but otherwise an A2 licence is going to get you on the road and enjoying biking. You have a huge choice of bikes to restrict except those more powerful than 70kW. You just won’t be on something like an S1000RR and whilst it is a free world (nearly) maybe those kind of bikes are not the best choice for a fresh test pass anyway.
But there is an issue not being addressed by the current testing regulations. Anyone who struggles with a larger bike – height, weight etc. could in theory manage OK on some of the nice 300-350cc bikes out there (KTM 390 Duke, Kawasaki Versys 300, BMW G310 etc.) But these can’t be used on test because of the minimum 395cc requirement or because they exceed the 0.2kW/kg power to weight ratio. That’s a shame because it could open up the market more and is really only a case of the test rules being out of date compared to advancements in bike manufacturing and technology. Schools would have to invest in bike stock to cover this but if the market was there it could be worthwhile.