There are lots of costs to add up when buying a new bike - not just the costs of the bike itself. Picture courtesy of Two Wheels, Edinburgh.

Essential costs to consider when buying your first motorbike

by Sabrina Bucknole

Whether you’re bored with your daily commute and wish to whizz through standstill traffic, or if you’ve always wanted to own a motorcycle of your own and you’ve finally decided to take the leap, there are many things to consider when buying your first motorbike.

To help first-time buyers determine whether they’ll be able to afford buying and maintaining a motorbike, this article explores all of the essential costs that come with owning one, including the price of a CBT, the motorbike itself, insurance, routine MOTs, and safety gear.

Provisional licence

First and foremost, you’ll need to have a provisional licence before you’re able to take your CBT test. This licence costs £34 if you apply online or £43 if you apply by post. To apply for a provisional licence you’ll need to be at least 15 years and 9 months, and you must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres. If you’re unable to do so, you will need to book an eye test and get some prescription glasses or contact lenses.

As a side note, if you already have a full driving licence, you can ride a moped (up to 50cc) without L plates and without taking the moped test in certain situations.

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Unlike a practical driving test for cars, which costs £62 or £75, depending on whether you book during the week or an evening/weekend slot, the price of a CBT can vary. You’ll need to book your CBT course directly with a motorcycle training school, who will set the course price. On average however, a CBT tends to cost around £130. While this might seem like a steep price when compared to a driving test, keep in mind that the average cost of driving lessons accumulate to £1,080.

The CBT covers a number of essential topics, including:

  • an eyesight check
  • basic maintenance checks
  • braking
  • manoeuvring
  • changing gear
  • riding behaviour
  • riding in typical traffic conditions
  • U-turns
  • emergency stops

While the full course usually lasts the entire day, the on-road part of the training should take at least two hours to complete.

At the CBT course, you must wear appropriate safety gear, otherwise your course can be cancelled and you could be charged to take it again. To avoid this, make sure you wear the following:

  • a motorcycle helmet that meets British safety standards
  • motorcycle boots
  • textile or leather motorcycle trousers
  • a textile or leather motorcycle jacket
  • motorcycle gloves

Once you’ve completed your CBT, you’re legally able to ride a moped up to 50cc if you’re aged 16 or over, or a motorcycle up to 125cc if you’re aged 17 or over. If you’re looking for something with more power, you will have to take further training.

The main event – the motorcycle

Depending on your tastes and preferences, the cost of a motorcycle can really vary. A moped or scooter for example, can cost anywhere between £400 and £2,000, all depending on the brand, condition, age and mileage. A special edition like a shiny, new Vespa 946 RED for example, could cost anywhere up to £10,000.

As a first-time buyer, it would probably make the most sense for you to start with a used bike, rather than a new one. That said, there are certain perks that come with buying new. For instance, new bikes come with a warranty, which can give you the peace of mind that if something were to go wrong with the bike, you’d be covered. You’ll usually have to pay a premium for this however.

Adding to this, once bought, the value of a new bike will swiftly depreciate whereas if you were to opt for a used bike, it’s more likely to hold its value. Plus, if you were to accidentally damage the bike in some way, a little cosmetic damage doesn’t matter quite as much as it would if the bike were brand new.

Overall, it can be much more cost effective to buy a second-hand bike, especially if it’s your first ride. That said, you shouldn’t go for the cheapest bike you can find – remember that you’ll need something safe and reliable.

Insurance, road tax & MOT

Once you’ve bought your motorcycle of choice, you’ll need to insure it. The actual cost of motorbike insurance can vary from insurer to insurer, so it’s best to shop around and compare prices to find the best deal for you. It’s good to note that some insurance providers even often discounts depending on whether you match certain criteria. For example, if you are planning to keep your bike in a locked garage or if you’re an experienced rider, you could be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium.

If you’re familiar with the price of road tax for cars, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how cheap motorcycles are when it comes to taxing them. In fact, it only costs £20 to tax a motorcycle with an engine less than 150cc for 12 months. In comparison, the price to tax a car can vary from £0 to £2,135 for 12 months, depending on the vehicle’s average CO2 emissions. Even better, the maximum MOT fee for a standard motorcycle is £29.65 – approximately £25 cheaper than the cost to MOT a car.

Safety gear

Before you hop on your new bike, buying quality safety gear is essential. There’s no denying that the cost of purchasing a quality helmet, jacket, gloves, trousers and boots, can add up quite quickly, but as they say, ‘safety comes first’.

Depending on the brand and the quality of gear, costs can vary. While you can find some good deals for quality protective gear, you should never buy a second-hand crash helmet no matter how cheap the price is. This is because you will not know its history, and for all you know, the previous owner could have been in an accident, leaving the helmet with critical defects that may not be visible.

Wearing bike gear that fastens securely and includes a well-fitting helmet with a clean and clear visor is a legal requirement when riding – so don’t go for the cheapest option available and make sure the helmet comfortably fits your head. To comply with the law, you’re looking at spending around £120 to £500 or more in order to find a helmet that meets certain safety criteria.

With this in mind, prepare to spend around £1,000 on quality protective gear, including a helmet, jacket, gloves, trousers and boots. While this may sound like a lot of money for ‘clothing’, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not too much to pay if you’re serious about your safety. Besides, when compared to the price of buying and owning a car, investing in a motorcycle is still a much cheaper option.

This article was written by Sabrina Bucknole on behalf of Bikesure. Sabrina is a professional copywriter from the UK. Growing up with a motorcycle-mad family, she spends most of her time writing about everything and anything motorbike related. 

Picture credit: Two Wheels, Edinburgh