A2 licence explained
Max power output is 35 kW (47 hp)
Max power to weight ratio is 0.20 kW/kg
Max power restriction. Can not restrict bikes to less than half of the original power
Disclaimer: This guide is intended to explain, in plain language, the motorcycle categories, specifically, the A2 category. These regulations apply within the EU and the UK. For official information please look up your government’s website.
With the ever changing regulations regarding motorcycle licence categories it takes quite a bit of research to understand what you can and can not ride with your A2 licence. First, let’s go over the motorcycle licence categories.
In today’s licence system a new rider can start their motorcycling career at the age of 16 with the AM licence: 50cc motorcycles (scooters) after passing theory and practical exams. At age 17 an option for proper motorcycles open up with the A1 licence. Anything up to 125cc and 15 bhp is allowed.
The category above that, A2 can be obtained at 19. This licence allows any motorcycle not exceeding the power output of 35kW (equates to about 46-48 hp) and a power to weight ratio of 0.2kW/kg (this includes everything in the A1 category). Anything with 94 hp or above will have to wait for the full A licence, which of course allows any and all 2 wheeled machines to be driven. According to EU regulations the A licence becomes available at the age of 24.
Let’s go over the most important numbers regarding the A2 regulations listed at the top of the article.
The 35 kW (47 bhp) limit is quite obvious. Your motorcycle’s peak power output is limited to this number to protect new, younger riders. The 0.20 kW/kg power to weight ratio limit exists to filter out bikes that produce beginner-friendly power but are significantly lighter. Such bike (like a lightweight 250-300cc two-stroke) would be able to outperform even some larger sportbikes. It is important, that the your motorcycle must comply with both of these limits. Only because the horsepower is low enough, it doesn’t necessarily means you’re good to go.
The third number is for those who choose to restrict a more powerful bike to fit the A2 regulations. The restricted performance of the engine can not be less than half the original. This opens up motorcycles up to 70 kW (94 bhp) to use. However, in this case do not restrict it to less than 35 kW.
So the question arises, what motorcycle can or should I buy? There are 2 roads you can go down. If you can’t wait to ride a bike you’ve wanted to for a long time, (and it can be restricted) you can go with that and restrict it. Or if you don’t want to buy multiple motorcycles in the next few years this will also be the ideal choice as you can simply remove the restrictor when you move on to unlimited A licence. Luckily, there are tons of motorcycles (old and new) currently on the market that are eligible for such restriction.
If however, you don’t want to deal with the paperwork that comes with restricting, or simply want a smaller, proper beginner motorcycle you still have several options. This licence category only came by a few years back, which means manufacturers didn’t have to aim for these limits before. As a result, there are less older bikes that fit these numbers. Recently however, the companies have started to adapt to new licence rules and have been pushing A2 friendly machines in every category. Whatever type of bike you’re looking for (supersport, adventure, naked, cruiser), you will find brand new as well as barely used second hand models on the market. On a side note, this is a much needed and very welcome change to the motorcycle landscape. Newer riders will have more options and safer machines to choose from and will be less forced to start their biking career on a 600.
Restricted bikes in practice:
The easiest way to get a bike restricted is to request it when buying from a dealer. This will cost you a bit of extra money, but will receive an A2 ready machine. The way this works, is they change the ECU to a restricted one. You’ll be able to keep the regular ECU if you decide to change it back in the future. Alternatively, you can get any bike restricted at an official importer or a recognised specialist, the procedure is the same.
It is obvious that any motorcycle that comes with a stock power output of 35 kW or less is fair game. However, you may have doubts about the practical elements of riding a more powerful bike with A2 licence. More specifically, how does it work when a police officer pulls you over and you’re riding a bigger, but restricted bike. When you install a restrictor kit in your motorcycle you also need to get your bike’s registration updated before riding on public roads. Generally speaking, the number in your bike’s data sheet will be the only factor the police will have to determine your bike’s power output. So as long as it complies with the A2 licence restriction numbers, all is good. It is however strongly ill-advised to ride a motorcycle that does not match the data in your registration papers. In other words, do not remove the restriction kit from your bike after restricting it.