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From Motorbike to Car: Advice for Learners

No motor vehicles sign

We talk a lot about how to get from A to B here on the PassMeFast Blog. Today, we’ll be doing just that, though in a slightly different context. That’s because we’re discussing the journey from category A to category B licences—or, in other words, from motorbike to car.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what motorcycle licence-holders will need to consider when learning to drive a car. We’ll see if there are any differences in the process of obtaining the licence, and examine whether experience on two wheels helps or hinders the transition to driving.


Getting your licence: motorbike vs car

If you’ve already obtained your motorbike licence, you’ll know that there are a few extra steps beyond the tests themselves. Getting a car licence is more streamlined—though still far from a walk in the park. We’ll compare the two processes side by side to show just how different things are for motorcycle and car learners.

Learning to ride a motorbike Learning to drive a car
Apply for a provisional licence
Complete compulsory basic training (CBT)—usually a one-day course Drive with L plates while accompanied until provisional licence expires
Ride with L plates for up to 2 years Take the car theory test, with multiple-choice and hazard perception sections
Sit the motorcycle theory test, with multiple-choice and hazard perception sections (before or after CBT) Sit the car practical test
Pass the off-road riding test (module 1) Receive a category B licence, or category B (auto) if test taken in an automatic car
Take the on-road riding test (module 2)
Receive a category A licence

Those already holding category A licences will, therefore, find some aspects of the process familiar. The two-part theory test, for example, is made up of multiple choice and hazard perception sections for both motorcycle and car learners. It should also go without saying that a solid knowledge of the Highway Code is key for riding and driving alike.

There are, however, some key differences. One of the major ones is that there’s only one practical test, instead of the two that bikers must take. Additionally, there’s no need to take a training course before you head out on the roads. Unlike those learning to ride, though, learner drivers must have an accompanying driver at all times.


Will having a motorbike licence make it easier to learn to drive?

Motorcycles and cars may share the road, but the two types of vehicles have some fundamental differences. So, does having a background in riding help ease the learning process of driving a car—or will it simply confuse matters? Let’s look into the details.

Rules of the road

'Know the Rules' written in chalk on a blackboard

We’ll start off with one area where motorcyclists may have an advantage over other learner drivers: the rules of the road. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—taking to the road on a bike means adapting to similar conditions as those behind the wheel of a car. While not every rule will apply equally to both riders and drivers, the Highway Code underpins exemplary conduct for both groups.

Riders will, for example, be more than familiar with the observation, signal, manoeuvre routine. When they hop into a car, therefore, it’s a matter of adapting this existing knowledge (such as using mirrors) rather than learning from scratch. Other important basics, such as the right position to adopt on the road, safe overtaking procedure, and slowing down when approaching a bend, are also likely to come naturally to riders.

In time, of course, all drivers will need to show that they’re able to display the same skills. However, the existing grounding that riders have means that they may find the learning curve that bit shallower. The result of this is that those who already hold motorbike licences may need fewer lessons to pass their car driving test.

Controls

A car’s controls are a million miles away from those of a motorbike. This may be self-evident, but it’s still worth noting. Adapting to most of the differences should be a fairly quick process. It should be pretty clear, for example, that you’ll need to use the steering wheel to turn the car, rather than relying on moving your weight around.

One important difference riders will need to learn, however, is that the gearbox works differently. Motorbikes use a sequential gearbox, meaning that you must change gears up and down one at a time. If you wanted to go from first gear to fourth, for example, you’d first need to go up to second, then third. In a car, however, it is possible to change multiple gears at a time. In fact, when changing down gears while approaching a junction, ‘block’ changing is often a better move.

Awareness

Busy road

We realise that some of the points we’re making here are a little obvious, but one change motorcyclists will need to get used to when they start driving a car is that the vehicle they’re operating is, well, bigger. You’re no longer one of the smallest and nimblest road users, so weaving in and out of traffic is a no-no. Taking the kind of chances you may have gotten away while on a bike could cause serious problems in a car.

While riding a motorcycle, you’ll be all too aware of the risks around you on the road. The key is not to allow complacency to creep in now that you’re in a car. Cars may offer greater stability, but they’re also larger, and, consequently, capable of causing far more damage. Additionally, you’re trading in, to some extent, the ability to detect subtle changes in your driving. This makes it important that you always drive with caution.

This isn’t a question of changing your habits when you start driving, though. Instead, it’s ensuring that you don’t lose the excellent habits that become ingrained while you’re riding. Maintain that motorbike mindset, and you’re onto a good thing.

Consideration for other road users

Man on motorbike smiling at camera

When you’re on a bike, you’re one of the most vulnerable people on the road. Every year, thousands of motorcyclists suffer serious injuries while riding—and, while fatality rates are falling, there are still hundreds of deaths annually.

Get behind the wheel of a car, however, and the roles are reversed, and you could be the one whose risky behaviour causes harm to others. However, while you can take the biker off the bike, you can’t take the bike out of the biker. Learning to ride means developing a keen sense of situational awareness, including habits such as the lifesaver check. Once this is hardwired into the way you ride, you’ll carry it over into your driving, too.

It’s all too common for drivers to forget that they share the road with motorbikes, pushbikes and plenty of other, more vulnerable road users. Having experienced life as a rider, however, you’ll know the importance of showing care towards other road users. This will, in turn, make you a more considerate and safer driver in the long run.


From motorbike to car with PassMeFast

cartoon of person driving car surrounded by holiday items

If you’ve decided the time is right to go from two wheels to four, then PassMeFast are here to help. Our intensive courses are a great option if you’re looking to drive quickly. In fact, with a PassMeFast instructor by your side, you’ll soon be able to harness the skills you’ve already gained as a rider and become a safe, confident driver within just weeks of booking in.

To learn more about everything we have to offer, check out our prices page to compare all of our nine courses side-by-side. Not quite sure which course is right for you? Check out our course recommender—we’ll even take your experience as a motorcyclist into account when creating a personalised quote for your ideal course!

By Andy Boardman

Andy fell in love with driving while road tripping around Iceland. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.

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