Before you start worrying about buying a new motorcycle, moped or powered bicycle and taking out a bike loan, you might need to get yourself an appropriate driver’s licence, either a class R or class RE. It’s not necessarily difficult to earn one, but it does require some time, effort and a little studying. All in all, sorting out licensing for two-wheeled transport shouldn’t prove too difficult. Read on to learn whether you need to get a licence for your two-wheeled vehicle and if so, how to get it done.

Young guy standing next to motorbike with his new licence

Legally get going on 2 wheels

To Get Licensed or Not To Get Licensed: The First Question

A ‘two-wheeled vehicle’ could be anything from a bicycle to a huge cruiser or even, if you want to get technical, something like a Segway—but let’s ignore that one for now. You won’t need a licence for a muscle-powered vehicle like a bicycle or foot-powered scooter. However, the law requires rider’s licences for most two wheeled motor vehicles, including most mopeds and all motorcycles, which isn’t very surprising.

Laws concerning motorised bicycles are a little more complicated. As far as the law is concerned, the term ‘motorised bicycle’ refers to pedal powered bicycles with auxiliary motors that are not the primary power source. Certain classes of motorised bicycle are completely illegal to ride in public in some states and territories, while other kinds aren’t. For instance, Queensland prohibits internal combustion engines for motorised bicycles outright, but electric motors are fine. Be sure to check your local laws.

Requirements and Training: What You Need to Do

If it turns out that you don’t need a licence, then you’re in luck. You can go ahead with your plans! If you do need one, you’ll have to work a little for it.

You must have a rider’s licence to ride most motorcycles. However, to legally drive a moped with an engine displacement of 50cc or less in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, you only need to have a car driver’s licence. New South Wales’ laws are a little tougher, requiring that you earn a conditional or provisional rider’s licence and complete a pre-learner’s course in motorcycle riding, but you may have an engine of up to 125cc. In Tasmania, Victoria, and the Capital Territory, mopeds are legally treated exactly like any other motorcycle, so you need a rider’s licence.

As of 2013, all six states, the Northern Territory and the Capital Territory have put the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAM Scheme) into effect. This scheme restricts holders of a learner rider’s licence, class RE, to riding motorcycles with a maximum power-to-weight ratio of 150 kilowatts per tonne and a maximum engine capacity of 660cc.

Australia’s motorbike licensing laws aren’t terribly complicated, but it’s important that you understand them before buying a bike! It would be a shame to go through the process of bike financing only to find out that you can’t ride it.

We will talk more in depth about the various kinds of two-wheeled vehicles in our article on Bicycles, Powered Bicycles, Mopeds and Motorbikes, including some of the legal definitions.