UK Trike Law

TRIKES: This first section deals with the Offical UK DVLA Policy regrading modifaction of vehicle - ie: what happens when you convert your vehicle to a trike etc etc click on the link below to read the document/statement:-

This section below relates to the Laws regarding trikes:-

- 07784 868673 -

** Email: mrbikeuk@hotmail.com **

Q: Can I ride a Trike with my licence???????

Simple answer>>>>>

Q I have been told by my father and a few close friends that I can ride a trike (motorbike derived) on a provisional car(cat:B)/motorbike(cat:A) licence, as long as I display 'L' plates, on my own. Something about a motorcycle and sidecar outfit being able to ride a bigger bike without supervision???
The reason is I was also told I could drive a Reliant Robin (3 wheeler) on 'L' plates as it is classified as a motorcycle/sidecar outfit
Could you tell me if this is true, as I have tried talking to some people at the DVLA but it's like finding a fart in a hurricane (if you catch my drift)
A If you have a full car licence (category B) you can ride a trike without L plates. If you have a full bike licence (category A) which you have held since prior to 1999 you can ride a trike without L plates.
If you only have a provisional licence you must get the B1 category added to your provisional entitlement, before you can ride a trike on L plates.
These rules also apply to Reliant Robins.
As of 1999 only disabled people can take a test using a bike & sidecar combination.
If you wish more info you can contact the driving Standards Agency on 0115 901 2500.


Trikes and UK Law

This section is a comprehensive idiot's guide to trikes and triking in the UK. If what you want to know about trikes and UK road traffic law isn't here, then it probably isn't worth knowing. There is also a copy of this information on OPEN HOUSE (see links page), the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD) website. Please note - Trike Shop (UK) Ltd only build bike trikes we don't touch car engines.

Are There Different Types Of Trike?

Yes, but in a nutshell, there are only two types of trike that you really need to know about, bike engined and car engined. Having said that, it isn't the engine type that finally influences the decision of what type of trike you're going to ride, it's the weight of the trike, and what you are actually licensed to ride; any type of trike can be built or bought to suit disabled needs. These can realistically vary from a humble 250cc bike engined trike, all the way up to a growling, car engined V12 monster.

How Much Does A Trike Cost?

How long is a piece of string? If you're thinking of building a trike yourself, then there really are no price guidelines I can give you; the sky's the limit as they say. If you're going to buy a ready made trike, whether it be bike or car engined, second hand or new, you can be sure to be looking at anywhere between ?1,000 and ?20,000, depending on how many "trick" or "shiny" bits you want on it, or indeed, the extent of the disabled adaption. The adaption can be anything from a linked brake system, to a trike design where it is possible to board the trike in a wheelchair, and steer the trike from said chair; the possibilities are endless.

I Want To Build A Trike ... What's This SVA Scheme I've Heard About?

The Single Vehicle Approval scheme is a pre-registration inspection for cars and light goods vehicles that have not been type-approved to British or European standards, including amateur-built vehicles and vehicles using parts from previously registered vehicles; this can include some trikes. The main purpose of the scheme is to ensure that these vehicles have been designed and constructed to acceptable safety and environmental standards before they can be used on public roads. If you're seriously considering building your own trike, a copy of the SVA manual would be more than helpful to you. Go here ...


UK Government Regulations

Licence Groups permitted to drive a Microcar/Tricycle

Group 'A' (old group category D) motor cycle category minimum age 17
Group B1 (old group category C) motor tricycle / quadricycles
Group B car category manual or auto
Learner car drivers provisional with 'B' at 17 years or after (accompanied)
Learner motor cycle drivers provisional with 'A' at 17 years or after (may drive on 'L' plates accompanied)
A motor cycle 'A' provisional licence holder does not require Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) since the Microcar has four wheels
Motor cycle 'A' category licence holders mat take their car 'B' test using Microcar. A 'B' automatic licence will be issued.
A provisional licence for Microcar (four wheels) does not require reviewing after two years
A 16 year old enititled to Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate (Mobility Allowance) may drive Microcar

Minimum Age

In general, the minimum ages for driving on British roads are 16 years for invalid carriages and mopeds, 17 years for agricultural or forestry tractors, small vehicles and motorcycles, and 21 years for medium/large sized vehicles, minibuses and buses. At 16 years old a person can drive a 3-wheeler that is powered by an engine no greater than 50cc. You have to be 17 or over to drive a larger 3-wheeler like the Reliant Robin. (750cc - 850cc)

DETR Home Page

... to find out how to order the manual, read a more in depth explanation of the SVA, and have a look at loads more useful information.

Is A Trike Classed As A Motorcycle Or A Motorcar?

Now this is where it gets complicated. In this section, I will deal with vehicle classification, driving licence groups, MOT testing classes, and vehicle excise licence. These four different categories, when used in conjunction with each other, help determine what type of trike you've got, or are thinking of buying/building, and indeed, whether you are actually licensed to ride it or not. Please note that you will see several weights and figures which, logically speaking, should be the same in different categories, but they aren't. Don't despair, these figures *are* correct, as I ... er, asked a policeman. I'll start with vehicle classification :-

Vehicle Classification

A mechanically propelled vehicle that is used, adapted or intended for use on the road, is classified under a series of groups according to its use, weight and design. A trike can be in a number of classifications, and depending on which one it's in, makes for some pretty fundamental differences when applying road traffic law. The groups are as follows ...

1. Invalid carriage - Not exceeding 254 kg - Designed for sole use by the disabled. [1]
2. Motorcycle - Not exceeding 410kg - Not more than three wheels.

Recently, the DVLA have started to split this category for trikes that fall into it. The word "Tricycle", or phrase "3-Wheeled Tricycle" [Doh!], is more likely to appear on your vehicle registration documents, rather than "Bicycle" as has been used in the past. Maybe someone showed them the third wheel, eh?

3.Motorcar - Not exceeding 3050kg - Passenger carrying with no more than 7 seats excluding the driver.

[1] If a trike was built solely for a disabled person, and was adapted as such, it could be classified as an invalid carriage. It would be prohibited from using a motorway, would require only a "K" driving licence group, and would be excluded from road tax if under 10cwt unladen weight.

What your trike is classified as, will denote which driving licence you will require, and what vehicle excise licence your trike will require.

Now, I'll move onto :-

Driving Licence Groups

So, now you've worked out what your trike is classified as, you need to make sure that you are licensed to drive the vehicle. Unfortunately, licence groups don't match vehicle classifications exactly, so here we go ...

1. Motorcycle - New licence holders are limited to 25kw/33bhp for the first two years of their licence, unless they take the large motorcycle test (Direct Access). Less than 410kg unladen weight.
2. Motorvehicle - Not exceeding 3500kg, and not more than 8 seats excluding the driver; basically the "car" group. The entitlement to drive a vehicle not exceeding 7.5tonnes, for those who passed a test prior to 1/1/97, is covered under group "C1".
3. Quadracycle (licence group B1) - 3 or 4 wheel motorvehicles not exceeding 550kg unladen weight, but exceeding 50kmph and 50cc. This is a relatively unknown group that brings the UK more in line with Europe. If these type of vehicles exceed 550kg, they then fall into the motorvehicle group.

If you've passed a full motorcycle test, you will have group "B1" on your licence, although if you haven't passed a car test, you wont have group "B". This creates a bit of an anomaly as your motorcycle can't exceed 410kg, but you could ride a trike up to 550kg, because of your "B1" entitlement. This is worth knowing, as there are quite a few riders who limit themselves to a trike under 410kg without realising.

Changes to B1 Entitlement.

Before October 2000, a person who passed a motorcycle test was granted a full sub-category B1 licence (lightweight car, motor quadricycle, motor tricycle) as an additional entitlement with the full A (motorcycle) licence. The Driving Standards Agency, in their 'Safer Motorcycling' consultation, proposed that in future successful motorcycle test candidates would be issued with a provisional rather than a full B1 licence. 49 of the 57 consultees who commented on the issue were in favour of this proposal, including safety, police and training interests. There were representations against from companies selling lightweight cars, the National Trike Register and MAG UK, suggesting that riders might want to use their licence to ride tricycles. There were suggestions that separate licence categories should be introduced, but changes to motor vehicle licence categories would require a change to EU law. Ministers decided to implement the proposal, which affected very few motorcyclists as over 90% held a full car licence (which continues to give full sub-category B1 entitlement). Nor did it affect anybody already holding a full motorcycle licence, who retained full B1 entitlement. The changes were implemented during October 2000. What the above did mean though is that if you didn't have a full car or bike licence before October 2000 and wish to either trike your bike or buy one you will now have to apply for a provisional car licence and if you wish to carry passengers then pass the test. This is very unfair as a car driver with no experience of bikes can get straight onto certain types of trike, with passengers, and ride away. Also if you're forced onto a trike due to a disability or a smash you'll have to apply for a provisional car licence even though you've been riding bikes for years!

You can ride a trike on a provisional car licence, ie. with "L" plates, but you must be 17 ( or 16 if you are getting Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate for the mobility component ) and the trike must have only one seat; the rider's seat. If you do wish to carry passengers, your trike can have extra seats, but you must carry a qualified bike or car licence holder with you at all times; this is also dependant, of course, on which sort of trike your accompanying full licence holder is qualified to ride. Go here ...

DVLA Home Page

... to find more useful information on driving licences and vehicle registration.

Confused yet? You will be :-

MOT Testing Classes

Just to make things even more complicated, and having worked out your trike's classification, *and* ensured you are licensed to ride it ... what MOT group is it in? It could make a difference when it comes to MOT time, and you suddenly find out that your local bike workshop isn't entitled to test it. The requirement for an MOT test is the same for all vehicles, including trikes, but excluding HGVs and PSVs.

Class 1 - Motorcycles - With or without sidecars up to 200cc.
Class 2 - All motorcycles, including class l with or without sidecars.
Class 3 - 3 wheeled vehicles, not exceeding more than 450kg unladen weight.
Class 4 - Cars, including motorcaravans, dual purpose vehicles, and goods vehicles not exceeding 3000kg.

If you're wondering why I've included this table, then look again at class 3. Say for example, you've got a trike of between 450kg and 550kg (B1 licence maximum), it will need to be tested at a class 4 MOT centre. So, your trike could be classed as a motorcar, yet you're riding it under a quadracycle licence, but you need to get it tested at a car MOT centre. Got it? Good!

And finally in this section :-

Vehicle Excise licence

Just to make sure it doesn't get too easy for you, your trike will be taxed under one of three classes. Where as previously your trike would have been taxed as either a PLG vehicle (private light goods), or a motorcycle, a new rate was introduced on 1/6/99, as a concession for smaller engines ...

Part 1 - General rate - (PLG).
Part 1 : Concession - PLG not exceeding 1100cc.
Part 2 - Motorcycles up to 450kg unladen weight.

As with the vehicle registration, the "Tricycle" class has been introduced here too, or rather re-introduced; it's actually existed years, but hardly been used.

Expect to see "Tricycle" instead of "Bicycle" on your tax disc, if your trike falls into the relevant class [Part 2].

Spot the anomaly again. Say for example, you've got a trike weighing 420kg, it's not a motorcycle under vehicle classifications, it's a motorcar, but you're riding it under a "B1" (quadracycle) licence. It's tested at a class 3 MOT centre, but it qualifies as a motorcycle for vehicle excise licence.

Vehicle Excise Rates As Of 01/10/00

Bicycles/Tricycles - 12 month rate:-

Motorcycles (with or without sidecar) not over 150cc = ?15.00
Over 150cc up to 250cc = ?40.00
All other motorcycles = ?60.00

Electric Motorcycles (including Tricycles) = ?15.00
Tricycles not over 150cc = ?15.00
All other tricycles = ?60.00

You'll notice that there is no "150cc to 250cc" rate of ?40.00 for trikes, presumably because not many trikes fall into that rate, but as we all know, there are trikes that exist of that engine capacity. Ah well, you'll just have to pay the full amount, same as the rest of us.

So, that's it ... easy, eh? All you have to do now, is work out where your trike comes in all this. The best of British luck to ya!

Do I Need To Wear A Helmet When Riding A Trike?

In a word, "No", neither for bike engined nor car engined trikes. Helmets are only compulsory for motor bicycles, not motor tricycles. On the other hand, you may wish to wear a helmet, say on a long journey, to protect your head from the weather, flying debris etc, etc; it's up to you. As a word of warning, should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident on your trike, some insurance companies may try to use against you, the fact that you weren't wearing a helmet should you wish to make a claim for damages, especially if you sustained head injuries.

As far as 'the boys in blue' are concerned, do no more than to print this next piece out, and carry it with you. If you get pulled and quizzed about your lack of lid, just show this to them. Do not alter it in any way, as it is an official police document and will be recognised as such.

[Print from here]

Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1988.

Statutory Instrument 1998 No 1807:-


1. Citation and Commencement - Omitted.
2. Revocation - Omitted.
3. Interpretation


In these Regulations:-

a. EEA state mean a state which is a contracting party to the agreement on the European Economic Area signed 2nd May 1992. b. A reference to a numbered regulation is a reference to the regulation so numbered in these regulations. c. A reference to a numbered paragraph is a reference to the paragraph so numbered in these regulations.


[as to the area of the European economic area see further the editorial note to regulation 3820/85].

4. Protective Headgear.


(1) Save as provided in paragraph (2) every person driving or riding (Otherwise than in a sidecar) on a motorbicycle when on a road shall wear protective headgear. (2) Nothing in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person driving or riding on a motorbicycle if - a. it is a mowing machine. b. it is for the time being propelled by a person on foot. (3) In this regulation "motorbicycle "means a two wheeled motorcycle, whether or not having a sidecar attached, and for the purposes of this definition where the distance measured between the areas of contact with the road surface of any two wheels of a motorcycle is less than 460mm those wheels shall be counted as one wheel. "protective headgear" means a helmet which:- (a) either - (i) bears a mark applied by it's manufacturer indicating compliance with the specifications contained in one of the British Standards (whether or not as modified by any amendment) mentioned in schedule 2 to these regulations. 0r (ii) is of a type manufactured for use by persons on motorcycles which by virtue of it's shape, material and construction could reasonably be expected to afford the wearer a degree of protection from accidental injury similar to or greater than that provided by a prescribed under regulation 5. (b) If worn with a chin cup attached to or held in position by the strap, provided with an additional strap (to be fastened under the wearers jaw) for securing the helmet to the head ; and (b) is securely fastened to the head by means of straps provided for that purpose and "strap" includes any fastening device.

Do I Need Seatbelts Fitted To My Trike?

This is the definitive guide to seatbelt requirements for trikes; except no imitations! This took some serious research, and a few arguments with the Vehicle Inspectorate, but they agree this is totally correct.

Vehicles first used before 1 April 1987.

Seatbelts are required for three wheelers that fall into the following categories:

1. With an unladen weight over 410Kg first used on or after 1 January 1965. 2. With an unladen weight over 255kg if first used on or after 1 September 1970.


Less than 410kg unladen equipped with a driving seat of a type that requires the driver to sit astride it and where that vehicle was constructed or assembled by a person not ordinarily engaged in the trade or business of constructing those sort of vehicles.


Vehicle first used before 1 April 1981:-

Drivers - A belt that restrains the upper body (but need not include a lapbelt). Forward facing rear seats - no requirement.

Vehicle first used after 31 March 1981:-

Drivers - a 3 point (lap/diagonal) belt. [1] Forward facing rear seats - no requirements.

Vehicles first used after 31 March 1987:-

Seatbelts are not required for trikes that either ...

1. Have an unladen weight of less than 255kg. 2. With an unladen weight of more than 255kg but less than 410kg which are equipped with a drivers seat requiring the driver to sit astride it and where its been constructed or assembled by a person not ordinarily engaged in the trade or business of manufacturing vehicles of that type.


Drivers - three point belts Forward facing rear seats ... If not more than 2 rear seats then either:-

1. A 3 point inertia belt for at least one seat.
2. A 3 point belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for each seat.
Vehicles with more than 2 rear seats then either:-
1. A 3 point inertia reel belt on an outboard seat and a 3 point static or inertia reel belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for at one other seat
2. A static 3 point belt for one seat and a disabled persons belt or child restraint for at least one other seat.
3. A 3 point belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for each seat.
[1] A 3 point belt means a seat belt that ...

1. restrains the upper and lower parts of the torso.
2. includes a lap belt.
3. is anchored at not less than three points.
4. is designed for use by an adult.

Kindly reprinted from the original article by Wolf on the NABD website.

Although we try to keep this page up to date please check the DVLA Home Page for the latest changes!




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