Motorcycle L Plate Law Explained
At some stage in your journey to becoming a motorcyclist, you will encounter motorcycle L plates in one form or another.
While L plates don’t do much in the way of making your bike look sportier, go faster or sound better, they do serve a purpose.
In this article, we will break down the different types of motorcycle L plates, who are required to display them, and the law surrounding fitment and dimensions.
Can I Ride a Motorbike With L Plates?
You are allowed to ride a motorcycle with L plates if you have a provisional or full UK driving license and a valid CBT certificate. In Wales, you can choose to use L or D plates.
Unless you upgrade to a full moped or motorcycle licence within two years of passing your CBT, you must renew your CBT if you want to continue riding with L plates.
If you are 17 or older with a valid CBT, you are entitled to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc with a maximum power output of 11kW with L plates.
If you are 16 with a valid CBT, you are entitled to ride a moped up to 50cc with a maximum speed of 45 km/h with L plates.
Now we’ve established that you’re allowed to ride a motorcycle with L plates, let’s talk about where to put them.
Where Do You Put the L Plates on a Motorcycle?
You are legally required to display L plates on both the front and rear of your motorcycle.
Both L plates need to be full-size, visible and upright (as close to a 90-degree angle as possible).
Fitting an L Plate to the Front of Your Motorcycle
The most common places to fit a motorcycle L plate on the front include:
- Between or attached to the side of your forks
- Front fairing/Bodywork
Some riders also opt for sticking L plates to their mudguards, but we advise against doing this. As the L plate is no longer fixed in an upright position, you’re opening yourself up for trouble with the law, which is never a good thing, especially as a learner rider.
Fitting an L Plate to the Rear of Your Motorcycle
The most common place to fit a motorcycle L plate on the rear is under your number plate.
On most learner-legal machines, you’ll find two holes at the bottom of the number plate, specifically for an L plate. If you need to drill these holes yourself, ensure they are low enough not to obstruct your registration.
L Plate Requirements
L plates must adhere to a strict set of rules put in place by the DVSA to be road legal.
- The plate must have a white background and a red letter.
- The plate must measure 178 mm x 178 mm.
- The letter “L” must measure 89 mm x 102 mm.
Can You Cut L Plates Down?
Cutting L plates down to reduce the size is illegal and may result in a fine and penalty points.
2 Types of Motorcycle L Plates
1. Rigid L Plates
Rigid L plates are the preferred solution for most motorcyclists. These can be fixed to your forks using mounting brackets or attached to your number plate using screws.
This set from Oxford (pictured above) comes with everything you need to get started (plus an additional adhesive plate).
2. Adhesive L Plates
If your front fairing or windscreen is large enough to accommodate an L plate sticker, you may consider using an adhesive plate.
Remember, your L plates must be as close to 90 degrees as possible! Wrapping an adhesive plate around your fork/s or sticking it flat on your mudguard is against the law.
What Happens if You Ride a Motorbike Without L Plates?
Riding a motorcycle without L plates (if you are required to do so) is a criminal offence. You could be fined up to £100 and receive three penalty points per missing plate.
How Many L Plates Do You Need on a Motorbike?
You are required by law to display two L plates on your motorcycle; one at the front and one at the rear. Both L plates should be upright and as close to 90° as possible.
Why Do Motorcycles Have L Plates?
Motorcycles have L plates to inform other road users that the learner rider has little-to-no road experience.
Do I Need L Plates on a 125cc?
You must have a valid CBT certificate and be aged 17 or older to ride a 125cc with L plates.
Unless you have passed your full motorcycle license, you must display L plates on a 125cc motorcycle or moped.
How Long Can You Ride a 125cc on L Plates?
After passing your CBT, you’ll receive a certificate of completion that is valid for two years.
Once your CBT expires, you are required to renew your CBT before riding a 125cc with L plates again.
There is no limit to the number of times you are allowed to renew your CBT. At the price of £100+ each time, though, these costs will quickly add up. Consider taking your motorcycle test and ditching the L plates altogether instead!
Can I Ride a 600cc on L Plates?
You must be accompanied by an instructor to ride a 600cc on L plates. Once you have finished training and passed your test, you are not required to display L plates on a 600cc.
Can I Ride a 250cc on L Plates?
An instructor must accompany you to ride a 250cc on L plates. After obtaining your motorcycle license, you are not required to display L plates on 250cc.
Do You Need L Plates on a 125cc With a Full Car Licence?
Even if you have a full car license, you are still required to complete a CBT and display L plates to ride a 125cc.
Regularly ensuring your L plates are upright, secure and clean is simple and could save you a world of trouble. Keep on top of it, and you’re unlikely to run into any nasty surprises, like a missing L plate, down the line.