Before you learn to drive on public roads, you must hold a learner permit (or current provisional driving licence), covering the category of motorcycle you wish to drive. It is important to note that in Ireland, learner permit (or provisional) motorcycle driving licence holders cannot carry pillion passengers (i.e., passengers on the back of their motorcycle) or ride on a motorway. Also you cannot go to the North of Ireland or abroad.
After 1 December 2007, motorcyclists with learner (or current provisional motorcycle driving licences) will be required to display L-plates on a yellow flourescent high visability tabard. (A tabard is a bib or sleeveless outer garment with open side-seams). The letter 'L' must be at least 15cm in heigh on a white background and must be to the front and rear of your torso. It will be a criminal offence for learner motorcyclists not to display L plates from that date.
When you apply for a provisional 'A' licence after 25th April 2001, it is necessary to sit a theory test. This is a requirement, even if you already hold a car (or any other vehicle) licence. For further information on the theory test, telephone 1890 606 106 or go to the Driver Theory Test website.
Some countries within the E.U. have the option of a Direct Access Test which if successfully completed on a bigger bike will enable you to ride unrestricted machines without having to wait a mandatory 2 year period after receiving your full A licence. Ireland doesn't have such a test due to its population.
Since the law was introduced there is a lot of confusion with regards to what your allowed to ride. It is not the size of the bike which is restricted, it is the power of the engine or the power to weight ratio, putting it simply as an example, most cruiser style bikes like Harley Davidson's do not need restrictor kits fitted because they are heavy bikes which produce low down power so a bike that weighs 260kg and produces 50bhp will not need a restrictor even though its above the 33bhp limit. A lot of manufacturers have realised that there is a demand for restricted bikes, manufacturer restricted models are usually cheaper to insure. Aftermarket or shop restrictor kits are rarely recognised by the insurer.
The Restrictor Myth
Part 1 I have heard many interpretations of this law. Motorcycle shops and persons responsible for issuing provisional motorcycle licences have said you are not allowed to ride bikes larger than 250cc, this is quite simply not the case. However, I would advise anyone wishing to buy a motorbike to make sure the insurance company will give him/her a quote on that model before they commit themselves to the purchase.
Part 2 I have ridden many restricted motorcycle's and all of them performed sufficiently well at supplying the rider with ample power and speed. It is a myth therefore that you castrate a bike when you restrict it, many bikes from 500cc up to 1200cc will still do 165kph and more which on Irish roads with a penalty point system in place is more than enough.
If you have any concerns with your licence entitlement then contact a motorcycle dealer. They will advise you whether a restrictor is needed. Almost all motorcycle's can be restricted to 25kW (33bhp) or to a power to weight ratio of 0.16kW/kg (0.212bhp/kg) by a mechanical fitment installed and certified by a motorcycle dealer.