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50cc motorbike insurance

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What is a 50cc motorbike?

50cc motorcycles motorbikes that have an engine size of 50 cubic centimetres (cc)

This engine size also relates to the total power output of the scooter – a 50cc motorbike is usually capable of a top speed of around 30 mph.

50cc motorbikes have some of the smallest engines available and are usually built with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) system. This is better known as twist-and-go, meaning you don't need to change gears.

50cc motorbikes might have their top speeds limited to 28 mph. Their safety and simplicity mean they tend to be cheaper to buy and insure and make a great choice for younger and inner-city riders. You can find more information in our guide to the different types of motorbikes.

What is 50cc motorbike insurance?

One of the biggest expenses associated with motorbike riding is the annual insurance cost.

It's worth shopping around and comparing moped insurance prices to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

One of the biggest decisions you have to make is the level of cover to opt for.

Remember, cheapest isn’t always best and you need cover that’s appropriate for your needs.

The level of cover you opt for is just one of the many factors that could impact your costs.

You usually have the following 3 options to choose from:

  • Third-party only This covers the costs payable to the other person or vehicle involved in an accident, but none of your own. This means any damage to your bike likely comes out of your own pocket.
  • Third-party, fire and theft This offers the same level of cover as third party only, but with additional peace of mind if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Comprehensive This is usually the highest level of cover available, and should pay out the cost of any damage to your vehicle. It also covers third-party claims made against you following an accident.

Can a 16-year-old ride a 50cc motorbike?

One of the most appealing aspects of 50cc motorcycles in the UK, is that you can usually ride one from the age of 16.

Even better, while you do need insurance to ride a 50cc motorbike, you don’t need a full driving licence.

You can find a detailed breakdown of the regulations and restrictions around riding motorbikes using this flowchart from GOV.UK, but in short:

  • Most 50cc motorbikes and mopeds are legal for road use by riders aged 16 and over in the UK
  • The minimum legal requirement is completion of the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), theory and practical tests
  • If you're 16, you need to display L plates on your motorbike until you reach 17 and complete the practical and theory riding tests before getting your motorbike licence.

These requirements aren't strictly limited to 50cc motorbikes, though. The government says these restrictions apply to 'mopeds with a speed range of 25-45km/h' (roughly 16-28 mph). As long as your motorbike conforms to that speed limit, you don't necessarily have to have a 50cc engine.

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Can you ride a 50cc motorbike on a car licence?

If you have a full driving licence you might be able to ride a motorcycle up to 50cc without using L plates and without taking the test. The precise rules depend on when you passed your driving test.

You can read the regulations in full on the GOV.UK website, but in short:

If you passed your driving test before 1 February 2001 you can drive a motorbike up to 50cc without L plates. Also, you don’t need to pass the CBT compulsory basic training course or take a moped test.

If you passed your driving test on or after 1 February 2001 it gets more complicated.

You can get a full 50cc motorbike licence if you either:

  • Pass your car driving test and then complete a CBT course
  • Complete the CBT course and then do your car driving test within 2 years

How fast does a 50cc motorbike go?

Technically, some 50cc motorbikes can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, or even 60 mph. However, many have a restricted engine that limits them to 28 mph.

This makes them safer for younger, inexperienced riders and is why you may see them referred to as a kids' 50cc motorbike.

Is a 50cc motorbike classed as moped?

Many 50cc motorbikes are also considered to be mopeds, but not all of them.

The term moped comes from ‘motor’ and ‘pedal’ as the earliest versions were basic motorbikes with pedals added.

Today, a moped is classified as a light 2-wheeled motorbike with a speed range of 25-45 km/h.

How much is tax for a 50cc motorbike?

Vehicle excise duty (VED) for 50cc motorbikes tends to be more affordable, particularly when compared to car tax. The smaller the engine of the motorcycle, the less you usually have to pay.

This year, the cost for any motorbike with an engine smaller than 150cc is £22 a year if you pay in a lump sum. If you choose the pay monthly, the cost rises slightly to £23.10.

For faster motorbikes, the cost rises. For instance, for a motorbike with an engine size between 151 and 400cc the annual cost is £47. For a motorcycle with an engine over 600cc the cost is £101 a year.

Finding the best 50cc motorbike for you

The main selling point for 50cc motorcycles is that you can ride them from 16 years of age.

Since they’re designed to be cheap, low-maintenance vehicles, there tends to be a rather limited range to choose from.

When choosing your motorbike, your main concern should be that you meet all the legal requirements to ride it. Other than that, you might also want to check:

  • With friends and family who’ve ridden 50cc motorbikes before, and what they recommend. Ask about ease of riding and speed.
  • That your chosen motorcycle can be easily serviced, and replacement parts are readily available.
  • The price difference between new and second-hand 50cc motorbikes. In some cases, the additional expense of a new model might be worth the peace of mind and reliability that comes with it.

When buying any vehicle, it’s important to consider the full costs before you buy:

  • Look into yearly tax costs, though these are generally quite cheap on small-engine motorbikes
  • Do some research to find out how much scooter insurance might be, and whether you need to pay a fee to complete the tests
  • Check the prices of any motorbike riding gear you need, such as a helmet, which must be worn as a legal requirement

What our motorbike insurance expert says

Just like with a standard motorcycle, it’s essential for you to insure your 50cc motorbike if you wish to ride it. When looking for insurance, things like your age, experience and whether you have a full license could all affect the cost. Make sure you take into account all of these factors when choosing the right policy for you.
Jack Cox motorbike insurance expert signature

Jack Cox

Motorbike insurance product manager

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