Suzuki Burgman USA Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My wife and I have toyed with the idea of moving to England for a year or so
as kind of a late in life sabbatical. I was wondering if any UK riders might offer some insight into UK license requirements. Here in the US, most states don't require special licenses under 50cc...is it similar in the UK?...what
about larger bikes?

Thanks,

Paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
498 Posts
Paul, you require a license for everything in England.

I am a British ex-pat currently based in Tokyo. In my opinion, the UK is the most wet, uninteresting and expensive country to ride a motorcycle in - bring a very large wallet, heavy duty rainsuit, and mild manners. The latter is imperative, as you will be stopped again and again by idle traffic police, simply because your chosen mode of transport that day has two wheels not four. Bikes cost the earth, and insurance even more - and with the poor weather and the fact that the roads are salted in winter, used machines are often in less than perfect condition under the polished plastic exterior. New machines are over priced - read 6500GBP (12,000USD) in the UK as opposed to 7,500USD (4300GBP) in the US for an AN650.

Licensing is as follows:
50cc: If you have a driving license issued in the UK before 2001 you are probably already entitled to ride a moped without training. Training is advised, however. If you don't yet hav a UK driving license, you'll need to take a "Moped training course". Budget 50 pounds or so for that course.

51cc and above: You require a full motorcycle license. 3-6 day intensive courses are recommended if you have time off work with a very high succes rate. Doing the course by weekly visits is also possible, but will take time and the failure rate is a little high. Most comon reason for failure is missing a speed limit change from 50mph to 30mph and basically not knowing the road course very well. Intesive courses really get the route drummed into you. Budget 400-800 pounds for these intensive courses. Accomodation is not usually included.

A link from the licensing agency to spur you on:
http://www.dvla.gov.uk/drivers/learn2dr ... d%20mopeds

Insurance companies will attempt to remove all of your savings from you on an annual basis - especially if you've been out of the country for more than 5 years. Responding to the desperate calls from some of us ex-pats, some insurers have kindly begun to accept the shirt off your back as partial payment. Very kind indeed.

Although scooters allow you to carry the all important rainsuit at all times, scooter ownership also has other consequences. If you do buy a scooter in the UK I'd recommend carrying a small collapsable umbrella at all times, to deflect the saliva and other bodily substances that other motorcyclists will spit at you as they tear past you in full racing leathers at 200mph on ZX12Rs and Hayabusas on arrow straight roads. An open face helmet will allow you to return the favour when you catch them at the next corner as they slow down to a standstill at the first sight of a bend. But that's not the only attention you'll receive from other road users:- apparantly 'admiring' impatient drivers will try to 'rub shoulders' with you as you ride. However, a galvanised steel left wing doesn't feel that good as it shoulders you into a hedge or indeed parked car at 30mph or more. 'Might is right' on these road rage infested roads.

Performance wise, UK spec bikes tend to suffer compared to US, Euro and Japan spec models. It seems the root cause is that the weight of the heavy-duty chain locks, covers, and discs locks that you must take with you at all times to prevent thieves 'aqcuiring' your machine can add something like an additional 20kg to the payload of the bike. This tends to have an effect on the power-to-weight ratio. I once had the opportunity to thrash a 16 year old boy within a inch of his life in West London as he attempted to pick the shackle lock that was securing my SR125 scooter to a lamp post. Less then coincidentally, this was the only day that I didn't use a cover. Some learn the importance of using a cover the hard way - and return to find an empty parking space.

My honest advice is to buy a two seater convertible. At least you can put the top up when it rains...
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Lycheed....

Found your reply infomative and hugely emtertaining, although disappointing
as it pretty much squashes any hope of invovling Scoots in this possible adventure...thanks for the info...

Paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
308 Posts
lycheed said:
Paul, you require a license for everything in England.



My honest advice is to buy a two seater convertible. At least you can put the top up when it rains...
"...and was Jerusalem built here...amongst these dark satanic mills?"
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
2 whelling in the UK

ajwood said:
Thanks for the link...unless I'm reading this brochure way wrong, it would appear that my US license would make things legal provided I am a "visitor".
This squares with my car rental experiences in the UK where my Colorado license seemed to satisfy Avis. My hope is renewed...I would love to tool around the beautiful countryside on a Scoot....drizzle and all <G>

Paul
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
276 Posts
Paul
Lets flip Lycheed's coin. Gail and I arrived in England in 1999 and have scooted around since 2000, rocking up 27000 miles between a 250 Honda and our 650B. Sure, the major roads can be busy, but even the 250 held its own on the 96 miles from London to Peterborough on the A1 freeway. We mostly do our adventures by routing along the back roads. We don't really plan on being anywhere at any time, apart from pre-booked accommodation. That's a chance we take, sometimes we book ahead, and sometimes just go and so far, have not been left homeless.
There are lousy drivers on the road, I think that many people commute to work, so they only drive at weekends, and this means they are out of practice. But, I think, because they are going from A to B, they use the major roads.
The things we have seen, the out of way pubs we have spent hours having a meal, the sheer pleasure of being out in the open air make it worth while.
Sure it rains, so we rainsuit up. It can be annoying. In the Cotswolds recently, Cleeve Hill, which gives magnificent views over the countryside, was shrouded in rain when we travelled "south". Despite starting in bright sunshine the next day, Cleeve Hill was, yup, shrouded in rain when we got there. So no photos, although we could see there was a lot of scenic potential. The Burgman handled the Cotswold hills in the wet and damp with aplomb, we actually used the gear box on the downhill runs and this kept us off the brakes, but safely behind any traffic, a quick blip on the straight ways, and another bit of traffic behind us.
Don't say when you are thinking of coming across, but do PM us with a view to setting up a meeting, joint ride or stop over at our place in Peterborough.
Have not gone into the licence thing, because it is so **** complex. But if you come as a visitor, your licence is good for 12 months, I think. As you mostly don't get your passport stamped, you are a visitor for as long as you decide you are.
Regards
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
498 Posts
Randal and Gail,

I'm glad that you are enjoying your time in England. It sounds as if you are having a great opportunity to test both the manufacturers waterproofing claims of your rainsuit, and the performance of your tyres the wet. England certainly is quite the venue for that. Reading your adventures, one can't help thinking that they weren't trips that you could have embarked on by car whilst still having fun.

I suppose the gist of what I was saying is that although a 100cc scooter may be the best way to beat rush hour traffic in Tokyo, I wouldn't recommend it for someone who intends to commute 50miles each way on German autobahns. In the same vein, I wouldn't recommend a motorcycle for a one year visitor to England over an open top car. Bravely battling against the elements in rainsuits is a far cry from cruising in the sun on a gleaming machine, wife smiling behind the visor helmet with arms wrapped around you. England is a car country.

An open top car would allow Paul to:
1. See England and travel about in style, comfort, and without getting wet and cold.
2. Feel the elements on those rare occasions when the weather is good by putting the top down.
3. See his wife's face when on those long journeys down the motorways as opposed to communicating through an expensive intercom system
4. Put all the money he thought of allocating to buying a car and a bike (you must own a car or rent if you stay more that 4 weeks) into one open top, and one insurance policy - he'll save money and get a very decent stylish cabriolet.

I can only give my opinion from riding covering about 30k miles annually, and battling against the elements. Bikes in Britain are great toys for those that want to polish, admire, and sit outside pubs chatting with other riders. Great tool for the adrenalin addicts. Great way for those that want to get around and feel the full force of nature on them as the go. Not so good for cruising along, enjoying the view, and simply enjoying being together. Perhaps Paul comes into one of the first three catagories. I can't say why, but I got the impression that he was nearer the final catagory - into easy touring, relaxing and enjoying seeing England by two wheels without the ever present heavy duty rainsuit and chain lock. Maybe I am wrong.

My personal recommendation to Paul is a Toyota MR2, Miata MX-5, or MGF. All reasonably priced, fun on the back roads, and small enough to let you feel that you are travelling. If Paul was planning to stay for 3-5 years then it makes sense to get a bike - in that sort of period of time you can expet to get enough dry weekends to make the purchase of a both bike and a car worthwhile.

Each to their own. Safe riding.
Lycheed
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
276 Posts
Paul
This is why this forum is great. You get a range of opinions. I do like Lycheed's bullets on why he recommends a car "An open top car would allow Paul to:-
At the end of the day, you take all the information you can get, work out the pros and cons and make a choice.
Possibly the bottom line is that Gail and I do have a car, but it is not the vehicle of choice for travel, and we do find that cruising is something we both enjoy - BUT, we have a choice.
So maybe, if the budget is a constraint, having a car will be the better over all option that just having a scooter. Having BOTH is obviously the best scenario.
Wishing you a big dose of wisdom in your decision.
Regards
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Go for it!

I worked in England from late '96 to mid-'01. Rode all over the UK and treated myself and my wife to a 3 week tour of the Continent before we left.

I found automobile drivers there much more "motorcycle-aware" than here in the US. The English countryside has to be seen and experienced to be appreciated. If you can venture across the channel that'd be even better.

Rain? Yeah it rained there but certainly no more than the Great Pacific Northwet (not a typo). Don't ride on rainy days. Go down the pub. After all, if you're there on sabbatical, you don't really face any time pressure.

Things can be expensive but it's like anything else; there are ways to economize if that's necessary. I'd recommend shipping your scooter over there rather than buying locally. Back when I was there, as long as you have owned the vehicle for more than 6 months you will not be charged VAT or import duties. If you qualify for either USAA or GEICO insurance you'll save a bundle over what's on offer in-country.

Best of luck in your decision.

Regards,

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
498 Posts
Randall,
Agreed. If you can have two, why have one..! 8)

Once way to avoid the high costs of purchasing a bike in England is to import your own machine, but it will be retunring home with you one year later in a considerably rustier state than when it arrived. Perhaps one plus point about buying a bike in England is that although they are expensive to buy, if you buy privately at a reasonable price and keep the thing in good condition (and not cover too much distance), you can sell it on at a similar price. As they are leisure tools, depreciation is low. One year visit if timed June 200x - June 200y (summer to summer) allows one to take advantage of that perculiar situation.

Dancote, most British motoryclists follow your train of thought - "Don't ride on rainy days". That's why there's always someone in the pub... :lol:
I also personally agree with your sentiments that British drivers are motorcycle-aware. Well, at least they are very aware that there is a motorcycle there once they have collided with it. If they exibit a higher level of driving skill than the drivers in your part of the US, then if you haven't already got one, I'd get down the shops and buy a high-viz safety vest and some white paint pretty sharpish... :wink:

Enjoy.
Lycheed
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top