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Getting Your Motorcycle License in France

21
June
2006
  Posted at 03:39:05 PM
  File under  France
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Part of the Riding Motorcycle in France series
  • Riding A Motorcycle In France Open link in a new window
  • Fear Not The Dreaded French Signposts Open link in a new window
  • Getting Your License In France Open link in a new window
  • How To Lose Your License In France Open link in a new window
  • The Price Of Fuel In France and Where To Get It Open link in a new window
  • Renting a Motorcycle in France Open link in a new window
  • Motorcycle Taxis in France Open link in a new window
  • Biker Friendly Accommodation in France Open link in a new window


  • I've received several emails about obtaining a motorcycle here in France, mostly out of curiosity rather than necessity. So here's the scoop:

    The License


    In France, as in the rest of Europe, you need to have a motorcycle license (type A) to be able to ride a motorcycle with more than 125 cc (if you have had a car license for more than 2 years, you are allowed to ride a 125 cc motorcycle with less than 15 hp).

    If you're between 18 and 21 years old, you can get the "Progressive" A, meaning your motorcycle is not allowed to have more than 34 hp, and the weight/power ration may not exceed 0.16 kW/kg.

    After two years riding with a "Progressive" A license, or if you are older than 21 years, you can get the "Direct" A license, that allows you to ride any motorcycle (in France all motorcycles are restricted to 100 hp maximum).

    Rules of the Road


    First, you need to learn the general rules of the road (unless you got your car license within the last 5 years). This means learning either in a classroom, or from self teaching.

    When you're ready, you need to pass an exam. The exam is a multiple choice style, with a video projector displaying photos and/or videos. The test is timed, and you're allowed to have 5 errors for the 40 questions. Oh yeah... the test is in French.

    Motorcycle Control


    After you pass the rules of the road test, you need to go to a driving school. This is mandatory, as there are minimum hours you need to be "taught" how to ride. The minimum number of hours you need to train is 8 hours !

    The first portion is controlling your motorcycle. This is held in a non-traffic environment, usually on an abandoned parking area. You'll learn how to ride a, usually, 600 cc modified Honda, Suzuki or Kawasaki. The modification consist of a lower power, and crash bars all around the bike.

    The training is obviously in harmony with the exam. When you're deemed ready by your instructor, you need to pass the first motorcycle exam.

    Motorcycle Control Exam


    When you're ready, you need to reserve your first set of tests. At the exam place, you will need to do the following exams.

    Motorcycle Training
    1. Non Driving Exercise.

    The examiner will ask you to do one of several exercises. They can be "walking" your motorcycle through a pylon slalom, forwards or backwards (smaller people often have problems with this), putting your motorcycle on a center stand, etc.

    You need to demonstrate that you are able to control the motorcycle even when the engine is not running.

    Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.


    Motorcycle Training
    2. Mechanical Quiz.

    Next on the list are several questions about the mechanical abilities of your motorcycle. They're not very detailed, but you'll be asked how you verify your oil level, tire pressure, chains, etc.

    You don't need to be mechanically apt, but you need to know the basic parts of your motorcycle.

    Failure to comply, results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    3. Oral Motorcycle Quiz.

    The examiner will ask you, more or less in a conversation mode, specific questions on your ability to understand the differences between riding a motorcycle and driving a car. The questions are on specific motorcycle related laws. Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    Motorcycle Training
    4. Control at Low Speed.

    You need to maneuver your motorcycle through a slalom consisting of pylons in first gear. You are not allowed to touch the ground with your feet, drop a pylon or gasp, drop your bike. They check to see if your posture is correct. If you think that's easy, try it....

    Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle or hitting a pylon results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    Motorcycle Training
    5. Control at Low Speed with Pillion.

    Next after point 4, your instructor gets behind you, and then you need to ride another track with pylons at low speed (1st gear). The instructor is not allowed to talk to you to give you advice (but usually they use their legs to signal to you what you need to do).

    Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    Motorcycle Training
    6. High Speed Control.

    Now you need to run a fast slalom. This involves you riding your motorcycle at about 40-50 kph through several pylons, U-turn and a fast return. The whole track needs to be done between 18 and 21 seconds! If you go too fast, or too slow you disqualify ! Too fast is rare, but too slow happens all the time.

    Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    Motorcycle Training
    7. Emergency Control.

    At the end of #6, you are required to show that you are able to perform an emergency operation. This is either an obstacle avoidance (like a car door opening - not a real one, just a pylon) followed by emergency braking, or emergency braking by using your engine. Usually the speed is about 70 kph.

    You must start the maneuver at a certain point, AND you need to stop before a certain spot. If not, you're out !  Failure to comply, dropping your motorcycle results in an automatic disqualification, and you need to re-apply for the exam.

    8. Oral Exam.

    Once you've reach this stage you're almost done. Now you get to sit in an office, where they're going to quiz you for all the specific laws that apply only to motorcycles. It's usually in a more easy going environment, and often, at this stage, they are more or less easy going. Unless you're really stupid and answer all questions wrong, you'll pass this bit.

    Traffic Riding


    Motorcycle Training
    Although the traffic riding can be done concurrent with the motorcycle control, most schools choose to do this after the control exams (at least they know you'll not drop their precious motorcycle). You'll be riding your motorcycle equipped with an ear-piece in your helmet so you can hear your instructor talking to you via a walkie-talkie. Usually the instructor is in a car.... You need to spend at least 12 hours riding in traffic to be allowed to do your next exams.

    Once your instructor deems you ready, you need to do your exam. Using the same walkie-talkie technique, the examiner drives behind you telling you which way to go. The exam lasts 30 minutes, and not complying with ANY traffic rule disqualifies you !

    Points


    Once you get your precious motorcycle license, you get 6 points (normally you get 12). Any infraction, speeding or rules of the road, points get deducted. Once you've got 0 points, you loose your license and you need to start from scratch, often after 3 years !!

    If you've managed to ride without a loss of points for 2 years, you get the full 12 points !!

    The whole process can last about one year ! There are accelerated schools, where you can try to get your permit in a few days by a concentrated education.

    So, you can assume one thing. A French biker knows how to ride !!

    Click here for more information (in French).





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