Know Your Legal Rights – Helmets

Helmets are compulsory and must be marked BS 6658 1985 or UN/ECE 22-05. A sidecar driver and pillion passenger must wear a helmet but sidecar passengers do not require a helmet. Trike regulations are more complex. Trike riders or passengers may have to wear a helmet and some may even have to wear seat belts depending on vehicle licensing classification. Such variables such as weight and whether you sit astride or in a seat are factors that have to be considered. You should check with the DVLC to find the correct classification.


To be legal they must conform to BS 4110, which ensures a level of scratch resistance and permits up to 50% light transmittance. Any other visors are illegal but sunglasses, tear-offs and inner wrap-arounds are permitted.

Pillion Passengers

There is no age limit but must be able to place both feet on the pillion footrests.


Headlights must show a white light or yellow tint, any other colour is illegal. The headlight bulb must not be above 55 watts but there is no limit to the number of headlamps on bikes constructed or registered after 1984. Before 1985 there is no limit and there is no requirement for it to have an E-stamp marked on it.
Indicators are not a legal requirement but if fitted they must work.

Number Plates

Number plates must conform to BS AU 145a or from 1st September 2001, to BS AU 145d: They must have black characters on yellow background Only the authorised font, or something substantially similar is permitted.


Height: 64mm.

Width: 44mm.

Stroke width: 10mm.

Space between characters: 10mm.

Space between groups: 30mm.

Top, side and bottom margin: 11mm.

Symbols/Emblems: the Euro Stars with GB is the only permitted symbol on UK numberplates.

New plates from 1st September 2001 must carry the makers’ name/trademark or other means of ID of maker, plus name and postcode of supplying outlet. Black background plates with white or silver letters are only legal on pre 1st January 1973 machines.


Silencers All replacement silencers/exhausts must, for road use, be marked as follows: EU e mark or UNECE E mark e.g. e11 or E11 and an approval number e.g. 007 or BS AU 193/T2 or BS AU 193a:1990/T2 or BS AU 193a 1990/T3 or an international mark that is equivalent to BS or Pre 1985 MC Only. If marked NOT FOR ROAD USE it is not road-legal.


Speedometers must be marked in mph. A conversion sticker on the face of the speedometer for kph clocks is acceptable.

VED (Tax) Discs

It is not sufficient for your bike just to be taxed, the tax disc must also be displayed in front of the rider on the nearside.

VED (Tax) Exemption

All vehicles first registered on or before 1st January 1973 are exempt.


Must have tread depth of at least 1mm across three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and in a continuous band around the entire circumference.

Tyres are your only point of contact with the road surface. You cannot neglect the condition of your Tyres. If you do you could endanger not only yourself and your passengers, but also other road users. recommends that you check the condition of your Tyres regularly (at least weekly).

A Nationwide Survey (Tyre Industry Council, 2002) showed that almost 27% of vehicles had tyres with tread depths of less than 2mm. It is accepted that tyre performance and in particular braking in the wet, deteriorates dramatically below 2mm. Approximately 12% of vehicles actually had illegal tyres.

Why should you check your tyres?

Did you know that you are not insured when driving on illegal tyres? Worn tyres significantly impede the performance of your vehicle. Do not forget that a worn tyre reduces the effectiveness of braking, steering, and acceleration. What are a few minutes put aside now to check your tyres, when you compare it to your own safety?

What should you check?

The Tyre Industry Council have devised a five point tyre check:

  • Check overall condition of tyres, including inner and outer sidewalls.
  • Check tyre tread depth.
  • Check all tyre pressures.
  • Check signs of irregular wear, i.e. alignment.

Check and examine the spare tyre.