Bike number plates

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NB: This is a companion piece to our article on the car number plates display regulations.

Motorcycle and motor scooter plates

Motorcycle number plates are governed by a slightly different set of rules from those that apply to ordinary plates. The basic physical properties of the plates, such as material and reflectiveness, are the same for cars and motorbikes but the sizes of plates for bikes, and the size and spacing of characters, are more compact in keeping with the smaller size of the vehicle. Additionally, motorbikes and scooters registered after 1st September 2001 must only display rear number plates: they are not allowed to have front plates.

Many people, especially road safety groups, consider this a significant improvement, as older motorbikes often had metal front plates mounted on top of the front-wheel mudguard. These plates were designed to be read from the side and their blade-like nature meant that their front-facing edge presented a risk of laceration to pedestrians should collisions occur.

Motorcycles registered before 1st September 2001 are allowed to display a number plate at the front but they do not have to.

The layout specifications for motorbike and scooter number plates are as follows:

  • characters must be set out over two lines
  • characters must be 64mm tall
  • characters (except the number 1 or letter I) must be 44mm wide
  • the character stroke (the thickness of the black print) must be 10mm
  • the space between characters must be 10mm
  • the space between the age identifier and the random letters must be 30mm
  • the margins at the top, bottom and side of the plate must be at least 11mm
  • vertical space between the age identifier and the random numbers must be 13mm.

Motor tricycle plates

Tricycles of construction based upon motorcycle frames and bodies must comply with the rules for motorbike number plates as set out above. Trikes that have been constructed based upon four-wheel vehicle bodies such as cars must comply with the rules for car plates as described in our main guide to plate rules and regulations.

Quad bike plates

Quadricycles and quad bikes must have both front and rear number plates if they are to be used on the road. Larger quads must display car-type number plates. On the other hand, smaller quads - those with engine power of up to 15 kilowatts and a weight of up to 400 kilograms - can display motorcycle-type plates as described above.

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  • Country Life magazine
  • Daily Mail
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  • Top Gear Magazine

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