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Motorcycle with Learner Approved Motorcycle sign

Choosing a LAMS approved bike

The choice of bikes you can ride on a learner licence is wider than ever. Here’s some advice on navigating the choices.

The Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) opened up all sorts of choices for learner riders. Those on a learner or restricted licence can ride any motorcycle under 250cc except for a list of prohibited, highly-powerful machines. Plus you can ride any bikes with an engine capacity under 660cc, or with an electric motor, that do not exceed a 150kW per tonne power-to-weight ratio.

NZTA’s list of prohibited and approved LAMS motorcycles

Making your choice

First off, many of the same criteria apply as with any motorcycle. The most important are:

  • Do you feel confident and in control riding it?
  • Is it equipped with everything you need for the type of riding you’ll mostly be doing?

You can now find LAMS-approved bikes in virtually every category, including sports, adventure, naked and even surprisingly capable bikes for touring.

The main thing is to be honest about your experience and skills, then choose accordingly.

The bikes that push the limits of capacity and power-to-weight ratio should really be the preserve of experienced riders who have previous experience before getting a road licence, like those who’ve grown up riding motocross or racing, for example.

Make no mistake, many of the 650 and 660cc bikes are powerful and fast. One of their advantages is that there’s little need to sell them on after getting a full licence because they are so capable.

For those new to riding, something like a 125-350cc machine with an upright riding position is ideal. In the LAMS class, as well as conventional or ‘naked’ bikes there are now adventure bikes offering this: perfect for taller riders.

Sitting upright gives more control, vision and confidence, especially in low-speed manoeuvres, and you’ll generally find it easy to get both feet on the ground for balance. Machines of 250cc or above will also have plenty of performance.

Whatever LAMS bike you decide on, make sure you check it fits current regulations on the link above and remains in standard specification. Even changing to an after market exhaust is likely to make your bike Non - LAMS approved.

Choose the right bike

Be honest about your experience level. If you’re relatively new to riding choose a simple, inexpensive learner machine.