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Should trikes require a special licence?

Can Am Spyder F3
Can-Am Spyder F3

An online petition is seeking to allow car drivers with a full licence to ride a trike without needing a motorcycle licence, much like some states allow drivers to ride 50cc scooters.

The petition, started by BRP who make the Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler roadster, has so far attracted more than 500 signatures.TourOz trike

BRP Asia-Pacific GM Gregoire Dupont says the trike market is not huge, so he is happy with the response.

“If you look at the comments on the petition, the common theme is that they don’t want to have to learn to ride a two-wheeler just to ride a three-wheeler,” he says. “It’s a confidence issue. It’s also a big issue among women who want to be able to ride alongside their partners.”

BRP began lobbying AustRoads for licence changes, but were told it was a state issue, so they have since been lobbying the states with varying levels of success.

The most successful is South Australia where you can write for an exemption. If they agree to the exemption, open car licence holders can complete a basic two-wheeler course. That gets them a learner’s permit to drive a trike on an L plate as it is exempt from the LAMS scheme.

“They are leading the game when it comes to making the assessment for a trike licence a little more simpler,” David says. “When the rider feels comfortable – which could be as soon as two weeks – they can book in and do a full trike assessment which gives them an R class motorcycle licence, trike restricted.”

Trike Can-Am Spyder
Can-Am Spyder

David says that provision in the SA law had already existed, but was not known nor promoted. BRP plans to promote it by offering buyers subsidies to do the course.

BRP had been making some headway with the West Australian transport minister, but he was sacked and David says they are now back to square one.

NSW is considering BRP’s submission under its review of vehicle registrations. “We are still waiting for the outcome of that review,” David says.

“Queensland says a trike is a bike, is a bike, is a bike and have their heads firmly in the sand. Yet there is the gross inconsistency in Queensland where you can ride a 50cc scooter on an open car licence.”

David says VicRoads does not see a need to change licensing because they believe there is such a low demand for a special trike licence.

Trike-only licences should exist for those who do not want to ride a motorcycle. Some people may not have the balance or skills required to ride a motorcycle, others may be scared of riding or lack the required confidence, while some may have physical disabilities that prevent them from riding a two-wheeler.

So why should they be prevented from riding a trike?

In fact, car drivers might have better skills for riding trikes than motorcycle riders.

Trikes don’t require counter steering like a motorcycle. The driver/rider steers the handlebars in the direction they want to go.Bon Trike

That makes trikes easier for car drivers to steer straight than for motorcyclists who are constantly fighting their counter-steering tendencies.

BRP also says their trike – or roadster because it has two wheels at the front rather than the rear – is also safer than a motorcycle because it has a lot of car-like driver aids such as traction control, as well as other aids that stop it rolling over.

Several countries now have special trike licences or provisions for car drivers to operate a trike.

New Zealand has no licence for a three-wheeler, so you can ride on an open car licence. “You can go to New Zealand on holidays, hire a trike and go for a ride,” says David.

Quebec in Canada, allows open car licence holders to ride a trike after completing a special one-day test. California and Idaho don’t even require any extra tests. Some European countries have car licence requirements and some require motorcycle licences.

“But it’s becoming less restrictive as time goes on,” says David.

  1. It’s a shame that BRP are lobbying for such a license, as we all know it takes a different skill to operate a motorcycle/motor-tricycle than drive a car, and we all know not everyone can drive a car properly and safely with distractions etc these days. However, it is also silly that you must completely pass a open motorcycle license to operate a non-LAMS approved trike. Some people do not have the ability, and a trike suits them.

    Just as car drivers who cannot operate a manual have a automatic gearbox only restriction on their license, why cannot the same be offered for trike riders? Example, still complete a practical and theory test, proving you are safe and can safely operate the vehicle, but you can only ride three wheels with a restriction on your license. And if you can only ride an auto trike such as the Spyder SE5 or SE6 gearboxes, that restriction can apply too.

    There’s a smart way around this, good luck in getting through the stubborn nature of State Government who don’t like being told what to do, although we the public pay their wages in some respect.

  2. Indeed there should probably be a special license for riding Can Ams and one wheel at the front trikes as they have little in common with either cars or bikes in regard to the way they react to inputs and handle in general. Of course the control layout is somewhat different as well.

    The other kind of trike (2 wheels at the front and a steering wheel rather than bars) is driveable on a car license in Qld and Vic. The other states require a bike license and that really is silly as the only thing even vaguely like a bike in the way they handle or are operated is the sequential gear shift…..

    As mentioned above, we pay their wages but we must be paying them too little as we seem to have received monkeys…


  3. I support the idea of a trike licence. In order to get a trike, I am forced to first apply for an RE licence and hold it for a year before applying for an R licence here in Qld. If I could find a LAMS trike, I probably wouldn’t even bother with the R. It’s ridiculous that if I ever pass the R test, that I will almost certainly never ride a two wheeler. I am old enough to know that I don’t have good two-wheeled instincts, yet I can probably pass the test, and still be a potential menace on the road, were I dumb enough to put a bike on the road. I don’t want to do that. Wake up Qld Transport. Your current policy re trikes is not a sensible safety initiative.

  4. Gave up my motorcycle license due to my health (bad leg/hip) and age (now) – couldn’t lift a bike if it fell over, even a light one. But a trike is safer and better in that reguard; you can’t drop them and they have reverse gearing. Now, I would have to purchase a two wheeler to get a license and wait two years and not use it, then sell it, then, go inter state to buy a trike and ride it down to Tassie raw no practise. To be honest that’s the easy bit as it will be an automatic, one just out. Oh, do I need to get an auto riders license then??????! Sorry, just venting my spleen again, but maybe a trike license is on the cards and not a bike or car license is warranted here, as they are different with different skills and experience. – I really don’t know for sure but something better than a bike license or training would be more appropriate.
    May as well not bother trying, yet I have a clean manual car license since I was 17. Why can’t a mature driver get a license to ride a trike, and enjoy the out doors even on an island like Tassie? Yet you have immature P plater driving cages with V8’s and 6’s; that will do crazier things than any riders I know of; give us a chance for a change.

  5. I totally agree that this should be a restricted licence, and should also include all Car based trikes like OZTrikes, Bon Trikes and Rewaco, but as most states find it hard to classify these machines it means they want to simplify things and group them to one licence classification, that’s why you could ride a car based trike on a Car licence but not a Harley Trike as it is a Motorcycle based trike so you need a Motorcycle licence
    Why Andrew Hutchison’s Tripod Car is classed in some states as a motorcycle beats me, It’s a great machine to drive or ride in as a passenger!


    PS: who is the David you refer to in this Article?

  6. My Husband & I would love to get a Spyder Cam Am each, we are booked in for the Motorcycles learning group in August neither of us has ever held a bike license. We are planning a head for our retirement and would like to be nomads on bikes for a few years. we will have to be on L for 3 months then go for our P’s and be on them for 12 months before we can get our Spyders. We fill this is a little unfair as we will never ride a 2 wheeler.

  7. I think you should have a motorcycle license In Canada when you get it on a trike you can only ride a three wheeler

  8. I feel a car licence is fine a bike licence won’t prepare you for a trike as is very different to ride, where as a car licence will aid in the change over. I am prepared to sign petition a million times as am unable to ride my trike because it has a bike motor and not a car motor, baha what difference is that going to make to me on the road, NONE AT ALL but am unable to get bike licence on two wheeler as don’t have one

  9. you should be able to ride a trike on a car license as you are just sitting there steering it the same as a car there’s no need for balance like on a two wheeler as i love to ride and only have one arm i would like to get a trike as its more like driving than riding as to me its like half bike half car so why can’t we drive them on a car licence ????

  10. All for trike licence separate from Bikes, as they have many things a motorcycle doesn’t. My only gripe with trikes is they should park in car parking not bike parking as majority of the time they take up two bike spaces. And many times I see people on trikes take two spaces… When spaces for bike parking is few, often motorcycle riders squash up 3 bikes on two spaces, making more room. But when a trike comes to the party well, its just like a truck taking all the car parking. Very inconsiderate

  11. Here in the UK, you can ride a trike on a standard car licence if you had a full car licence before a certain year. New car licence holders can’t do that. It is just a quirk but it serves us older more experienced car drivers well! I used to ride a motorbike a few years ago but never got around to taking my test so a trike greatly appeals to me because it is much more stable than a 2 wheeled machine. I found out the hard way that car drivers don’t really care much for motorbike riders and gave up 2 wheels because of the safety issues and the fact that I valued my life!

    I will be buying a trike in the near future and the UK laws on riding one with a full UK licence helps me to do that. Unless they change the law of course!!!???

  12. Can am spyders would have to be one of the most dangerous trike on the road i bought one in 2009 a se5 awesome in a straight line but corners wow this thing will send you to the opposite side of the rd , as the std tyres try to peel of the rims

  13. I ride a trike and I reckon the car license just does not cut it. There are forces on a trike rider that would throw a car driver and they need biker care to control them. Also bike riders are maybe able to learn how vulnerable they are in a collision.

  14. I would say a car licence is enough for a trike, I have a trike, Yamaha R1 superbike and a Suzuki GSF 600 Bandit and the trike feels very much car like to me. There is no balance to keep or leaning the machine to steer it.

  15. I would love to get a spyder but am unwilling to get a two wheeler bike licence as im not confident on a two wheeler. I can ride one but am not going to ride one on the road. A trike to me is like a car so im hoping that the law gets changed. I’ll sign this petition as many times as needed.

    1. same here – with my hearing my balance for bike riding is not good. a trike would allow me to join my husband on his club outings but no i have to drive a car

  16. Allowing holders of a car driving license to ride trikes would be a reasonable move, regardless of it featuring a conventional or a reverse wheel layout, since they still provide a more car-like feeling than a 50cc scooter. Eventually, the only restriction that makes sense would be for automatic-only licenses.

  17. What about those with a disability (paraplegia) I an T4 complete ( Paralysed from nipple level down) which means if I got on a bike I would fall over so would need traing wheels and be unable to change gear without triptronic or use both brakes without both levers being on the handle bars. Always there will be some of us who are awkward/different that would require a different set of rules/regulations.

    1. At least in my home country (Brazil) the disabled riders must take riding classes perform their riding test in an adapted motorcycle to get the license for a trike with a motorcycle-like cockpit, and I’ve already seen a handful of adapted motorcycles for paraplegics and other disabled riders. I don’t know how it would apply for some trikes which feature a car-like cockpit though.

  18. I had a RE license rode for a couple of year before struck down with HSP (hereditary spastic paraplegia) so I stopped riding, weak legs/balance, I got convinced to surrender RE portion in. I drive an automatic car w/ foot pedals. I would love to get back into bikes again and a trike would be a great freedom for me and my abilities.

  19. hi .. I often wonder about the old farmers driving around on their 3 wheel steer tractors .?? .. what rego class are those.? .. dual steer wheels on a trike would be a engineers nightmare to pass and open another can of worms 🙂

  20. I have a bon trike I cant ride because I dont want to ride a 2 wheeler but I live in backwards Queensland… do we get this changed??? Car licence is all that should be needed. Having been a car driver for over 40 years and want to enjoy my retirement.

  21. I am about to move to Queensland have driven a trike in NSW for 10 years so moving north will be unable to ride. If I didn’t have to move will still be riding this is ridiculous should be the same for each state

  22. I have done my basic Ls, and Im going by your article I should be able to get my restricted trike licence, but who ever i contact here in South Australia has no Idea what the hell Im talking about , can you help me or point me in the write direction please

  23. I now have a special needs licence for riding my trike here in qld. A doctors certificate with a reason why I only want to ride a trike, take to main roads & fill in application for special needs & when you have passed apply to Q ride then do a 2 day pre-learners course $550 wait 3 months & do a Restricted licence $360 now I can ride my trike and carry passenger on non lams approved. Yes Queensland gov are backwards but at least I got there. Hope this helps others. If I can help to get this changed let me know please.

    1. what sort of reason will be accepted do you know ? i have balance issues and back issues and am having issues with learning to ride a 2 wheeler but we are getting a 3 wheeler LAMS approved that i can ride once i have a motorbike licence

      1. Hi Marie,
        Depending on what state you are in .I’m in South Australia took me a while as no body seemed to know how to go about this , but finally got my learners for my spyder ,I had to write a letter to the manager of the registration department requesting a trike only license .Which is un restricted to the size of motor I can ride .Then I had to do a basic learners course and pass , then went to Rego office and and payed for my R learners ,after I feel confident on my spyder I can go for a practical test with rider safe .Also you can carry a passenger if the have had there motor bike license for more than 2 years .

  24. As Cheryl Smith said to ride trike in Qld you get a medical exemption then do the same as the bikes for qride only to get a full R licence it is then marked on your licence and you can only ride trike but you have to carry the medical cert. Speaking to people that would love to ride trike it would be so much easier if you could just apply for a trike licence no medical just put a T for trike on licence .

  25. does this include a bike with sidecar otherwise I have to go for my 2 wheeler first then if I pass that license then must hold that for a time them sell my 2 wheeler then buy a trike or 2 wheeler with sidecar seems mighty expensive I am 67 and want to go away with my wife but time is running out for me to do this

    1. Hi Robert, all these rules depend on what state your in as to the rules. You need to check with rego department ,also the rider safe that run the courses , if your in S.A Rider safe is the best people to talk to as rego department had no idea they had to look it up. I can only comment on the spider as that’s what I went for, I didn’t wont to ride a 2 wheeler at my age on the road don’t get me wrong I can ride one but feel safer on the spider .If you have a car license you can write a letter to the head of the rego department requesting for a trike only license , I think it was, rego department will give you the address or message me back and ill find it out for you from a friend ,you have to do the basic rider safe course ,bit stupid as you have to do this on a 2 wheeler then you get your license from rego S.A and it is a R license which allows you to ride an un restricted trike license ,after you feel ready then you have to do a practical test with rego S.A to get full trike only license .Hope this helps !

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