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Off-road motorcycling

There are lots of opportunities for safe and legal off-road motorcycling in North Yorkshire. The mis-use of these machines can be dangerous and illegal.

If you drive your trial bike, mini-moto, quad bike or similar off-road vehicle on the road it must have the following:

  • Valid MOT certificate if more than three years old
  • Full car licence or a category B1 licence if it was issued before January 1997
  • A minimum of third party insurance to drive a quad bike on the road
  • Registered with the DVLA, taxed, with front and rear number plates

Only vehicles that meet the required standards and are registered with the DVLA can be used on roads, pavements and car parks. As well as being registered, they must be taxed and insured.

There are no exemptions for vehicles designed for off-road use or for young people.

Trail riding

Trail riding is not ‘off-roading’. Unsurfaced unclassified roads (often know as green roads or green lanes) and byways open to all traffic (BOATs) are roads, so you must have a driving licence and insurance, and your vehicle must be taxed and registered. Trail riding and ‘green laning’ have the same requirements as riding on a tarmacked road.

It is illegal to ride a motorbike or drive any vehicle on a public footpath, public bridleway, restricted byway or on open access and common land. Illegal riding can seriously damage the future of motorsport and recreational access in the countryside.

If you don’t know how to find legal routes, it is best to join a specialist motorcycle club. The largest national body dedicated to riding on unsurfaced roads is the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), who have local groups across England and Wales.

If you drive your vehicle off road, on private land, you do not require a driving licence, and you do not have to tax and register your quad bike, but we recommend you record it on a off-road register which could help us find it if it’s stolen.

Harassment, alarm and distress

Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, makes it an offence for a motor vehicle to be used on a road or public place in a manner which causes harassment, alarm or distress. This includes the noise which is caused by off-road machines that are fitted with exhaust systems that do not conform to road standards. A noisy exhaust is a common factor for complaint.

Those people who ride horses or walk on common land can also be distressed or alarmed by the presence of a loud machine in a usually quiet setting. In such cases the police have the power to warn the user of the bike to remove it and if it persists have the machine seized and destroyed.

Preventing anti-social behaviour

Are off-road motorbikes causing a nuisance in your area? Do you have any information about the use of these vehicles, where they’re being ridden and by whom? Call the police on 101.

If you want to provide information anonymously, contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Information that can help includes:

  • The name and address of the owner of the off-road motorbike
  • Where the bike is stored
  • When and where the bike is being used (e.g. days, times and routes)
  • Any other useful information such as a description of those who use the bike and its make/model/colour.

Not everyone using off-road motorbikes does so illegally and there are a number of specialist sites where they can be ridden legally.

Advice for parents

You are responsible for your child and their actions if you buy a motorbike or quad bike for them.

If a young person rides a bike on a road or on public land it is a legal requirement that they have insurance. You may be prosecuted for permitting your child to ride on a road or public place and this will affect your own car or bike insurance.

When buying your child a quad bike or motorbike:

  • Think carefully before buying a machine
  • Consider your personal responsibilities as you can be prosecuted if you are irresponsible
  • Look into joining an organised motorbike group
  • Always get personal permission from the owner of private land
  • Contact the council for a list of areas which you can ride on