What is a CBT and do I need one?

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The CBT or Compulsory basic training is usually a days training, enabling riders 16+ to ride a motorcycle on the road in the UK. A CBT will allow a 16-year-old to ride a 50cc bike or scooter or 17 and older riders to ride a 125cc motorcycle or scooter. There are two kinds of CBT, automatic and manual; an automatic will allow riders to use rev and go scooters only, whereas a manual allows both rev and go and manual transmission motorcycles.

CBT Area
training schools use large open spaces to practice!

Before enrolling on a CBT course, you need to be a full car or provisional licence holder. To apply for a provisional driving licence, you need to be at least 15 years and nine months old, so this gives you plenty of time to get it before your 16th birthday. It would also be a good idea to start brushing up on the highway code before enrolling.

How long does a CBT take?

The CBT usually takes a full day and consists of 5 modules helping and informing riders. The day usually starts with an eye test; it’s helpful to bring any glasses or contact lenses you would typically wear to read a standard number plate from 20 meters. Next up is a checkup of your highway code knowledge, some tips and tricks on selecting suitable motorcycle safety clothing, and finally, how to ride a motorcycle legally. This module is classroom-based.

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The next module brings familiarity with the motorcycle, showing students the controls and the differences between motorcycles and scooters. After the controls, it is how to park and secure a bike using the stands. Next is maintaining a bike and the basic checks a rider should make, including fluid levels, tyre pressures, and tread depths. After this section, it’s how to start and stop the motorcycle’s engine, how to pull off, balance and stop the bike.

Motorcycle CBT
Normally groups are small!

Next up comes more practical riding skills, usually on a training ground with cones. These include riding straight, slow riding at a controlled pace, using both front and rear brakes, and changing gear on a manual machine. More advanced manoeuvring items are shown, once these basics are mastered. Figures of eight’s, emergency stops, U-turns, ‘lifesaver’ shoulder checks, and how to safely negotiate junctions on a motorcycle.

What do you do on a CBT?

This practice builds onto the next level of training, which takes place back in the classroom. Here you will study good practices for road riding, how to stay as safe as possible, and lessen the risk of other drivers. Common tips include maximising your visibility to other road users, riding at an appropriate speed, and keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles. How to use your mirrors and shoulder checks properly and learn to anticipate other road users and ride defensively.

Rory Skinner
BSB rider Rory Skinner traded his ZX10R for a Ninja 125!

This leads up to the final element of the CBT course, demonstrating the skills learnt earlier on in the day, on the open road. Quite simply, all you have to do is prove to your instructor; you can handle the motorcycle, ride safely and sensibly on the road, and successfully navigate crossings, junctions and roundabouts.

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At this point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. For most younger riders, the CBT is the first time on a road and around traffic. Take it steady, and enjoy it, the instructors are there to help, and above all, they wouldn’t be letting you loose on the road if they didn’t think you were capable.

Is a CBT a test?

It is worth bearing in mind that the CBT course is not a test. You can’t fail. The course aims to prove to the instructor that you can handle a motorcycle safely and operate it sensibly on the road and around other road users. If not up to the required standard after the day, you will get invited back for another half/full day for more instruction.

A2 bike
Next step A2 licence!

Most riding schools will have a selection of kit, helmets and bikes to use for a CBT if you don’t have your own. If wearing clothing worn by others does not appeal, it is worth investing in kit. I have learned (the hard way) to buy the best you can afford and the equipment that fits you best. Helmets, boots, and gloves are sized incorrectly, not only can they be uncomfortable they can make it harder to get the controls when you need them. Most shops will be happy to help you size what you need.

How long is a CBT valid?

A CBT is valid for two years, and once it expires, you will need to rebook and retake the course. When completed, the next step is to complete the motorcycle theory test, and if under 25, the A2 Licence route. If over 25, Direct access for a full A licence.

How much does a CBT cost?

The cost of a CBT can vary depending on the time taken and also the school chosen. Budget anywhere from £100 to £160 for a high-end school on a weekend day.

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