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Motorcycle CBT: everything you need to know

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Ready To Ride On The Roads?  The Motorcycle CBT Explained

If you are just starting out as a new rider, you will need to undertake a CBT – Compulsory Basic Training.  This training course is, as the name suggests, imperative for anyone wishing to safely and legally ride a moped, scooter or motorcycle in the UK.

With a valid CBT certificate, you can ride any 125cc motorcycle or 125cc scooter on the roads in the UK.

Table of Contents

What Is The CBT?

‘CBT’ stands for Compulsory Basic Training which must be completed before you ride a motorcycle on the road without an instructor. This is not a test, but more of an assessment to ensure that you can ride safely on the road as to not endanger others or yourself. Once completed it allows you to ride on your own whilst you practice for your full motorcycle licence.

The training covers a range of aspects that will see you well enough informed to be able to ride safely on your own, whilst you gain the experience and confidence to take your full moped or motorcycle test in due course.

You cannot pass or fail your CBT, it is simply something that you must do.

Once you have completed it, you will be able to ride a:

  • moped if you’re 16 or over
  • motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over

The CBT means you can ride on the road, but not on the motorway, and you must display L plates at all times. You are also not able to carry a passenger.  Your CBT only lasts for two years.  During that time you will need to pass your full moped or motorcycle tests, or be prepared to take the CBT again at the expiration of the 2 year period.

How much does a CBT cost?

It varies as each training company can set their own prices, so prices around the UK will vary. Expect to pay anything between £100 and £130 for your Compulsory Basic Training. This will include helmet hire but check with your training school as they may also loan you other riding equipment.

If you ride on the road without a valid CBT certificate you can be fined up to £1,000 and given up to six penalty points, so it’s just not worth the risk of riding without a CBT.

What do I need to take to my CBT?

You will need to take your provisional (or full) UK driving licence with you to your CBT. Without it you will not be able to take your CBT. Most training schools will provide all the equipment you need but check with them first. A checklist of the equipment you’ll need is listed below.

Does everyone need a CBT?

There are a few rare loopholes where you don’t need a CBT but in 99.9% of cases, you will.

You do not have to take the CBT if you:

  • want to ride a moped (up to 50cc) and have passed your car driving test before 1 February 2001
  • want to ride a 125cc motorcycle and have a full moped licence from passing a moped test since 1 December 1990
  • have a full motorcycle licence for one category and want to upgrade to another
  • live and ride on some offshore islands

Why Do I Need To take The CBT?

If you don’t fit into any of the categories that are exempt from sitting CBT (listed above), you must undergo the training.  It is the law, and more importantly, you need to have some knowledge of the rules and regulations of the roads to ensure your own safety and that of other road users.

Thinking of skipping it?  Don’t bother.  You can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to 6 penalty points for riding if you don’t have a valid CBT certificate.

How Do I Book My CBT?

You will need to book the training directly with a motorcycle training school near you. Generally, each training school sets the course price, depending on where you do the training and if you bring your own moped or motorcycle.

Where can I do my CBT training?

You can find a list of driving schools that offer the CBT course in your area, by popping your postcode into the search box on the gov.uk website here.

How Long Does The CBT Take To Complete?

Most courses last a full day, and you will go through all the different elements of the course during this time.

What to wear for CBT training?

On the day of your CBT you will need to wear suitable clothing. A helmet is compulsory while the other items listed are recommended:

  • A motorcycle helmet which meets British safety standards (compulsory)
  • Motorcycle boots or ‘sturdy’ footwear
  • Textile or leather motorcycle trousers
  • Textile or leather motorcycle jacket
  • Motorcycle gloves

Your training centre should be able to provide most of the above, but it is best to check beforehand. You will be charged to retake your CBT if you do not wear suitable clothing.

What’s involved in CBT training?

The course is broken down into 3 modules, each covering different elements of road safety and theory.

An introduction will be given by your instructor ‘on-site’ which is where your training will begin and last for around three hours. This includes understanding how the vehicle works and familiarising yourself with the different controls.

There are also different manoeuvres you must complete safely with the correct observations. Your instructor will give guidance and feedback until they are happy that you can demonstrate the above skills and more safely.

The course will run as follows:

Classroom introduction

A talk about biking, safety gear and the basics of riding.

Stage 1

Usually conducted in your training schools ground (either a car park or closed area of tarmac). It takes around 30 minutes.

You will carry out two-to-three manoeuvres at slow speed, including a slalom. Once your instructor is happy with your progress, you’ll carry out a further two manoeuvres at a higher speed.

One of these exercises will be in second or third gear, at a speed of at least 20mph.

You’ll then carry out one exercise avoiding an obstacle at a minimum speed of 30mph.

You’ll also carry out two braking manoeuvres, including an emergency stop at a minimum speed of 30 mph.

Stage 2

This is where you’re let out on to the road. Don’t worry, everyone gets nervous at this point. You’ll ride for approximately 60 minutes on the road with another pupil and your instructor.

This section includes an eyesight test and road safety questions. Out on the road, you’ll cover a variety of road and traffic conditions and this stage may also see you performing stops, hill starts and angled starts.

Post CBT motorbikes

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You may already have your eye on your first motorcycle before you take your CBT but if you’re still researching what to buy, then check out our guide showcasing some great post-CBT motorbikes for all budgets.

If scooters are your thing, then we’ve also got a guide for you. See the best 125cc scooters here.

Motorcycle CBT FAQs

How much do CBTs cost?
CBT costs are set by the training school. The price depends on when, where and how you do your training. If you bring your own moped or motorcycle, the cost will be cheaper.

How long can you ride a 125 on L-plates?
2 years. This is the length of time your CBT remains valid. After the expiry, you must retake your CBT to remain road legal. 

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