So you’re thinking of becoming a biker? The first step is to take your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) which takes a day and enables you to then head out on the road, on your own, with a set of snazzy L-plates and a new sense of adventure.
For this article, Claire-Louise and I have both put together a list of the kit we’d choose if we were taking our CBT’s again tomorrow. We didn’t consult with each other – so our picks and our approaches are different but we did have one rule: keep a close eye on the budget.
Required CBT Kit
The DSA has been cracking down on the level of protection you wear while taking any form of motorcycle test. Most CBT centres will loan helmets, gloves and vests but you’re best off checking with them before the day of your CBT. We recommend buying at least some of the kit yourself (do you want to wear a smell helmet?) and making sure you’re fully compliant with test rules.
The current CBT motorcycle and moped training advice states riders can wear sturdy footwear and a denim jacket with multiple layers underneath. You could essentially wear a pair of walking boots and look a bit buff in your numerous layers. But if you don’t already own a pair of hiking boots, they cost the same as a cheap pair of motorcycle boots, so why not go looking and feeling the part?
Below are our picks to help you get kitted up for your CBT and the next few years of biking adventures.
Taking a CBT costs around £120 and getting into motorcycling involves quite a bit of shelling out in the first few weeks, so I thought it was best to go for cheaper options on the gear.
However, when people think “cheap” they often think, lower quality. I made sure the products I chose had all the necessary safety requirements and a decent spec. That way, if you can’t afford to purchase top-end gear after shelling out for your new bike, you’re still going to be comfortable and protected.
Here are my recommendations:
Claire Louise’s picks, total cost: £329.96
I took my CBT almost 20 years ago. The bus was the only way I could get to the training school and so I wore my bike kit and lugged my lid. I probably looked a bit daft to everyone else on the bus that morning.
I turned up to a dank portacabin in Northampton a bit hot and bothered. The other students were wearing a mixture of tracksuits, builder’s boots and the well-used bike jackets and lids that the school provided. I was the only one in my own gear and I felt self-conscious (and a bit keen) in my bright new bike kit.
Yes, a CBT school will provide you with kit but my rationale was that if I’m going to be buying it anyway, I might as well buy it before I took my CBT. I wanted to be warm, comfortable and well protected, so I could concentrate on the riding. These days you won’t get away with tracksuits trousers or trainers at most CBT schools.
I bought cheaper kit back then because I didn’t have any money. What I’ve changed in this guide is the amount of kit I’d pick, so that I can focus a frugal budget on better-quality gear that will do a proper job and last for years.
I don’t see the point of buying a super-cheap lid. Your helmet should last you for 5 years and be something you want to wear not have to wear. AGV make quality helmets and this K-3 lid is great value for money. It is SHARP rated 4 out of 5, so it offers great protection. It comes in a range of plain colours and graphics. I’ve chosen this Rossi version because it’s fun – just like motorcycling.
When I was researching jackets for this article I found some decent-looking ones for £100, so you might wonder why I’ve picked this Alpinestars jacket that costs nearly £200. The reason being is that it’s a premium jacket at a not-so premium price. Drystar is Alpinestars’ version of Gore-Tex, it’s an all-season jacket that will keep you dry and warm and comfortable in all weathers. It’s well made and will last you 10 years if you want it to. You’ll always wear a jacket, so I’d pick a quality one.
I don’t know any bikers that only own one pair of gloves. Unfortunately you’ll need a few pairs, for different conditions. I’ve picked these keenly-priced Spadas which are waterproof. They might be a bit bulky but they’ll be warm and if you can’t feel your fingers, you won’t be able to feel the bike’s controls!
Ben’s picks, total cost: £419.96
The keen-eyed among you will notice that I haven’t picked any motorcycle-specific trousers. I spent most of my first year riding around in jeans (when it wasn’t raining) and while they don’t offer any protection, they are convenient and comfortable. You can always buy a pair of waterproof over-trousers to keep the rain out.
Personally speaking, I would put around 70% of my budget into a helmet and jacket as you’ll always be wearing those. I’d spend about the same amount on a helmet as a jacket, so if you can afford a £300 helmet, match it with a similarly-priced jacket.
Remember, if you’re not sure about whether you’re going to like biking or take it up after your CBT, then you don’t have to buy any kit. Just call the training school and check they can provide everything you need – the vast majority will be able to.
Can I wear trainers on a CBT?
No. Footwear needs to be sturdy, that provide support and ankle protection. Suitable alternatives would be hiking boots or army-style boots.
Do I have to wear a motorcycle jacket during my Compulsory Basic Training?
Motorcycle-specific jackets are not essential. Requirements state you must wear a heavy denim jacket with several layers underneath or a textile or leather motorcycle jacket.
Can I wear normal jeans for a CBT?
Denim trousers are advised but must be of a thick quality and contain no distressed areas which can rip further.
Can I wear ski gloves for a CBT?
No. According to advice from the DSA, ski gloves are no longer acceptable during a CBT. Ski gloves do not provide you with the correct level of protection from road rash or impact.