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.

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.

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 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.

Do I need to buy anything before taking my CBT?

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 Are The Elements Of The CBT?

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:

Module 1 - Element A - Theoretical training

This will cover:

  • The aim of the compulsory basic training course
  • The legal requirements for course attendance
  • The importance of the correct attitude to riding
  • The need to have a basic understanding of the Highway Code and the legal requirements for riding on the road
  • The importance of having the right equipment and clothing, including the correct fitting and securing of safety helmets

Module 1 - Element B - Practical training

This is about familiarising yourself with the bikes controls and handling the bike with the engine off.

In this Element, you will:

  • Get to know motorcycle controls and how they works
  • Carry out basic daily and weekly machine checks
  • Take the bike on and off the stand(s) safely mounting and dismounting the bike
  • Wheel the machine around to the left and right showing proper balance and bring to a controlled halt by braking
  • Start and stop the engine satisfactorily

Module 2 - Element C - Practical riding skills

This is a practical exercise and will include:

  • How to ride and control the bike in a straight line and bring to a controlled halt
  • Carry out controlled braking using both brakes
  • Change gear satisfactorily
  • Ride the machine round a figure of eight circuit under control
  • Negotiate simulated bends safely
  • Steering to avoid a collision
  • Carry out rear observation correctly
  • Carry out simulated left and right turns from major to minor roads and when emerging at junctions, correctly using OSM/PSL routine
  • Carry out U-turn manoeuvre satisfactorily
  • Bring the machine to a stop under full control as in an emergency

Module 2 - Element D - Pre-road-ride briefing

This element will help you to understand how to reduce risks on the road that could be caused by the following:

  • your attitude to riding
  • visibility and vulnerability
  • ride defensively using hazard perception and anticipation
  • use rear observation at appropriate times
  • ride at the correct speed, road position and separation distance according to the road and traffic conditions
  • drug and alcohol use
  • passengers and loads

As well as understanding the correct procedures for dealing with:

  • varying weather conditions and road surfaces when riding
  • bends
  • roundabouts
  • one way systems
  • traffic light controlled junctions including multi-lane junctions
  • dual carriageways, including the use of acceleration and deceleration lanes
  • filtering in traffic
  • incidents and first aid
  • eco-safe riding

Module 3 - Element E - Practical on-road riding

This element offers practical on-road riding for a minimum of four hours. You will be given an earpiece to wear under your helmet, which is connected to your instructor, who will then give you directions, feedback and supervision as you take to the roads for the first time.

On the road you will be practicing and demonstrating the required skills, knowledge and understanding to ride in typical traffic situations. The skills you learn during the on-site training now come into practice. These ‘typical’ situations include, but are not limited to:

  • traffic light/signals controlled junctions including multi-lane junctions
  • roundabouts
  • junctions
  • pedestrian crossings
  • gradients
  • bends
  • obstructions
  • dual carriageways, including the use of acceleration and deceleration lanes

You will also need to undertake the following exercises in normal road conditions:

  • carrying out a U-turn manoeuvre satisfactorily
  • bringing the machine to a stop under full control as in an emergency

Once your instructor is happy you have completed the above to a safe standard they will bring you back to the training centre where you will be issued with your certificate of completion!

…aaaaand you’re good to go!

The CBT Logbook

During CBT, you will receive a logbook in which your instructor will record the topics covered and details of your knowledge or skills. Once you have reached a satisfactory level in all three modules the instructor will give you your CBT certificate, also known as a DL196.

Your CBT Certificate

Once you have passed CBT you’ll be issued with a certificate valid for two years. This will allow you to ride legally on the road unaccompanied (except for categories A2 and A).

You can now move on to practise your riding ready to take your AM or Moped licence theory test.

Common CBT Questions

Can I take my CBT with a foreign driving licence?
In most cases, you must have a UK provisional bike licence. However, a full car licence from countries within the EU/EEA can be used as a provisional motorcycle entitlement but you’ll need to get a D91 issued by the DVLA.

Will there be other people training with me?
There may be a maximum of four learners to every one instructor for the on-site training and only two leaners per instructor for the on-road element.

If I have a full car licence, do I need to take a CBT?
If you passed your car test before 1st February 2001 you can ride a 50cc moped without taking a CBT, but you must take one to ride a motorcycle. However, it is highly advised that you have some form of training before venturing out on two-wheels!

If you passed your car test after 1st February 2001 you are legally required to take a CBT for both a moped and a motorcycle.

If I take my CBT on an automatic can I ride a manual?
The short answer is yes. However, your training school should provide you with a manual bike (a motorcycle) if your intention is to ride a manual motorcycle after getting your CBT certificate. If you are only going to ride an automatic (a scooter) then you can ask the training school if they will provide you with a scooter for your CBT.

Do I need to know the Highway Code?
In short – yes! If you have obtained your provisional licence this means you have confirmed with the DVLA that you have read and understand the Highway Code.

What can I ride once I’ve completed my CBT?
If you are 16-years-old or over you can ride a moped, or if you’re 17 or over you can ride a 125cc motorcycle (max 11kW). You must, however, display L plates and you must also pass your full moped or motorcycle test within two years, or you will have to take the CBT again.

When can I take a CBT?
If you are wanting to ride a moped (max. 50cc) the minimum age is 16-years-old, however if you are wanting to ride a motorcycle (125cc, power output of up to 11kW) you must be 17 or over.

How long does the CBT take?
The course is usually completed within a day; however, it can take longer and is entirely dependent on whether your instructor believes you have learnt the theory and can perform the practical skills safely.

How long is a CBT valid for?
A CBT (DL196) lasts two years. You can stay on a CBT for life but you’ll just have to retake it every 24 months. However, as soon as you pass your motorcycle licence, you’ll never need to do a CBT again.

Do I have to ride with L-plates?
Yes, all the time you are under a CBT, you have to use L-plates. If you pass your full motorcycle licence (AM, A1, A2 or A) you can ride without L-plates.

Can I carry a pillion with a CBT?
No, you need a full licence.

Can I ride on motorways with a CBT?
No, you aren’t allowed on motorways if you only have a CBT certificate.

Do I need to pass a theory test before taking a CBT?
No. The CBT doesn’t require a theory test. If you want to get a motorcycle licence, then you’ll need to do a CBT, theory test and then your motorcycle test.

Do I need my own helmet for a CBT?
Most training companies will loan or hire equipment to enable you to take the test. But, if you are planning on using your CBT to actually be out on the road, you will need a helmet eventually, so probably best to purchase your own one for the test.

Do I have to retake my CBT every two years?
Your CBT is only valid for 2 years, meaning that you will need to retrain if you only want to ride using a CBT licence.  Most riders however, will progress to an AM, A1 or A2 licence within 2 years of passing their CBT.

Can police check with you have a valid CBT?
The CBT (D196) certificate does not show up on the police database automatically, but if you are pulled over or involved in an accident they will demand to see it. This will involve them issuing you with a producer which means you have to show your documentation at a local police station within a set period of time. Of course, this should be an academic question, as you should never be on the road without having first completed your CBT.

Is the CBT on a police database?
No. The CBT (DL196) is not recorded on a police database anywhere in the UK.

What’s the penalty for riding without a valid CBT?
The CBT is just the start of your journey as a safe and road-legal motorcyclist.  Collecting penalties at this stage of the game is not ideal and could effect you in the future. You could face a penalty of 3-6 points and a maximum fine of £1000 for riding on the road with a valid D196 (CBT) certificate.  Don’t risk it.

Do I need to carry my CBT certificate with me?
No. If you are pulled over while riding with an L-plate, the plod can check whether you have a provisional motorcycle entitlement but there are no records of the CBT (DL196) kept on the DVLA system (which you might find amazingly odd and you’d be right if you think that). You may therefore get asked to produce the CBT certificate at a local police station. If you have lost it, you could go back to your training school and ask for a copy (which you’ll have to pay for) – so don’t lose it. Even better – take a photo of it and make a paper copy too.

Can I ride in Europe on a CBT?
No. The correct question is really: can I ride in a country different to the one where I took my CBT? The answer to that is, no. If you have passed a CBT in the UK and want to ride in France for example, you’ll have to pass your A1 (up to 125cc) or A2 motorcycle test.

REMEMBER – your CBT only lasts for two-years before it expires. It will need to be taken again if you have not completed your full motorcycle test.