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Your Comprehensive Guide to Successfully Completing Your CBT

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

In the UK, embarking on a two-wheeled adventure begins with the Compulsory Basic Training, commonly known as CBT. This one-day training program isn't a traditional test but is geared towards imparting essential motorcycle skills and road safety knowledge.

Upon successful completion of the CBT, you'll receive a certificate allowing you to ride a 125cc/11KW/14.7 BHP motorcycle on the road with L plates for two years. You can either renew your CBT or pursue the A1 or A2 tests for access to more powerful bikes.

If you're intrigued by motorcycling but unsure of the commitment, the CBT offers an ideal starting point. Costing around £150, it's a relatively simple and cost-effective way to get your wheels rolling. Even though the course is designed for beginners, some preparation can boost your confidence and improve your chances of obtaining that coveted certificate.


If you've never swung a leg over a motorcycle before, consider taking at least one lesson at a reputable riding school before attempting the CBT. While the course caters to novices, anecdotal evidence suggests that complete newcomers sometimes struggle. An introductory lesson will familiarize you with crucial bike components and operations, giving you a leg up when the CBT's theory and practical components come into play. Understanding clutch control and gear shifting beforehand can significantly boost your confidence.

As someone who grapples with exam anxiety, I followed this advice and found myself riding confidently within the first hour of the lesson. The instructor affirmed my readiness for the CBT, and it really boosted my confidence.

Additionally, if you're like me and prefer to avoid surprises, consider watching videos of people taking their CBT on YouTube. These videos provide a comprehensive view of the entire process, easing any apprehensions you may have. I'll link some of my favorite ones at the end of this post for your convenience.


Your training school typically provides riding gear like helmets, gloves, and jackets. However, if you prefer using your own gear, ensure it meets the school's requirements. They won't demand armored trousers or specialized riding boots, but sensible trousers and sturdy shoes, like jeans and Dr. Martens-style boots, should suffice. Don't hesitate to ask your school for a list of recommended gear.

For those considering purchasing gear before the CBT, my helmet buying guide and women's motorcycle gear shopping posts may prove helpful!

On the Day

The CBT spans five to eight hours, so prepare by getting a good night's rest and avoiding alcohol or drugs the night before. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast and pack plenty of food and water, as some training schools lack on-site cafeterias.

For sunny summer days, sunscreen is essential, and for colder months, layering up can help keep you warm. Bring all required documents, including your provisional licence, as outlined by your training school.

How the CBT Works

The CBT comprises five sections. The first includes a licence check, an eye test (reading a number plate from 20.5 meters), and a discussion about motorcycle clothing and legal requirements.

In the second section, you'll receive an introduction to the motorcycle, learning about controls, throttle operation, clutch and brake levers, and gear shifting. You'll also practice maneuvering the bike safely, handling the stand, starting and stopping the engine, and performing basic safety checks.

The third section allows you to ride off-road in a controlled environment, where you'll practice setting off, slowing down, changing gears, steering, and stopping. You'll also navigate figure-of-eights and slaloms around cones, as well as mock junctions under your instructor's guidance.

The fourth section involves a classroom session covering hazard identification and management before heading out onto public roads. Upon successful completion of the first four sections, you'll proceed to the final part, the on-road lesson (part 5).

During the minimum two-hour on-road section, you'll use a radio to stay in contact with your instructor, who will provide instructions through earphones. The ride encompasses various road types and hazards, including hill starts, U-turns, speed limit changes, roundabouts, traffic lights, and junctions. You'll start following the instructor and may eventually lead the group, taking turns to do so.

It's crucial to remember that the CBT isn't like a traditional test. Making mistakes won't result in failure; instead, it's about ensuring your safety and that of others. For instance, stalling or taking a wrong turn won't jeopardize your chances of success.

At the end of the day, you'll return to the school, where your instructor will determine whether to award you the CBT certificate. Upon success, you'll be able to ride on public roads, albeit without carrying passengers or using motorways (dual carriageways are allowed) until you pass your full test.

Personal experiences with instructors can vary, but having an encouraging and patient instructor can significantly enhance your CBT experience. Don't hesitate to seek out a female instructor if it makes you more comfortable, and if you've had a positive experience during preparatory lessons, consider booking your CBT with the same instructor for added confidence.

And that's it - CBT successfully completed!

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments or reach out via email, and I'll be happy to help.

As always, stay safe and enjoy your riding!

Jennie x

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