A guide to compulsory basic training (CBT)

Compulsory basic training (CBT) is the course that all learner motorbike and moped riders must complete before riding on the road.

CBT is designed to

  • give you a basic understanding of riding theory
  • give you practical skills to make you safe and confident on the road
  • enable you to gain valuable experience in preparation for taking your motorcycle test.

The trainers are experienced motorcyclists who can give you valuable practical advice, so learn as much as you can on the course.

There’s no exam and, importantly, no timescale, so you should only move on to the next element in the course when you and your trainer are happy that you’ve learnt the theory and completed the practical skills to a safe level.

Do not be worried if your course takes longer than a day, your trainer will only sign you off when they're satisfied you're safe to ride unaccompanied on the road.

The cost of CBT varies but it’s usually between £120 and £160. You may be accompanied by other learners on your course.

To find out more about whether you need to do CBT, visit GOV.UK.

You can read more about CBT in The Official DVSA Guide to Riding - the essential skills.

Who can deliver the CBT course?

The CBT course can only be given by a trainer from an approved training body (ATB).

You can find out about local ATBs from

It’s a good idea to call some local ATBs and have a quick chat to try and find out if they’re the right one for you. Ask them questions about their training facilities, the training course details, how many students will be taught at the same time, ask them about the motorcycles they use and about any clothing they provide.

If you have friends or relatives who’ve learnt to ride recently, ask them if they would recommend their trainer. Although value for money is important, do not always go for the cheapest course, find a trainer who offers the best course for your individual needs. Try to choose a trainer who

  • has a good reputation
  • is reliable and punctual
  • provides training that suits you.

If you have a problem with your trainer, try to sort it out with the trainer or the approved training body first. If you cannot solve the problem this way, there’s advice on GOV.UK about who can help you.

What to expect from your CBT course

If you’ve done your homework and asked all the right questions, you should turn up for your CBT full of confidence in what to expect from your day. Make sure you wear the right clothing. Ask your trainer about this as some provide motorcycle clothing as part of the course.

It is important to remember that your course may take longer than a day depending on your road or riding experience; your instructor will only move you through the course when they're happy that you've learned both the practical and theory side of the training.

Do not be afraid to ask questions if you're not sure about anything; learning a new skill can be tiring. Make sure you take proper breaks, it will help with your concentration levels, especially during the road ride which must last for at least 2 hours and could take longer than this if you need more time to practice.

There are 5 elements that make up the course

  • A: Introduction to CBT – helps you understand the purpose and content of CBT; also covers helmets, the importance of wearing the right clothing, an eyesight check, licensing and all the legal requirements needed when riding a motorbike.
  • B: Practical on-site training – covers an introduction of the motorbike controls, machine safety checks, using the stand, wheeling the motorbike, and starting and stopping the engine.
  • C: Practical on-site riding – covers riding techniques including riding in a straight line, stopping riding slowly, using the brakes, changing gear, even if you’re riding an automatic, and developing steering and balance skills.
  • D: Practical on-road training – theory based session covering: The Highway Code, staying safe on the road, legal requirements, road positioning and attitude.
  • E: Practical on-road riding – you must spend at least 2 hours of road riding dealing with different situations and hazards with your trainer to show you are safe to continue learning on your own. This session may be extended should you require any additional development.

This DVSA video gives you an overview of CBT.

What should you wear for CBT?

Your trainer will talk about clothing as part of element A, so you might consider waiting until after the course before you buy your full motorbike gear, but you will need to wear appropriate clothing on the day.

You’ll need a decent jacket, gloves and boots – not shorts and trainers. Your ATB will provide you with a visibility aid, which you must wear.

Many ATBs can provide basic equipment, including a helmet and bike, for the course – remember to ask when you book your training.

There’s more information about motorbike clothing on this site too.

Completing CBT

When you’ve successfully completed the course, your trainer will give you a certificate DL196.

There are some things you must and must not do when you’re riding on your CBT certificate.

You must have red L plates fitted to the front and back of the motorbike.

You must not ride on motorways or carry a passenger on your motorbike (called a pillion passenger).

If you completed your training on an automatic bike, you should seek further training from an instructor if you upgrade to a geared machine.

If you do not pass your full motorbike test (theory test and 2-part practical test) within 2 years of getting this certificate, you’ll have to do your CBT again.

Ridefree

Ridefree is the award-winning enhanced compulsory basic training (CBT). Its aim is to help you prepare for your CBT and riding on the road.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Highways England developed Ridefree, which is a combination of eLearning pre-course modules and an enhanced version of the CBT syllabus. It’s based on evidence and tailored to the experiences of real learners and real trainers.


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